A recent Twitter argument has kept me thinking – what do people out there actually believe when it comes to worldview and ethics as atheists?

My atheism started as a conclusion to an exploration of the foundation of religion. It began with an investigation of Jesus and an initial conclusion that if he did exist, the entire Gospel is a lie. For being famous he certainly was erased from Roman records pretty quickly. So I went back to where my family comes from – Rromani paganism descended from Hinduism, Norse paganism/Asatru, Druidism, Celtic paganism. Over time, these failed me and brought me to mystical systems focused on self-improvement. My last foray into any spiritual practice was Taoism, specifically internal alchemy. I keep some of the practices to this day (such as guided meditation) and some of the practices and ideals I picked up from Zen Buddhism, especially the zen state of no-mind. But I’m an atheist, because every system of practices and beliefs failed to live up to their claims. In essence, they said the world worked in a certain way, and I found these claims to be false.

However, I tried to maintain consistency with my actual beliefs. I stopped basing my moral and ethical systems on those that religion taught me. I reconsidered everything that I thought might be right or wrong. I examined why they’re right or wrong. I researched philosophy and logical arguments. I researched actual sociological, anthropological, and biological data. Thanks to my current partner, I’ve gained even more insight thanks to her experiences in philosophy and a specific school of sociology focused on gender. This is why I’m a feminist – the data, the science, and the philosophical logic all point to Critical Race Theory being the best examination of the world around us and Feminism being the most accurate model of the current oppression system that we exist in. They call this oppression system the Kyriarchy (or the Patriarchy, when being less specific toward intersectional realities) and offer ways to dismantle and combat it.

However, it seems like there’s a peculiar caste of atheists in the world who claim that atheism is just a conclusion. A conclusion on there being no gods. This can’t be true, however, because if you come from the Judeo-Christian or Abrahamic context that most of the Western (and large swaths of the Eastern) world comes from, by becoming an atheist you also toss out the justification for your entire moral and social system. God and his commandments, as well as the sayings of his prophets, have been used to justify literally the entire social order. In contradictory terms at times (see slavery, whether parents have the right to beat or bully children, economic oppression, the role of violence in human life). By asserting that one is an atheist, one must also now fill the massive gap that is one’s social and moral foundation in life.

Without God, how do you determine what is good and what is bad? What is right and what is wrong? What is just and what is unjust? What is valid and what is invalid?

I’m hoping that, like me, every atheist would answer “science, data, the reality around us.” That would be simple, and it would mean we would all be Feminists. Because when it comes to reality, data, and science, the science of Sociology has pretty much proven that intersectional Feminism (the radical Feminism of the coasts that comes especially from feminists of color) is the most valid real-world ethical structure that we have. It comes from Critical Race Theory, an examination of how societal oppression works. A system that was born out of Critical Theory, which in practice is still the most accurate way to examine the way society actually works. This is the reality-based worldview. Every other atheistic worldview I have encountered relies on unfalsifiable claims or out-right false claims.

Where do these atheists get their morals from? Why is it so difficult to be self-reflective for these people, to examine what they believe to be right or wrong, if they’re able to ask themselves if they honestly believe god exists?

This is why I have grudging respect for fundamentalists – at least they have the intellectual honesty to say that they do believe that God exists in whatever capacity and they’re just following God’s laws. I wish that there were more moderate religious people, but the fundamentalists are using a logical argument still. Usually. It’s the atheists that confuse me here – they claim to be the more rational ones, usually, but they fail to live up to that when there’s actual problems in the world.

Until atheism, as a movement, has banished anti-feminism, racism, sexism, classism, ableism, and anti-QUILTBAG/GSM social pressures. So long as my friends who aren’t WEIRD (White, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, Democratic) men feel like they don’t belong in the movement, the movement is failing.

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The most important discussion in any human society is that of morals; what are our morals, how do we enforce them, and from where do we derive their authority? How do we define morality and what authority do we use to derive that definition? Most importantly, when we have established what morality is, our moral authority, and what individual morals we believe should guide our society, how do we implement them in our day to day lives? This is especially important in nuanced moral systems. No global rule or law is always going to be 100% effective, as there are always reams of hypothetical situations where normally unethical or immoral would be moral or ethical in just this one case. In fact, these hypotheticals are a favorite tactic of the juvenile debater. The nuanced moral system, though, accepts that there will be situations where certain moral precepts take precedence, and some of these moral precepts will therefor be contradictory. The easiest way to understand this is to look at murder; we agree, universally, that murdering another human being is unethical and immoral. We also generally agree that freedom, liberty, are important and moral states to strive for. However, we necessarily truncate our freedoms to give authority to law enforcement to prevent, try, and bring justice to those who perpetuate murder. Freedom, in this case, and the want not to be murdered are in conflict so we ere on the side of greater freedom for the masses (in this case, not being murdered, as being murdered necessarily ends any kind of freedom a person might have) in favor of the individual freedoms of being able to kill anyone one may want to.

I’m treating this article series as a way of exploring the question of morality, from its base to its peak, to establish what I believe and to show why my beliefs, as they are rooted in secular (as in, not derived from the arbitrary assemblage of religions in the world) and data-driven (as in, derived from observing the behaviour of the world and how people actually interact with each other in the environment) decision systems, have a stronger case for being valid than the historical and traditional moral systems. The first reason that I think I can prove this is that traditional moral systems, derived from religious ideals and reactionary measures, are not effective on their own terms, even before trying to find universal terms. A morality system, as any ideological system, should be internally consistent, self-reinforcing, externally validated, and nuanced in the places where rules conflict so that decisions can be navigated ethically.

Now, to define our terms.

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Robert Ingersoll via WikipediaI’d like to talk about Freethough today. Specifically, what Freethought is, the legacy it has come to us through, and the philosophy related to it. And the two pictures I have here are people rooted in what Freethought is – the Infamous Agnostic, Robert Ingersoll, and Ernestine Rose (who I am pretty sure my partner is turning into, which is cool).

So, let’s define Freethought.

Wikipedia – Freethought is a philosophical viewpoint that holds opinions should be formed on the basis of logicreason and science and not authoritytradition, or other dogmas.[1][2][3] The cognitive application of freethought is known as “freethinking,” and practitioners of freethought are known as “freethinkers.”

This is, perhaps, my favorite definition as most of the others you can find at Dictionary.com and the like are woefully incomplete. So, let’s go with a shortened definition – Freethinking is forming thoughts and beliefs through logic, reason, and examination rather than tradition.

Ernestine Rose - WikipediaIt is not “thinking whatever the hell one wants”. It is not “unrestrained by any form of logic or reason”. It is not “thinking about things to contradict those around one’s self”. This is apparently what a lot of people on the internet think it means, however, and this is seriously starting to piss me off. I am not a professional philosopher, nor am I a professional theologian, nor am I a professional ethicist, nor am I a professional politician or lawyer or any other kind of think-tank persona. I am a writer, I am a blogger, and I’m an opinionated person who subscribes to a rational and natural worldview. I should not be the one explaining these things to people. 

Despite me not being a professional, however, there are things that are pretty easy to understand if you study them for a bit. And, in the interests of education and being rational, one must defer to the more educated members of the community to study these things. Given that, for some reason, I’m better educated despite not being a professional, I’m going to have a brief set of rules here –

If you come in here to tell me I’m wrong about what freethought is without having a counter argument or having a set of data to draw upon, fuck you. I won’t even post your comment.

If you come in here to argue with me about harassment policies or Skepchick or Rebecca Watson, fuck you. I’ll tear into because I’ve got the time for it and I seriously could use a little steam venting. These rants tend to turn into something comfy and happy by the end. I haven’t had the chance to really let loose in any appreciable fashion, positive or negative, in quite some time.

If you want to come in here and say, “Well yes, freethought” and then attack Freethought Blogs, fuck you. I am not FTB. I have no sway over their organization. I am not criticizing them, either, as they are a collection of over 30 blogs with different bloggers doing different things. I agree with some of them. I do not agree with others. They are too diverse to call anything other than a community (and even then there are times where it’s nearly in name only). This has nothing to do with what Freethought Blogs does but is rooted in Freethought Blogs adopting the word Freethought and people forgetting what Freethought means.

If you want to come in here and discuss what freethinking is and why I think that feminism is inherently tied to it, as well as why I think that most of the reactionary people posting on the internet about being “freethinkers” are just troll asshats who don’t know north from up, then yeah, we can talk about that. But you must realize that if you, at all, fall into the prior three categories then I have no reason nor will I entertain a reason to post your comments.

To explain why, a brief foray into the first amendment.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Congress. 

I can pass rules abridging your freedoms all over my blog. It’s my right as a private entity in a non-exclusive forum. Just as it’s your right to go to another forum and call me an asshat.

So, Freethought.

Freethought is a philosophical system that encourages inquiry and examination of beliefs and suppositions regardless of traditional or prior views. It’s, essentially, walking a mile in another idea’s shoes first. To butcher a metaphor. Freethought, though, is married to the ideas of critical reasoning and logical examination. Not just looking for data in the same fashion as science but also interesting and useful information. Corollaries do not provide evidence of anything scientifically, for example, but a freethinker will explore corollaries to find why two things have a high instance of association even if they are not causal. This very form of examination and rational thought is the basis of sociological sciences, in fact. Freethought does not mean entertaining any idea, therefor, only ideas that have merit. Establishing merit is pretty easy to do – if you can find a bit of information supporting the idea, then it’s got merit. Then follow the idea until it no longer has merit or requires more statistical and informative examination before continuing with the thought exercise.

In a vacuum, a freethinker (in my opinion), will eventually become a feminist due to the examination of gender roles and the examination of data about sex, gender, and the differences between members of the resultant group (hint; there aren’t many and they’re almost all physical dimorphic differences). Freethinkers seek to move away from bias and will go through several thought exercises to ensure that the results of the thought exercise is unbiased (or as unbiased as possible), as well as running it past other freethinkers to ensure that the exercise is as unbiased as possible. These exercises and systems of trading exercises frequently cause freethinkers to agree on certain things.

So freethinking does not mean disagreeing for the purposes of being disagreeable. Over time, freethinkers won’t disagree with each other on most things and definitely wouldn’t on big things. Things like skepticism, atheism, and even feminism. The earliest freethinkers (like Ingersoll) who happened to be men also frequently happened to be feminists. Though this was also the beginning of men who identify as feminists who concern-trolled radical feminist woman activists because “men are fragile creatures and cannot handle this form of protest” and the like. So when you’re accusing a group of groupthink (like Freethought Blogs) consider the possibility that they really agree on these things for their own reasons and it isn’t some kind of pod-blogger conglomeration that is seeking to rob you of critical thought. 

Disagreeing with the “group think” does not make you critical. It does not make your position radically rational. It does not score you any points with any intelligent thinkers or rational people. Especially when, by doing so, you’re throwing your lot in with people who are demonstrably threatening, dangerous, fanatical, and irrational. 

Further, being a freethinker is an extension of being an autodidact, a self educator. It is your responsibility, as a rational person, as a student of life, as a skeptic, as a commentor, as a political entity, as a human living on this planet to constantly educate yourself. Especially when it comes to discussions about groups that you are a part of regardless of your preferences and that you are forced to represent or distance yourself from consistently and constantly. This means you need to be aware of your privilege as well as your oppressors. You need to be aware of how much oppression you actually experience and how much you perpetuate. You need to be aware of the effects others have on you and the effect you have on others. It especially means that when you enter a discussion about these things you have no one to blame but yourself if you do not know what is going on or who is being blamed for what. If you don’t know what privilege is, look it up. Don’t ask. If you don’t know what ‘white guilt’ is or why apologetics is bad for the discussion, look it up. Don’t ask. If you don’t know what institutional misogyny is, look it up. Don’t ask. If you don’t know something, avail yourself to Wikipedia, Google, and the wide variety of blogs on the matter. Once you have some information and can be conversant in a concept, then you can ask how it’s being used and participate in the conversation.

Do not, however, assume that it is the responsibility of the conversation to educate you. That’s lazy. Don’t be lazy. Be efficient, don’t waste anyone’s time, especially your own.

So, you want to call yourself a freethinker? You want to walk in the footsteps of Ingersoll the Agnostic or Ernestine Rose the radical feminist? Do so. Educate yourself. Consider other people’s positions. Examine statements. Give those making statements the benefit of the doubt and way reasonable information.

Don’t stick with the side that seems most comfortable and gives you the most power because they might, in fact, be wrong. Always be open the idea that even you might be wrong.

Quick Post

August 3, 2012

So, a few things.

First, Street Fighter is 25. What the hell. Thanks, Wil Wheaton.

I’m out of rant for today about big things and important things other than asking what you, my readers, are doing to make your world a better place. A shout out to Nerdfighteria, who are working diligently to lower world suck every day. Unfortunately I cannot fully call myself a nerdfighter as I hold myself to some pretty ridiculous philosophical and ethical positions and many of those in the Nerdfighter ranks would find me disturbed for it. But that should be obvious as it would be really difficult for me to find anything redeeming about someone who claims to be anti-feminist and I know there’s a couple  nerdfighters out there that to. Mostly thanks to the Men’s Rights Movement.

Speaking of the Men’s Rights Movement, fuck you. I’m personally sick and tired of the bullshit on Reddit, I’m sick and tired of the bullshit around FreeThought Blogs and Skepchick, I’m tired of the bullshit of these people trying to speak for me.

I am a man. I’m a cisman. I’m a cisgendered white man. I am a pansexual, omnisexual, bisexual cisgendered white man. Everyone from DJ Groethe to the director of CFI Canada to A Voice For Men are full of shit and using authority borrowed from their professional station (or from whimsy and fantasy, AVFM) to speak about things they both have no education in and no authority in. They do not represent me. They do not speak for me. They do not even speak rationally. All of the things in this discussion that we’re fighting over, from harassment policies to rape culture to women? A lot of these cultural elements have been proven in sociological studies. If they’d bother to check.

So yeah, Men’s Rights Movement? Fuck your face with a hedge-trimmer.

An update on those things that are important to me, as a philosophical stance. I am an atheist, I am an antitheist, I am a feminist, I am a liberal. All of these stances come from observation, data, and science. I’m willing to discuss any of these positions with anyone so long as you are not a bad actor. So far I haven’t had to even think of a comment policy yet (cue cut to comment section with two comments and a tumbleweed) but you can rest assured that if you come in and start arguing in bad faith, you start trolling, or you start using this as a platform for something then I’m going to delete your comments. I’m unemployed and disabled. I have the time to do this.

Speaking of being unemployed and disabled, I’m also homeless! However, the place I was living in was sapping me of everything involved in the will to live, so I’m happier right now. However, if anyone in Southern California knows of a furnished room on the cheap I can rent for a few months, I’d love to know. I’m trying to get my family to help me with a motel room until I can find a permanent place to live but they’re being…unreliable. I’ve got a friend who might have a place for me in a few months but until then I’m sleeping on a couch and it’s hell on my back. And all my other joints. Plus, privacy? What’s that? So yeah, my crowd of two, please help me find a place to crash for a bit.

Uh, what else. Working on two new short stories right now but it’s hard coming from the place I was in. Currently theorizing a story about a Steampunk China if the Opium Wars had never ended. Enjoy history? China? The Victorian period? Imperialism? Anything related to this? Send me snippets of information, data, what have you and I’ll boil them down into a few story ideas. I’m thinking of watching Ip Man and Ip Man 2 again for some inspiration. And because they’re fantastic martial arts movies.

Now I’m going to go back to missing my partner like a love struck fool, relaxing my back, and trying to come up with ideas.

Happy Esther day.

Stay classy.

You follow a philosophy of some kind, all of the readers of this blog, and hopefully you follow it well. When you encounter problems with your philosophy and your internal sense of morality, you seek ways to modify one or the other until there is harmony again. Hopefully, when you do this you modify your philosophy more than your internal morality. There is a problem, though, that I have seen in the world around me. There are people out there that follow absolutist philosophies who then modify the philosophy in a way counter to the absolutist claims in order to make it jive with their internal morality. Then there are people who rightly stick by the absolutist stance of their philosophy and, instead, modify their morality despite evidence toward them being wrong about said modification.

These two things, they’re seriously frustrating for me. I hate dealing with Bad Actors, people who think and argue in Bad Faith, and the immoral bigots that are a product of such people.

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It is a privilege to be irrational. It is a privilege afforded by sex, by gender, by skin color, by economic status, by orientation, by geopolitical position. It is a privilege to be able to ignore data, to ignore systems, to ignore how the real world functions. It is a privilege to be able to look at data and proven systems and dismiss it with a single statement.

And every time this is done, the statement is the same. “I don’t believe in that.”

Let me explain to you both why this privilege is a dangerous one and commiserate with those who are burdened with rationality.

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Ours will be an order of Academia, Philosophers, Scientists, and People of Learning. We shall be an Order of people who wish to see joy and wonder in the world while understanding the glory and awesomeness of the laws of Nature, those data that have lead us to understand Nature, and respect for the orders and laws of the Physical World. We shall live and thrive without those Laws and Rules and Societies that have limited those that have come before us.

We are an order rooted in Ethics.

We are an order rooted in Liberty.

We are an order rooted in Joy.

We are Ethical Hedonists.

And to find Joy where there is Pain, where there is Suffering, we maintain strength through comedy and awareness. We help those we can, we reach out to those that need us, and we support each other. We support ourselves.

We are The Order of Sarcastic Scribes.

So who wants to be a TOSSer?

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