Atheism+ It’s Got Electrolytes!

Atheism+ is an attempt at a new movement that takes an existing one, atheism, and adds social justice issues. As a designer, skeptic, and humanist, I have some critiques of the pseudo re-branding from each of these perspectives.

There’s something about adding a “plus” to atheism that rubs my design background the wrong way. It’s a bit cliché and sounds a bit like a parody (which might be why a google images search brings up so many). Adding a “plus” feels as lazy as adding “super” or “extra”. It’s brings up images of typical marketing labels on products that advertise “+Vitamin C”, “100% Real Fruit”, or “Flavorblasted!”. You could make the argument that the ambiguity of what the “plus” in Atheism+ means could encourage people to ask more about your ‘product’, and get them in the door. But, to me, it feels like sloppy marketing.

As a skeptic and humanist I find Atheism+ redundant. Skepticism is applying critical thinking to all claims, so I’ve viewed atheist organizations as devoting their efforts to applying skepticism to religious claims; things like teaching ID/creationism in schools, separation of church and state, and using religious beliefs to oppress others. Secular humanism is the philosophy that humans are capable of being moral without religion or divine power and valuing human equality. Both skepticism and humanist emphasize using reason to continually question theories and update ideologies based on new evidence or rational ideas.

Packaging certain ideologies into a plus sign and placing it with atheism seems to actually take away from atheism. It takes away the notion that atheism is for everyone, no matter what your political or social values might be. Not only does it alienate non-believers with different political or social views, it alienates those who share these same social justice goals who happen to also be believers. The PLUS in Atheism+ seems to have the intent of excluding certain people (those who believe in a god) from getting involved in important social causes or defending science. Humanism or skepticism doesn’t.

I can’t help but see Atheism+ as little more than Humanism-.

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