Be specific in your objections to Feminism

The place to ask questions about the basic values of Atheism Plus, feminism and social justice.

Be specific in your objections to Feminism

Postby Tinjoe » Thu Aug 30, 2012 3:26 pm

A lot of people who take issue with Atheism+, harassment policies, or Elevatorgate (hate the -gate suffix but oh well...) decry those radical feminists but they always leave it unstated what specific issues they disagree with regarding feminism. For the most part they treat the word "feminist" (and derivatives slurs) as the punch-line to a joke they never bother to set up.

When I look on twitter at the people that annoy, insult, or harass people in support of Atheism+ usually their twitter description includes words like rational, thinking, logical, intelligent, and so forth. Taking their self descriptions at face value, I'm sure people who would use those words to describe themselves could argue exactly why they take issue with feminism.

The point is that I'm sick of seeing vaguely defined objections, if you have an issue with feminism (or really any issue) be specific. Nobody can address vaguely defined terms, and implied objections, we can only address what you actually take issue with.

My gut feeling is that those who do have specific issues are for the most part straw manning feminism either because they disagree with a point that mainstream feminists aren't making, or the point is being misinterpreted in the most ungenerous way.
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Re: Be specific in your objections to Feminism

Postby SubMor » Thu Aug 30, 2012 5:51 pm

Yeah, I'm pretty sure most of the objections to feminism stem from the "straw feminist" trope.
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Re: Be specific in your objections to Feminism

Postby Surgoshan » Thu Aug 30, 2012 6:34 pm

Oh dear... I think I'm going to have to watch the crap out of all of those videos. Well, I know what I'm doing for the next few nights. Thanks!
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Re: Be specific in your objections to Feminism

Postby FeministWhore » Fri Aug 31, 2012 2:53 am

Well, from where I sit...

When people "decry those radical feminists" they actually ARE stating a specific issue they have with feminism. The problem is that people don't take seriously the criticisms of radical feminism, and that refusal to take it seriously is an issue itself. People assume it is a strawman. Why do they assume this? Privilege is my guess. Most of the time I see people claiming "that's not MY feminism!", or they will characterize 'radical feminism' as being some historical second wave thing that only people who don't really 'get' feminism would complain about. The truth is that radical feminist theory and concepts are used by governments around the world to justify crappy policy that denies women their human rights.

People might say that it is not their responsibility if governments use radfem theory as justification, at least that's what I hear when people say "that's not MY feminism", but silence is acquiescence and the rights you acquiesce are not your own to sacrifice. If 'mainstream feminism' listened, learned, and then spoke out against these policies we might be able to actually change a thing or two. But people don't listen, and so then they can't learn, and if they are ignorant they will not speak out.

I think people are afraid y'all aren't willing to listen.

An example of a specific issue:
FEMINISM, POWER, AND SEX WORK IN THE CONTEXT OF HIV/AIDS: CONSEQUENCES FOR WOMEN’S HEALTH
http://www.law.harvard.edu/students/org ... 25-258.pdf
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Re: Be specific in your objections to Feminism

Postby lillake » Fri Aug 31, 2012 3:06 am

My only objection to feminism, and mind you I am a feminist, is that it can too often be focused on white women and ignores the needs of WoC. That's been pointed out again and again and again and again. So, you know, we need to get to work on that. Like, yesterday.

http://tigerbeatdown.com/2011/10/10/my-feminism-will-be-intersectional-or-it-will-be-bullshit/
http://dearwhitefeminists.wordpress.com/
http://www.racialicious.com/2008/04/28/the-or-versus-the-and-women-of-color-and-mainstream-feminism/
http://newblackwoman.com/2011/12/03/i-am-no-longer-a-feminist/

So many more, but I need to get to bed soon.
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Re: Be specific in your objections to Feminism

Postby Xanthë » Fri Aug 31, 2012 3:28 am

Hi Tinjoe,

really good idea for a thread to see if we get any real objections – for example, lillake’s point is a good and well-known one that I agree with, namely earlier waves of feminism lacked intersectionality and diversity, and many current day feminists certainly want to fix that. But this is an example of a recognised internal problem that feminists are trying to self-correct, rather than a criticism from ‘outside’, which is what I think you were hoping to receive.

By the way, if you don’t want to use ‘Elevatorgate’ (I too loathe adding -gate suffixes just because of the Watergate scandal) then a much more amusing term I remember being coined is the ‘Rebeccapocalypse’, which sounds like it should be the name of a volcano in Iceland, or an Aztec city.
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Re: Be specific in your objections to Feminism

Postby Jadehawk » Fri Aug 31, 2012 8:11 am

When people "decry those radical feminists" they actually ARE stating a specific issue they have with feminism.
some people, yes. I've criticized radical feminism, repeatedly.

But people who call Greta, Jen, and Rebecca "radfems" aren't actually making a valid criticism of anything, they're just flinging shit to see what sticks. So basically, people who actually are complaining about radical feminism tend to mention specific issues they have with it. those who just fling shit tend to stay vague and ramble about dogma and catechisms
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Re: Be specific in your objections to Feminism

Postby Tinjoe » Fri Aug 31, 2012 12:36 pm

Jadehawk wrote:But people who call Greta, Jen, and Rebecca "radfems" aren't actually making a valid criticism of anything, they're just flinging shit to see what sticks. So basically, people who actually are complaining about radical feminism tend to mention specific issues they have with it. those who just fling shit tend to stay vague and ramble about dogma and catechisms


Exactly. Ideally I'd like people who do have objections to start voicing them in a place moderated enough that no one can gang up on them. Not because I think that actually happens that often, but because I think they use it as a shield to avoid having to defend their position. They can throw "radfem" around a couple times and then when pressed will just say "No on can have a dissenting opinion because they'll be driven out by the mob"

Primarily I want to know if they can form a coherent objection. I want to believe that a majority simply don't understand what they're objecting to and have built straw feminists (pretty good video, thanks) that we all agree are rather silly.
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Re: Be specific in your objections to Feminism

Postby Nicko » Fri Aug 31, 2012 2:50 pm

Xanthë wrote:... a much more amusing term I remember being coined is the ‘Rebeccapocalypse’...


I am using this from now on. :lol:
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Re: Be specific in your objections to Feminism

Postby Catherine » Fri Aug 31, 2012 5:08 pm

I have specific objections to radical feminism, a lot stems from being transgendered and the hate a bile various leaders of the movement have written or said about us. They are again trying to remove protection for trans people from the UNs charter. The transphobic elements of the radical femiinsim movement have put a lot of trans women off the entire feminism movement and did for me at first, but I now would definitely consider myself a feminist, partially through knowing through transitioning just how differently the world treats men and women. Admitedly some of the prejudice I face is through being trans rather than a woman but a lot of it isn't and shows just why the world needs feminism and to dismantle the patriarchy, or more importantly the entire kyriachy.
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Re: Be specific in your objections to Feminism

Postby FeministWhore » Fri Aug 31, 2012 7:11 pm

Tinjoe wrote:
Jadehawk wrote:But people who call Greta, Jen, and Rebecca "radfems" aren't actually making a valid criticism of anything, they're just flinging shit to see what sticks. So basically, people who actually are complaining about radical feminism tend to mention specific issues they have with it. those who just fling shit tend to stay vague and ramble about dogma and catechisms


Exactly. Ideally I'd like people who do have objections to start voicing them in a place moderated enough that no one can gang up on them. Not because I think that actually happens that often, but because I think they use it as a shield to avoid having to defend their position. They can throw "radfem" around a couple times and then when pressed will just say "No on can have a dissenting opinion because they'll be driven out by the mob"

Primarily I want to know if they can form a coherent objection. I want to believe that a majority simply don't understand what they're objecting to and have built straw feminists (pretty good video, thanks) that we all agree are rather silly.



So basically you're saying that this was a trick question? That you're not actually interested in any coherent objections, only the ones without merit?
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Re: Be specific in your objections to Feminism

Postby piegasm » Fri Aug 31, 2012 8:35 pm

FeministWhore wrote:
Tinjoe wrote:
Jadehawk wrote:But people who call Greta, Jen, and Rebecca "radfems" aren't actually making a valid criticism of anything, they're just flinging shit to see what sticks. So basically, people who actually are complaining about radical feminism tend to mention specific issues they have with it. those who just fling shit tend to stay vague and ramble about dogma and catechisms


Exactly. Ideally I'd like people who do have objections to start voicing them in a place moderated enough that no one can gang up on them. Not because I think that actually happens that often, but because I think they use it as a shield to avoid having to defend their position. They can throw "radfem" around a couple times and then when pressed will just say "No on can have a dissenting opinion because they'll be driven out by the mob"

Primarily I want to know if they can form a coherent objection. I want to believe that a majority simply don't understand what they're objecting to and have built straw feminists (pretty good video, thanks) that we all agree are rather silly.



So basically you're saying that this was a trick question? That you're not actually interested in any coherent objections, only the ones without merit?


No, I think he's saying he wants to press people who claim objections to feminism to be specific so we can identify those whose objections have no merit. Put them in a position where they won't just shut down because they're being ganged up on and see whether they can back up their vague claims with legitimate objections. I thought that was pretty clear from the OP to be honest. :/
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Re: Be specific in your objections to Feminism

Postby FeministWhore » Fri Aug 31, 2012 8:56 pm

piegasm wrote:
No, I think he's saying he wants to press people who claim objections to feminism to be specific so we can identify those whose objections have no merit. I thought that was pretty clear from the OP to be honest. :/


Yeah, that's what I'm having a problem with - the whole point of this post is to identify those with merit-less objections. What is the point of that? I would hope the focus would be more to learning about and speaking out on those issues where there IS merit to the objection.
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Re: Be specific in your objections to Feminism

Postby FeministWhore » Fri Aug 31, 2012 9:02 pm

piegasm wrote:No, I think he's saying he wants to press people who claim objections to feminism to be specific so we can identify those whose objections have no merit. Put them in a position where they won't just shut down because they're being ganged up on and see whether they can back up their vague claims with legitimate objections. I thought that was pretty clear from the OP to be honest. :/


Ok, you edited to add some stuff that sort of answers my "what is the point of that" question - I guess I just don't see the point of that being the point... to me it seems a waste of time when folks could focus on legitimate objections and work towards the related social justice goals.
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Re: Be specific in your objections to Feminism

Postby Wicknight » Fri Aug 31, 2012 9:22 pm

The primary objection (not sure that is the right term) that I've seen going all the way back to Rebecca Watson's "Guys don't do that" comment is that some people (men and women) use victim status or potential victim status as an excuse to basically have a go, to patronizingly lecture a group they have issue with (in this case men in the sceptical community). People have interpreted this as power tripping through stereotyping and false assumptions, even if they agree with the basic logic of the statement being made. This is a charge that has been repeated right up to the formation of Atheism+

So this is not really an objection to feminism, but an objection to the motivation and behavior of feminists, or at least a level of cynicism at their motivation.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not agreeing that this objection is valid. (nor is this thread necessarily the place to discuss if it is or isn't) But at the very least it pays to try and understand it. Often those expressing anger at things like Watson's comments don't even really understand it themselves, so you get general expressions of anger and resentment rather than articulated objections. You have to sift through the rubble to try and figure out the source of the resentment. There is a highly emotional level here that often trumps the rational, and it would be silly to ignore that.
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Re: Be specific in your objections to Feminism

Postby Jackalope » Fri Aug 31, 2012 10:00 pm

I've no issue with liberal feminism, though I do take issue with other white feminists attacking women of color who don't want to call themselves a feminist. Feminism has a history of racism.

My issue is radical feminism and the hatred that transwomen get from radfems. They're absolutely terrible on Tumblr (my only experience with radfems) and I got many on my block list. :lol:
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Re: Be specific in your objections to Feminism

Postby piegasm » Fri Aug 31, 2012 10:15 pm

FeministWhore wrote:
piegasm wrote:No, I think he's saying he wants to press people who claim objections to feminism to be specific so we can identify those whose objections have no merit. Put them in a position where they won't just shut down because they're being ganged up on and see whether they can back up their vague claims with legitimate objections. I thought that was pretty clear from the OP to be honest. :/


Ok, you edited to add some stuff that sort of answers my "what is the point of that" question - I guess I just don't see the point of that being the point... to me it seems a waste of time when folks could focus on legitimate objections and work towards the related social justice goals.


There's two reasons the way I see it. One would be so otherwise productive discussions don't get derailed by people who, when pressed, can't even articulate what their objections are. The other would be the potential of bringing those people (as well as potential lurking fence-sitters) over to our side via forcing them to see that their objections have no merit.
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Re: Be specific in your objections to Feminism

Postby Tinjoe » Fri Aug 31, 2012 10:32 pm

piegasm wrote:
FeministWhore wrote:Ok, you edited to add some stuff that sort of answers my "what is the point of that" question - I guess I just don't see the point of that being the point... to me it seems a waste of time when folks could focus on legitimate objections and work towards the related social justice goals.


There's two reasons the way I see it. One would be so otherwise productive discussions don't get derailed by people who, when pressed, can't even articulate what their objections are. The other would be the potential of bringing those people (as well as potential lurking fence-sitters) over to our side via forcing them to see that their objections have no merit.


This was what I was trying (poorly) to type.

Allowing people to safely voice what they see as valid objections could help them and others like them learn something as long as they can be specific about them. If someone can't even come up with one reason why they disagree with an ideology like feminism then I don't want to bother discussing anything with them. Someone who comes here with vague objections can string along and goalpost move a topic for a couple pages before the mods/users wise up and lock a thread.
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Re: Be specific in your objections to Feminism

Postby Subtract Hominem » Sat Sep 01, 2012 2:23 am

As far as I can tell, privileged reactionaries tend to describe anyone working for social justice "radical" if the suggested approach involves said reactionary having to change hir behavior. Thus, when Rebecca says "guys, don't do that" or Greta or Jen or Ophelia or whoever else is making similar suggestions about how to actually implement feminist ideals, they become radicals of feminism. Appropriate terminology be damned.
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Re: Be specific in your objections to Feminism

Postby Robert_S » Sat Sep 01, 2012 9:36 am

It might seem trivial and/or pedantic, but it chafes me to hear "patriarchy" spoken of in a way that could be interpreted as if it is an entity and especially one with an with an identity and agency. It makes it sound like a conspiracy theory to some and is like giving free straw and old clothing to anyone looking to argue against feminist thought.

Patriarchal attitudes, values, assumptions and traditions are very real and insidious. When people hear about "the effects of patriarchy" they are more likely to tune out than when they hear "The effects of patriarchal values" or something like that IMO.


Another complaint I have with feminism, although to a greater degree with nu-atheism, is that people don't spend enough time drilling the idea into people's heads that one cannot go directly from "Is" to "ought" in one step. So much genetic determinist type bullshit is swept away in one swipe by that one statement.
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Re: Be specific in your objections to Feminism

Postby Exi5tentialist » Sat Sep 01, 2012 9:49 am

Robert_S wrote:It might seem trivial and/or pedantic, but it chafes me to hear "patriarchy" spoken of in a way that could be interpreted as if it is an entity and especially one with an with an identity and agency. It makes it sound like a conspiracy theory to some and is like giving free straw and old clothing to anyone looking to argue against feminist thought.

Patriarchal attitudes, values, assumptions and traditions are very real and insidious. When people hear about "the effects of patriarchy" they are more likely to tune out than when they hear "The effects of patriarchal values" or something like that IMO.

Another complaint I have with feminism, although to a greater degree with nu-atheism, is that people don't spend enough time drilling the idea into people's heads that one cannot go directly from "Is" to "ought" in one step. So much genetic determinist type bullshit is swept away in one swipe by that one statement.

One of the effects of patriarchy is degrading the noun and deifying the adjective. Concepts can no longer be things. Things are real objects in our external reality - they cannot be mere ideas. But it is a hypocritical distinction. Adjectival forms of the word bullshit have less impact than the noun. Fecal insults must smear for best effect.
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Re: Be specific in your objections to Feminism

Postby AnatomyProf » Sat Sep 01, 2012 3:30 pm

I'm not an expert in feminism. I guess that my only issue, likely to be derided, is that the term is used differently by different feminists and non-feminists and therefore doesn't always refer to the same set of principles. I've heard many suggest that an equal rights movement or equity movement would not be a better name for the all encompassing view of feminism but that it does include men's rights, homosexual rights, and transgendered rights. I don't see this, and it seems that not all feminists support these different gender related rights (so perhaps gender rights is a better all encompassing term). I've recently see equity used as the goal for equal rights related to race in education. I kind of like that. I also like a broad term that includes gender, race, etc... In a way that looks at privilege on an issue-by-issue basis as well as in sweeping stereotypes. I know that some see feminism in this way but I know that others, including some feminists, do not. My view is that the name is better applied more strictly or we end up with a word whose etymology is not a good match for its current use.
Pile on. Please recognize though that I understand that the dictionary definition includes one who works for equality of the sexes and that this is often brought about by seeking to remove arbitrary gender roles enforced by society whether consciously or subconsciously.
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Re: Be specific in your objections to Feminism

Postby maiforpeace » Sat Sep 01, 2012 4:01 pm

lillake wrote:My only objection to feminism, and mind you I am a feminist, is that it can too often be focused on white women and ignores the needs of WoC. That's been pointed out again and again and again and again. So, you know, we need to get to work on that. Like, yesterday.

http://tigerbeatdown.com/2011/10/10/my-feminism-will-be-intersectional-or-it-will-be-bullshit/
http://dearwhitefeminists.wordpress.com/
http://www.racialicious.com/2008/04/28/the-or-versus-the-and-women-of-color-and-mainstream-feminism/
http://newblackwoman.com/2011/12/03/i-am-no-longer-a-feminist/

So many more, but I need to get to bed soon.


Thanks for the links lillake - bookmarked.

Check it out. You might find this interesting.

Flyover Feminism
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Re: Be specific in your objections to Feminism

Postby Nicko » Sat Sep 01, 2012 4:30 pm

AnatomyProf wrote:I'm not an expert in feminism. I guess that my only issue, likely to be derided, is that the term is used differently by different feminists and non-feminists and therefore doesn't always refer to the same set of principles. I've heard many suggest that an equal rights movement or equity movement would not be a better name for the all encompassing view of feminism but that it does include men's rights, homosexual rights, and transgendered rights. I don't see this, and it seems that not all feminists support these different gender related rights (so perhaps gender rights is a better all encompassing term). I've recently see equity used as the goal for equal rights related to race in education. I kind of like that. I also like a broad term that includes gender, race, etc... In a way that looks at privilege on an issue-by-issue basis as well as in sweeping stereotypes. I know that some see feminism in this way but I know that others, including some feminists, do not. My view is that the name is better applied more strictly or we end up with a word whose etymology is not a good match for its current use.
Pile on. Please recognize though that I understand that the dictionary definition includes one who works for equality of the sexes and that this is often brought about by seeking to remove arbitrary gender roles enforced by society whether consciously or subconsciously.


I have similar concerns.

A large part of the problem - IMHO - is the way feminists are portrayed in the media. No academic discipline sounds good distilled into a sound bite.

As FW said, there is a problem with perception. For a movement intent on altering ingrained cultural attitudes, that is not a small problem.
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Re: Be specific in your objections to Feminism

Postby maiforpeace » Sat Sep 01, 2012 6:18 pm

Nicko wrote:
AnatomyProf wrote:I'm not an expert in feminism. I guess that my only issue, likely to be derided, is that the term is used differently by different feminists and non-feminists and therefore doesn't always refer to the same set of principles. I've heard many suggest that an equal rights movement or equity movement would not be a better name for the all encompassing view of feminism but that it does include men's rights, homosexual rights, and transgendered rights. I don't see this, and it seems that not all feminists support these different gender related rights (so perhaps gender rights is a better all encompassing term). I've recently see equity used as the goal for equal rights related to race in education. I kind of like that. I also like a broad term that includes gender, race, etc... In a way that looks at privilege on an issue-by-issue basis as well as in sweeping stereotypes. I know that some see feminism in this way but I know that others, including some feminists, do not. My view is that the name is better applied more strictly or we end up with a word whose etymology is not a good match for its current use.
Pile on. Please recognize though that I understand that the dictionary definition includes one who works for equality of the sexes and that this is often brought about by seeking to remove arbitrary gender roles enforced by society whether consciously or subconsciously.


I have similar concerns.

A large part of the problem - IMHO - is the way feminists are portrayed in the media. No academic discipline sounds good distilled into a sound bite.


What media specifically, MSM? That's dominated mostly by men, isn't it?

Social media - now that's an entirely different story - and I think this is mostly why this the shit is hitting the fan, so to speak, when it comes to these feminist issues being brought to the fore, and the inception of Atheism+.

Nicko wrote:As FW said, there is a problem with perception. For a movement intent on altering ingrained cultural attitudes, that is not a small problem.


Indeed. And my guess is there are probably a myriad of facets that contribute to this problem with perception. Media, as you write, is definitely one of them.

I thought this was rather insightful - what do you think about what Matthew says here? (relevant part highlighted)

Subject: Humility

Matthew H wrote:Atheism is neither the beginning, nor the end, of wisdom. It is nothing more than a conclusion. One that happens to be true. It is no surprise to me that a person who is an atheist can still be a misogynist, a sexist, a racist, or other "ist." The moral superiority that often comes with being an atheist is almost a match for that which is associated with most religions.

Atheism in and of itself does not lend itself directly to ideas of fairness, equality, understanding, and all of those social justice and humanism causes we'd like it to. Because there is no recognition of humilty. Humility about the world in which we live. Humility in the face of others.

Many will argue that human beings have a basic sort of moralty. Some researchers have referred to it as "monkey morality." I'm not going to argue against that, except to say that our ethics and morals are much more nuanced beyond the sort of generalizations that they make. Many of our behaviors are informed by, and reinforced by, our parents, our culture, society, and personal experience. Simply identifying some primate behaviors is not enough.

I do not know things. That is the single hardest statement for any atheist to make. I do not know things. Of the many things that I do not know, are several things that I cannot know. What's the difference? Of the things that I could know, but do not, simply being aware of the facts is enough to learn them. Of the things that I cannot know, I cannot know them because those experiences are unavailable to me. Included in this is every experience that every other animal and person on the planet has. We often can have the same sensations, and we can picture ourselves in the same spatial location, but we are still imagining ourselves; projecting our minds into their location/body, as it were. We cannot, however, know what it is like to be anyone else.

When one acknowledges that one is incapable of knowing what it is like to be anyone else, many interesting things follow:
1. No man can make any claim to know what it is like to be a woman.
2. No majority person can make any claim to know what it is like to be a minority.
Etc, etc.

I am a male. I don't know what it is like to be a woman. Based on our culture, I imagine it is something similar to spending one's entire life viewed as prey. This is an analogy, and it is by no means perfect.


Humility, my friends. We are not any smarter, nor morally superior because we are atheists. Atheism is merely one conclusion, out of many, that our cognitive machines have produced. We ought consider from time to time whether our machines are making too many assumptions or not.

Before I act, as much as possible I try to ask one question, "What kind of world would I like to live in?" If my action is consistent, then I act. If not, then perhaps I need to think about it a bit more.

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