September 3, 2009

Deconstructing the Atheist Movement

AtheismImage by boynumber1 via Flickr

Back in 2005, I began an initial deconstruction of Christian extremism (see Deconstructing Christian Extremism). It was helpful in figuring out exactly what Christian extremism is, how to identify it, and how it differs from fundamentalism. It was a reasonable starting point. Now I want to turn the light on the atheist movement itself. Some deny that it exists at all, and others argue that it should not exist or be a desirable goal in any meaningful way. But what exactly is the atheist movement? Does it exist, and if not, should it be created? Let's begin.

This is intended to be an introductory post in a multi-part series on the subject of deconstructing the atheist movement. As such, it provides an ideal place to specify some of my initial assumptions:
  • I believe that it makes sense to talk of an atheist movement as long as we acknowledge that it is in the very early stages and remains as much a potential as a reality.
  • I believe that it is possible to deconstruct the atheist movement into component parts and in so doing, we may learn about the nature of the current movement as well as the unrealized potential it holds.
  • I believe that some of the component parts we reveal are dead ends that serve a temporary purpose but will not be successful over the long-term.
  • I believe that other components, currently undervalued, may be of critical importance in sustaining or expanding the atheist movement.
I would not be surprised if additional assumptions reveal themselves across this series, but these are the ones of which I am aware at this point. They provide a reasonable starting point.

So, what are the components of the atheist movement, and which ones may hold the key for the longevity of the movement itself? What challenges does the atheist movement face, and how can we overcome these challenges? These are precisely the questions that future posts in this series will address. Stay tuned.

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