February 5, 2013

Some Call for 'Cease Fire' in Atheist Infighting

English: Atheist Badge: The design of the A-le...
English: Atheist Badge: The design of the A-letter originates from the outcampaign.org - "Scarlet A" Deutsch: Atheist Kennzeichnungsplakette (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There has been some talk lately about whether the demise of the infighting related to Freethought Blogs/Skepchick/Atheism+ can be hastened in some manner or if it is here to stay. After Lee More (A-News) called for a "cease fire" in what has become "a No-holds-barred online war" in the atheist community, Justin Vacula (Justin Vacula's Blog) suggested that stepping back from the in-fighting would be a good thing. Staks Rosch (Dangerous Talk) agreed that an end to the conflict would be nice but expressed some pessimism about it actually happening. I share his pessimism. Some people seem to have more to gain by the conflict continuing than they do by getting along with others. Until that changes, I expect the infighting will continue.

Are those who align themselves with Freethought Blogs/Skepchick/Atheism+ interested in seeing an end to the conflict? Adam Lee (Daylight Atheism) responded to Justin via TwitLonger by listing his demands for a "cease fire" (at least, it reads sort of like a list of demands). Not surprisingly, there have been quite a few responses, including these by uberfeminist, Atheist Morality, Background Probability (part 2 is here), and Justin Vacula himself.

Can the online atheist community become much more polarized than it is now? I'm not sure, but I find myself wondering how many valuable voices we've lost through all the infighting. Increasing numbers of atheists who are active online seem to be checking out after deciding that they want nothing to do with such squabbles. If we are lucky, they will turn their attention elsewhere and focus on promoting atheism, defending the separation of church and state, and the like. But I fear that some are giving up on a community that may not seem worth the effort at times.

Two questions strike me as relevant here:
  1. How can we end (or at least reduce) the infighting before it does additional damage?
  2. Do we really want to end (or at least reduce) the infighting?
I think we may be wasting our time on the first question, as I'm not sure we've achieved anything close to agreement on the second.

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