What Do You Want out of a Local Atheist Group?

by Luke Muehlhauser on April 24, 2010 in Funny,General Atheism

the rise of atheism

These days, atheism groups are popping up like gays in the Republican Congress. Quite a few are on Meetup.com. There are also some atheist churches, like the North Texas Church of Freethought. And then there are UU churches, of course.

The fact is, there’s great demand for social gatherings for non-believers, and not enough money or leadership to meet the demand.

On reddit, one founder of a popular atheist group in North Carolina asks: “What would you want out of a local atheist group?”

The highest ranked answers are:

1. Someone to fuck.

This is indeed an important service for any large, diverse social group to provide. If you’re a girl, rest assured you will find willing partners at an atheist meetup. And if you’re a guy, there are plenty of sexy atheist girls around, you just have to know the game.

To some degree, this reduces to a request to provide alcohol. Problem solved.

2. Cat herding contests.

This is another superb idea. Offer a prize – service (1), perhaps – to whoever is most successful at herding independent-minded furry mammals (atheists, that is). It could even be a nationwide tournament, with county-level and state-level contests. By the end of the tournament, perhaps someone will have figured out how to make atheists as politically effective as a far smaller minority in America, like Jews.

3. Programs to help other people.

These abound. One interesting option is to adopt a highway (for trash cleanup). Admittedly, this helps people in a minimal sense, but it does give atheism exposure, because if you clean up the trash then you can put up an official-looking sign on that road. The 2 Freeway in Glendale (near me) has a big sign saying ‘This highway adopted by American Atheists.’ Thousands of people drive by that sign every day.

Or you could feed the hungry, I guess.

4. Tax exempt status.

If you incorporated your organization specifically as a charity, you could do this. But unlike religious people, I don’t think you could get tax exempt status just for getting together and socializing.

5. Good speakers.

I’m available. And practical.

6. Debates.

Hmmmmm… atheists aren’t so good at those, I’m afraid.

7. Hot totty.

Here are your instructions.

Now, what else do you want out of a local atheist group?

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{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

plutosdad April 24, 2010 at 6:41 am

one thing i am realizing I miss is speakers challenging us to improve and become better people. I don’t mean speakers like what’s going on in CHicago this weekend, talking about science and fighting superstition, but maybe talking more about humanism, encouraging and challenging us in our personal lives.

Note that is not the same as going out and doing charity work. I mean during the rest of the week. I feel like the only moral or ethical … instruction? encouragement? … i get is from reading,and even then I only read what interests me at the time.

I don’t want to go to a UU church for that sort of fellowship and teaching.

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Revyloution April 24, 2010 at 12:59 pm

As a married parent, I’m less in the market for someone to fuck, as I am to help raise the results of the fucking. Our local group only has one other couple with children. I would really like to see something similar to Dale McGowans Parenting Beyond Belief. Getting kids together to play skeptically.

On the vein of charity, were considering incorporating our group. It would be nice to be recognized as a charitable group, rather than 70 anonymous donors. Not sure how this will fly, but were going to give it a try.

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Justin April 24, 2010 at 2:09 pm

I’d also like free porn, thank you very much.

All jokes aside, I wouldn’t want Atheism to have a sort of ‘group’. It just makes it more of a religion(which is something we’re fighting against).

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Justfinethanks April 24, 2010 at 2:31 pm

I would really like to see something similar to Dale McGowans Parenting Beyond Belief. Getting kids together to play skeptically.

Yeah as a parent of a preschooler I too am a little confused as to whether my nonbelief should play any role in my parenting. While I certainly want to raise a critical thinker and skeptic, I would feel a little weird bringing atheism into the picture. I remember hearing a lecture by WL Craig about how to introduce a simplistic version of the telelogical argument to children by asking questions like “See how complex and intricate this leaf is? Do you wonder how it was made?” What exactly would be the atheistic equivalent of that?

“Dear, do you remember when your dog was run over by a car?”
“Yes.”
“Didn’t that hurt horribly? Would you ever expect something so miserable to ever happen in a universe that contained anything besides pitiless indifference our human condition?”
“…”

Introducing my kid to atheistic arguments would be a bit odd for me, and frankly feel more like indoctrination than parenting.

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Justfinethanks April 24, 2010 at 2:37 pm

I wouldn’t want Atheism to have a sort of ‘group’. It just makes it more of a religion(which is something we’re fighting against).

How exactly does a group of people with common beliefs organizing equal religion? If a group of people come together for their mutual love of anime, is that a religion? If a group organizes to trade stock tips, is that religion? Are political parties religions? Is the AARP a religion?

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lukeprog April 24, 2010 at 2:38 pm

Justin,

You’re fighting against community?

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Justin April 24, 2010 at 4:05 pm

Justin,You’re fighting against community?  

No, I am not fighting against community. But what you are asking sounds a lot like a church. Hell, you even mentioned an Atheist church in your post. However, I would likely attend this group if they supplied their own girls to fuck.

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Beelzebub April 24, 2010 at 4:20 pm

1. Someone to fuck.

Of course, this is just going to bolster the theist charge that atheist are atheists because they don’t want to follow strict sexual rules. Oh well, screw them — not literally, because that means you’d have to marry them first.

I must admit that it never dawned on me that atheist groups would be the ideal place to hook up. Duh.

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bdforbes April 24, 2010 at 5:30 pm

We pretty much have the equivalent of an atheist club in my physics department at Melbourne; most people in the department are atheist, agnostic or secular, so at lunchtime in the staff room, there’s a good chance that anyone in there is not a believer. We sometimes play games using the religious columns in the newspaper; there’s a Bible passage every day, one person reads it out, omitting a few words, others guess it. I think the amusing part is that for non-religious people, it’s still so easy to guess the words. We also try to guess the muslim prayer times.

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Ben April 24, 2010 at 5:45 pm

Um, what about Ethical Societies?

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noen April 24, 2010 at 5:46 pm

Fucking at the top, helping others near the bottom. Nice to see those atheist moral values at work. Good luck with that.

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Justfinethanks April 24, 2010 at 5:53 pm

Fucking at the top, helping others near the bottom.

3rd out 7 is “near the bottom”? Either you don’t understand basic math or you are writing to us from bizarro world.

And if you know what you’re doing, fucking is helping others.

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noen April 24, 2010 at 6:51 pm

I was just “helping” you. ;)

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al friedlander April 24, 2010 at 8:12 pm

“Fucking at the top, helping others near the bottom. Nice to see those atheist moral values at work. ”

I’m sure you never think about sex, and always assign ‘helping others’ as your top priority..

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JJR April 24, 2010 at 9:03 pm

1) Good, interesting conversation, preferably over (or after) a meal together. A group to swap jokes with, the latest info on religious crazies locally and nationally.

2) And yeah, potential dates. I have resolved never to date Christians again, or anyone else who is deeply religious.

3) mainly, re-assurance that I’m not alone in my secular outlook and distrust of religion and the religious.

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noen April 24, 2010 at 9:29 pm

”I’m sure you never think about sex, and always assign ‘helping others’ as your top priority..  

I can assure you that I never think about fucking and that helping others really is a top priority for me. Here is what seems to be on everyone’s list

1) interesting conversation (MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!)
2) potential dates (MEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEME!)
3) re-assurance (ME ME ME ME ME ME!)

I really dislike most evangelicals but I have to admit that even they have a more highly developed sense of morality and social responsibility, one that goes far beyond cleaning up a stretch of highway, than it would seem y’all do.

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lukeprog April 24, 2010 at 10:18 pm

noen,

Maybe it just means that the atheists here are being more honest than their religious counterparts.

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Mark April 24, 2010 at 11:19 pm

I can assure you that I never think about fucking and that helping others really is a top priority for me. Here is what seems to be on everyone’s list

1) interesting conversation (MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!)
2) potential dates (MEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEME!)
3) re-assurance (ME ME ME ME ME ME!)

I really dislike most evangelicals but I have to admit that even they have a more highly developed sense of morality and social responsibility, one that goes far beyond cleaning up a stretch of highway, than it would seem y’all do.

Most social groups aren’t centered around community service. You have a very narrow conception of human activity if this is disappointing to you.

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al friedlander April 24, 2010 at 11:21 pm

“I can assure you that I never think about fucking and that helping others really is a top priority for me.”

http://img142.imageshack.us/img142/7897/orlyverbose.jpg

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Beelzebub April 25, 2010 at 1:12 am

Fucking at the top, helping others near the bottom. Nice to see those atheist moral values at work. Good luck with that.  

Wow, it only took a few more comments to demonstrate my point. Am I good, or what?

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noen April 25, 2010 at 5:26 am

noen,Maybe it just means that the atheists here are being more honest than their religious counterparts.  

Being an honest thief doesn’t make thievery morally acceptable.

Most social groups aren’t centered around community service.

All churches are social groups. Almost all churches have community service as a major goal. One might question their sincerity but at least they are doing something and more than just picking up trash.

Wow, it only took a few more comments to demonstrate my point. Am I good, or what?

No, you FAIL. I made no such claim “that atheist are atheists because they don’t want to follow strict sexual rules.”. I’m not a theist either, I’m agnostic.

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Revyloution April 25, 2010 at 8:25 am

Neon, what is the practical difference between an atheist and an agnostic?

Not to get too pedantic, but I am simultaneously atheist, agnostic and skeptical. I never knew that they were exclusionary.

As for overall morality, this post, and subsequent discussion isn’t about that. It’s a question about forming communities. Our local atheist club is about that. It’s a social club. The last time we discussed charity, we talked substantively about the best charities to give to, cuts we’ve made in our lives to be able to give more, and the value of charity in society.

Don’t forget that as a non-believer, point of living is to enjoy it. If this is the one and only life, we should live it to it’s fullest, and make sure those around us have the ability to live it to their fullest. That is at the core of non-theist morality.

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Mark April 25, 2010 at 9:35 am

All churches are social groups. Almost all churches have community service as a major goal. One might question their sincerity but at least they are doing something and more than just picking up trash.

So what? Why do atheist social groups need to perform all the same functions as churches? Do you also castigate book clubs because they’re not raising money for charity instead?

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Mazen Abdallah April 25, 2010 at 9:37 am

With regards to #6. I figure Bill Craig isn’t long for this earth, so if everyone is so worried about his debate skills, we’ll be out of the woods in about 15 years. :) Atheists are actually surprisingly good at one-on-one debates with run-of-the mill theists and even religious figures. As for apologists, their only real purpose is to defend the faith. Debating them is a little silly because they’re always ready for battle. In general, debating theists is hardly fulfilling. Dawkins recounted the story of a prominent colleague (Robert May) who always had the same response to creationists: “That would look great on your CV…not so good on mine”

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noen April 25, 2010 at 11:28 am

“what is the practical difference between an atheist and an agnostic?”

Atheists claim there is no god, agnostics claim not to know.

“I never knew that they were exclusionary.”

Words do not rule us, we rule over them. When they no longer suit our needs we can change them to perform other duties. Atheism as a “lack of belief” does not work because humans do not work that way.

“As for overall morality, this post, and subsequent discussion isn’t about that.”

Atheists claim that they wish to eliminate all religion. If they did that then we need to replace the social functions performed by communities of faith now. Any animal can just fuck can’t it. Humans are not just any beast of the field. But atheism cannot replace the social cohesion that religions give.

“Why do atheist social groups need to perform all the same functions as churches?”

See above. Atheists claim to be much more than mere stamp collectors.

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lukeprog April 25, 2010 at 11:32 am

Great Robert May quote!

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Mark April 25, 2010 at 12:13 pm

See above. Atheists claim to be much more than mere stamp collectors.

Uh, many if not most atheists see no reason to couple community organizing and philanthropy to (ir-)religious gatherings. There are plenty of other secular venues to indulge in those things. Atheist groups, like stamp collecting groups, exist primarily for people who share a common passion to meet and converse. Not for desperately trying to signal to the world that atheists can give money to charity, too.

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Revyloution April 25, 2010 at 12:37 pm

Those are interesting definitions of atheist and agnostic. I disagree totally. Atheism is just a lack of belief in a dogma. Gnosticism or agnosticism is just a statement of knowledge. They are very different words, dealing with different subjects. I lack a dogmatic belief system, thus I am an atheist. I don’t know the cause of the Big Bang, or what came before it, so I am an agnostic on that subject. It’s a nuanced view, but we are nuanced creatures that resist classification into neat little boxes.

If anyone asked me what the foundations for my moral beliefs were, I wouldn’t bring up atheism. When someone asks me what my belief system is, I usually reply with ‘empiricism’. Atheism doesn’t define me, I only seek the removal of theism as a political power. If people want to believe silly things in their homes, then fine, but our government should be ruled by calculations based on testable evidence.

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noen April 25, 2010 at 5:39 pm

“Atheism is just a lack of belief in a dogma.”

I could accept that if humans were finite state machines that can enter into only true or false states based on input parameters. Humans don’t work that way and are perfectly capable of taking “lack of belief” and making it into a dogma.

Don’t believe me? Do the experiment. Go to any atheist dominated forum and challenge any standard atheist dogma and find out what happens.

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Bill Maher April 25, 2010 at 8:23 pm

^^^ lol at this guy.

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rvkevin April 25, 2010 at 9:04 pm

Do the experiment. Go to any atheist dominated forum and challenge any standard atheist dogma and find out what happens.  

This is a fairly flawed methodology. You would be selecting only the people who are strident enough to participate on a forum. Although, I’m not sure how a strong response would be indicative of dogma; more likely, it just shows that atheists like to correct ignorance.

I’m curious, what dogma have you accepted for not believing in aliens, Bigfoot, Nessy, unicorns, etc.?

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Revyloution April 26, 2010 at 5:38 am

Do the experiment. Go to any atheist dominated forum and challenge any standard atheist dogma and find out what happens.  

I’m going to an atheist meeting this coming Friday, I’ll gladly try your experiment. Could you give me a list of atheist dogmas? I have no idea what they might be.

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Grond The Merciless April 26, 2010 at 6:49 am

I attended my university’s atheist/freethinker student group’s meetings for a semester. As I had deconverted in the 1980s, I really had no need for a support structure of any sort, and had moved beyond the phase of arguing/debating religion. I had initially attended for a sense of community, but since the university is in a state that would best be described as a near-theocracy, a majority of the group (all but me and two others) were escapees from local religion.

I lacked the frame of reference of the group, I was less concerned about escaping from the predominant religion than everyone else. I was less concerned with attempting to “make nice” with other religions than everyone else. To be blunt, I got nothing of any value from the group, so I moved on.

I also consider myself to be one of the bastard children of atheism, as I am an objectivist-flavored atheist rather than the more common humanist-flavored atheist.

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Martin April 26, 2010 at 8:07 am

I tend to agree with Noen.

I’ve found that if I try to discuss religion intelligently I get attacked unless I pepper my dialogue with “invisible sky daddy” over and over again.

One time I brought up Kant’s refutation of the ontological argument in a Christian forum because I find it to be an interesting little mind toy. Atheists swarmed from another forum and jumped down my throat for daring, DARING to bring up such a weak argument for “my” “invisible imaginary sky fairy daddy wizard LOL!!!1!!11!” I had to patiently explain to them that I was not a theist and was only interested in philosophical discourse.

Another time I brought up the idea that worshipping God is a byproduct of social hierarchy, i.e. desire for an alpha leader of the pack. I dared, DARED to suggest that it was rational to believe in God for this reason, in the same way that it’s rational for a moth to fly into a light bulb. Oh my god. You would have thought I called them all idiots.

You get that? I’m being forced to hang out in Christian forums instead of atheist ones because they are nicer and calmer!

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Bill Maher April 26, 2010 at 8:25 am

Someone call the wambulance.

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Mark April 26, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Someone call the wambulance.

His complaints feel pretty valid to me.

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Martin April 26, 2010 at 12:59 pm

And to support my complaint, I give you Exhibit A:

Someone call the wambulance.

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Revyloution April 27, 2010 at 6:37 am

I completely see your point Martin. Atheism has drawn a very young crowd, and they are feeling their oats. I think this is a common issue with any young revolutionary movement. During the Civil Rights movement, there were the Black Panthers. The very young and motivated Islam movement is all riled up. The sexual revolution in the 60′s. Just by memory, there is only one group that I can think of who are rude, riled up and old (The Tea Partiers).

Don’t be too discouraged, these young atheists are just starting out in life and feeling the power of disagreeing with the older generation. As they mature, i’m sure the epitaphs will die down.

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lukeprog April 27, 2010 at 7:08 am

The Tea Partiers would be hilarious if they weren’t so sad.

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Martin April 27, 2010 at 9:39 am

Revyloution,

You’re probably right. But I think one problem is that I don’t really see a good rational core in modern atheism at all. What little exists is mostly ignored. I rarely see modern atheists who are familiar with Quentin Smith or Graham Oppy. They follow Dawkins instead, and seem to be more of a counterculture to the fundies than a well-reasoned worldview.

Meanwhile, Craig is training Christians in proper reasoning and strong foundations for their religion.

Christianity will be poised to make a comeback, if this continues.

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Jay August 22, 2010 at 7:07 pm

As a non-believer myself, I want to say that this site is crap. Wrong attitude, wrong morality. I would never show up to one of your events.

Leave the philosophy of atheism to those with an education, you a but a wort on the ass of good anti-god religion.

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