Friday, May 11, 2012

Atheism is a Social Movement!

Another really great article about atheism from Alternet. And I'm not surprised, but after reading it, and typing up my own blog response and discussing my own experience a bit, realized that it was written by Greta Christina. I really like what she has to say, every time I read an article by her, I am inspired and given lots to think about, and given hope.

Really interesting article, particularly to me because I felt I wasn't supported in researching the angle of atheism as a social movement when I was doing my Adult Education Masters, and in some cases harshly criticized. Some questioned whether or not atheism was a social movement, others almost took it for granted it was not, some were more open to the idea, but were not my advisor. My advisor was more middle of the road, but I still felt like I was being steered away from it. It's not the only reason, but one of the major reasons why I walked away from that program at a loss of almost $1500, or more like $4000-$5000 if I also counted the money I spent to fly from Korea and partake in the foundation program on campus. I still value the time I spent there and still thought it was a fairly progressive approach to education in a lot of ways, but unfortunately, I felt it failed me in supporting my atheist agenda (tongue somewhat in cheek). That's not the whole story of course, it was also partly because I decided that I was not as enthusiastic about doing distance learning, partly that I found out it would likely take me a few more years to finish than I at first believed, and perhaps partly because I was too much a coward to stick to my guns and fight to study what I felt was a genuine, rich and important topic of study. It's not simply to attack all the professors either. They were great and I really regret sometimes that I'm not going to be working with them. It is however, hopefully, an intellectual challenge, an open letter of sorts, to take notice that atheism is a social movement, and that it is not hopeless to herd these cats into action. So this article really rang a bell inside for me and the experience I had with my short foray into Adult education, because this article on several occasions, explicitly names atheism as a social movement, and gives real world examples of atheism activism.

Also the story of the Cancer society turning down the half a million dollar donation from an atheist group because they were atheist, and apparently too controversial hits close to home for me because two of my aunts have been dealing with or battling cancer, and our money can help find a cure just as well as money from other groups. The third aspect that's really interesting to me where it touches on the rise of student secular groups organizing and becoming political. It talked about high school groups, and the backlash they have sometimes faced, and also mentions groups in universities. Both of these have relevance to my immediate future, one because I'm going back to university and hope to attend some meetings of a secular group, and may in fact have to start a group if one doesn't exist, and secondly because I'm doing a bachelors of education and will be a teacher in a high school or possibly middle school after I graduate, and wonder how this issue may come up in work as a teacher. Finally I like it because it points out many ways in which atheists can be agents for positive change in society, raising money for charity, and stepping up to help give support to people who are being harassed. It helps to dispel myths that some carry that atheists have no morals and do not care about anybody or anything. It's simply not true. We are passionate and care very strongly about truth, justice, compassion and love, just like any other segment of the population.

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