Friday, May 25, 2007

OK, the Joke's on Me

Um, well, er ... my last post was intended as a sarcastic commentary. Apparently, my attempt at humor fell flat. I know this because I received perplexed comments from at least two bloggers whose intelligence and insight I respect.

So now, if you’ll forgive me for my lame joke, I’ll spell out what I was trying to say.

Tons of atheist bloggers — from the least noticed of us, all the way up to the most heavily trafficked — have seen fit to post the results of a ridiculous test called “What Kind of Atheist Are You?” The questionnaire was obviously skewed, since everyone’s highest-ranking category seems to have been “Scientific Atheist,” and many of us scored at least some percentage as “Theist.” I assume that the test’s creator had an educational/philosophical point to make, and, frankly, I’m not sure that I disapprove.

The danger with this kind of parlor game, though, is that we’re surrounded on all sides by godpushers. In today’s worldwide political climate, what with the global Christian crusade and Muslim jihad, as well as more localized skirmishes fomented by witch-doctors all over the earth, it doesn’t really matter what kind of an atheist you are. Maybe in a hundred years from now, or a thousand, we’ll have the leisure to compare and contrast each person’s specific approach to freethought. But for now, I stand by the following comment, which I left on Larry Moran’s Sandwalk.

As Gertrude Stein might have said: atheist is an atheist is an atheist. Either you believe in god or you don't; if you don't, you're an atheist. To try to draw a distinction between atheistic agnostics, agnostic atheists, nonbelieving atheists, unbelieving atheists, and disbelieving atheists is ridiculous. That's why all the other labels besides "atheist" are hogwash. Let's leave that kind of pointless categorization to the religionists.
Is that simplistic? You bet! But is it practical, given the very real threats we face to learning, to liberty, and, in some places, even to our lives? I think so. I’m not suggesting that we all organize immediately and walk in lockstep. Each of us has a unique worldview. I, for one, have always refused to march to the sound of any drum, different or not. All I’m saying is that endless discussion about labels doesn’t get the theocrats out of our governments or our classrooms. It merely throws us into the same kind of we-and-them mentality that the holy hooligans love so much.

So here’s what I did. I answered exactly the same questions as everyone else. But, as folks in the Bush administration might say, I was not completely candid about my results. I added a few lines of extra HTML at the top of my report. That’s how I wound up as a 100% “Atheistic Atheist.” I thought that redundant label was hilarious, and would be obvious as something I invented. Apparently, it wasn't. But I’d still like to think that most of us in this small circle of blog-hell basically belong in that category.


Anonymous said...

No, the joke's on us.

I thought something smelled fishy, if you'll excuse the Christian allusion.

But I agree with you, and Gertrude Stein, completely.

Good one! :)

Anonymous said...

Ah, good joke. Thanks for the explanation. I took that quiz so long ago that I couldn't remember that category, but thought it was just my faulty memory. Thus, the joke went over my head.

vjack said...

I was surprised to see so many bloggers fall for that quiz, dedicating a post to it. Then again, I suppose there is nothing wrong with a lazy post every now and then.

Baconeater said...

I posted my results because I was lazy, but I also agreed with the results. Most atheists are into scientific fact. I've seen a few atheists who posted results that didn't come up with scientific first.
I actually liked the quiz.