SIgnal Boosting: Surly Amy’s Skeptic and Atheist Do Better Challenge

Finding the last few years of negativity around the shortcomings of some traditionally hierarchical skeptic/atheist groups and/or celebrity figureheads tedious and dispiriting? Amy Davis Roth (SkepChick, Surlyramics) lays out a plan for grassroots positivity to change that.

Those leaders are not my leaders anymore. They do not stand for my ethical principles. And the good news about that, is those leaders are not needed for the majority of us to make a positive impact in this world.I have been thinking a lot about the value of ones life in a godless community. As an atheist, I do not get to find solace in the idea that I have an afterlife to plan for.  I have to make peace with the idea that this one life is all that I have and that every single solitary moment counts right now. It counts in moments, that are slowly ticking away. And while I also have to realize that while there is no God keeping track of those moments and my actions within them, that none-the-less they matter. They matter because each of us has in their power in every single moment, an opportunity to lead by positive example to make the world a better place each and everyday. A place where we can peacefully co-exist and grow without religion and without superstition as a driving force.

The skeptic and atheist communities have been riddled with negativity lately. But it is in our power to change that, starting today. If even half of the people who self-identify as skeptics or atheists made a promise to actively do better, we would, as a whole, become the leaders that the world needs. Not one person, not a tiny group of horseman, but all of us collectively as a movement could show that humanity (and the animals) will benefit from humankind discarding the shackles of superstition and pseudoscience and instead embracing the ideals that come with compassion, caring and empirical knowledge.

You do not need God to do good, but you do need some sustained effort to show that it can be done.

I issue you all a challenge.

Starting today, right now, make a promise to combat the negativity we face as atheists or skeptics and do a good deed.

There’s more to Amy’s vision in the full post at SkepChick.

Amy’s tapping into something fundamental about human nature here: most of us want what we do in the world to matter to others as well as ourselves, to make some sort of difference to people other than ourselves, to leave some sort of legacy that others will recognise and value after we die.  Religions all provide some sort of framework within which people can find projects to join which fulfil this desire alongside fellowship with likeminded others who will honour their passing, as part of a community of shared values which recognises efforts and accomplishments beyond the commercial/careerist/competitive world of earning their livelihoods.

While it may well be enough for some atheists to merely acknowledge their unbelief and move on with life, perhaps finding their sense of fellowship and legacy in other vocations/passions which provide community acknowledgement and recognition, perhaps finding full satisfaction in staunch individualism, there seems to be a paucity of shared ethical purpose in terms of making a mark on the society around us, for those of us to whom that matters. Having a banner under which to share ethical endeavours with each other to inspire/enthuse/support each other is a start, and  “Do Better” is about as good as it can get in terms of slogans for herding cats, because it covers so many possibilities.

No doubt there will be some pushback from the “how dare you tell me what to do” crowd anyway, because Rebecca Watson Said Those Words so therefore any suggestion from any feminist particularly any other SkepChick is forever-wrong, but hey – I’ve got no problem with that crowd doing their own thing while I support the “Do Better” crowd doing their thing (if only that crowd could extend the same tolerance).


Poster art of beautiful flowering plants in terracotta pots on a balcony with a blue sky background: birds are swooping and a small mouse at the base of a flowerpoint looks at the viewer.

It is the little things that matter.

Index/Archive thumbnail image credit: Artwork by Surly Amy “Good Advice” – text says:
It is the little things that matter.
Freedom is a state of mind.
Beauty is all around you.
Life is an adventure.
Love is important.
Friends are good.
Everyone is lucky.



Categories: ethics & philosophy, Life, Sociology

Tags: , , , ,

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