A Conversation with Tim Whitmarsh on Atheism

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Listening to Tim Whitmarsh on Atheism (Battling the Gods: Atheism in the Ancient World) left me feeling that the whole thing is HIS-Story rather than hers or even better ‘theirs’.

Here is a link to the interview that I listened to

I am fascinated by religion and non-religion in equal measure. I am not entirely sure why it fascinates me so other than the fact that the reality that we all live with the dichotomy of  death, disease, inequality,suffering and greed vs beauty, nature, art, charity, human ingenuity and adventure means that we are forced to come to terms with it all (or not I guess).  Some people choose religion and a known or ‘named’ god and some people choose nothing.  I choose it all and call it nature, mother nature, human nature, the forces of nature. But that’s by the by….

Anyway, that’s just a bit of context behind what is really a rekindled realisation that after listening to Tim I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by the reality that Atheism (as with Religion) is a male construct almost devoid of her-story and as such, as a philosophy it fails to completely hit the mark for me, to grab me.

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As much as I found Tim interesting and warmed to his approach to the subject I couldn’t help feeling the absence of a woman’s voice and wondering what the world would look like, what Atheism would SOUND like if women had a hand in shaping it. Further, what would it all look and FEEL like if gender hadn’t even been an issue?  How would that have played out in the world I wonder……

And that brings me back to what makes sense for me and that is  a love of and belonging to nature because against that framework everything can be worked in and worked out and every voice, every action counts for something.

 

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4 thoughts on “A Conversation with Tim Whitmarsh on Atheism

  1. I think you are right. We certainly do need a female representative among the Richard Dawkins’ & Christopher Hitchens’ of our world. If you google famous Atheists, it is monopolised by men. I’m an atheist & I’ve only just recently started to comfortably own it to level myself with all the other competing identities (I don’t really like labels & Identities anyway but it is at least one that is a clear, ‘unspoken’ statement, although I rarely disclose it openly). The Earth is a mother, no doubt – she birthed us, she nurtures, provides food, shelter, but punishes justly too. I think you would enjoy The Alphabet Versus The Goddess by Leonard Shlain. While the author is male, he at least poses the idea that the alphabet might be largely to blame for patriarchy & misogyny.

    • RealizeBeautyEd

      Yes I’ve read that book and do like it. Tim Whitmarsh goes back to explore the origins of Atheism as a collective movement – a movement like all others back in ancient history that was monopolised by men. These days we are all much freer to construct our own meanings to words and philosophies but I on a political level the male dominated framework does still persist.

  2. Tim Whitmarsh

    I just found your site randomly … and I think you’re absolutely right. There are of course many, many female atheists, and they are particularly vocal in e.g. ex-Muslim communities. In antiquity they must have existed, but those voices are mostly lost to us now. But (as in so many areas of life) it is the men (Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris et al.) whose voices dominate the media discourse: perhaps because atheism has been constructed (not least by its opponents) as aggressive rather than consensual and inclusive (as it should be). I don’t want to be part of that; in fact part of my uni job involves campaigning actively for equality and diversity. Thanks anyhow for reading; and let’s push forward into a better world! Tim

    • RealizeBeautyEd

      Hi Tim, thank you so much for taking the time to comment, I must say it was a lovely surprise! I hadn’t thought about how atheism has been framed before and had not considered that its opponents might have helped push the ‘angry’ stereotype and that our (my) prejudice might be allowing that to persist. Maybe it is time to seek out the quiet, peaceful voices and give them a platform. I’ll certainly mull this over some more.

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