Response: Why There Is No Such Thing as a Good Atheist
Post Reply
 
Thread Rating:
  • 1 Votes - 4 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
28-04-2015, 03:10 AM
Response: Why There Is No Such Thing as a Good Atheist
This is a response I wrote to an article on huffpost that was recently linked to me. The article is in bold, my direct response is not.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/pastor-ric...42287.html

1. The universe is purely material. It is strictly natural, and there is no such thing as the supernatural (e.g., gods or spiritual forces).
More accurate to say; as far as I can tell, based on the best information presented, it certainly looks like there is no good evidence for the existence of anything supernatural, and when there is no good evidence for something I am happy to say it doesn’t exist until good evidence can be found, at which point I’m happy to update my worldview.

2. The universe is scientific. It is observable, knowable and governed strictly by the laws of physics.
Every mystery ever solved turned out to be… not magic. But again, happy to find good evidence and update my worldview.

3. The universe is impersonal. It does not a have consciousness or a will, nor is it guided by a consciousness or a will.
This is implied given points 1 and 2.

Denial of any one of those three affirmations will strike a mortal blow to atheism. Anything and everything that happens in such a universe is meaningless. A tree falls. A young girl is rescued from sexual slavery. A dog barks. A man is killed for not espousing the national religion. These are all actions that can be known and explained but never given any meaning or value.

Human beings can attribute value however they like, value is a human concept. I can keep a shell that I picked up while I was at the beach with a friend, and ascribe sentimental value to that shell. That gives it meaning. We can also empathise with other sentient beings and put ourselves in their shoes. In this way we can say that a young girl being rescued from sexual slavery is a good thing because we know that if we were her, we’d want to be saved.

A good atheist -- that is, a consistent atheist -- recognizes this dilemma. His only reasonable conclusion is to reject objective meaning and morality.
Mostly, but not completely. Objectively sentient beings can suffer, and objectively (in fact by definition) suffering is bad for the being that’s suffering. I think there’s some objective meaning within this idea.

Thus, calling him "good" in the moral sense is nonsensical. There is no morally good atheist, because there really is no objective morality. At best, morality is the mass delusion shared by humanity, protecting us from the cold sting of despair.

That’s like saying that at best math is just a mass delusion shared by humanity, protecting us from the cold sting of confusion. In the same way that 1 + 1 = 2, weather there’s a sentient being to understand that or not, “the ability to suffer” + “a cause of suffering” = “objectively bad”.


For those of you who think you're about to light up this supposed straw man and raze me to the ground, consider the following:
"Modern science directly implies that there ... is no ultimate meaning for humans."
--William Provine


Agreed. The world ultimate means it would have to come from something outside of humans, and there’s no evidence to support the idea that there is anything outside of humans that can create meaning. 


"The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference. ... DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is. And we dance to its music."
--Richard Dawkins


Agreed.


"No species, ours included, possesses a purpose beyond the imperatives created by its genetic history."
--Edward O. Wilson


Disagree. Unless you consider the meaning that humans invent to be “created by our genetic history”, which to be fair literally everything we do/can do/have done is informed by our genetic history. I guess under that broad definition I agree.


Based on the nonnegotiable premises of atheism, these are the only logical conclusions. But I've never met an atheist who's managed to live this way. All the atheists I've known personally and from afar live as if there is objective meaning and morality.

How would living as if there’s objective meaning and morality look any different to living as if we’d invented a system of meaning and morality ourselves as a society?

How is this explained?

In a Hail Mary-like attempt to reconcile the inescapability of objective morality and their assurances of atheism, two possible answers are launched.
1. Morality is the result of socio-biological evolution. This is a two-pronged attempt at justifying moral claims. First, a sense of morality evolved to ensure human survival. Much like an eye or tooth, it is necessary for the human race to continue.


I’d agree with that.


If this were true, for any claim to be moral, it would have to serve the practical purpose of advancing the human race.

Common misunderstanding of evolution. It either has to advance the human race or (and this one is more likely) fail to cause the human race to come to an end. The pain you get when you hit your funny bone doesn’t advance the human race, it just isn’t capable of causing the human race to end. This can be applied to moral actions too.



So compassion for the dying would be immoral, and killing mentally handicapped children would be moral. Perhaps the most moral action would be men raping many women and forcing them to birth more children.

No. We base our morality on suffering, and we can predict how we would like to be treated if we were suffering, so we try to treat other people the same way.

Morality, in this view, can only mean those actions that are helpful to make more fit humans. It does nothing to help us grapple with the truth that it's always wrong to torture diseased children or rape women.

Fairly ironic given the kind of horrible immoral things that go on in the bible.


Second, morality was developed to ensure the success of societies, which are necessary for human survival and thriving.

Absolutely. It’s difficult to engage in commerce and labour specialisation if you can’t trust anyone around you.



Like the rules of a board game, morality is contrived to bring us together for productivity and happiness. If this were true, there is nothing to which we can appeal when we find the behavior of other societies repugnant and reprehensible. 

I would appeal to a) the suffering thing I’ve mentioned a few times and b) the fact that their behaviour limits their ability to be as happy as others who behave better.



Because morality is the construct of a social group, it cannot extend further than a society's borders or endure longer than a society's existence.
Furthermore, within our own society, the most immoral are not merely the ones who transgress our code but the ones who intend to change it.


“Our code” can be transgressed in a good way or in a bad way, just like a piece of fish can be transgressed in a good way with some lemon juice or a bad way with some dirt. “Our code” can always be improved upon.



This would make those fighting for marriage equality the most immoral -- that is, until they become the majority and institute change. 
I suppose they then become moral, and traditionalists become immoral. But it's the math that determines rightness or wrongness of a side, not the content of any belief or argument.

In no way does the objective value of suffering I’ve discussed earlier depend on a majority opinion. 


So this view of morality does nothing to provide a reasonable answer for why it would be objectively wrong to torture diseased children, rape women or kill those who don't affirm a national religion. It only provides a motivation for continuing the delusion of objective morality.
2. Morality is logical. Atheists who take this route start in a position of checkmate without realizing it. First, the temptation is to pervert this conversation into a debate about whether atheists can be moral.


I hate when atheists do that, but he’s right they do it all the time. Hopefully I haven’t done it here.



Of course they can. That is not the question. The question is how we make sense of moral claims if we play by the rules that atheism demands.

For the record; the basing your morality on suffering thing that I’m talking about isn’t demanded by atheism. It’s just how I think people should be moral, and it’s also how I think people already do make most of their moral decisions, even when they think it’s based on the bible.

Morality may be logical, but logic does not equate to morality. The only way to make a logical moral argument is to presuppose morality and meaning to start with. Try making a logical argument that slavery is wrong without presupposing morality.

If I were a slave I would prefer not to be a slave, also I assume other human beings feel the same way for similar reasons, therefore we should treat them as we assume they want to be treated. Because after all, it’s only a matter of chance and circumstance who is on which end of the whip. 



It is impossible. A woman wrote to me with her attempt at doing just that. Her claim was that slavery is logically wrong because it diminishes other human beings. The problem is that that argument presupposes human dignity. In the strict framework of atheism outlined above, what reason is there to ever assume human dignity?

I experience dignity myself. As far as I can tell other humans experience something similar in similar ways.


All logical arguments for morality assume that human thriving, happiness and dignity are superior to contrary views.

Yes they do, because by definition these are things people would choice to have for themselves given the choice.



The strict framework of atheism does not allow for those starting points. So any person arguing for 1 or 2 would not be a good atheist. That is, he lives in contradiction to the mandates of his worldview.
Conclusion
Intelligent people ask serious questions. Serious questions deserve serious answers. There are few questions more serious than the one I'm asking. How do we explain objective meaning and morality that we know are true? If a worldview can't answer this question, it doesn't deserve you.


I agree with the conclusion so far.

One sign that your worldview may be a crutch is that it has to appeal to an answer outside itself -- becoming self-contradictory, unable to reasonably account for the question. 

There are few worldviews more self-contradictory than the christian one. 



Any atheist who recognizes objective meaning and morality defies the atheism that he contends is true.
If your worldview can't makes sense of the things that make most sense to you (like objective morality), then it's not worth your allegiance.


I agree again.



This new reality may launch you onto a journey of reluctant discovery. Whoever you are. Wherever you are. Whatever you believe. You deserve a foundation that is strong enough to carry the values that carry you.

I believe that most christians have values that are impossible to justify using the bible. Genocide is always bad, slavery is wrong, feminism, just to name 3 off the top of my head. I believe that these christians are already using the secular morality I’ve described here, they just don’t realise it. They mistakenly think these ideas come from their religion.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 5 users Like TruthKiwi's post
28-04-2015, 03:30 AM
RE: Response: Why There Is No Such Thing as a Good Atheist
Conclusion

Intelligent people ask serious questions. Serious questions deserve serious answers. There are few questions more serious than the one I'm asking. How do we explain objective meaning and morality that we know are true? If a worldview can't answer this question, it doesn't deserve you.



Fucking hell, he's so full of shit for the entire article. Not only that, but he's presupposing that objective meaning and morality exists. This premise, which is asserted but never substantiated, is complete and utter bollocks. Take that assumption away and his entire house of cards collapses.


What a stupid self righteous wanker... Dodgy

[Image: E3WvRwZ.gif]
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 5 users Like EvolutionKills's post
28-04-2015, 03:48 AM
RE: Response: Why There Is No Such Thing as a Good Atheist
(28-04-2015 03:30 AM)EvolutionKills Wrote:  This premise, which is asserted but never substantiated, is complete and utter bollocks.

That's what she said.

We'll love you just the way you are
If you're perfect -- Alanis Morissette
(06-02-2014 03:47 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  And I'm giving myself a conclusion again from all the facepalming.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes morondog's post
28-04-2015, 05:22 AM
RE: Response: Why There Is No Such Thing as a Good Atheist
There is no objective morality without YHWH, Krishna, Allah, Shiva, Zeus........Laughat

Gods derive their power from post-hoc rationalizations. -The Inquisition

Using the supernatural to explain events in your life is a failure of the intellect to comprehend the world around you. -The Inquisition
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes TheInquisition's post
28-04-2015, 06:25 AM
RE: Response: Why There Is No Such Thing as a Good Atheist
(28-04-2015 05:22 AM)TheInquisition Wrote:  There is no objective morality without YHWH, Krishna, Allah, Shiva, Zeus........Laughat

Agreed, and we have seen no YHWH, Krishna, Allah, Shiva, or Zeus.

I wish they'd stop using arguments from adverse consequences to try and insist that morality must be objective, or else it'd be terribad.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 3 users Like RobbyPants's post
28-04-2015, 06:53 AM
RE: Response: Why There Is No Such Thing as a Good Atheist
My reply to the original writer of the article

"Dude or dudette, you are ignorant. Have a nice day."

I can easily write an article showing how morally bankrupt most people in any religion are if they truly believe their morals come from some extra dimensional wormhole world where their sky daddy beams their morals directly to them.

It's all so fucking ridiculous

I am more than capable of considering the consequences of my actions, weighing the pros and cons and then selecting a course of action that I deem appropriate to the situation.

I can even choose to do the wrong thing and deal with the consequences, because sometimes the wrong thing is a hell of a lot of fun.

To say that a person can't be good because that person doesn't believe some bullshit story is one of the most ignorant pieces of written tripe.

Insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 3 users Like Rahn127's post
28-04-2015, 07:07 AM
RE: Response: Why There Is No Such Thing as a Good Atheist
Overall, a very good response.

(28-04-2015 03:10 AM)TruthKiwi Wrote:  One sign that your worldview may be a crutch is that it has to appeal to an answer outside itself...

The irony is delicious.

Atheism: it's not just for communists any more!
America July 4 1776 - November 8 2016 RIP
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes unfogged's post
28-04-2015, 07:10 AM
RE: Response: Why There Is No Such Thing as a Good Atheist
(28-04-2015 06:53 AM)Rahn127 Wrote:  To say that a person can't be good because that person doesn't believe some bullshit story is one of the most ignorant pieces of written tripe.

McDonaldian: You don't know what a good hamburger is until you've eaten a hamburger from McDonalds!

Burger Kingian: You don't know what a good hamburger is until you've eaten a hamburger from Burger King!

Steakiest: Burgers are gross! I don't want any burgers from your food establishments!

McDonaldian and Burger Kingian: You can't even tell what good is without an objective burger standard!

Steakiest: Even if I decided that I like burgers, which one of your standards is the "objective" one?

McDonaldian and Burger Kingian: Mine of course!

Steakiest: GFY!

Gods derive their power from post-hoc rationalizations. -The Inquisition

Using the supernatural to explain events in your life is a failure of the intellect to comprehend the world around you. -The Inquisition
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
28-04-2015, 08:09 AM
RE: Response: Why There Is No Such Thing as a Good Atheist
What is GFY?

Swing with me a while, we can listen to the birds call, we can keep each other warm.
Swing with me forever, we can count up every flower, we can weather every storm.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
28-04-2015, 08:11 AM
RE: Response: Why There Is No Such Thing as a Good Atheist
(28-04-2015 08:09 AM)Losty Wrote:  What is GFY?

It means- Go f*** yourself.

Gods derive their power from post-hoc rationalizations. -The Inquisition

Using the supernatural to explain events in your life is a failure of the intellect to comprehend the world around you. -The Inquisition
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
Post Reply
Forum Jump: