What Scares The Atheists?

I found an interesting post. The entirety of it is below.  One of many inspired by Gray’s article. I won’t reply to his post directly or even this post (shown below in it’s entirety). I am an atheist, anti-theist, monist, materialist, nihilist and a few other labels that are not used too often. I accept them. I like them. They each begin to describe my thoughts and feelings on life. None is complete on its own. I speak only for myself and no other. No other person speaks for me in these matters, certainly not John Gray. I think that it is convenient for people to think a single label is all that another person is but it is not. We humans are far too complex (generally speaking) to be held up under a single banner or label. That works for all sorts; have you ever met a Christian bigot or racist?

The post below throws out few points, the main being that a thinking non-theist should have a struggle with the concept of morality without inheriting morality from a faith tradition. As it happens I  have a problem with that thought. A big one. For a start, if morality only comes from a faith tradition, why are there so many of them? The three big monotheistic religions have one set of books each. If morality springs from them, then there should be only the three sets of morality yet we see tens of thousands of sects, each having their own moral values. We are left to believe that one book creates many moral codes, divinely inspired, without the input of humans yet it is exactly this unstable, mutable, malleable morality which I stand accused of using as my own.

In response I can only say that this thought insults me. It presumes that I am incapable of creating my own moral values. It further insults all humans in the very same way. Pity the human who lacks the ability to form their own moral values for even those who choose morals you do not like have chosen moral values. Even the young children choose moral values before they are able to follow any faith tradition.

I could ‘defend’ my position by criticizing the post below and that would be easy. I could defend my position by splitting hairs over whether other atheists are like me or not. I choose neither of these. My position does not require defending. It, like I, stands on its own. It does not need defending. It is, in its own right, a position that does not require defending for it does not care what you or anyone else thinks of it. It is not a shameful position without virtue and value. It is not a position of less than or alternative.

The very idea that I need to defend my position is ludicrous. Just the same, it is what is called for. We are each responsible to know our minds and speak freely of how we understand the world around us. This I can do.

I am not afraid. I know I will, from time to time, fail to live up to my own chosen goals. A goal that is easy to achieve is no goal at all. I will stumble, perhaps fall, get up again and carry on – wiser, more experienced, more determined and controlled. My morality is to myself. Should I find that I like you or something about you I can choose to help you in your time of need. You in turn might choose to help me and together we are stronger than either of us alone. In this bond is my second morality. Outside of these moral obligations there are none except that which I choose to extend beyond this basic circumstance. It is my choice, not a tradition or rule book. My choices are not yours and yours are not mine. By definition we cannot have the same moral values. They might well be very similar but they are not the same.

I was taught moral lessons by my parents and by society. My parents taught me to respect women. On my own I learned that I respect people. They taught me to respect my elders. On my own I learned that even they must earn respect. Society taught me to respect country and kin that are forced on me. On my own I learned to respect only that which benefits me and motivates me. Society gives me a vote to argue against what I do not accept. I accept society only in so much as it benefits me. I stand alone. I was born alone, I will die alone, and I walk alone. I am not afraid. There are those that will choose only safe harbors and warm fires. They may fear standing alone. I do not. They may require society and other peoples morals. I do not. I am not blind to the harsh, cold, brutal reality of life on this planet.

My morality comes from the law of reciprocity, not from a book or a tradition. I was born with the capability for it, learned it as a child before I could understand what faith was. My morality is the same as that of other animals. I am insulted that a believer would think it acceptable to deny it, accuse me of copying their poorly reasoned rules and laws. My morality stands head and shoulders above that of the believer. It is MY morality not that of someone else, not that of a book, not from someone that desires to tell me how to behave and act. My morality is far better than any from a book or tradition. I can defend it, explain it, live it true.

I am not afraid or scared. I know who and what I am. I know my failures and have found peace with them. I have no reason to think there is more than this life, this day, this moment. When I live this moment well, over and over again, the rest takes care of itself. I will worry about the next world when it comes to be that I am in it. I am not afraid, least of all do I fear what a next life might be like. If I have a duty of any kind it would be to live this life (moment by moment) as best I can within my moral values. Anything else is to live someone else’s life. I can only live mine. I will gladly hold my moral values up against the inspection by others. It is better than that of believers. It can be lived up to.


“What Scares the Atheists”

John Gray writes a lengthy and worthwhile piece on the New Atheism’s difficulty with the growing spread of religion.  He calls them “missionary atheists” and points out that they want to proselytize converts every bit as much as missionary Christians.

Gray, himself an atheist, also outlines the role of the Judeo-Christian tradition in the Western civilization concept of liberality.  He rightly notes that atheism doesn’t exactly have a clean slate when it comes offenses against liberal values–its 19th and 20th century taste for eugenics and colonialism being the conceit he uses.

This is a difficulty for atheism: No one who is serious about these sorts of conversations thinks that atheists can’t be moral or that atheism can’t have a moral code;  however, many a decent brainiac do struggle with the concept of atheism possessing and exercising a morality without having inherited it from a faith tradition.

Of course, Gray doesn’t think that an inherent morality exists at all, but that’s an entirely different topic for another day.

  1. Gray mentions that atheists proselytize. This, I think, coincides with what I believe is significant about groups of atheists.
    An atheist by him/her self simply is a non-believer, however, groups composed of atheists develop their own ideology, their own politically correct stances that if you do not agree with you are ostracized for. For example, many atheists embrace feminism, those atheists that do not are attacked vehemently and ostracized.

    • drenn1077, that people fall lock-step into groups is the herd mentality IMO. It is unavoidable among humans. Even very young humans do this, creating cliques when as young as 4 or 5. It’s not an effect of atheism. Religion plays on this natural behavior, manipulates it in order to manipulate humans.

      • I agree, it’s not an effect of atheism, yet it is notable that it exists and makes groups of atheists almost like a religion.

        • It makes all kinds of groups of people seem similar or seem to have similar traits. The human mind finds change to be painful so seeking ‘echo chambers’ in our friends reduces pain.

          Everything that drives us is based on pain and fear. It takes a great deal to ignore the fears and pain to accomplish something. Most people (no matter what they believe) are not cut out to make great accomplishments.

          Where you see atheists building community (churches) and the like this is because they are human. They are not copying religions, merely doing what humans do. That religious humans did it too is hardly surprising.

    • groups composed of atheists develop their own ideology, their own politically correct stances that if you do not agree with you are ostracized for. For example, many atheists embrace feminism, those atheists that do not are attacked vehemently and ostracized

      Oh rubbish. Atheists I know are across the spectrum in all kinds of other areas. But what atheists tend to do is congregate around good ideas and attack bad one. Not recognizing the important role and need for politicized feminism is a case in point. It’s not atheism that provides some kind of religion-like ideology to which atheists then adhere; it’s recognizing why good ideas need to be publicly supported and bad ideas publicly criticized. That’s the sum total of shared ‘ideology’ and continued toleration for those who support bad ideas is limited after the requisite amount of time and effort is spent explaining why they are bad ideas.

      • Your reaction absolutely cinches my allegation. Your reaction indicates that I simply must agree with you… and that is … rubbish.
        There has never been oppression of women. There never has been a patriarchy. Feminism was never a good idea, not even when it began as part of the KKK. Feminism is sexism, and feminism’s infiltration into atheist groups is why I left all atheist groups and will no longer support them. I also withdrew my membership from the American Atheists as well as The Freedom From Religion Foundation for the same reason.
        Feminism has wrecked families and destroyed lives.

        • To deny we live in a highly patriarchal society is to deny reality. It’s deeply imbedded in our culture – from our language to our identity. The examples are close at hand for anyone who honestly questions this. To maintain the denial is an intentional tactic to avoid reality and that’s not a good starting place for grown-up discussions about anything to do with reality.

          To then suggest that there is an atheist ideology to which all atheists must ascribe is the kind of claim made out of desperation and simply enough to dismantle: what is this ideology to which I have apparently ascribed?

          I’ll wait…

          • On the contrary. We live in a highly gynocentric culture which values female life above male life. That is seen in almost every facet of life, especially when the cry goes out “Women and children first” . They have Women’s studues in every college, but none for men. To get the rights women take for granted men must sign up for selective service.
            Women have every right men have. Therefore the only reason feminism can still have for existence is supremacy.
            And, also I see, as a feminist you use “shaming tactics” to insult me.

            • Educate yourself. Then we’ll talk.

              • I have, and that’s the reason you cannot force me to accept your dribble.

            • I disagree with you for reasons that do not yet seem to be on the table in this discussion. That colleges have women’s studies does not make the society gynocentrist.They also have math classes yet we seem, as a societal whole, rather poor at math. They also have physical fitness classes but it doesn’t seem to do much for society as a whole. That was a very poor argument.

              The cry for women and children first has always been, even in the most misogynistic periods of history. Protect the bloodline is the purpose.

              I do agree that feminism is more about supremacy than equality but they are hardly alone in that. Egalitarian thinkers are few and far between, being waylaid by ideals or religion along the way. To remove yourself from a group is your choice. I would hope that you are not pinning your atheism on the value of one group or another. By definition, groups are less than ideal as they inherently require compromise.

              In the struggle to find true and meaningful equality we will encounter much trouble and much pain on both sides of the male/female gender divide. I fear that those who least fit the stereotypical roles of male/female will suffer much longer than the rest of us. Arguments such as yours do not even account for them so make you seem as one of those who will forget them when we fight for equality. I hope I’m wrong.

              • Gynocentricity is a real concern. You can see it only upon gaining the ability to do so. You see it in media of all kinds. You see it in the misandry on display in almost all forms of media. For example: you see women slap a man and there is no response, but a man slapping a woman is seen as misogyny. You see hundreds of men killed in a featured movie, not a spark of remorse… one woman dies and there has to be not only remorse but a mourning scene.
                Feminism has not meant equality since its conception. It has always been a form of fascism bent on gaining power. It has done nothing to raise women’s lot in life, nothing that society as a whole would have taken care of. Women have lost much and gained nothing from their man-hating feminism. Man-hating? Yes, the radical feminists hate men and … they are the leaders of feminism.
                N.O.W. has done nothing to advance equality and much to obstruct it instead.
                There is nothing good about feminism or feminists and no one will ever be able to pull that wool over my eyes again. I detest them and want them to simply stay away from me. I do not enjoy debating them as their ideology is much like a religion and you cannot have a rational discussion with the religious.

  2. It’s a moralistic fallacy – the assumption by the religious that their morals came from god. They don’t.

    This is a good post. Too bad you had to attract a nutter in the comments. Methinks someone doesn’t understand what feminism is. All people should have the same rights. Feminism isn’t about prejudice against men; it’s about giving women the same rights we have. It’s about us all being equal.

    Maybe you should consider deleting the hateful, misogynistic comments.

    • A “nutter”, yes, the insults are expected. What you cannot defeat must be ridiculed. Suppose I told you I think I understand feminism absolutely correctly, and that it is you that have been deceived, that it is you that are ignorant?

  3. Oops. I screwed up the closing em tag around the word “equal”, which made the rest of the comment italic. Please fix it and delete this comment. 🙂

    • From its inception among the KKK women feminism has never been about equality has always been about supremacy for women and emphasizing white women in particular. Feminists are a bunch of spoiled brats who never grew up to assume responsibility for their own actions.

  4. What is commendable is that I have not been censored here. Usually I make one or two comments about feminism on an atheist site and they censor me. Free speech is in vogue here. I salute you.

    • I was kind of surprised at the twist in conversation but censorship fixes nothing that I’m aware of.

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