Posts Tagged ‘ Objective Morality ’

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.

What If There Is A God?

There are people that do not understand my position on belief. Perhaps it is time to explain it again.

Atheism simply defined is, “Someone who LACKS BELIEF in a god or gods.”  So as an atheist I would never claim to KNOW that there are no gods.  In this context atheism is nothing more than the rejection of the proposition, “a god or god’s exist.”  It is not the positive statement, “there is no god.”

https://myatheistlife.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/8ec7d-atheists-live.png

As an atheist I agree completely. I further posit that the probability of a god is zero. Further, if a god exists and that god is like the description of the god of Abraham that god is not worthy of my desire, accolades, or worship. If there is a god that exists as described by deists it does not care what words I use nor who I sleep with and how. If a god exists and judges me by moral means then it will judge me based on the morality I know rather than that offered in the offensive books of human made religions. If a god exists and has the fortitude to judge me at all, it can judge me by my morality and treatment of my fellow animals. If it indeed has the power of judgement, it can judge me on how I’ve treated others. If indeed there is a god who has any need or want to judge me, it can judge me as I have lived or it can do as it wishes but I will not worship it. For a being to acquire my worship requires what no god of human design or understanding can do. The YHWH-ists claim their god is omniscient yet that god has failed to meet the criteria I set forth. For those that think I am not permitted to set forth the criteria I am open to them showing me their god so that their god can explain to me personally what the rules are. I’m not saying I will accept any old god and his rules, but if there is argument about my understanding it will require the actual god to explain to me the differences. Without that there is no such thing as free will and I claim my right to free will now and always. Let some god who wants to be king explain any differences to me personally. I need no middle man arguments. Any god who would deem me unworthy of such effort is unworthy of my praise and worship and will likely garner my desire to kill it. If that is not clear enough for the theist, then I can use more words.

 

 

God Is A Nihilist

I’m talking here about the god of Abraham. It is not important what name we use as long as we know we’re talking about that god. He is various described but in all cases he gets this sort of description generally:

Omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, omni-benevolent. He is without peers, without family, without community, without predecessors. It is assumed that he existed prior to any existence we know of (a complete void) on his own, without guidance or interaction of any kind. He had nothing from which to form an opinion, he simply knows all things. That includes his purpose and meaning. Along with this he knew that creating existence to worship him would fail miserably but did it anyway. There can be no meaning and purpose in doing what you know will fail. To argue that it might have worked is not suitable – he would have  known how to make it work and done that instead of the things he has supposedly done to get us here.

Anyway, let’s look at what a nihilist might be:

NIHILSIM

1: the belief that traditional morals, ideas, beliefs, etc., have no worth or value
2: the belief that a society’s political and social institutions are so bad that they should be destroyed

3 a :  a viewpoint that traditional values and beliefs are unfounded and that existence is senseless and useless

   b :  a doctrine that denies any objective ground of truth and especially of moral truths
4 a :  a doctrine or belief that conditions in the social organization are so bad as to make destruction desirable for its own sake independent of any constructive program or possibility

 

1 – He did away with Jewish traditions, ideas, beliefs and so on, then changed again for t he Muslims – clearly he is down with this sentiment

2 – Oh man! How many of those has he destroyed? He’s got a penchant for it

3.a – See the opening paragraph. He has no traditional values and beliefs, just a priori knowledge and failed experiments in making little friends

3.b – Now we get to talk about murder and genocide. If there is objective morality, then if it is wrong for humans, it’s wrong for god. If morality is only what god wants, it is not objective… and that thought is pretty creepy.

4.a – For all we know, the god of Abraham has given up and killed himself already. He clearly is having trouble making the ideal existence, even his angels go off the ranch. He’s not a likable guy. He didn’t want to remain here on Earth and got himself killed as soon as he could blame it on his chosen people. According to most of his followers he is on a tear to find those worthy of  his presence before destroying everything else in existence.

https://i1.wp.com/i966.photobucket.com/albums/ae143/alfies_bucket/nihilism_1680x1050.jpg

The god’s purpose for humans is to worship him. Not much meaning in that when you think about it. This god guy is a very lonely narcissist who has no meaning or purpose beyond himself and his own existence. He is a nihilist if ever there was one.

 

 

What the F is Egalitarianism

It is not an easy word to say, doesn’t roll off the tongue and does not appear in the daily 24 hour news cycle. So? What is it?

I always go to Merriam-Webster for definitions because I like them

1:  a belief in human equality especially with respect to social, political, and economic affairs
2:  a social philosophy advocating the removal of inequalities among people
This seems quite reasonable. So why is it so hard to achieve?
http://urolz12.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/v-for-vendetta-20060221085724795.jpg
I don’t want to cast aspersions where they are not warranted but I should point out that religion has been in charge for over 2000 years. Perhaps we should try this without religion?
Thoughts?

The Misogyny Of Atheism

Yeah, that’s a beauty of a title. I didn’t make that one up. A blog called ‘Cutting It Straight’ put up this short post. I want to talk about this given it’s relevance to some episodic rumblings in the atheist community – whatever that is supposed to be.

https://i0.wp.com/api.ning.com/files/wggDR0Y3MYy7d0lHGugQbPoZiFaUQXR9AJMTt5stnNT9IQ9SvdMlUqve5o9Oe7ra7fErNCDFd8amRj314GSLSE4GN0WHWdqs/biblequote.jpg

Their post was short, so here it is entirely.

The Misogyny of Atheism

“How can a progressive, important intellectual community behave so poorly towards its female peers?”

Because atheism’s fundamental intellectual commitments (if pursued consistently) lead inexorably to such behaviour.

This article (not for kids to read, by the way!) shows the fundamental incoherence and hopelessness of atheism, because it displays the logical devaluation of the individual that inevitably results from naturalistic materialism. See, if human beings are merely animals and there is no transcendent, objective morality, “might makes right”–and men, being stronger than women, dominate in the jungle of naturalistic materialism. On atheistic grounds, how would that be wrong? (How is there any right and wrong to begin with, anyway?) If evolutionary theory is right, men increase their chances of reproductive success by objectifying women, using them as means to an end rather than valuing them as individuals.

But, if there’s a God and he made gender and sexuality for a purpose–and if men and women are made in his image and derive their value from him–then, and ONLY then, we have a basis for the inherent equality of men and women. The answer to this behaviour, then, is the Gospel.

 

Did you get that? Not believing in a god is a fundamental intellectual commitment. That means that pastors who stop believing in a god will end up being misogynists. Go figure. Without active belief in an imaginary friend we’re all fucked.

Apparently my thoughts are supposed to be incoherent and full of hopelessness, all because I don’t believe in gods. I’m also meant to be misogynistic. Well, fuck me, how did I get to be egalitarian? I must be doing this atheism stuff all wrong. If only there were a guide book, perhaps weekly meetings so we could all get the same world view to go with our lack of belief in magic sky daddy.

But wait, there is more:

if there’s a God and he made gender and sexuality for a purpose

Now those are some big questions. First we have ‘if there is a god’ and then ‘if _he_ made sexulity for a purpose’ – it doesn’t get better than that. Whatever comes next you can be certain is prattle. To prove it the author follows up by saying only through a god is there a basis for inherent equality. Read it again, inherent properties change depending on what god you believe in. Yes, they wrote inherent. Webster’s says that inherent means: existing in something as a permanent, essential, or characteristic attribute. Clearly that word does not mean what he thinks it means.

This is not to say that there are no misogynists who are also atheists. Nor is it to say that there are no misogynists who are also religious. There is no proven link between the two, though there is strong evidence for correlation on the latter.

I don’t know about you, but I’m counting on people being much more reasonable than their gods. I want them to be egalitarian despite their gods not because of them. Am I asking too much?

 

 

Why Is There Evil In The World?

Let’s start this out with the right perspective. Those who claim to know the most about evil are theists so let’s see what the Christian Bible says.

Isaiah 44:24 and Colossians 1:16-17

  1. God created all alone (Isaiah 44:24)–“Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb, “I, the Lord, am the maker of all things, stretching out the heavens by Myself, and spreading out the earth all alone.”

  2. All things created by/through Jesus (Colossians 1:16-17)–“For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created by Him and for Him. 17And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”

Well, that clears things up. The god God made everything of every description. There doesn’t seem to be much wiggle room to tack ‘except evil’ on the end of it.

Of course atheists have a lot to say about the ‘problem of evil’ and the issues surrounding arguments for and against. It is difficult to argue about something which is very poorly defined. Webster’s (my favorite) says:

adjective \ˈē-vəl, British often & US also ˈē-(ˌ)vil\

: morally bad
: causing harm or injury to someone
: marked by bad luck or bad events

1 a :  morally reprehensible :  sinful, wicked <an evil impulse>
b :  arising from actual or imputed bad character or conduct <a person of evil reputation>

2 a archaic :  inferior
   b :  causing discomfort or repulsion :  offensive <an evil odor>
c :  disagreeable <woke late and in an evil temper>
3 a :  causing harm :  pernicious <the evil institution of slavery>
b :  marked by misfortune :  unlucky

Clearly it’s not so easy to define this word. Many people would define it as pain and suffering or the cause of pain and suffering. Whatever the definition we now know what the god God created it or allowed it to create itself. This is all problematic for a number of reasons.

  • It is difficult to discuss unless all parties agree to the meaning.
  • All parties will not always agree to the meaning.
  • Some people think anything that is not “godly” is evil, whatever godly means.

https://americangallery.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/small_hear-no-evil-see-no-evil-speak-no-evil.jpg?w=629&h=354

I’ve got a different view. There is no evil. That explains why it can’t be defined well enough for everybody to agree on the definition. Aside from the fact that there are no gods, there is also no “opposer” or satan or evil. Existence simply is. It does not care about humans nor morality. Evil, pain, suffering, wrong doing: all these exist or seem to because we humans (theists mostly) are trying to impose a made up set of standards for what is good and what is not. We do this from a completely anthropocentric position. Theists try to impose what they call absolute morality which does not consider any animals other than humans. It is hardly absolute then. We can clearly see that many animals exhibit moral actions and emotions.

http://www.ethics.emory.edu/pillars/health_sciences/Beastly%20Morality%20Pic%201

Any definition of evil has to compliment a definition of morality and good. Any definitions of either that do not account for the morality we see in other animals is incomplete at best and at worst a mere human contrivance to serve the speaker’s own ends.

There is no evil in the world as theists would define it, there is only pain and suffering and that is what we expect to see in a harsh cold unforgiving universe that does not care about our species one way or the other. The universe is unfolding as it should and unless we all work together we will remain caught in the trap of delusion and superstition, slaves of ignorance.

So how do you define evil? I want to know.

 

Hitler Can’t Help You

or why Christian apologetic arguments that use Hitler as an example are self refuting and circular.

I’ve written about this before here  and here  but I think this video does a better job of showing how the argument of biblical morality is circular and dangerous.

Enjoy.  Please feel free to comment whether you think this is correct or not. The circular biblical morality discussion needs to be out in the open more often.

 

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