Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Fundamentalist Theist slams «fundamentalist Atheism»

The first post of this blog is a response to a post called «Fundamentalist Atheism?» at «The Puritan's Sword» (Puritanbob in short): The posts lists some common accusations against Atheism. Here we go:


«The term «Fundamentalist Atheist» really begins to be applicable when we see that Atheists share distinct commonalities with every other fundamentalist religious group». This is in claims of exclusivity (Atheists are quite dogmatic that there is no God and all theists are wrong)»


I'd be more worried if it wasn't exclusive. God may exist or he may not. If he doesn't exist, then, voila, no theists can be right about it.

And as for dogmatic... Atheists are only dogmatic in the way that we demand proof. If the proof comes in the shape of God, then you'll find 99% Atheists saying: «All right, then. We were wrong.» However, there's been no proof. In fact, religion is constructed in a way that proof is out of the question. There's been a number of things that has been ascribed to God, but again no proof, despite eager attempts. Well. Then Atheist support of religion is out of the question. Would you buy shares in a company you can't find out if is a real one or not? I hardly think so. But when it comes to religion? Sure. People even kill themselves for it.
A little more about «dogmatic». Being dogmatic is a bit like being prejudiced. Now, let's say a jury is in court where a man is accused of robbing a bank. During the trial, it appears that there's no evidence pointing towards the accused man. Who's the prejudiced jury? The one who finds him guilty despite the lack of evidence? Or the one who reckons that since there's no evidence, then they'll have to find the man not guilty?
The «faith» jury is naturally the first one. Their gut feeling tells them that the guy's has got be guilty – despite the lack of evidence. The second jury is Atheist. There's no evidence pointing towards the man, so they'll have to let him go. But if the evidence ever comes, then they'd be more than happy to endure a new trial. What's so dogmatic and prejudiced about that?

«[...]holy texts (Darwin's Origin of The Species)[...]»

Darwin's «Origin of the Species» is not holy. The theory of evolution has been built upon it (Darwin never discovered DNA), but there's also done changes to it after new research has shown some errors and keep filling in the gaps. «Origin of the Species» is more like Evolution 1.0. A landmark in science but not perfected. I'll await the day when I hear the same from religious fundamentalist that «the bible was a landmark, but not perfected». It would be blasphemy, I presume.

«[...]evangelism (there are numerous Atheist outreach groups, Dawkins movie is one example of Atheist evangelism) etc.»

Oh spreading a message is «evangelism»? Almost all modern organisations or interest groups will often try to influence society in one way or another. Nazis, animal rights activists, The republican party, organisations for single parents etc. Sorry I can't be bothered to keep listing up everyone guilty of «evangelism». Everyone is an evangelical with this definition. But not everyone has an evangelical message.

«Now, Dawkins and most Atheists will explain the existence of religion as basically being a crutch for the intellectually weak.»

No, because a crutch is of some help. Religion is a trap. Not a crutch. And the trap works on all sorts of people, be they intellectually weak or strong. When an intelligent person has become religious (but most common: been brought up in a religious family without other input) his or her intellect will provide pretty elaborate excuses for setting rationality aside. And the intellectually weak is naturally prone to believe everything.

The Root of Evil

«Well from the outset this is absurd, because in order to even call something evil you need an objective moral standard from which you base your moral judgements. Dawkins does not have this, nor does any Atheist (As we saw the best ethical theories Atheists can contrive is consensus based so all Dawkins is really entitled to say is «Most people think religion is evil."). So in making this assertion the Atheist is really guilty of unwarranted dogmatism. Yes it is true people flew a plane into the WTC on 9/11 in the name of God but the Atheist has no objective footing on which to stand where he can say: «9/11 was immoral!» The Atheist can an does say things like this all the time, but I would submit in doing so he is being inconsistant with his worldview and really borrowing from my objective Christian ethics.»

This is just hair splitting, but firstly, let's just take Dawkins part:

«It's been a week of handling fallout from The Root of All Evil?, my TV documentary about religion. Of course religion is not the root of all evil. No single thing is the root of all anything.» Diary in New Statesman

Having said that, «root of evil» is an old biblical expression:

«1 Tim 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.»

In 6:5 you even see what this root of evil causes:

«Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth,»

True, it's about greed and money here. But it's no less true about religious fundamentalism. So whether «evil» exists or not is irrelevant as long as religion has caused more harm than greed lately. If money is the root of all evil because it causes «Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth», then surely religion is also evil. Pure logic.

But really, the bottom line is that in common sense morals mindless killing for religion is immoral. I personally don't use the word «evil» unless it's in a figurative sense like «evil looking guy», «evil Black Metal» or something. However, the word is in our vocabulary, and as the religious fundamentalists keep fighting «against evil» with all weapons available, killing lots of innocent people, then you'll have to expect that someone dares suggest that «Religion is evil». OK?

I surely think that Communism and Nazism qualifies too, but «evil vs. good» is not part of their rhetoric.


Communism

«Yes it is indeed true that many people of all religious stripes have done horrible things in the name of God, however, one only has to look to the 20th century communist regimes to realize that Atheism has blood on its hands as well. Communist Russia was an Atheistic regime which exterminated over 20 million people, many of them specifically because they would not deny Christ.»

Communism does not equal Atheism. Theism and Atheism are both just prefixes. God exists. Or he doesn't. It's when you add an ideology/philosophy or a religious worldview to this that you can get in trouble.

But is Atheism inherently communist? No. Just think about Ayn Rand, the Libertarian(or Objectivist as she preferred) philosopher. To her, Atheism was a condition for her freedom to do as she liked, and that's my view too. I don't share all her views, but I see atheism as a condition for a really free life. And her philosophy was the very opposite of Communism.

I'll clarify where I come from politically. I'm a (passive) member of the Norwegian conservative party and although we're nothing like GOP you'll find none of us endorsing communism. Did you know our last minister of education was Atheist? Crazy.

Now that everyone hopefully sees that I have no sympathy for Communism, let me continue: The Communists were not mostly concerned with religious matters, but economical and class matters. The church was not brought down because they were god fearing but because they represented the ruling class. And also, since Communism is a totalitarian ideology, then any other worldview – religious or political – constituted a threat.

You'd also think that if the Communists had lots to say about religion, then they'd leave behind a lot of good books about religion. But no. If you want to read classic books about religion and skepticism, you have to read Western European books and American books – not Communist books. Marx said that «Religion is opium for the people». Great. But did anyone of them say anything more? To be frank, I don't know. I'm not Russian after all. One thing is for sure: Communist books about religion are not well known. Maybe they didn't write much because they had other things on their mind, like killing peasants, killing each others and make silly Five years plans. Oh, and starving their population to death.

I was reading «Stalin» by Simon Sebag Montefiore last year. There was an amusing part where the mother of Beria (I think) said something like «But surely, they're all Christians?» That's all I can remember it said about religion.(Admittedly, it didn't deal much with the Revolution)

Besides, from most modern Atheists' point of view, Communism is almost as irrational as religion itself. I'll let Sam Harris do the talking:

«People of faith often claim that the crimes of Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot were the inevitable product of unbelief. The problem with fascism and communism, however, is not that they are too critical of religion; the problem is that they are too much like religions. Such regimes are dogmatic to the core and generally give rise to personality cults that are indistinguishable from cults of religious hero worship. Auschwitz, the gulag and the killing fields were not examples of what happens when human beings reject religious dogma; they are examples of political, racial and nationalistic dogma run amok. There is no society in human history that ever suffered because its people became too reasonable.» 10 myths and 10 truths about Atheism

True, in Communism, there's no metaphysical aspect, but they have their utopia. A communist paradise. All talk of utopias will scare any skeptic. And the communists didn't allow dissent.

Interestingly, the lack of a metaphysical aspect probably was Communism's grave too. Communism was meant to be a «scientific» ideology. They were all convinced about the inevitable revolution, the dictatorship of the proletariat and then the communist paradise. But they never came any further than dictatorship. And the revolution did not happen in the most advanced industrialized country (Germany) but in one of the most backwards countries (Russia).

Well, when all their experiments failed, in all countries, then Communism itself failed. That's the beauty of science. An idea that poses as science is also susceptible to a backlash when it can't keep up to the standards of science - be it communism or creationism.

If Communism was a religion, then Marx could have said that there was a three room apartment and enough food in the sky for all good Communists, and no one could have proved him wrong – until they were dead. But Marx promised a paradise on earth, and that's more difficult to live up to. Hubbard on the other hand...

Anyway, I'm not going to carry on about Communism. If you have something to say about Communism, say it to the commies.

Oh, imagine this: what if all the warring religious leaders throughout history had the same weaponry and equipment as the Communists and the Nazis? I'm sure the body count after religious atrocities would have made WW2 look like a day in the park.

"No religion leads to totalitarianism"

«This being so it is simply wrong to have a rosey/idealistic utopian picture of a society run without religion, people have done it, and it has led to oppressive Totalitarianism wherever it has been done.»

A society run without religion is not utopian, as Norway is fast becoming one. Faster than I thought ten years ago. A recent survey showed that only 29 per cent of the Norwegian population believes in a god. 26 per cent are outright Atheists. (The rest are Agnostics, Deists and New Agers I presume)

To us Atheists' dismay, we still have a State church, but nowadays it seems to be kept partly so the Government can appoint liberal bishops. The Christians are more and more opposed to it now, while the liberals are starting to see the use of it. They frequently refer to American fundamentalism as a reason to keep the State church. USA gives Christianity a bad name it seems.

There is an old annoying rule that half the Government needs to be members of the State church, but the Labour party (that has a lot of Atheists) solves this by joining the church again if they're appointed to a post. It would be better to scrap the rule naturally, but perhaps Purtianbob sees that a country can be run by Atheists without ending up as a totalitarian regime.

From an Atheist point of view, Norway is not perfect of course. We're not satisfied with the religious education for instance. But compared to the evangelical preaching in USA, not to mention the Middle East, I can assure everyone that Norway is as good as you get it in 2006. It's amazing that Norway still stands, eh?

Coping with facts

«Just as Dawkins and many Atheists assert that Religion is just a crutch for weak minded individuals who simply can not deal with reality, so the Theist can make the same accusation to the Atheist. «Atheism the Theist can say is for the weak, who simply can not cope with the reality of not being autonomous but accountable to a Creator.»[...] «Atheism is just wishful thinking, for weak people who can not deal with the reality of standing before God Almighty and being damned...so the Atheist is engaged in wishful thinking, he wishes there is no God so he says there is no God.»»

Two arguments that both can be dismissed with very bluntly. As Hitchens said: «That which can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence».

We're not accountable to religious hearsay. Wishful thinking is denying a fact. But there are no facts about God to be denied. There is a book about God called the Bible, but there are also other books about other gods. And there are lots and lots of old books that just contain made-up stories. So old books alone do not constitute a fact.

Ethics

«But what of ethics?»

Yes, ethics. Ethics is more difficult than metaphysics. Metaphysics can be discarded as pure nonsense, but we need ethics of some kind. There is something to be said for religion as a positive moral force in the beginning. But it's the same as saying: «The wheel was a brilliant invention, and the first wheel ever made had to be the best». But I'm not sure we want to exchange Goodyear for a stone wheel.

«How is ethics/morality accounted for in an Atheistic/evolutionary philosophy? Well evolutionarily of course. Morality is always changing, shifting to fit man's contexual needs. I can not give an Atheistic ethical theory that ALL will agree to, however, MOST adhear to a kind of social majority view of morality (What is right and wrong is determined by the majority opinion in a particular society). This is generally based on what makes the majority happy or what is least harful for the majority.»

This is mixing two different things: 1. evolutionary approach and 2. sociological approach.

The evolutionary approach can easily be seen in animals. Animals have no bible or any intellectual moral system – yet they do not create chaos and anarchy among themselves. They keep together in flocks, they have a hierarchy, and they take care of each others offspring often. Tribes/species that have done so have had a better chance of reproducing its genes than animals who were just intent on killing eachother.

On a basic level, humans are the same. If we all lost our intellectual moral systems, then we'd fall back on this. We'd not go on a killing frenzy. At least not for long. We'd seek together for protection.

As for the sociological approach, it builds upon the evolutionary approach. As the intellect grows every tribe eventually develops intellectual morals. And in this case, it will be the majority morals that decide what's right and what's wrong. Most tribes keep in touch with our basic evolutionary morals, while they also add some intellectual morals, like «adultery is wrong» to answer to the inevitable adulterers. And as the moral system gets more and more complex, they soon have rules for everything. But also, they make exceptions when they're needed. You can't kill your neighbour, but you can have him executed for adultery.

Fast forwarding a couple of thousand years and we have big law books. None given to us from God, yet bigger, more complex – and more rational. Of course, the law makers need a moral compass of some sort, and our modern society is in itself a moral compass, because people speak their minds about what causes our society to progress and what causes it to stagnate. Dawkins mentions this in The God Delusion, that we do indeed have a lot of moral input from, say, editorials, pressure groups etc.. I'm not going to quote what he writes, but rather give a good example:

Political correctness

The Religious Right hates political correctness. But what is political correctness if it isn't moralism of some kind? I find some parts of it silly myself, like I do with a lot of moralism, but I have no problems seing the moral intentions behind it. They defend homosexuals, not because they get aroused by the thought of males having sex, but because they think that as long as people do not hurt anyone, they should be allowed to do as they like. Therefore, we should not call the gays poofs. And who are against wars? The Religious Right or the Liberal Left? Sometimes misguided imho, but nevertheless a moral choice. Altruism and pacifism are ideas you find on the left - among the Atheists (and naturally liberal Christians).

Many of these Atheists are capable of appreciating some of Jesus' moral examples without buying the whole package with Hell and suffering. A lot of them even skip meat because they can not stand the thought of poor animals getting killed. I'm no bleeding heart liberal, but I have to say: these people have a moral impact on how we treat eachother. The difference between them and strict religious people is that we can very often reason with the bleeding heart liberals, say, by pointing towards what causes the least harm or most happiness.

But no. To the Conservative Christian, the Laws of God, must by its very definition be better than the Laws and Ideas of Man.

Surprise. No religion ever got its morals from a god. It was always constructed by people. To give the morals some weightiness (back in the days of superstition) they said that «God told me this is the moral thing to do».

And as with any other morals, religious morals changes throughout history. You will find a lot of conservative Christians who will (rightfully) believe that homosexuality is wrong according to the bible, but they will gladly let women speak. Especially Ann Coulter. Just as the liberal Christians, the conservative Christians only follow the commands and rules they like. They read the scriptures differently.

Old, new, borrowed or blue?

This is a good place to discuss: which scriptures? The New Testament? The Old Testament? Or both? I've always liked to taunt liberal Christians with these verses found in Matthew:

5:18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
5:20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Many of them are not comfortable with this part, because they have an idea that «The Jews are under the law, while we aren't». Indeed, there are other verses, as this one in Romans which says so:

10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

One interpretation leads to bloody executions for trivialities. The other, to a mindless «We're not perfect. We're forgiven» world, where accepting Christ is your only moral obligation. The Bible as a moral compass is therefore useless, because you can do whatever you want and pretend you're a good Christian.

I know the Religious Right pays some attention to the Old Testament, but even I was taken aback when I saw Dawkins' «Root of all Evil?» documentary where Rev.Michael Bray says that he wants capital punishment for adultery. This is what it means to have a morality that's based on «an absolute objective Being that transcends time and space» as Puritanbob writes.

Thou shalt not kill

When Christians are asked to mention some useful part of Christian morality, they often mention the commandment «Thou shalt not kill», as if no one would ever have thought about that if it hadn't been for the bible. But as we have seen, Christians like Michael Bray also have a different agenda – thanks to their belief – and want to kill adulterers. He's extreme, and most European Christians would find it appalling I am sure. I would like to think the same goes for Americans, but I must admit that these Christofascists make me uncertain.

Adultery aside, what about Capital Punishment for murder? It seems to me that Religious Right are very much for it. So much for «Thou shalt not kill». I also think it’s interesting that Moses receives the commandment «Though shalt not kill» in Exodus 20:13 but in Exodus 32:28 (after Moses has received a mindnumbing number of other laws) he has the Levites kill 3000 of his own people because they had made that golden calf:

«And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.»

This is the real problem with the religious morals that we know. They make it sound so nice when they preach about morals. They say it sumes up like this: «Be nice to other people!» But they always find exceptions for themselves. How on earth can a reasonable person defend anyone who says that you should not kill, but who then goes on to kill 3000 people? Martin Luther has the answer: Screw reason!

«Reason must be deluded, blinded, and destroyed. Faith must trample underfoot all reason, sense, and understanding, and whatever it sees must be put out of sight and ... know nothing but the word of God.»

Now, without reason, it makes much more sense to kill 3000 people while shouting «Thou shalt not kill» in between the stabs and slashes. Religion is no friend of morals. What we need is common sense and the rule of law to protect us from religious nuts.















This picture of a woman being prepared for stoning in Iran made quite an impression on me. In the New Testament, in John 8 there's a story about how Jesus prevents a stoning from happening. I always thought that this was not just a story about stoning, but an argument against death penalty per se. But more and more, it seems that the American Religious Right prefer the Old Testament. And the before mentioned Michael Bray even wants death penalty for adultery. The very thing that Jesus prevented:


«8:11 [...] And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.»

Is Bray really a Christian?


Eugenics

«[On] what basis can we look at Hitler's eugenics and say that it was wrong? Who is right when two seperate societies with differing morals disagree, how can we tell?»

We often tend to assign the moral value of an act after what thought lied behind it. If you kill someone to protect yourself, that's acceptable. If you do it to get rid of a person you don't like, then that's not acceptable. Hitler actively wanted to weed out people he didn't like and replace them with people he did like because he had a distorted view of what a «perfect human» was. I don't know so much about the eugenics programme of Hitler but (apart from the human suffering) while Christians talk about «tampering with God's creation» as some sort of original sin by its own - to me, the problem lies in that the tampering with nature may have negative side-effects and may be irreversible, like rabbits in Australia. Or like massive pollution and global warming like the Religious Right seems very fond of. Recently Al Gore's «An Inconvenient Truth» has been denied shown in schools in USA because:

«Condoms don't belong in school, and neither does Al Gore. He's not a schoolteacher,» said Frosty Hardison, a parent of seven children who doesn't want the film shown at all. «The information that's being presented is a very cockeyed view of what the truth is,» Hardison told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. «The Bible says that in the end times everything will burn up, but that perspective isn't in the DVD». Read more here

Again: what kind of moral is religion presenting? How can Christians talk about the effects of eugenics while they welcome global warming because it's a sign of the End Times? When Atheists talk about science morally, we mean the effect it has on our welfare. Not how it fits God's mysterious masterplan.

Ignorant

«Atheists almost always raise ignorant questions like: «What if tommorrow God said that rape is now good, would you listen?...Nope didn't think so, so your morality really isn't based upon God!» This is just dumb. It's dumb because the Christian Biblical God has revealed that He does NOT change (James 1:17) but is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).
So if something apeared to me no matter how majestic and said: «Hey I'm God, about that rape stuff ya know I changed my mind...» I know that this is not the True Biblical God who is immutable (unchanging) and is an imposter.»

Puritanbob just proved himself vulnerable to what he said he was not vulnerable against. It was not God who revealed this. James was written by James. That's why the letter is called James.

«1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.»

If James said that God does not change, then that is a claim by James. Not a revelation by God. Interestingly, Martin Luther said about James «I maintain that some Jew wrote it who probably heard about Christian people but never encountered any.»

What about Hebrews then? It has traditionally been ascribed to Paul, although this appears not to have been the case. And it most certainly was not by God.

So, Puritanbob took these letters to be revelations from God when they weren't.


All right, I think this concludes the answer to Puritanbob's text «Funamentalist Atheists». In short, we can be moral without religion. In fact, we already are much better than what the bible says.


***


A short note. If anyone wonders why I started up this blog, then that is thanks to the before mentioned episode with Frosty Hardison who sees global warming as a sign of the End Times. This is so appalling, and dangerous for us all, that I felt I had a moral obligation to stand up against religious ignorance and fundamentalism.


6 comments:

Bob said...

Hey, sorry for not getting back to you sooner, I have been fairly busy.

It seems like you are hung up and blush when words that apply to the Religious seem to apply quite well to your own faith which is always portrayed as rational and scientific. (Sorry I missed the tests where science disproved God's existance) Wouldn't it be funny if western science remained Theistic and Theists always dubbed themselves as the rational and scientific? Oh well just a though any way I'll only address the more blatant and major problems of what you wrote rather than an extensive critique.

"Oh spreading a message is «evangelism»? Almost all modern organisations or interest groups will often try to influence society in one way or another. Nazis, animal rights activists, The republican party, organisations for single parents etc. Sorry I can't be bothered to keep listing up everyone guilty of «evangelism». Everyone is an evangelical with this definition. But not everyone has an evangelical message."

Well, not everyone is an evangelist just those with a strongly held belief and seek to persuade others to their belief. Evangelical (which refers to a particular group in Protestantism) and evangelism are different words with different meanings.

"No, because a crutch is of some help. Religion is a trap. Not a crutch. And the trap works on all sorts of people, be they intellectually weak or strong. When an intelligent person has become religious (but most common: been brought up in a religious family without other input) his or her intellect will provide pretty elaborate excuses for setting rationality aside. And the intellectually weak is naturally prone to believe everything."

Ok, Dawkins wouldn't word it as strongly as you have but fine. I frankly am just tired of hearing about how I because I am a Theist have set rationality aside, its just and Ad Hominem argument. And really a false dichotomy based upon an a-priori assumption of Materialism. By that I mean someone comes to faith in God, you as a Materialist automatically assume that he turned in his brain in doing so because there is nothing rational about coming to God because He does not exist, therefore, rationality and Theism are antithetical to one another. This is ridiculous and really begs the question as to the existance of God.

"True, it's about greed and money here. But it's no less true about religious fundamentalism. So whether «evil» exists or not is irrelevant as long as religion has caused more harm than greed lately. If money is the root of all evil because it causes «Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth», then surely religion is also evil. Pure logic."

Pheh! Pure logic?! um you forget one thing the passages you cite from the Bible are evil because the presuppose the existance of God and it is on His character that we have an objective standard of right and wrong. This just again raises the question to you the Atheist why is hurting people wrong in an atheistic worldview? The fallacies you commit here are equivocation, comparing a Biblical description of money being the root of evil (which is based upon the existance of God) and then you use this standard which presupposes God's existance to say that the entire system is wrong? And this is pure logic?

"But really, the bottom line is that in common sense morals mindless killing for religion is immoral. I personally don't use the word «evil» unless it's in a figurative sense like «evil looking guy», «evil Black Metal» or something. However, the word is in our vocabulary, and as the religious fundamentalists keep fighting «against evil» with all weapons available, killing lots of innocent people, then you'll have to expect that someone dares suggest that «Religion is evil». OK?"

Why? Why is people flying planes into buildings wrong based on your worldview? That was my question to begin with. And again as for religion=evil, this has to be based upon a standard to discern evil (which you have yet to provide). And, as for me as a Christian I am not at all hesitant to say that Christianities past hasn't always been pretty, but I would say based upon the Bible that the Crusades and evils of that ilk were inconsistant with Christ's teachings, and thus were wrong.

I'll stop here and deal with the rest later.

JDHURF said...

bob said:
…you as a Materialist automatically assume that he turned in his brain in doing so because there is nothing rational about coming to God because He does not exist, therefore, rationality and Theism are antithetical to one another. This is ridiculous and really begs the question as to the existance of God.

If your implication is true, that rationality and theism compliment one another, then could you please provide the logically consistent argument that supports your belief. I would point out that faith, by definition, is irreconcilable with logic: “Faith is a belief, trust, or confidence, not based merely on logic, reason, or empirical data, but based fundamentally on volition.”

Pheh! Pure logic?! um you forget one thing the passages you cite from the Bible are evil because the presuppose the existance of God and it is on His character that we have an objective standard of right and wrong.

The bible does not provide an objective morality, it provides an authoritarian morality – which is not objective by definition – it is a blind absolutist morality which is, ironically, often enough, objectively immoral. Such as the Pentateuch which is essentially an index of death sentences, which are reaffirmed in the NT.

This just again raises the question to you the Atheist why is hurting people wrong in an atheistic worldview? The fallacies you commit here are equivocation, comparing a Biblical description of money being the root of evil (which is based upon the existance of God) and then you use this standard which presupposes God's existance to say that the entire system is wrong? And this is pure logic?

Unjustifiably harming sentient beings is immoral to the atheist because of the natural consequences of so doing. Human beings are a social species and as such carry with them the sociobiological attributes a social species evolves in order to survive to the fullest efficacy possible. One would do well to remember that humans are not the only species whom operate with a form of morality or proto-morality.

Why? Why is people flying planes into buildings wrong based on your worldview?

You are either not being serious or you have never opened a book on ethics. Flying planes full of innocent human beings into buildings full of innocent human beings - one must remember to included the full scenario, for flying unmanned planes into vacated buildings in a public entertaining display of demolition would create a far different scenario with vastly different moral connotations – is immoral in a secular worldview because of the natural consequences of so doing. When a specific actions consequences produce vast amounts of pain, suffering and death – all counterproductive to the evolutionary survival of a social species – it is objectively immoral, only a sociopath or an idiot would argue to the contrary.

That was my question to begin with. And again as for religion=evil, this has to be based upon a standard to discern evil (which you have yet to provide). And, as for me as a Christian I am not at all hesitant to say that Christianities past hasn't always been pretty, but I would say based upon the Bible that the Crusades and evils of that ilk were inconsistant with Christ's teachings, and thus were wrong.

Firstly, Christians are all sinners, by definition, in the Christian worldview, that is to begin with. Secondly, I have just provided you for a method whereby actions can be discerned as either right or wrong based upon a utilitarian moral calculus, a calculus which adeptly fits into the flux of evolutionary upsurge.

Mojoey said...

Hi Strappado - I found your blog via digg and figured you would be a good fit for the Atheist Blogroll I run from my blog Deep Thoughts. If you would like to participate, please let me know. I've already added your blog.


Welcome to the Atheist Blogroll

Paul Dorman said...

Bob, just to comment on the second paragraph of your comment (It seems...). Your attempt at wit falls flat when you suggest that somehow atheists have to scientifically disprove god. You probably assert that the god (or gods) you worship exists, whereas the god or gods of all other religions are not. I'm sorry, I missed the tests where your religion has disproved all (that's ALL, Bob) those other religions. You see, until you've done that, you can't really justify your own beliefs with anything substantial, can you.

Bob said...

Sorry I have been a busy man, I just had my second child born. Anyway Paul said:

"Bob, just to comment on the second paragraph of your comment (It seems...). Your attempt at wit falls flat when you suggest that somehow atheists have to scientifically disprove god. You probably assert that the god (or gods) you worship exists, whereas the god or gods of all other religions are not. I'm sorry, I missed the tests where your religion has disproved all (that's ALL, Bob) those other religions. You see, until you've done that, you can't really justify your own beliefs with anything substantial, can you."

I am sorry what? You know it really is stuff like this that makes me want to weep for you guys, I am serious and I really mean that in an empathetic manner not condescneding. What you said is absolutre jibberish Paul couched in "rationality". If you want to talk about why I as a Christian think the other Theistical systems are wrong and in error we can but to just make these blanket statements really is counterproductive to any real rationality and understanding of my worldview. My comment about science disproving God is based upon how many Atheists talk (as though they live purely by reason and science and every theist is therefore irrational and frankly stupid).

jdhurf you write:

"If your implication is true, that rationality and theism compliment one another, then could you please provide the logically consistent argument that supports your belief. I would point out that faith, by definition, is irreconcilable with logic: “Faith is a belief, trust, or confidence, not based merely on logic, reason, or empirical data, but based fundamentally on volition.”

Well I reject you definition of faith completely. That's not how Orthodox Christians view faith. Orthodox Christian don't think faith is this force that takes over when reason fails, I hate that kind of talk. Faith is a trust, a trust based upon reason, evidence. Just like how I can say my Dad has always sought the best for me based upon this track record I have faith (trust) that he will in the future seek the best for me. It's trust in what is unseen (future) based upon evidence
which is visible.

If I even were to agree with you, based on your worldview you need to explain what religious faith even is then.

"The bible does not provide an objective morality, it provides an authoritarian morality – which is not objective by definition – it is a blind absolutist morality which is, ironically, often enough, objectively immoral. Such as the Pentateuch which is essentially an index of death sentences, which are reaffirmed in the NT. "

I am not trying to be insulting but I wonder if you even know what it is you are saying at all or is this just your spewed hatred of God. Is the Bible's morality altruistic or authoritarian in your opinion? They are really antithetical terms it can't be both, yet you apply them both to Biblical ethics. Sigh.

I also wonder where you get your standard to say that Biblical ethics are immoral as an Atheist. You assume some sort of ethic to even be able to say such a thing, I would contend that your feet are planted in mid air when you make an assertion "X is wrong!"

"Unjustifiably harming sentient beings is immoral to the atheist because of the natural consequences of so doing. Human beings are a social species and as such carry with them the sociobiological attributes a social species evolves in order to survive to the fullest efficacy possible. One would do well to remember that humans are not the only species whom operate with a form of morality or proto-morality. "

Um, why? This just begs the question. Why is hurting people based on YOUR worldview wrong? I would contend that wrong is a meaningless word, a leftover from the scraps of the former Western Christian consensus that you borrow.

As for animal morality, I don't recall any dogs or cants making ethical systems and codes by which to live by, but I am sure you have some goof ball researchers you can reference who think that some chimps show compassion. This is sad if you really think about what you are saying, man is just an animal, no better. Man is an insignificant zero.

"You are either not being serious or you have never opened a book on ethics. Flying planes full of innocent human beings into buildings full of innocent human beings - one must remember to included the full scenario, for flying unmanned planes into vacated buildings in a public entertaining display of demolition would create a far different scenario with vastly different moral connotations – is immoral in a secular worldview because of the natural consequences of so doing. When a specific actions consequences produce vast amounts of pain, suffering and death – all counterproductive to the evolutionary survival of a social species – it is objectively immoral, only a sociopath or an idiot would argue to the contrary.
"


Oh no, I was dead serious. Why based upon YOUR worldview is peopl flying planes into buildings "wrong"? You say because it hurts innocent people. Nietzche says SO WHAT?! Why is that wrong? You just beg the question. Why is hurting innocent people based upon an Atheist ethic wrong? You give a bunch of jibberish about caring for others in some evolutionary jargon, I say if I put on the Materialist worldview why should I give a rip about anybody else at all? Because its good for the whole of society? Why should I give a rip about that?

You need to read Nietzche to understand how bankrupt Materialist ethics are, he saw it and he embraced Nihilism.

"Firstly, Christians are all sinners, by definition, in the Christian worldview, that is to begin with. Secondly, I have just provided you for a method whereby actions can be discerned as either right or wrong based upon a utilitarian moral calculus, a calculus which adeptly fits into the flux of evolutionary upsurge.

No you didn't, your utilitarian system is arbitrary and as such to be tossed aside at anybody's whim for a different arbitrary standard of ethics, like Nihilism. This is what happens when you reject the God who made you, you talk like man is just an animal and ethics are just stipulated ideas to make society work (thus there really is no REAL right and wrong, we just make those terms up to help society function).

JDHURF said...

bob said:
Well I reject you definition of faith completely. That's not how Orthodox Christians view faith. Orthodox Christian don't think faith is this force that takes over when reason fails, I hate that kind of talk. Faith is a trust, a trust based upon reason, evidence. Just like how I can say my Dad has always sought the best for me based upon this track record I have faith (trust) that he will in the future seek the best for me. It's trust in what is unseen (future) based upon evidence
which is visible.


Firstly, if you reject the definition, you are rejecting the plain English definition. Secondly, your faith is not based upon reason or evidence. This is a really easy issue to resolve. Provide me the evidence and the reason for your faith.

I am not trying to be insulting but I wonder if you even know what it is you are saying at all or is this just your spewed hatred of God. Is the Bible's morality altruistic or authoritarian in your opinion? They are really antithetical terms it can't be both, yet you apply them both to Biblical ethics. Sigh.

The Bible’s morality is clearly authoritarian, you cannot ask for the commandments to be justified, they are the word and law of god, they are not objective by definition. If god said that it is so, it is so. And, no, I do not consider such biblical moral commandments such as the index of death sentences found in the Pentateuch, which is reaffirmed in the NT, to be “altruistic.” There is simply nothing altruistic about the biblical moral code which consists of the calling for the stoning to death rebellious children, or homosexuals, or adulteresses, or witches, or wizards, etc.

As for your charge that I “hate god” I simply have to laugh at that. Wouldn’t you find it odd for someone to “hate” or have any emotional ties to that which that individual did not even believe to exist? Ludicrous! That would be like me claiming that you hated the invisible blue fairies which fitter about computer screens if and when you rejected such spurious beliefs.

I also wonder where you get your standard to say that Biblical ethics are immoral as an Atheist. You assume some sort of ethic to even be able to say such a thing, I would contend that your feet are planted in mid air when you make an assertion "X is wrong!"

This is the simply the tired old fallacious nonsense of religious doctrine, it’s what is known as argumentum ad ignorantiam, otherwise known as the argument from ignorance.
I already gave you foundation upon which to judge actions either moral or immoral, allow me to elucidate.

Morality and ethics is birthed through the natural character of the human species as a social animal, it is indeed a socio-biological attribute. It is also interesting to look towards our animal counterparts – especially the higher apes – when attempting to understand the evolution of morality and ethics. Many animals, for instance, exhibit moral or proto-moral behavior, such as the sharing of food among vampire bats, the comforting of upset members of the group among apes and monkeys while also working together, dolphins will push sick members of a pod to the surface in order that they receive air, whales will put themselves in harms way in order to protect a wounded member of their group, elephants do the same, etc. It seems clear to me that a universal morality is the inevitable product of socio-biological evolution. And as these examples show moral behavior is that which furthers the interests of the social group, which also shows that morality is to be justified, not through social consensus, but rather, through the behaviors and actions which further the species interests and alleviate and work towards the remediation of suffering.

Um, why? This just begs the question. Why is hurting people based on YOUR worldview wrong? I would contend that wrong is a meaningless word, a leftover from the scraps of the former Western Christian consensus that you borrow.

Harming other people is wrong, in my worldview, in the sense that it goes against the evolutionary socio-biological nature of human beings. Humans are, in large part, genetically pre-wired through evolutionary upsurge to engage in behavior which furthers the group collective so as to survive to the fullest efficacy possible. Remember, human beings are not the only animal which exhibit moral or proto-moral behavior, that is simply misguided anthropocentrism.
Only idiots or sociopaths, and cognitively preoperational children, are unable to comprehend that harming people should be avoided for the simple fact that all human beings retain the ability to feel pain and suffer. One should, as an adult, be able to recognize that one is not the only individual within the universe and that in order to survive and get along within a social construct one cannot go around harming others. The only people who do go around harming others are either sociopaths or religious extremists.

As for animal morality, I don't recall any dogs or cants making ethical systems and codes by which to live by, but I am sure you have some goof ball researchers you can reference who think that some chimps show compassion. This is sad if you really think about what you are saying, man is just an animal, no better. Man is an insignificant zero.

You are hyperbolically extrapolating and misrepresenting my views. Furthermore, my worldview posits that humans are the current apex of evolutionary upsurge, a most beautiful being indeed, your worldview posits, as found in Genesis, that man was created from dirt, that’s not too significant in my view.
With regards to animals exhibiting moral behavior, simply do some reading, try opening a text book. Frans De Waal has some great material on this topic, so does Jane Goodall.

Oh no, I was dead serious. Why based upon YOUR worldview is peopl flying planes into buildings "wrong"? You say because it hurts innocent people. Nietzche says SO WHAT?! Why is that wrong? You just beg the question. Why is hurting innocent people based upon an Atheist ethic wrong? You give a bunch of jibberish about caring for others in some evolutionary jargon, I say if I put on the Materialist worldview why should I give a rip about anybody else at all? Because its good for the whole of society? Why should I give a rip about that?

I have just gone over this above. If you can’t comprehend “evolutionary jargon,” sorry, that’s not my fault try getting a higher education.

You need to read Nietzche to understand how bankrupt Materialist ethics are, he saw it and he embraced Nihilism.

Actually, I’ve read Nietzsche, which you spelled wrong, I own a few of his books. It is clear that you haven’t read Nietzsche because otherwise you would already know that he adopts virtue ethics:
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/nietzsche-moral-political/#2

No you didn't, your utilitarian system is arbitrary and as such to be tossed aside at anybody's whim for a different arbitrary standard of ethics, like Nihilism. This is what happens when you reject the God who made you, you talk like man is just an animal and ethics are just stipulated ideas to make society work (thus there really is no REAL right and wrong, we just make those terms up to help society function).

There is objective scientific evidence that we evolved from lower species, that we are a social species, that through evolution we evolved as a social species so as to survive to the fullest efficacy possible, that in the strive to so survive within the flux of evolution morality becomes an inevitable socio-biological trait which all social species develop to a degree proportionate to their social and physiological levels of development.

There is absolutely no evidence, outside of the bible, that god even exists let alone that he dictated an authoritarian moral code two thousand years ago calling for the stoning to death of rebellious children, homosexuals, witches, etc. Odd how god didn’t bother to include any mention of stem cell research or cloning back then, it’s as if the bible were merely the product of our fearful, pre-scientific and savage ancestors.