Saturday, October 24, 2009

We Ain't Yer Other!

I stated before that not only do we not need God to be good, but that we also already don't use or need God in our everyday goodness. Practically speaking, I said, we are all atheists.

Of course, this fact drives many theists bat-shit insane. And what do theists do when they cannot face facts? Why, they hope to confuse the issue by resorting to tangents while also fleeing the original issue with giant leaps of logic.

Take the "Jewish Philosopher," for example, who is pretty much the worst example on the Web of both a Jew and a Philosopher. He rants:

According to atheism, there are no consequences to our actions other than the obvious material ones. Therefore if I believe that I am smart enough or lucky enough to get away with crime, I’ll do it.

According to atheism human life has no value. We are merely miniscule bags of chemicals stuck to the surface of an insignificant planet.

According to atheism, we have no personal responsibility for anything which we do. If we murder, this is merely the result of brain chemistry and bad influences, but not any bad choice because free will does not exist.
The quote above is saturated with the worst kind of stupidity, the kind that takes a reasonable premise and then saddles it with all sorts of scary-sounding, insidious implications. When the so-called philosopher says, for example, "According to atheism, there are no consequences to our actions other than the obvious material ones," he makes what I would consider a basically true statement - if it means that there is no divine retribution for human actions. But then he screws up the logic by going straight from the premise to a silly conclusion: "Therefore if I believe that I am smart enough or lucky enough to get away with crime, I’ll do it."

Uh, wait. The so-called philosopher ignores that there are indeed consequences to crime other than divine retribution. Remember all those "obvious material" consequences he mentioned so vaguely just before? Well, they include jail, fining, feeling guilty, hurting someone else's feelings, family shame, and so on - none of which requires a god.

On the other hand, many people commit crime (or crime's avatars, intolerence and chauvinism) because of holy inspiration. They shoot people in a place of worship or fly planes into buildings, or embezzle, or commit espionage in the name of their god - all this because they believe they will receive a divine reward in the afterlife!

We don't have to parse the entire rant of stupidity that is the (ahem) jewish philosopher's comment to realize that like many theists who have a stick in their ass about atheism, he doesn't really know or understand atheism at all.

Every time such people try to insist about what atheists believe and what atheism entails, they err in a serious way by adopting non-sequiturs and conclusions that don't follow from premises.

Let's look at some more of the Jewish Philosopher's wisdom:

If we do find atheists living peaceful, honest, sober lives (which as far as I know is actually rare) this is the result of the influence of parents and grandparents who were not atheists. It is in spite of their atheism.

Atheists may claim that they are good because invariably crime does not pay in the long run (which is not necessarily true – look at Stalin and Mao who died peacefully in bed) or because humans are instinctively good (which is nonsense – read a history book or a newspaper).
Here we have a reverse "No True Scotsman" fallacy, in that the claim is that a good atheist is not a real atheist. What we see here is the Jewish Philosopher trying to retain an unreasoned assumption. Then he resorts to a ridiculous straw man argument in "invariably crime does not pay in the long run." Notice how the oh-so-honest Jewish Philosopher has sought to dilute the stronger argument given by P.Z. Myers:

There is morality in my 'worldview'; don't confuse the fact that I state baldly that there is no external non-human intelligent agent that imposes morality on me with an absence of moral thought. I derive my sense of what is right and wrong from intrinsic properties such as empathy and other social impulses, and from acculturation in a stable, successful society that has expectations of parents to introduce their children to what constitutes reasonable behavior. I also derive it rationally from what I can see as a robust strategy for long term security and happiness within my culture — that is, robbing banks has a very poor long term return on the effort.
Myers gives an argument that is personal and situational. It's a strong argument because it is concrete and specific. The Jewish Philosopher attempts to abstract the argument into a vague sound-bite.

Why do theists like the Jewish Philosopher do this? My hypothesis is that they see atheism as a kind of anti-religion, an Other to use as a receptacle for all the bad things that would otherwise undermine their sense of how great their religion is. That is, they are never far from the thought that none of their core superstitions are actually true, so they intellectually build an Other to serve as the scene for this thinking.

Because they see atheism as an Other, these anti-atheists can rarely understand it in anything but negative and hostile terms. They take a fundamental position toward atheism that is is narcissistic. The believe that it's all about their little religion (cue Bill Donohue) when really their specific combination of fairy tales, lies, and restraints matter very little.


  1. dylanesque6:31 AM

    Shouldn't there be a bracha for one's first blog? Here goes; The morality of Meyers that you quoted basically boils down to, what I feel is right, is right. ("intrinsic empathy, social impulses...etc.) I don't know your (or Webster's) definition of morality but if the above can pass muster, then it's all semantics.

    As for deriving it rationally as a "strategy for security and happiness," those desired results and the strategy for attaining them have nothing to do with morality.

    Morality must be linked to some truth, yup the big "T-word." Sorry, you can't get away from it. What is the truth? That's a whole 'nother discussion. But let me part by asserting that if it ain't objective with all that that implies, then it's just your opinion. You're entitled to your opinion of course, but don't mistake it for morality.

  2. Dylanesque,

    Thanks for the comment, but you err logically and wildly by trying to assert that "Morality must be linked to some truth." Some truth? SOME? Some is a rather vague word, don't you think? Do you mean a set of truths, a truth that we cannot know or articulate, or any old truth at all?

    According to you, Myers gives a morality that is linked to SOME truth. You just don't like the truth, it appears. Certainly we can agree that the truth supporting Myers is more substantial than the borrowed commandments, instructions, and prohibitions of Iron Age agrarians?

    If by truth you are getting at some sort of biblically based code of ethics, then your standard of morality is as subjective as anyone else's. You don't follow very many of the bibilical commandments, and you adopt a relativist stance to get out of objectively applying your so-called objective standard.

    So, your line of argumentation has been refuted roundly and quite thoroughly by many people, even religious people. I'm not going to waste time in responding to old arguments that have ceased to hold any merit.

    You are welcome to comment and opine, but please bring more to the discussion than logically inconsisent and vague platitudes.

  3. dylanesque2:39 AM

    Wrong, Myers does not give a morality linked to some truth. He gives his opinion about a strategy to attain happinesss. That is not to be equated with morality.

    I suspect you don't know what truth is. If you don't agree that the concept of truth means an objective truth, then you're just playing with words. Call your feelings the truth if you want, but it doesn't make it so. You might like it, it might make you feel good, but truth it aint.

    A claim for an objective reality can at least purport to be the truth. Some may reject its validity, they may also choose to reject the validity of e=mc2. They may be right (I'm not going into that yet,) but at least such a position can claim to be true and therefore, morality. Anything subjective which means that it stems from the person's own take on reality, by definition isn't truth. Truth comes from outside oneself. That might be tough for you self-centered pseudo-moralists to swallow, but it doecsn't change the facts.

    Thus my morality which stems from an outside source/truth, is not as subjective as anybody elses. I haven't proven it yet, but again, at least it can make a claim to being morality.

  4. Just listen to yourself for one moment: "A claim for an objective reality can at least purport to be the truth."

    Purport all you want, but your claim is no less subjective than any other. Your claim, by the way, has been refuted for at least 2,500 years by Socrates and many others.

    Here, have a link to a more recent post that gives a video to explain the matter to you:

    You have no more claim than I to morality or knowledge of morality, and you are hopelessly arrogant to think so. What could the source of your arrogance be, I wonder? Anyway, if you're going to assert something, you could at least try - try, mind you - to back these assertions up with something more than hot air. You've posted twice, made some bold assertions but supported them no one whit with either logical reasoning or factual evidence.

    So, what about it? Do you have anything at all substantial to back up your ridiculous assertions of a capital-T truth that somehow magically exists out there? Are you content only to jack yourself off with pseudo-intellectualism, or do you have a real point to make?

    Fuck off with all your yets. Do some work, for Pete's sake. Do some learning and bring some damned new argument or at least specifics here. Otherwise, shut the fuck up with your putrid stupidity that's already been proven wrong - even by your religious 'allies' - for fucking millenia.

    I have tons of posts on this blog about morality. Read them and keep learning. Perhaps you should apply to college and then pay attention in the classes. You'll be welcome to post here after this.

    I surely don't need your pre-pubescent opinions on ideas you have neither understood nor explored yet.

    Consider this a warning: I don't have the time or the patience to teach you the critical skills you need for dealing with the ideas you want to discuss.

    Happy "new year."

  5. dylanesque6:22 AM

    my bad, this should have been the close of my last post. If possible, add it.

    I empathize wih you, you're lost.
    How does it feel.....
    to be on your own......
    with no direction home.....
    a complete unknown.........
    like a rolling stone?

  6. It's never been my favorite Dylan song. But I'm sure you know that I think very, very highly of Dylan's music.


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