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.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."
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.
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.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:
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).
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.