Re: Blog About Atheism.

Someone did a blog about atheism and atheists (who wasn’t one) and this is my response (which quotes bits of the blog):

“I’m just amazed at how many proponents of atheism are in the pro gaming community.  I don’t know what it is. Perhaps its the ego centricism of the activity the gives atheism an appeal.”

That’s a pretty crummy thing to say.  Intelligence, being in the younger generation and making more money all correlate with being less religious and all correlate with being a video game maker.  People in technical fields in general tend to be more secular.  But thanks for concluding instead that atheists are all just selfish assholes.  Have you ever even met an atheist?

“Well there would be a departure from the rules and principles that my existing faith has taught me. But do I have a problem with that?”

That is only appealing to people with overly oppressive religious backgrounds.

“Well, clearly I have a sense of morality, so I’d just need to base my sense of right and wrong other than God. Should I choose the government? Or perhaps what feels good? Or perhaps I should just deny that morality exists altogether?”

I’ve never met an atheist who chose the first or the last, and everyone chooses the second to some degree, ie food that tastes good is better, a relationship that makes you happier is better etc.  Morality is mainly just having concern for other people and not just yourself, and people accomplish this perfectly well without religion.  Here is a parody of the idea that we can’t be moral without the bible if you’re interested.  It’s very you.

“And renouncing and reframing everything would be tough too.”

Yes, having to actually think about everything is hard.  But extremely rewarding. 

“Then again, I don’t believe that I can depend on myself entirely. But should I? So perhaps if I’m smart enough and know when to utilize my relationships effectively to achieve what I want. But what if those don’t work either? I guess that’s a risk that I take.”

We live in a world where people can try hard over and over again and fail miserably, and others luck into success – but also a world where there is not just one kind of success (some things are more important than money – some of them are achieved by that “tough” examination of important questions).  Life is analogous to a game of cards, some people have a winning hand and some have a losing hand, but how we play our cards gives us a lot of wiggle room in how things turn out.  We all have to make the most of what we have, but we live in the exact world I’ve described regardless of whether or not there is a god.  It’s not as though being christian means you will magically live a blessed life.

“Honestly, from a sales standpoint, I’d rather just take a chance on believing that there is a God who is responsible for creation”

And whether it’s actually true is an afterthought?  You said above that if you were an atheist you might selfishly conclude right and wrong was determined by what felt best – aren’t you doing that here?  Just deciding that what it feels best to believe is therefore right?  What if you find that islam or hinduism tickles you more?  Does that mean allah or vishnu are real?  What if it makes you feel even better to believe you are napoleon, are you going to believe that? 

I want to feel good and be comfortable and not stress out as much as anyone – but truth is above comfort on my list of priorities because it really matters what is true, and since our beliefs influence our actions it matters what we accept to be true.  So I will not shop around for a worldview like I’m picking out a new tie.

“as well as an absolute truth of right and wrong,”

There is no absolute right and wrong, and many parts of the bible contradict that notion as well.  Morality is dynamic and situational.  Even shooting someone in the head is not “absolutely” wrong, if you’re a SWAT team sniper and the suspect says to the hostage negotiator “fuck it, I’m killing everyone”, you send a bullet through the man’s head.  Is that morally equivalent to shooting a random person on the street?  No.  Same act, different circumstances – relative morality.  This doesn’t invalidate the concept of morality, it is just more complicated.  It’s one of those things you have to think about.

“not to mention a hope for a life beyond this one and a means of attaining it that has nothing to do with my capacity to perform.”

Wanting it to exist doesn’t mean it does.  To quote the rubayat of omar khayyam:

“Some for the wonders of this world,
and some sigh for the prophet’s paradise to come;
Ah, take the cash and let the promise go,
nor heed the music of a distant drum.

Were it not folly, spider-like to spin
the thread of present life away to win
what? for ourselves who know not if we shall
breathe out the very breath we now breathe in!”

“True, there are a lot of things that I can’t empirically or rationally prove, but I don’t really trust human empiricism or rationalism. Atheism is just too hard for me to trust.”

So something being hard to think about means it’s bullshit?  So calculus is fake?  That the moon landing is faked is easier to understand than the actual details of how we went to the moon – does that mean it never happened?  Genetics is harder to understand than the idea that cells operate on love and happy thoughts, so are you going to believe the latter?

I’m sorry, but apathy isn’t a good basis for a worldview.  If you don’t want to think about this stuff then call it a mystery, but don’t pretend to understand it and refuse to try to understand it at the same time.

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About agnophilo

Nerd.
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30 Responses to Re: Blog About Atheism.

  1. Lovegrove says:

    Interesting! I like your drawing morality to the basic element of concern for others.

  2. apathy_sucks says:

    There is so much wrong with your response.

  3. moss_icon says:

    @apathy_sucks – And yet you won’t tell him what.From the first line this person force-feeds their own prejudices of Atheism into the discourse without actually bothering to qualify them. They say nothing of worth at all.

  4. FoliageDecay says:

    It’s telling how nihilism is so often used to justify a belief in a god, then it is also used as a point of critique of atheism.As I’ve often pointed out saying atheism means someone has no morals is almost a contradiction in terms. Without morality the first thing that becomes unimportant is inconvenient truths.If doing X,Y, and Z meant eternal life of good times, that would be worth believing, as long as approximating the truth didn’t matter.Have you read Thomas Hobbes at all? I took a graduate course that focused on his ethical theories. To this day a large portion of his writings are brilliant and persuasive when you unpack his complete arguments. However, he says that atheists should be allowed in no society, without explaining why very well.Then he goes on to describe different kinds of “atheists” who he describes as “fools.”He talks about what is called the “silent fool,” the one who doesn’t value following morality for himself he just does so in public. Some have suggested that Hobbes is that “silent fool” he refers too.I often wonder if we have some of these “silent fools” among the zealous religious types.I’m inclined to disagree about Hobbes though, I think there is a very compassionate side to Hobbes that is overlooked next to his frankness about human nature.  

  5. YouToMe says:

    Well said. Excellent points. I’m sorry you still have to deal with statements such as the one given here. :/

  6. FalconBridge says:

    His not trusting human empiricism, isn’t that the same thing that led the one philosopher, who I can’t remember at the moment to supposedly conclude to the “I think therefore I am” although I’ve been told he never phrased it that way. Gosh I’m becoming more and more stupid I swear! the things I can’t remember.  But hey, speaking of atheism… Do you watch Craig Ferguson?  I put a clip of his show up on my site, but he does an interview with Patton Oswalt where they end up talking about atheism.  I enjoyed it, just wondering if you’ve seen it. Oh and one response about gamers being atheists – it is because we’re smarter.   I’m just kidding. (I’m not the smart one my husband is and he’s the life long gamer )

  7. phoebester says:

    Thanks for this post You hit the nail on the head with your first response, IMO…”I’m just amazed at how many proponents of atheism are in the pro gaming community.  I don’t know what it is. Perhaps its the ego centricism of the activity the gives atheism an appeal.” That’s a pretty crummy thing to say.  Intelligence, being in the younger generation and making more money all correlate with being less religious and all correlate with being a video game maker.  People in technical fields in general tend to be more secular.  But thanks for concluding instead that atheists are all just selfish assholes.  Have you ever even met an atheist?Well said!

  8. agnophilo says:

    @Lovegrove – I think it’s wrong to hurt someone because they can suffer, and what the rules say is irrelevant.  This is in contrast with the typical view in christianity and islam of moral authority, the notion that something is wrong because of the rules, and that we need something supernatural to hand down laws that are “above” us, which detaches moral questions from sympathy and empathy and concern for others’ suffering entirely, and means that potentially hatred and mass-murder can be just as moral as anything else.  Ironically people with this view think a secular view grounded in compassion, fairness and other principles is “dangerous”, aimless and too permissive.@apathy_sucks – Well thanks for stopping by.@moss_icon – To be fair they do try to actually think about the issue somewhat and do try to empathize with atheists and put themselves in their place – just in an ethnocentric and kind of dickish way.@FoliageDecay – He is expressing the bigotry of scripture, “The fool has said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that does good.”  The bible also says jews teach lies for filthy lucre’s sake (for money), so does he think jews should be expelled from society too?  What horseshit. The notion that atheists are incapable of being moral is easily refuted by any statistical analysis of atheism and crime – atheists and agnostic are virtually non-existent in the prison system in the US, and violent crime rates are significantly lower in the more secular countries than in places like the US.  But no, never read his writings.And I’ve never met a nihilist in my life, and I’ve met countless atheists.  Equating atheism with nihilism is just another example of theists judging atheists based on their own worldview and assuming that where they get their sense of purpose, ethics etc must be the only source in existence.@YouToMe – Thanks : )@FalconBridge – Watched it on your blog just now – they mainly just mentioned atheism and moved on.  Here’s a good similar clip of ricky gervais.

  9. FalconBridge says:

    That was a great clip. I haven’t watched Inside the Actor’s studio in a long time.  Do they still make that show?

  10. agnophilo says:

    @FalconBridge – I have no idea.  I googled it and apparently they still do.

  11. Dude, in real life, are you a nerd?

  12. agnophilo says:

    @RulerofMasons – Depends what you mean by nerd.  I am a nerd (interested in brainy things), but not a geek (socially awkward)  : )Why do you ask?

  13. Sounds like an asian guy who works at a pc store. I’m trying to get a better picture of you. So far all I have to go by is your obsession with athiesm, which amounts to an interest in science, progress, and last but not least, confidence in ones brain capacity. Dude, I’d rape you in chess, chess is more complicated.

  14. agnophilo says:

    @RulerofMasons – Not an obsession with atheism, more an annoyance with religion.  And are you saying I sound asian or the blog author does?  And why?As for rape, who knows – haven’t played in years but was generally pretty good at it.

  15. Ok, you are not asian. Caucasian.

  16. apathy_sucks says:

    @moss_icon – I’m too tired to type it all out. For starters, the OP doesn’t know what moral relativism is.

  17. agnophilo says:

    @apathy_sucks – And that makes me wrong how exactly?

  18. It matters to me, I like to know authors more.

  19. FoliageDecay says:

    @agnophilo – His rejection of atheism is random though, because he justifies his other beliefs, and then shows that the bible agrees usually.

  20. agnophilo says:

    @RulerofMasons – Ethnicity doesn’t really matter though.@FoliageDecay – The bible doesn’t even agree with itself.  People just convince themselves the bible says what they mean, so it seems to be consistent.

  21. apathy_sucks says:

    @agnophilo – Because your description of morality necessitates that there is an absolute right and wrong, which is the opposite of what you think you are claiming. Additionally, the fact that there is a right or wrong way to behave based on the particulars of the situation is not what relative morality means.

  22. agnophilo says:

    @apathy_sucks -“Because your description of morality necessitates that there is an absolute right and wrong,” No, it states the exact opposite.”which is the opposite of what you think you are claiming.” So you know my position better than I do, and I only think my position is the opposite of what you say it is?  Whatever dude.”Additionally, the fact that there is a right or wrong way to behave based on the particulars of the situation is not what relative morality means.”There are several types of relativity, both moral and otherwise.

  23. apathy_sucks says:

    @agnophilo – Correct me if I’m wrong, but did you not state that every situation has it’s own particulars from which you need to take into consideration before reflecting on what is moral? Meaning that you believe that if given perfect knowledge of a scenario there is a proper course of action and an improper one? There is the absolute right and wrong.Yes there are several types of “relativity”, but that is not what relative morality means and given that you’re using commonly accepted definitions of terms relating to philosophy throughout your writing it can be assumed that you would be referring to the meaning of a term and not using a common term to describe something that is completely different without you explicitly stating this. But I suspect it was not the case that you chose to use “relative morality” in a way any other than to describe a pre-defined understanding of morality, and instead the case is that you were mistaken in understanding what that term means.

  24. agnophilo says:

    @apathy_sucks – That isn’t what absolute morality means – that is in fact the opposite of what absolute morality means – a moral absolute is something which is universally wrong regardless of the context.  Look it up if you don’t believe me.Either way I said that morality is relative (in several ways), I did not say I subscribe to a specific philosophical definition of moral “relativism”.Moral absolutes are basically moral generalizations, “doing x is wrong, period”.  Relativistic morality is the idea that morality is situational and is effected to various degrees and in various ways by the cultural context, unique variables etc, and (in my view) ultimately hinges on human nature which is not necessarily absolute or universal.

  25. apathy_sucks says:

    Having an opinion that something is absolutely wrong isn’t necessarily moral absolutism, as it is defined on Wikipedia. Given the example they used, someone who prescribes to this belief would think stealing is wrong no matter what the context.I believe there is an absolute right decision in a situation where a child is starving and the ONLY way to obtain food was by stealing. Eventually there will be a more moral choice, in most cases. There are of course situations where both options have equal consequences. The point is, moral relativism means that there is no right or wrong way to act, just how people feel about it. It seems to me, based on what you’re saying, that you have beliefs about the way people should behave. Maybe not for every scenario, maybe not even for most, but I’m sure you can think of a situation with all of the details worked out in which you would be of the opinion that there is a course of action that should be taken above all else. And I bet you’d apply that belief to others if they were in the exact same situation. There is your absolute. Different from moral absolutism, but still an absolute notion.”We all have to make the most of what we have, ” Do we now? Or do we all need to, you know, just do whatever? Do you not see how often you put forth a belief about how people should behave?” Is that morally equivalent to shooting a random person on the street?  No.  Same act, different circumstances – relative morality. ” If it were relative morality to believe this, you would be saying “That depends entirely on the culture. If culture A says the second act is worse, than by my conception of reality, it IS worse. If culture B says the first act is worse, then my by conception of reality, it IS worse.” Instead you are saying there is a definitive answer.

  26. agnophilo says:

    @apathy_sucks – “Having an opinion that something is absolutely wrong isn’t necessarily moral absolutism, as it is defined on Wikipedia. Given the example they used, someone who prescribes to this belief would think stealing is wrong no matter what the context.”Which is shortsighted and overly simplistic.”I believe there is an absolute right decision in a situation where a child is starving and the ONLY way to obtain food was by stealing. Eventually there will be a more moral choice, in most cases. There are of course situations where both options have equal consequences.” I agree, but that is not what is meant generally by a moral absolute.”The point is, moral relativism means that there is no right or wrong way to act, just how people feel about it.” Yes, I do not subscribe to that view.  I said that morality is relative in several ways, not that morality is relativistic in that specific sense.  I think I’ve done a good job of clarifying this, so I’m not sure why it’s still an issue.”It seems to me, based on what you’re saying, that you have beliefs about the way people should behave. Maybe not for every scenario, maybe not even for most, but I’m sure you can think of a situation with all of the details worked out in which you would be of the opinion that there is a course of action that should be taken above all else. And I bet you’d apply that belief to others if they were in the exact same situation. There is your absolute. Different from moral absolutism, but still an absolute notion.”Yes and no.  I could only apply it to others in that situation because their nature would be the same as mine.  I could not necessarily apply my exact moral standard to others with a different physiology, psychology etc.  It is wrong for instance to cut off someone’s hand because you cause them pain, disfigurement, disability etc – but if an alien or a nano-enhanced future human had a different nature so that it didn’t cause them pain and the hand grew back in 5 minutes, then it would be considerably less ethically questionable, maybe as unethical as a slap in the face or some relatively minor annoyance.  The apparent universality of human morality is due to the relative universality of human nature – if 50% of a moral situation is our nature (mortality, ability to feel pain and fear etc), then 50% of every moral situation will nearly always be the same.  So you can say “if x y and z this is moral”, but there are countless other variables at play.  I agree with you in a practical everyday sense, but disagree in abstract principle.”We all have to make the most of what we have, ” Do we now? Or do we all need to, you know, just do whatever? Do you not see how often you put forth a belief about how people should behave?”Christianity comes from a totalitarian background, 1500 years of theocracy telling christians that something is wrong because they say so on behalf of god.  So modern christians still think that right and wrong are authoritarian concepts to be enforced by rewards and punishments.  I disagree.  I think morality (in the sense of right and wrong) is doing what is right regardless of the rules or the consequences, and that the only reasonable way to tell right from wrong is by evaluating the consequences of actions, which are determined by the intrinsic nature of both human beings and everything else.And to my way of thinking, the intrinsic nature of things trumps any gods that may exist, because if god came down and decreed that it was good and noble to rape children but the effects on the child were the same, would that be correct?  What connection does a moral decree have to anything?  I can declare the earth to be flat, it wouldn’t make a damn bit of difference in whether the declaration were true.Right and wrong are not some mysterious secret that we need priests and bishops to let us in on.  That’s a monopoly that’s gone on long enough I think.”Is that morally equivalent to shooting a random person on the street?  No.  Same act, different circumstances – relative morality. ” If it were relative morality to believe this, you would be saying “That depends entirely on the culture. If culture A says the second act is worse, than by my conception of reality, it IS worse. If culture B says the first act is worse, then my by conception of reality, it IS worse.” Instead you are saying there is a definitive answer.”Yes I know.  As I said I don’t subscribe to that view, and I’ve made no secret of it.

  27. apathy_sucks says:

    @agnophilo – So my point is, that while it took forever for me to get you to agree with me on merely ONE point in the lengthy reply that you made, you are in agreement with the non-athiest who wrote the original post at the very least in regards to the issue I brought up when questioned to explain the errors in your writing. You are grasping at straws to create a contradiction with the individual – according to your own synopsis the person did not prescribe to moral absolutism, he prescribed to there being an absolute right and wrong (in a way that seems to indicate he is referring only to morality in a practical, everyday, human sense). If you would like to continue this conversation I can go point by point with everything that you said that was wrong with your response in addition to this issue. But I think it would be more valuable if you went back and read it yourself with an open mind. You make many conceited errors in your writing and they are glaringly obvious to anyone with a rational mind who doesn’t already accept that what you will write will be true.  It seems to me that you are far too used to dismissing people who do not agree with you, because too often they disagree for the wrong reason, and you are also complacent in lapping up comments from people who agree with you because they want to, not because you’ve proven anything.

  28. agnophilo says:

    @apathy_sucks – He was talking about a belief in an “absolute truth of right and wrong” that one apparently cannot believe in without a belief in a god, so no I don’t think he was talking about relative moral truths in the sense that I believe in.  Either way even if I misinterpreted what he was saying (I don’t think I did), big whoop.  And you’re grasping at straws anyway because you’re just falling back on this “you misunderstood what he was saying” tripe because you failed to argue against “my” view that morality is determined by social consensus.

Speak yer mind.

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