They Never Seem To Get It.

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That above is an atheist catchphrase that seems to never die, despite that it can very easily be demonstrated to be missing the salient point.

We’re not suggesting that people will be raping and pillaging with wild abandon the moment theistic ideas are  jettisoned. Rather, we are pointing out the contradiction between what they say and what they believe.

They say they reject theism because of the lack of evidence. They believe absence of evidence is evidence of absence because of a prior metaphysical commitment to naturalism. In fact most intellectual atheists — or the more reflective of them, at least — admittedly subscribe to a naturalism of one sort or another.

Now, of course, with respect to the evidence for theism, I disagree, and that above is fine as far as it goes.

Until they deign to educate us on the immorality of our beliefs. Because the problem is that on naturalism, which is on which their atheism is predicated, good and evil simply do not exist.

What a naturalist sees as evil is really just a confluence of atoms that he happens to find personally distasteful. And he happens to find them personally distasteful because he’s been hardwired by evolution to do so, viz. his feelings of personal distaste, or any opinion he may have on what or what is not moral for that matter, are merely dispositions he had inherited that are the residue of an evolutionary history.

In other words, they are illusory.

He only has these set of moral opinions because they are, by mere chance, what made his ancestors, on the aggregate, survive. It thusly becomes not an objective fact of reality that, say, murdering babies for fun is wrong. In fact we can imagine an alien race having evolved in a way that would make them think that that’s a completely moral thing to do. Or a more terrestrial example would be the members of ISIS, say, who would opine to be moral that which we find immoral. And who are we to say they are wrong? Who are we to say they are evil? After all, these “evil” people are merely acting in accordance with how the atoms that comprise them happen to be arranged, and who, given naturalism, can say that one particular confluence of atoms is to be preferred over another?

So when an atheist-naturalist natters on about the ‘evils of religion’, it is a matter of logic that he might as well be nattering on about his choice of drapery, or about his choice of textile, or about the superiority of vanilla over chocolate. Because religion, or anything else for that matter, cannot possibly be evil in a universe where evil does not exist.

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Posted on August 4, 2015, in apologetics, philosophy, Religion and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. “Until they deign to educate us on the immorality of our beliefs. Because the problem is that on naturalism, which is on which their atheism is predicated, good and evil simply do not exist.”

    Actually, it does. Just like it does for you. Evil is simply a word you use to describe an action or outcome, such as large amounts of suffering. Just like a theist, we can recognize this suffering and label it.

    “his feelings of personal distaste, or any opinion he may have on what or what is not moral for that matter, are merely dispositions he had inherited that are the residue of an evolutionary history.”

    I don’t understand why theists are so scared of this prospect – the idea that we are responsible for our own behavior and as a society or civilization or species, we decide what is ethical and unethical. If you looked around, you’d see this is already the case, since each country varies somewhat or in some cases, wildly in what they deem lawful.

    Religious people subjectively pick and choose what they find to be evil or not in their respective holy books. One Christian might point to Leviticus and say gays are abominations, while another points out that Jesus said to Love your neighbor.

    It’s okay, you can think for yourself. I know it seems easier to wish it was all written down in a book, but even that book is written by other human beings who are also writing what they found to be distasteful. They just happened to tell you that their societal or personal rules were backed by an almighty God and you bought it.

    Stop with pretending atheists can’t be just as ethical as any theist and in some cases more so. It’s embarrassing and dishonest.

    • “Actually, it does. Just like it does for you. Evil is simply a word you use to describe an action or outcome, such as large amounts of suffering. Just like a theist, we can recognize this suffering and label it.”

      On the one hand soda fizzes, on the other, innocent people are killed. You might call the latter “evil”, but on naturalism, there is no ontological difference between the two, they are two ontologically indistinct events that merely have, as you say, different labels.

      You might personally find one of those confluence of atoms distasteful. Someone else might not. If naturalism were true, the both of you might as well be arguing about which between chocolate or vanilla is tastier. Because in the end, it’s merely your opinion that one particular atomical arrangement is better than the other.

      “I don’t understand why theists are so scared of this prospect – the idea that we are responsible for our own behavior and as a society or civilization or species, we decide what is ethical and unethical. If you looked around, you’d see this is already the case, since each country varies somewhat or in some cases, wildly in what they deem lawful.”

      I don’t understand why atheists don’t understand “why theists are scared of this prospect”. If, like you say, “we decide what’s ethical and unethical”, then it’s simply a case of might makes right. And if might makes right, then who can fault someone like Mao or PolPot, who was merely “deciding what is ethical and unethical”?

      “Religious people subjectively pick and choose what they find to be evil.. [..] It’s okay, you can think for yourself..[..] I know it seems easier to wish it was all written down in a book..[blah blah blah..] They just happened to tell you that their societal or personal rules were backed by an almighty God..blah blah blah”..

      I don’t give an iota of a damn. What other theists do with their bibles that annoys you so much is of absolutely no concern to me.

      “Stop with pretending atheists can’t be just as ethical as any theist and in some cases more so. It’s embarrassing and dishonest.”

      If you expended the necessary amount of brain cells to actually read what was written, you’d learn that that is not what I was doing. In fact I agree that atheists can be just as moral as theists. It’s the ontological basis for morality that they lack.

      • “On the one hand soda fizzes, on the other, innocent people are killed. You might call the latter “evil”, but on naturalism, there is no ontological difference between the two, they are two ontologically indistinct events that merely have, as you say, different labels.”

        You think soda and killing produce the same result and the suffering etc they cause are on the same scale?

        “You might personally find one of those confluence of atoms distasteful. Someone else might not. If naturalism were true, the both of you might as well be arguing about which between chocolate or vanilla is tastier. Because in the end, it’s merely your opinion that one particular atomical arrangement is better than the other.”

        You don’t understand empathy or why people might want to create laws and rules that help everyone live their conscious lives without suffering?

        ” If, like you say, “we decide what’s ethical and unethical”, then it’s simply a case of might makes right.”

        You don’t get to decide whether something is one thing or another. Just because you think only might makes right is the standard, and can’t imagine otherwise, doesn’t mean the rest of us do.

        ” And if might makes right, then who can fault someone like Mao or PolPot, who was merely “deciding what is ethical and unethical”?”

        Pretty much everyone.

        “I don’t give an iota of a damn. What other theists do with their bibles that annoys you so much is of absolutely no concern to me.”

        Saying ‘blah, blah blah’ to someone who took the time to read your post and comment is very rude. It also doesn’t make you seem more intelligent so I hope you stop and in the future, respect differing opinions and the people who visit your blog.

        Also, your blah doesn’t answer any of those things I said.

        “If you expended the necessary amount of brain cells to actually read what was written, you’d learn that that is not what I was doing.”

        I did read it. You can pretend you’re smarter than everyone but that doesn’t make it so.

        After all, it’s you that needs an ancient book and an invisible man to figure out morality and ethics.

        “In fact I agree that atheists can be just as moral as theists. It’s the ontological basis for morality that they lack.”

        I guess that just shows that despite your disprovable invisible deity, atheists don’t need the book or anything else to figure out morality. In fact, secular morality far outstrips the rules set down in your ancient holy books.

        Because reason and empathy will always outdo dogma.

      • “You think soda and killing produce the same result and the suffering etc they cause are on the same scale?”

        It doesn’t matter what the “results” are or that one affects you more than the other. The point that you never seem to be getting is that they are both merely a confluence of atoms that on naturalism furnishes us with no objective way by which we can say one confluence of atoms is to be preferred over the other.

        “You don’t understand empathy or why people might want to create laws and rules that help everyone live their conscious lives without suffering?”

        Your knowledge of the relevant issues are demonstrably abysmal. If there is no objective standard, then all “rules” that different people can come up with are equally valid. And anyone can make up rules as he goes along, so it scarcely matters how emotionally you feel about your utilitarian ethic being the right one.

        “Just because you think only might makes right is the standard, and can’t imagine otherwise, doesn’t mean the rest of us do.”

        I don’t think “might makes right is the standard”, you do, and it’s more than a bit amusing that you’re not even aware that you do, despite having admitted that we “decide what’s ethical and unethical”, and having inplied a moment ago that the atheist, like the theist, merely “picks and chooses”.

        “Saying ‘blah, blah blah’ to someone who took the time to read your post and comment is very rude. It also doesn’t make you seem more intelligent so I hope you stop and in the future, respect differing opinions and the people who visit your blog.”

        I respect differing opinions, but I have a low regard for internet atheist warriors whose primary form of debate consists of immediately implying people on the internet with whom they disagree are either stupid or dishonest, while hypocritically calling them rude.

        “did read it. You can pretend you’re smarter than everyone but that doesn’t make it so.”

        If you did read it, then point out where I implied atheists can’t be just as moral as theists, like you’re accusing I did. Absent that, I’ll be expecting an apology.

        “I guess that just shows that despite your disprovable invisible deity, atheists don’t need the book or anything else to figure out morality. In fact, secular morality far outstrips the rules set down in your ancient holy books.”

        In which you beg the question and build a strawman. Will be called out, and will yet again go all teary eyed and cry to others that I’m being rude.

      • “It doesn’t matter what the “results” are or that one affects you more than the other.”

        It absolutely matters. It’s the crux of the matter actually. Your wanting to dismiss it shows that.

        “The point that you never seem to be getting is that they are both merely a confluence of atoms that on naturalism furnishes us with no objective way by which we can say one confluence of atoms is to be preferred over the other.”

        What you don’t seem to understand is that I know exactly what you’re saying and I disagree with you.

        You don’t have an objective way either. Even when you read your bible, you’re subjectively choosing what to believe, what not to believe, what to take up and what not to take up. That’s why religions have multiple denominations (around 40,000 for Christians, for example) which all vary to a slight degree on what they believe and what their religion supposedly teaches. Around the world you see subjective morality playing out as each country and sometimes even each region have different ethical codes and laws.

        Your ignorance of this fac t is amazing, especially when you like to pretend you’re so much smarter than everyone else.

        “Your knowledge of the relevant issues are demonstrably abysmal.”

        You’ve brought up no relevant issues. Only nonsense.

        “If there is no objective standard, then all “rules” that different people can come up with are equally valid. And anyone can make up rules as he goes along, so it scarcely matters how emotionally you feel about your utilitarian ethic being the right one.”

        Have you never read up on the evolution of compassion and empathy or why organisms would evolve these two traits to survive as a group? They’re two cornerstones to why humans have ethics.

        And no, we use reason, empathy, evidence and compassion to figure out what rules are ‘better’ than others – which rules benefit our societies and individuals respectively.

        “I don’t think “might makes right is the standard”, you do”

        No I don’t. Don’t put words in my mouth.

        “and it’s more than a bit amusing that you’re not even aware that you do”

        It’s more than a little amusing that you think you know how or what I think.

        “despite having admitted that we “decide what’s ethical and unethical”, and having inplied a moment ago that the atheist, like the theist, merely “picks and chooses”.

        You do. And society and cultures pick and choose based on the things I said before. The fact secular morality outstrips religious morality shows this.

        When we think for ourselves without bowing to dogma, we find that ethics can be improved.

        “I respect differing opinions”

        No you don’t. If you did, you’d practice a little respect.

        Maybe you do need a holy book. Perhaps it can teach you manners.

        “but I have a low regard for internet atheist warriors whose primary form of debate consists of immediately implying people on the internet with whom they disagree are either stupid or dishonest”

        You’re being the hypocrite. You were rude with your response and nowhere did I say you were stupid or dishonest. Also, being an atheist is beside the point.

        “If you did read it, then point out where I implied atheists can’t be just as moral as theists”

        You imply that atheists must resort to theistic religions. You also state that an atheist would have no way to say ISIS (ironically a religious terrorist organization who would tell you there god is the root of all morality) is wrong by butchering people. You imply it throughout your blog piece.

        So no apology. Own up to your own claptrap.

        “In which you beg the question and build a strawman.”

        Neither. You just have no reply.

        “Will be called out, and will yet again go all teary eyed and cry to others that I’m being rude.”

        Um…what others and what tears? You’re not that important to me. I think you overestimate your worth.

        You were called out and all you’ve replied with is rudeness and sputtering.

      • “It absolutely matters. It’s the crux of the matter actually. Your wanting to dismiss it shows that.’

        I know it matters to you. But any moral claim you may have does not extend farther than yourself, because, like you admit, there IS NO OBJECTIVE MORAL STANDARD by which ANY moral claim can be judged. So any standard you come up with (be them which actions increases well-being, or whatever) and no matter how many people agree with you, is merely your — and their — opinion.

        Again, I don’t deny that it matters to you, and hell, maybe sometimes even to me, but without an ontological basis for your ethic, or without any objective standard by which we can judge whether your moral claims are right or wrong, than any competing claim will be just as valid.

        What you don’t seem to understand is that I know exactly what you’re saying and I disagree with you.

        No, you clearly do not know what I’m saying, so how could you possibly disagree with something you clearly do not understand.

        You don’t have an objective way either. Even when you read your bible, you’re subjectively choosing what to believe, what not to believe, what to take up and what not to take up.

        You are confusing epistemology with ontology.

        Are you not aware that there is a difference between two people who don’t know the rules, for all pratical purposes play by the same made-up rules, yet, whereas one knows there are rules to begin with of which he is aware he is ignorant, the other believes there are zero rules, and therefore believes that any rules he made-up along the way would be just as valid as anything else he made-up already?

        If it really needs repeating, my argument is more inclusive than you make it out to be. I am NOT saying atheists cannot be just as moral as theists, I’m saying an atheist who subscribes to naturalism cannot have an ontological basis for morality. This isn’t even a radical opinion, and you’d realize this if you are as well-read on the issue as you posture yourself to be.

        “Your ignorance of this fac t is amazing, especially when you like to pretend you’re so much smarter than everyone else.”

        Much projection from you, I feel.

        Have you never read up on the evolution of compassion and empathy or why organisms would evolve these two traits to survive as a group? They’re two cornerstones to why humans have ethics. And no, we use reason, empathy, evidence and compassion to figure out what rules are ‘better’ than others – which rules benefit our societies and individuals respectively.

        That is merely your standard. One with which it may surprise you that I wholeheartedly agree. But it is merely one of the many possible standards: “Use empathy and reason” to figure out morality. Again, the problem is that in a universe WHERE THERE IS NO OBJECTIVE STANDARD, then one who’s to say your — our — standards of determining right and wrong is wrong? That is the point that you consistently fail to see.

        (You believe might makes right) “No I don’t. Don’t put words in my mouth.”

        Earlier, you: “we decide what is ethical and unethical.” How do you suppose you convince others who have decided differently? Or do you just let them live their lives in the way they’ve decided is ethical?

        You’re being the hypocrite. You were rude with your response and nowhere did I say you were stupid or dishonest. Also, being an atheist is beside the point.

        I suppose I merely imagined you said these : “They just happened to tell you that their societal or personal rules were backed by an almighty God and you bought it. Stop with pretending atheists can’t be just as ethical as any theist and in some cases more so. It’s embarrassing and dishonest.” ….. Yeah, that must be it, I simply imagined it.

        Um…what others and what tears? You’re not that important to me. I think you overestimate your worth.

        Yet, evidently, here you are, nattering on and proving I’m more important to you than you’d like me to think.

        You were called out and all you’ve replied with is rudeness and sputtering.

        No you did. But I guess it will be a galactic waste of time pointing fingers and arguing who ‘started it’. So I’ll overlook this for now.

      • “No, you clearly do not know what I’m saying, so how could you possibly disagree with something you clearly do not understand.”

        Again, I do understand it. I just disagree.

        “for all pratical purposes play by the same made-up rules, yet, whereas one knows there are rules to begin with of which he is aware he is ignorant, the other believes there are zero rules, and therefore believes that any rules he made-up along the way would be just as valid as anything else he made-up already?”

        Who made up those rules for the game?

        Ah, someone else did. So when someone else comes along and says ‘the rules would be better if…’ and makes a case, the rules may be changed.

        I’ve already explained the parameters of what might make something ‘better’ and this happens all the time. Rules change constantly. Laws change constantly. People all over the world live by different codes than others. In smaller cases, people live by codes of their own and deal with the consequences society hands out.

        I’m not sure why you’re missing this or why you insist some god must be the one making the rules. If it is, he’s the worst referee of all time.

        “This isn’t even a radical opinion”

        It doesn’t have to be radical for someone to disagree with their opinion to your own opinion. That’s why it’s called an ‘opinion’.

        “Much projection from you, I feel.”

        No, you’ve been rude from the start.

        “That is merely your standard. One with which it may surprise you that I wholeheartedly agree.”

        I’m glad we agree on something. Compassion and empathy aren’t my standards though. Science studies them in us and other mammals.

        “Again, the problem is that in a universe WHERE THERE IS NO OBJECTIVE STANDARD, then one who’s to say your — our — standards of determining right and wrong is wrong? That is the point that you consistently fail to see.”

        I don’t fail to see it. Again, I think you’re wrong.

        “How do you suppose you convince others who have decided differently? Or do you just let them live their lives in the way they’ve decided is ethical?”

        How did Rosa Parks get people to decide that segregation was wrong?

        How did same-sex couples get society in the States to accept giving them equal rights?

        It happens all the time.

        And again, if you look outside your bubble, you’ll see that much of the world disagrees with your own society and its laws and codes of ethics.

        “It’s embarrassing and dishonest.” ….. Yeah, that must be it, I simply imagined it.”

        I was referring to the thought that atheists can’t be just as moral than a theist. I’m sorry if that hurt your feelings.

        Also, I never called you stupid.

        “Yet, evidently, here you are, nattering on and proving I’m more important to you than you’d like me to think.”

        But still no tears or telling others about you. See how your charge fell flat.

        You’re not important to me. I’m not moved to tears. I’m not running out into traffic because you’re rude to your readers. It just means you’ll get very few comments and few readers.

        That’s fine by me. Hopefully, people will see this exchange and be able to choose who made the better argument.

        Was it the person relying on an invisible ghost in the sky or was it the person arguing from the position of evidence?

        They can decide.

        “No you did. But I guess it will be a galactic waste of time pointing fingers and arguing who ‘started it’. So I’ll overlook this for now.”

        It is a waste of time, because it’s right there in your very first comment for all to see.

        Have a nice day. I’ll not reply to any more of your comments.

        I’ve wasted enough time here.

      • “Again, I do understand it. I just disagree.”

        And you meant to confuse moral ontology with moral epistemology too, I’m sure.

        “Who made up those rules for the game? Ah, someone else did. So when someone else comes along and says ‘the rules would be better if…’ and makes a case, the rules may be changed. “

        Someone did [made the rules] in mine, nobody did in yours, but we’re pretty much playing by the same rules that we’ve come up with. It’s just that while I think there are rules to be discovered, you think rules can be made up willy-nilly.

        “I’ve already explained the parameters of what might make something ‘better’ and this happens all the time. Rules change constantly.”

        Really? So, when you say “I understand it.. I just disagree”, do you mean you understand but just disagree, or do you mean “WTF!”?

        Your “parameters of what might make something better” is merely one subjective standard among many other subjective standards that can possibly be applied. And since these “parameters” are merely a confluence of atoms that is ontologically no different from another’s “parameters”, there is absolutely NO objective way by which we can say one is to be preferred over the other.

        While you may think that whatever increases the well-being of homo sapiens should be the standard (in fact this may very well be part of your “parameters of what might make something better”) someone else may believe otherwise, and may give more importance to, say, the ‘environment’, and it would be impossible to adjudicate between the two competing standards because THERE IS NO OBJECTIVE STANDARD by which we can say one is better than the other.

        But, yeah, you get it allright! Despite that every single response you make shows that you don’t!

        “How did Rosa Parks get people to decide that segregation was wrong? How did same-sex couples get society in the States to accept giving them equal rights? It happens all the time.”

        Do you think that when I said ‘might makes right’ I was literally referring to something that involved physical strength? In any case, segregation and same-sex marriage are neither right nor wrong in your worldview. They are merely atomical arrangements that happen to be to your liking. There’s nothing either inherently good or bad about them, or about anything else for that matter, since if there’s no objective standard, then anyone’s standards will be as good as any. So you saying anything is morally good is no different from someone else saying that something to him tastes like chicken.

        Of course, I am certain you understand all this. You just disagree.

        “But still no tears or telling others about you. See how your charge fell flat.”

        Because sometimes language can be used..um.. figuratively?

        “Was it the person relying on an invisible ghost in the sky or was it the person arguing from the position of evidence?”

        What you are annoyingly failing to mention though is that at no point in this exchange did you ever once provide “evidence” for your claims — and, likewise, at no point did I rely on “an invisible ghost in the sky”.

  2. You definitely believe in moral absolutes. We get it. Of course, not everyone believes moral absolutes create an ideal world of morality- a fact that, in itself, means humans aren’t exactly hardwired for moral absolutism. Our instinct is to define morality based on the needs of the group. Christians may attempt to apply God’s rules, but they have also adapted these rules over the years to fit with an overall group thought on things. And religious rules have in this same way been woven into everyone’s concept of morality. Even atheists. It’s unavoidable.

    Obviously ideas on morality vary by culture, and within each culture there is great debate over moral issues. Even among Christians there seems to be no end to the ways one interprets the bible when it comes to right and wrong. Religious thought has clearly evolved over the years on many points, in some cultures more than others. Why do you think that happens? I see no evidence at all that humans can live by moral absolutes. Even you. I don’t think they should. But the mere idea of gray areas in morality is so offensive to you, that you have repeatedly offered it as evidence of an error in thinking.

    People often disagree on what’s ethical or unethical; the difference is that you need there to be one correct answer, from one particular supreme being. I don’t. And since God likes to be mysterious, and because you are not God- your opinion is no better than mine. We may even agree on this completely. But if God is real, he will give us his final answer in time. And he will be right. Not because we will all agree with his moral genius, but because we will have no choice. And I am willing to bet that we could spend an eternity debating on the morality of that alone.

  3. There are moral conventions that differ among humans, either as individuals or groups, in both time and space, but to say that one moral convention is better than another, or more right than another, is to acknowledge that one moral idea better conforms to some objective standard over another; and this standard must be an unchanging law that has always existed, not created by human reason but apprehended by it, otherwise there is no sense in saying that Sunni morality is better or worse than Amish morality. The words “right” and “wrong” become arbitrary and dependent on changing conventions; they become meaningless.

  1. Pingback: Still Not Getting It. | The Apologist

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