I Am Not Militaristic.

In reply to this video on various immoral things outright commanded in what is supposed to be God’s law in the Old Testament, Loyal writes:

Militaristic non-Christians often seize upon the many difficult passages where God is condoning morally repugnant acts.

The use of the word “militaristic” to characterize all who “seize upon the many difficult passages where God is condoning morally repugnant acts” is to imply, palpably falsely, that there is a direct correlation between using these texts to evaluate the moral worth of the Bible on the one hand and “militarism” on the other hand.  Whether or not actual militaristic non-Christians like, say, General Mao liked using the immorality in the Pentateuch to criticize Christianity is irrelevant.  There is nothing inherently militaristic about raising serious moral objections to a book for which divine authority is claimed.  That is perfectly within the range of free and peaceable, and I would argue vitally necessary, discourse.

If what you mean to do is to tar outspoken atheists such as myself as militaristic because we refuse to quietly, passively, and non-confrontationally allow religious ideas to go unchallenged in suitable public and private forums, then you are attempting to slander people, turn others against them based on a false and ugly characterization of their intentions and their actions, and to, in effect, force them into silence.

Unless you can find me any calls for the violent imposition of atheism or the legally coercive prohibition of religion and implementation of atheism as law of the land that come from either me or Andrew Skegg, I would appreciate it if you did not associate us with violent attitudes.

What you have is a rationally, but never physically forceful opponent in the contemporary Anglo-American activist atheists whom you besmirch unjustly with the word “militaristic”.  And we will not be bullied into silence with insulting mischaracterizations of our behavior.  We argue on grounds of moral and intellectual conscience without raising a fist or any other weapon.  This is our legal right and many of us see it as a moral and intellectual duty.

You do not have to like us.  You are more than welcome to marshal whatever arguments against the merits of our positions that you think are true and persuasive.  You are more than welcome to make fun of something we say if you find it absurd and you think the rhetorical tactic is the best way of getting others to recognize the absurdity.

But don’t outright lie about us and try to bully us into silence by trying to equate vocal insistence on rational investigation with violence.

In the next post, I will gladly resume the civil and spirited debating of ideas which characterizes this blog.  In particular I will explore Loyal’s substantive and interesting arguments that atheists misunderstand or, worse, deliberately ignore important other considerations which might allow for the repugnant practices found in the Old Testament to be read as truly the word of a morally perfect God.

Your Thoughts?

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About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.


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