Ken Ham States the Obvious: Atheists Put Their Faith in Themselves, Not God

Creationist Ken Ham is not at all happy with the atheist billboards the Centre for Inquiry put up in Vancouver:

Ham takes issue with one of the signs suggesting that we trust ourselves instead of the Bible, but he *really* has a problem with the grammar:

One of the billboards directly attacks the Bible, telling people to “lead with your heart. Not with your bible” — intentionally not capitalizing Bible! These billboards are a direct attack on the authority of Scripture.

Well… yeah. That’s kind of the point.

… these billboards… demonstrate a fundamental problem: they’re focused on making man the authority, not God. And really, that’s the basic message of atheism. Atheists believe there is no purpose in life, no meaning or reason for existence — so why not just “believe in yourself” and lift up your own ideas in authority over the Word of God?

He’s half right. We are our own authorities. Our destiny is in our own hands. So live a life that makes you happy (and don’t stop anyone else from doing the same). As for atheists have no purpose in life, that’s just evidence of Ham choosing not to understand how atheists think. We give ourselves purpose and meaning. But it sure as hell doesn’t come from “above.”

And since he already played his ignorance hand, might as well double-down on it, right?

The message of atheism absolutely is an attack on the truth of God’s Word. Atheists want to convert everyone to their religion, and they want to make their own rules. And this is why they are so intolerant of Christianity. Their worldview of moral relativism is in conflict with a worldview of absolutes based on the absolute authority of God’s Word. I find that these people become very intolerant — they only tolerate beliefs they have decided to have.

Ham thinks that criticism of Creationism, an unscientific idea based on a fictional story, amounts to an attack on his faith. But that’s not the important part there. Did a Christian really just complain that atheists are trying to convert everyone to their way of thinking…? (Which, by the way, we are. It’s called “persuasion” through “common sense” and “evidence.”) Isn’t indoctrination the name of his game?

I guess he knew we’d say that, so he explains his hypocrisy:

Now, Christians certainly want to see people converted to Christianity, but Christians allow freedom of religion, not like the intolerant atheists who increasingly want freedom for their religion only.

Yeah… damn atheists and their constant fighting for church/state separation and defending the First Amendment! Why are you all so intolerant?!

He’s referring, of course, to atheists wanting evolution taught in science class. Ham thinks that amounts to promotion of atheism on the classroom, even though no public school curriculum rules out the possibility of God-guided evolution. Science classes ought to stick to demonstrable evidence, and one could make a case that God’s hand isn’t testable, so it’s a non-issue. But if it’s not directly promoting his God, Ham’s offended.

Ham’s skin has to be pretty thin if he’s getting all huffy about the Canadian billboards. Those are about as light-hearted as they get. Hell, he should be thrilled they’re modeled after Bible verses. I’m surprised he didn’t make the case that the Bible is the best book ever and that’s why even atheists’ billboards try to imitate it.

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  • http://atheist-faq.com Jasper

    The projection could burn a hole in the wall. If you want help defending your religious liberties, call a secularist.

  • Bdole

    How does someone as stupid as Ham is become famous without a sex-tape?

  • Rod Haney

    Before I go and google him, who the hell is Ken Ham? And why does anyone give a shit what he thinks?

  • more compost

    See my post upthread.

  • Rod Haney

    Ohhh, that idiot.

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    He has made millions of dollars selling religion to the gullible.

    He is now using millions of dollars and a large corporation to demonstrate that Noah could not have built an ark, no matter how long Noah lived.

    Ken Ham is an excellent case against religion.

    .

  • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

    Dear Jesus,

    If You are truly benevolent and omnipotent, please demonstrate you power by making sure that the words “Ken Ham” and “Sex Tape” never appear together in the same sentence ever again.

    Thank you,
    Humanity.

  • cyb pauli

    Did someone say Ken Ham made a sex tape? Id agree God designed bananas for THAT purpose!

    :O

  • RegularJoe

    Pineapples.

  • Castilliano

    Of all the hamfisted attempts to get atheists to pray…
    Oh, wait. God, NO!
    Make it stop! Make it stop! I’m begging you, Odin! Anybody!

  • Mackinz

    When you have an subservient mindset, you don’t require some sex tape to follow someone, especially if that person is authoritarian.

  • katiehippie

    Ewwwwwww

  • http://lady-die.deviantart.com/ LizzyJessie

    I’m not all that happy with the billboards either. They could have at least photographed some of their own staff members rather than use a few pictures from a royalty-free image set. It lacks a sense of authenticity that way.

    Also Ham is living up to his name. He does come off as one, doesn’t he?

  • Eliot Parulidae

    Also, though Ham doesn’t note it, the billboards walk right into the Christian trap of saying that unbelief can only work for the comfortable – young people who can afford laptops and nice cameras and never feel bad enough to “cry out to God in their pain.” One of the biggest sincere questions the faithful often have for atheists is “How do you reassure the suffering and cope with death when you don’t have God?” Atheists will recall Nietzsche and his astute observation that Christianity thrives on human misery much like certain viruses and bacteria, but that’s a little beside the point. In trying to refute one atheist stereotype (we’re sad and needy), these billboards simply call up another one (we’re privileged and shallow.)

  • JohnnieCanuck

    One thing these billboards show is that there are a lot of atheists who are uncomfortable seeing religion criticised. Every time a new ad campaign is featured on the atheist blogs I frequent, there are more suggestions as to what is wrong with them than compliments.

    I’m having difficulty relating to your “privileged and shallow” comment. What’s shallow about suggesting that taking action to help others is better than talking to oneself in order to feel better?

  • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

    Well I have a problem with the font……

  • JohnnieCanuck

    For me it was the kerning…

  • Tat Wadjet

    I agree with you Holytape. The font is horrible. Why didn’t they use Helvetica? 😉

  • more compost

    Privileged and shallow, because she is in a coffee shop with her laptop, he is sitting there with his expensive camera. Fairly or not, both of those images are associated with a sort of privileged, first-world life. Shallow because if they have never known want, how can they understand the world?

    Christians frame it, “Yeah, what if they were to lose all their advantages, they would come running to God then!”

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    Christians frame it, “Yeah, what if they were to lose all their advantages, they would come running to God then!”

    Why assume that someone has never known want because a picture was taken of the person holding an expensive camera?

    Why assume that someone has never known want because a picture was taken of the person in a coffee shop?

    .

  • Eliot Parulidae

    “Why assume…”

    What we have here is a failure to understand how advertising works.

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    Advertising does work on prejudice.

    We should be better than that.

    .

  • Eliot Parulidae

    The caption says she’s helping instead of praying, but the photo doesn’t show a woman donating blood or volunteering. It shows a woman giggling in a coffee shop.

  • http://twitter.com/ravenclawwit ravenclawwit

    This. That billboard would be so much more effective if it showed someone actually doing something worthwhile, like handing out food to the needy or volunteering or something. As it is, the message seems to be “drinking large cup of coffee + facebook hour > praying”, which personally I actually think is true, but if the purpose of the ad is to assure people that they can actually take meaningful action to fix some of the world’s problems rather than just sending some woo vibes to the sky man, it kind of fails.

  • cyb pauli

    Im honestly curious about the stereotype of “privileged and shallow.” Ive never heard it before and I’m not quite sure what it means.

  • more compost

    It means people who have always had everything they need, who never had to try or work or do without, and therefore have no wisdom gained through true suffering. Christians frame it by saying, “If they ever truly experience deprivation, they will see the need for God.”

  • cyb pauli

    Thats very interesting. I guess it fits with the stereotype that all atheists are wealthy Euro-American white males of the upper middle classes.

  • TommyNIK

    Rubbish.

    As I told the poster above, I got through a period of substance abuse, financial issues, and the death of my wife of twenty-five years….without belief.

    I did have help from family and friends, but in the end, I DID IT MYSELF….through plain old common sense and critical thinking.

    The theist cannot imagine living a life without the promise of a blissful afterlife or the threat of punishment in hell. They can’t comprehend the finality of death.

    They are stunned to find that millions of people do just exactly that, quite content in the knowledge that they are lucky to have a life at all, and secure in living that life in the best way they can for themselves and their fellow humans because, quite simply, it’s the ONLY ONE YOU GET.

  • Eliot Parulidae

    Yes, and many kudos. You took the brave option. My point wasn’t that people like you don’t exist. My point was that the tone of this particular ad campaign doesn’t show the strength that atheists can have, personally or culturally.

  • more compost

    i wasn’t asserting any of that, I was explaining how it would be perceived by people who don’t know the truth.

  • Jeff

    Doesn’t that thought completely destroy those who preach the prosperity gospel?

  • more compost

    Any thoughtful reading of “scriptures” completely destroys those who preach the prosperity gospel.

  • TommyNIK

    How is having confidence in oneself “shallow?”

    “How do you reassure the suffering and cope with death when you don’t have God?”

    I did it.

    That sounds like the “no atheists in foxholes” fallacy. Rubbish.

  • Eliot Parulidae

    It is a paradox of evangelism: people become atheists because of excessive suffering, but also because of insufficient suffering. I never said this was not idiotic; in fact, I got Nietzsche’s caustic opinion on the matter.

    However, I stand by my criticism of the ad campaign. The stated aim of these ads is to improve the public perception of atheists and make people more comfortable coming out, and in that I think they are shoddy (good captions, bad photo choices.)

  • Randay

    “Christianity thrives on human misery much like certain viruses and bacteria” Mother Teresa is a good example.

  • http://www.dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    The reality of advertising is that it is generally most effective to utilize actors who represent the way we would like to see ourselves, the lives we imagine for ourselves, rather than people who actually are like ourselves.

  • http://lady-die.deviantart.com/ LizzyJessie

    So basically it’s your run of the mill Internet profile.

  • LesterBallard

    Australia and New Zealand; fuck ’em both for letting Ham and Comfort out.

  • Aussie

    We don’t want them back either !

  • Jeff

    Ok, we’ll keep them, but you get Palin and the Duck Dynasty cast. Deal?

  • LesterBallard

    That’s my illegal immigration problem.

  • Aussie

    Maybe we could stick all these idiots on an island somewhere and they could just talk crap to each other and leave the sane people alone ! Start rounding them up we have plenty of spare islands ! Somewhere in Antartica comes to mind.
    Happy Festivus everybody

  • Little_Magpie

    I’d feel sorry for the penguins who would have to put up with them..

  • dullsteamer

    “letting Ham and Comfort out.”

    Mate, wouldn’t you want them out too?

  • http://www.dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    He says these things like they’re bad.

  • cyb pauli

    How can I put my trust in something that by all reasonable standards does not exist?!

  • Chris

    😀

  • Cat MacKinnon

    Ham’s just pissy because his “museum” is hemorrhaging money and nobody wants to play with him in his creepy man-child fantasy sandbox anymore.

    too bad really, cos i hear they have dragons now ;).

  • more compost

    The thing about Ken Ham is the fact the he truly, genuinely, believes every word in the bible literally. (Not, of course, in its original version, but in one of the many many many translations and reinterpretations.) I have seen him argue heatedly with other Christians when they point to the evidence that our universe is billions of years old. He really thinks that all that stuff actually happened. And therefore, anyone anywhere who doesn’t believe in exactly the same way he does is a threat to his world view, to his very definition of himself. So he will fight against it with every fiber of his lunacy.

    This is just a crazy old coot ranting. Unfortunately, his particular form of insanity has a tendency to develop crowds of followers, so we have to listen to his rants.

    The kind of people who will follow this sort of madness are going to always be there, no matter how society is reshaped. It is part of the human condition. We must do what we can.

  • Machintelligence

    Don’t get your hopes up.

    “Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens”, which means “Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain” F. Schiller

  • Black Leaf

    So what you’re saying is that God himself could be trying to stop Ken Ham, but he can’t because he can’t overpower the stupidity?

  • tsig

    it’s iron plated.

  • DelAnaya

    That’s an interesting personal vignette on Ham. You’ve seen him in person? To those us us who are out in the distance on the inter-tubes, he’s just an aberrant cartoon character. It would be interesting to see someone like this argue in person and maybe poke him with a few questions. Just to see the body language and expressions.

  • jjramsey

    I’m not so sure that I quite agree with the title of this post. Sure, atheists do not put faith in a god, but how much faith an atheist puts into him/herself or other humans varies quite a bit. Plenty of people are atheists in part because they are very much aware of human error.

  • Raising_Rlyeh

    Atheists believe there is no purpose in life, no meaning or reason for existence

    Well, I am sorry that life doesn’t have some intrinsic value to it, but the true is that things only have the meaning we give to them. We have no purpose except that which we give to our lives. I chose my purpose to be to bring happiness to those around me and enjoy things as much as I can in this little nano-scale blip on the cosmic radar.

  • Randay

    I don’t really know how to bring happiness because I’ cannot be sure what that may mean to a person close to me or not. It’s hard to be a do-gooder, so I settle for trying to do no harm.

  • Jansen Waddell

    In order to dent the credibility of atheists and atheism in general, Ham brands atheism a “religion.”

    Does no one else see the irony in this?

  • randomfactor

    I have an objection to the billboards too. They shouldn’t have capitalized “god.”

  • Black Leaf

    Grammatically speaking, when you’re talking about the Christian god specifically it should always be capitalized, because it’s a proper noun. Same reason you would capitalize Thor, or Harry Potter, or any other fictional character’s name.

  • $925105

    It’s funny that Ham’s criticisms are nothing but mere projection. No wonder he so filled with hate against Atheists, he loathes himself even more.

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    My life has meaning.

    A pretend afterlife does not give it more meaning.

    The religious are so dissatisfied with life, but the atheists are criticized as nihilistic.

    My life has meaning without superstition.

    .

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    …intentionally not capitalizing Bible!

    Jesus Hoover Roosevelt Christ Golly gee willikers, Ham, you sound like a whineosaur. Hey Ham, bible, bible, bible! Neener, neener, neener! Hey Ham, god, god, god, god, god. Look I’m spelling it with a small “g”. Heeheeheehee!
    Nyaaaah! Bbplbpplbpbb!

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    Horrors!

    You probably don’t even clap for Tinkerbell.

    😉

  • Randay

    Ken Ham must think that he is a descendant of the Ham of the bible and therefore of Noah. Noah was drunk and naked, Ham saw him that way and got his brothers to cover him. So what do you think Noah did when he woke up?

    Genesis 9: “24 And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. 25 And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. 26 And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.”

    Canaan was a son of Ham who had nothing to do with the whole affair, but he, not his father, gets cursed. That is biblical “logic”. Read the Wiki entry on Ham, the interpretations of the story are quite humorous.

  • Artor

    Ooh, that Ken Ham, he’s sharp. Nothing gets by him. Us dastardly atheists, being sneaky and trying to secretly undermine scripture…on giant billboards. He’s onto us guys! Run!!!

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    If we do not capitalize     , he disappears.

    O_o

  • Daniel Webb

    We nonbelievers need to let go of our all-out war on christmas and instead declare war on old white christian men with dementia. Letting them blab over the internet is like giving a legally blind ninety-year old the keys to a Cadillac parked in front of a farmer’s market. We are all at risk

  • TommyNIK

    No. The war SHOULD be over religious bias in our laws and religious privilege in our society as a whole. I can’t stress this enough.

    The US congress has more theocratic members than at any time in our history. They have a huge following, are well-financed, and they have an agenda….and a plan.

  • Marie Alexander

    A crap plan, and don’t intend on getting ANYTHING else done while they’re in office, but yes… a plan. Mostly an agenda though.

  • Daniel Webb

    For what it’s worth, I think the members of congress would generally fall into the category of old white christian men with dementia, so I think we are talking about the same thing.

  • Jacobi Coriolanus

    Ken Ham is free to believe whatever he wants but when people point out that a museum featuring dinosaurs and humans coexisting is scientifically inaccurate and misinforming children he’s not being persecuted, just called out for spreading insanity and hiding behind religious tolerance. The man is a menace and should be called out and subjected to opposition at every turn.

    He’s just whiny because he can’t construct a convincing argument like his buddy the banana man. They just want to go back to when you couldn’t question anything biblical so no one points out the utterly apparent ridiculousness of fundamentalism.

  • Marie Alexander

    I can’t remember, was that Comfort or Cameron who thought up that banana gag?

  • allein
  • Marie Alexander

    Thnx

  • Rod Haney

    Since I live in Vancouver, I’d like to know where the billboards are, so I can go and get pictures with them! =)

  • Tat Wadjet

    A “bible” (uncapitalized) is any religious text. It does not get capitalized UNLESS you are speaking of the actual book NAMED “Bible”. http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/Bible?q=bible

    Note: “(also bible) a copy of the Christian or Jewish scriptures.

    a particular edition or translation of the Bible:the New English Bible

    (bible) informal a book regarded as authoritative in a particular sphere:a brand-new edition of this filmgoers’ bible.

    Origin: Middle English: via Old French from ecclesiastical Latin biblia, from Greek (ta) biblia ‘(the) books’, from biblion ‘book’, originally a diminutive of biblos ‘papyrus, scroll’, of Semitic origin.”

    SOOOO ummm yeah. While he complains about the use of the (Uncapitalized) word “bible”. It is perfectly correct grammatically and theologically.

    Can someone PLEASE buy Ken Ham a good unabridged dictionary?!

  • Keyra

    In a godless world, life has no intrinsic meaning, purpose, direction, or value (if we’re all a speck of dust in the universe that evolved by chance).
    That’s not to say that you don’t create your own meaning, quite the contrary, but it wouldn’t be intrinsic.

  • cyb pauli

    Except I can believe in intrinsic meaning independent of a godhead or spiritual entity. Just like a theist can believe their God created us for no purpose.

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    In a superstitious world, life is wasted on meaningless prayer to the Gods.

    .

  • DavidMHart

    It’s rare I find myself agreeing with you here. Quite right – in the absence of any good evidence that there is a supernatural being to impose any meaning on us from above, if we want it, we have to create it ourselves. And that’s a good thing, because it means (those of us who are lucky to have enough freedom and prosperity to do so, at least) that we can choose what we find meaningful, rather than having an arbitrary one-size-fits-all meaning-of-life handed down to us that we may not even like.

    Luckily, the absence of a top-down meaning giver is not remotely a problem for an intelligent social species like us. We would never have got to where we are today if we hadn’t evolved to want to be of value to our fellow humans, to find purpose in collaborating with them, and to create meaningful relationships between each other.

  • Ed Adams

    what’s your point? since there’s no credible evidence for the existence of any god or goddess, folks believing in a god or goddess are creating their own meaning too.

  • http://confessionsfromthepeanutgallery.blogspot.com/ YankeeCynic

    This is really sad. Is your life so hopeless and horrible that the only redeeming part is that it all might be one big test prior to going somewhere better?

  • http://springygoddess.blogspot.com/ Astreja

    Why intrinsic, Keyra? I don’t see the meaningfulness or appeal of a “meaning” that’s immutable and out of one’s control.

  • closetatheist

    Even in the Christian worldview ones life has no intrinsic meaning. Remember, your life’s purpose is to glorify God? Remove God and there is no purpose. That means that your life has no meaning on it’s own, even with a god in the picture. So you’re in the same boat as us, really. You just don’t even let yourself give your own life the meaning you want it to have. You let other people tell you what their imaginary friend wants your life’s meaning to be.

  • Foridin

    I realize that this is missing the point of the article, but given that Bible is a proper noun, given that it refers to a grouping of religious texts all related to the Judeo-Christian God and his followers, shouldn’t it actually be capitalized? If I am correct, this leads to a horrifying realization: Ken Ham made an accurate criticism. Mind you, he did it for the wrong reason, but still, scary.

  • Rod Haney

    It’s a way of disrespecting something that deserves absolutely no respect.

  • DelAnaya

    If you follow the link to answersingenesis, you find there’s never a place to comment on his posts. I wonder why that is? Likes to live in his own echo chamber?

  • Rod Haney

    Afraid of a little debate I guess.

  • DelAnaya

    It would be fun to get into a debate over there, but that’s likely too much to hope for. It wouldn’t fit with their insular world view. And who knows — it might actually rattle some of the gullible out of their fantasy world. Can’t have that?

  • hershdawg

    I’d call Ham a tool but that would imply usefulness.

  • Cyanmoon1

    No atheists were harmed consulted in the formation of this opinion

  • Daniel Webb

    I really would like to know why Ham always has a link on every blog post that says “thanks for praying” but it just takes you to a page that describes the different ways they want you to donate money. I’m confused, if we pray won’t god just donate the money to them? Maybe that link should say “thanks for donating”

  • Mr. Black

    Hard to believe someone can make a living trying to reconcile everything with the Bible. Anyone who says they can reconcile science with the Bible just doesn’t know how to science. The scientific method leaves no room for faith.

  • DelAnaya

    Oh well … you have to give him credit for one thing. He’s managed to make a business out of nothing and seems to be making a living from it. Selling fairy tales to the gullible. Banana Man and a whole bunch of others do this too.

  • Mark G

    I enjoyed the unintended irony of your use of the idiom “Sure as hell.” Just a friendly aside that points out just how deeply ingrained x-tianity is in our culture, language, and society. :-)

  • kashicat

    Of course, technically speaking, “the Bible” should be capitalized, since that is essentially the title of the whole compilation. (Kind of like “Encyclopedia Brittanica.”) But I say that as an editor and not as a believer. I would capitalize the Book of Mormon or the Qur’an for the same reason, which has nothing to do with belief or disbelief. Title of the book!

  • Brett N

    What I always enjoyed about Ken Ham is that, despite how much he detests evolution, he looks like a missing link.

  • kanehau

    Baked Spiral Ken Ham will become a christmas favorite! Goes great with a little cranberry sauce.

  • Todd Heath

    I think this sums it all up perfectly.

  • SeekerLancer

    I don’t remember the, “thou must always capitalize the title of my book,” commandment.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    I don’t know how much faith I can say I have in myself. I’m constantly discovering that I was wrong about something. I don’t know how anyone can compare that to people who believe in something else as unquestionably true.

  • John Barleycorn

    Whenever I see Ken Ham, I can’t help but remember the Robert Townsend line: “But can you really trust a man with no hair on his upper lip?”

  • Dave

    As someone who’s followed this blog for a while but doesn’t identify as an atheist, this post reminded me of what I find to be some of the more challenging questions re: atheism.

    He’s half right. We are our own authorities. Our destiny is in our own hands. So live a life that makes you happy (and don’t stop anyone else from doing the same). As for atheists have no purpose in life, that’s just evidence of Ham choosing not to understand how atheists think. We give ourselves purpose and meaning. But it sure as hell doesn’t come from “above.”

    Evolutionary psychology seems to provide an adequate explanation for why, e.g., I don’t have a fear of Hemant running around killing scores of people – it’s a terrible long-term survival strategy. However, I’ve never found a compelling argument for why he shouldn’t if meaning is something he that’s up to him. Probably won’t versus shouldn’t are entirely two different concepts. Hemant does generally demonstrate a care for others but, again, why should he not stop others from pursuing whatever makes them happy? (Evolutionary psych only seems to suggest that he probably won’t).

    Christians have to face questions like “how could God order (the Canaanite) genocide?” but I’m not sure that for atheists a question like “was Stalin wrong to kill millions?” is really an easier one.

    Did a Christian really just complain that atheists are trying to convert everyone to their way of thinking…? (Which, by the way, we are. It’s called “persuasion” through “common sense” and “evidence.”)

    I’ve got no objection to atheists trying to convert people to their way of thinking, but I wonder if this again overly limits the definition of atheist. Just as I’ve argued above, to be an atheist seems only to mean a disbelief in God – nothing more. Think of the category of the ritual atheist who’s decided to stay in a religious community. If finding meaning is up to them, is such a course of action wrong? A similar rational seems to apply to both politicians and criminals – if claiming to be a theist of some sort or other helps them accomplish what they want, why would they be wrong to do so?

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    Dave,

    Christians have to face questions like “how could God order (the Canaanite) genocide?” but I’m not sure that for atheists a question like “was Stalin wrong to kill millions?” is really an easier one.

    Why is it a difficult question?

    Stalin did not kill people in the name of atheism.

    Stalin was not advancing, or defending, any tenet of atheism.

    Killing in the name of God following the tenets of the religion.

    A Christian leader who kills a lot of people, but does not invoke the name of God in the killing, would be similar to Stalin.

    Murderers who are Christian tend to invoke the name of God.

    Is that fair?

    There is a long tradition of this, so it may be a bit of self-fulfilling prophesy.

    Just as I’ve argued above, to be an atheist seems only to mean a disbelief in God – nothing more.

    Yes, and many atheists take a rational approach to things that harm other people.

    We want to protect people from the harms that come from belief in the irrational.

    Religion, alternative medicine, pseudoscience, conspiracy theorists, . . . .

    We plan for a better future, but one in the real world.

    I live in a country where atheists are allowed to speak freely because our Founding Fathers wanted to protect all people from religious oppression.

    This protects all who do not want to use religion to oppress others or who do not intentionally intend to oppress others, but are ignorant of their abuse of privilege.

    If we are not alive to enjoy it, our children, nieces and nephews, neighbors, . . . .and their descendants may be able to enjoy that better future in the real world.

  • Dave

    Stalin did not kill people in the name of atheism.

    … Murderers who are Christian tend to invoke the name of God.

    I’d argue that Stalin did kill some to advance atheism, though there was more than just the desire to advance atheism underlying his reasoning. I’d argue that Christian murders invoking the name of God is in a sense due to needing an override to “thou shalt not kill” – i.e. it’s needed to make their actions moral rather than immoral, whereas in the atheism case both slaughtering millions and, e.g., donating money to feed the poor are both amoral in the absence of an objective morality.

    If someone like Stalin doesn’t count against atheism, does that negate, e.g. only a small percentage of prisoners declaring themselves atheist as an argument in favour of atheism?

    Again, evolutionary psychology seems to demonstrate why you and other atheists typically assume some sort of ethic under which your descendants prosper. However, despite such subjective thoughts such an ethic would seem objectively no better than any other. It’s simply a probable view… and can only deal with the less probably alternatives by forcing its view of morality upon others (e.g. jailing serial killers).

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    I’d argue that Stalin did kill some to advance atheism, though there was more than just the desire to advance atheism underlying his reasoning.

    Please elaborate on the way Stalin was advancing atheism, rather than just attacking all power that might oppose him.

    donating money to feed the poor are both amoral in the absence of an objective morality.

    That is presuming that morality comes from an imaginary being and/or a book that condones rape, slavery, murder, and genocide in some places, while advocating for selfless acts in other places.

    Such contradictions are the antithesis of objective morality.

    However, despite such subjective thoughts such an ethic would seem objectively no better than any other.

    It cannot be as bad as a “morality” that includes ordering rape, slavery, murder, and genocide.

    There is no atheist document that encourages/orders that kind of behavior.

    That kind of behavior is what we expect from the psychopath or the religious fanatic.

    Even many other animals are more moral than what is ordered in the Bible.

    We continue to become more moral and so do the Gods/religions we have created.

    .

  • Dave

    Suppose that the Flying Spaghetti Monster create a video game. It begins with His Noodly Appendage reaching out of the sky, tapping the hero of the game on the shoulder and ordering that person to stage pirate raids on cargo ships to avert catastrophic global warming. Die in a raid on a ship and you win an eternal supply of marinara sauce made with the finest extra virgin olive oil. The Flying Spaghetti Monster could define arbitrary rules in the universe – e.g. if a cargo ship’s crew offers you plates of spaghetti and meatballs you wouldn’t be allowed to engage in piracy against them, a rule operating in reverse on Talk Like a Pirate Day.

    From inside the game (universe) the player is basically left with no alternative to the way the game world’s been setup even if they may question whether someone can oppose both piracy and global warming. From inside to fail to follow the purpose of that game (universe) is basically absurd. Whether you like the game and/or its notions of morality are ones you find pleasant are irrelevant to the question of whether or not there exists a sort of morality in that. And morality isn’t necessarily simple – see, e.g., some of the rules the Flying Spaghetti Monster could define in a hypothetical game universe.

    In essence you’re arguing for the forcible-if-need-be imposition of a civil religion upon everyone if you insist that morality exists as anything beyond personal preference. To argue that, e.g., murder is wrong whoever does it would mean banning freethought – in such a realm the psychopath is the perfect freethinker.

    Stalin exists primarily as an example of the problem – the same basic problem would exist if considering a hypothetical theistic serial killer who targetted only atheist / agnostics. And your notion that no atheist document exists seems like an instance of the “no true scotsman” fallacy. How about, e.g., atheist serial killer / cannibal / pedophile / necrophiliac Jeffrey Dahmer? His words:

    If a person doesn’t think there is a God to be accountable to, then—then what’s the point of trying to modify your behavior to keep it within acceptable ranges? That’s how I thought anyway. I always believed the theory of evolution as truth, that we all just came from the slime. When we, when we died, you know, that was it, there is nothing

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    To argue that, e.g., murder is wrong whoever does it would mean banning freethought – in such a realm the psychopath is the perfect freethinker.

    Do unto others as you would have them do unto you has been a very popular approach to morality – it has even been adopted by Christians.

    A Libertarian approach is what this describes.

    Your right to do what you want ends when you harm someone else.

    That has not been popular with Christians, because many seem to feel inadequate if they are not imposing rules based on their interpretation of their religion on others.

    You can find the occasional quote of an atheist saying what Christians have been telling everyone what atheist means – no reason not to kill.

    There is no atheist belief in this idea, since atheism just means that there is no superstition.

    There several places in the Bible where God commands what atheists see as immoral, but Christians make excuses for – or even defend.

    I will take the more moral path of avoiding the computer game Biblical morality.

    .

  • Dave

    Do unto others as you would have them “do unto you has been a very popular approach to morality

    Like I’ve said before popularity of any ethic – including that which asserts that “Your right to do what you want ends when you harm someone else” – is inadequate as an explanation.

    Is it wrong to be an atheist if that’s only a minority opinion? Would a law imposing the death penalty upon atheists be moral if a majority of the country’s population voted for it?

    I will take the more moral path of avoiding the computer game Biblical morality

    From inside a universe wherein a morality is imposed from the exterior opt-out is basically an impossibility.

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    Do unto others, and its necessarily corollary of do not unto others, are actually quite solid moral standards. Is it moral to impose the death penalty on a religious minority? Well, would I like it if the death penalty was imposed on me for my religious views? No? Well then, not moral no matter how many people want to do it.

    Atheism is a minority opinion in the US. That doesn’t make it less true (as in, factually correct) or less moral.

    If the morality is imposed from the Bible, then it is a terrible morality and I explicitly reject it. I can do that- I can state out loud that genocide is bad. So is torturing people. Your god does both of those. Oh look, “externally imposed morality” … DENIED!

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    Dave,

    Like I’ve said before popularity of any ethic – including that which asserts that “Your right to do what you want ends when you harm someone else” – is inadequate as an explanation.

    That is true.

    However popularity does suggest that there is something there that goes beyond any authoritarian source.

    Popularity alone is not a good basis for morality, but as our morals evolve, we find fewer people justifying racism, slavery, rape, murder/execution, gay bashing, . . . .

    Religion seems to be doing as much, if not more, to hold us back, rather than to move morality forward.

    From inside a universe wherein a morality is imposed from the exterior opt-out is basically an impossibility.

    Only if the game is real.

    If the game is not real, applying the game rules to people who are not agreeing to play by those rules is wrong.

    .