Another Atheist Responds…

to the conversation I posted on Friday. Fun!

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  • meunke


  • Pavel Chichikov

    I told my wife about the shirt-button popping sentence I read this week-end: “I am an atheist.” I said I thought it might be status and prestige boosting for young people to proclaim themselves atheists.

    She said that if enough of them become atheists, it might become prestige-boosting for the next generation to proclaim themselves believers.

    • chezami

      20% of self-described atheists also state that they believe in God. We’re not talking Precision Thinkers here. Lots of younger “atheists” are simply giving the conventional socially acceptable answer of their generation. They have no idea what they are talking about, just as an Edwardian Englishman would have called himself a Christian and indulged in casual anti-semitism without darkening the door of a church or beating up a Jew. Beyond the boundaries of real belief of whatever stripe are those folks who simply mouth the conventional shibboleths in order to rub along in their social circle and live mediocre lives pleasing to that circle without making waves or risking too much involvement.

      • ragarth

        Two points:

        And how many Christians are just social Christians? That’s a popular topic around atheist blogs. 🙂

        Also, got a source for your stat? While it doesn’t seem beyond possibility to me, (humans, in general, aren’t precision thinkers), all we have to go on regarding it is your word, and let me be frank: You have no credibility since you’re just a name on the internet.

  • LFM

    Forgive me, but I’m not sure that your efforts to prove to these atheists that all human beings share some form of common, transcendent morality is either entirely logical, or accurate. Please bear with me; I don’t mean to be insulting, but to ferret out a couple of points that don’t quite fit with your argument.

    If we all drew the bulk of our morality from our evolutionary development, human morality might be expected to share more common features than it does throughout the length of human history. In fact, however, it’s very clear that many cultures, including our own culture at earlier periods, accommodated and even encouraged many practices that we would find repugnant today, from slavery to child marriage to wife-beating. There have been cultures that saw war and plunder as good things (the Vikings); there have been cultures that took pleasure in torture as a proof of their bravery (the Hurons could not understand why the Jesuits kept rattling on about the tortures of Hell; they asked, “Why do you tell us this? Do you think to frighten us out of going to such a place?” as if admitting to fear was the worst possible sin, which, to them, it was.)

    None of this amounts to an argument against God, or against the universality of the moral law (and I don’t suppose that you meant to make such an absolute claim for its “universality” either). What it does mean is that while the moral law may be written in our hearts, so that any child is aware of those occasions he is treated unjustly, it is very easy for us to ignore it or adapt it to our circumstances. That need not trouble the theist, except insofar as theists are troubled in general by human wickedness, but it should certainly worry atheists. Today’s atheists, who like the Christians they despise but emulate, make claims for the university of the moral law, *need* the moral law to be universal, because that means they don’t have to worry about justifying its application to everyone, everywhere.

    Do you see what I mean? How are the Dawkinses and Harrises going to create the atheist utopia of which they dream, if they have to begin by admitting that all moral laws are arbitrary, and that some people would prefer a chance to be Supermen, bound by no laws they did not write themselves? The result is that your atheist challengers twist themselves into pretzels as they try to argue that the moral law both is, and is not, universal, depending on whether they’re talking to other atheists or to believers.

    • Ye Olde Statistician

      What it does mean is that while the moral law may be written in our hearts,….

      ….we have to learn to read.

      • wlinden

        Especially if we want to get out of Lazarus Longs’ Klein bottle.

  • A Philosopher

    It’s frustrating when people sound off on topics in which they have no particular training or expertise, isn’t it?

    • John Jones

      Yes. It’s called democracy – everyone is entitled to their own opinion but not their own facts. Why is it that so many trained religious experts cannot agree on what the Bible means?

  • Randy Burbach

    Lest we forget, we are a FAR more moral civilization than the bronze age nomads who came up with Yahweh. Where the bible, on several occasions, has Y ordering soldiers to gut the wombs of pregnant women, such an act would land a modern soldier in jail for life. We abolished slavery. The bible – old and new testaments – exhorts slaves to obey their masters.

    • chezami

      More fundamentalist atheism. Thanks for that bulletin on the difference between us and Bronze Age semitic culture, Captain Obvious. In my experience. only assholes declare “I am *far* more moral”. Try using just a *little* historical imagination to account for the difference between your massively superior self and you benighted ancestors. Show your work.

      • wlinden

        But at least he, like you, uses ” Bronze Age” as a swear word. (Um, surely Islam is at least Iron Age?)

      • Randy Burbach

        So morality changes over time? One would think absolute morality handed down by an all-mighty, all-knowing deity would be immutable. Sounds like you are saying different circumstances require different morals. That’s treading dangerously close to moral relativism

        • LFM

          It’s not that morality changes over time, friend, but that our understanding of the natural law, and God’s law, changes over time. God speaks to an ignorant people, a people trying to understand what it means when He calls them, and gradually – so gradually – making sense of it.

          Consider this: you – a child – have been told by your all-powerful, all-wise father that your enemies, who sleep with their brethren and sacrifice their children, are engaged in these abominable practices. Being (morally) children yourselves, how do you interpret this? You order your soldiers to “gut the wombs of the pregnant women,” to ensure that such abominations among your enemies cease. God must then explain to you that you have misunderstood Him…

          Yes, you can complain that God ought to communicate such things to His people in ways they understand. Well, no doubt He did so on multiple occasions, but their own sins, their blindness, their egos, their fears, blinded them. God could, of course, banish such confusions from us forever by decree – but only in ways that destroyed our freedom. So He chooses new prophets, seeking those who will communicate His wishes better, again and again.

          • Randy Burbach

            This, my friend, is one of the worst bits of apologistic nonsense I’ve read in quite a while

    • Jared Clark

      Not sure if honestly approaching topic, or thinking he has cleverly destroyed the morality of Christianity…?

      • Randy Burbach

        tell ya what – try reading the Bible

        • Jared Clark

          Thinks he cleverly destroyed the morality of Christianity.

          Thanks for bringing this to our attention. It’s amazing in the last two thousand years, no Christian has ever noticed violence in the Bible!

  • godlessveteran

    Seriously puzzled at what the linked article was trying to convey. “People make value judgements, therefore god!” is what it seems to be saying. Curious.

  • Marthe Lépine

    I don’t know if the problem is with my computer or the link, but every time I have tried the link above to the Register, half the article goes black and I can only read from the line about alligators… Can someone suggest something, please?

  • ragarth

    @Mark Shea

    Question for you: Every time I read an atheist blog post that’s a response to another, they link the post they’re responding to. Almost every time I read a Christian response to a blog post (especially an atheist) they don’t link back. Why did you choose not to provide a link back in your article?

    This is an observation I’ve made over time and it confuses me a bit.