7/20/09

Is the Atheist Argument from Religious Violence Cogent?

FYI: this post has been moved here.

16 comments:

  1. Of course, the first logical question to ask an atheist would be, “Just who are you to bequeath what is wrong, bad or evil?”

    And, of course, the answer is the obvious one: we are human beings - we, that is humans, are the ONLY ones that CAN "bequeath" (weird usage of the word) what is wrong, bad or evil. To borrow from Terry Pratchett "There is no Justice. There is only us."

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  2. And, of course, the answer is the obvious one: we are human beings - we, that is humans, are the ONLY ones that CAN "bequeath" (weird usage of the word) what is wrong, bad or evil.

    Good point. It means Stalin et al were acting morally when they ordered the deaths of millions because they decreed that it was wrong, evil and bad to question the state. Who are we to argue? There is no justice. There is only us. And people like Stalin.

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  3. Who are we to argue?

    Was I not clear? What part of "we are human beings" did you not understand? I can argue that Stalin made grossly wrong (read 'evil') choices because I'm a human being that can look at what he did and see that the moderate benefit that derived from his decisions were vastly outweighed by the incalculable harm he caused. But it is not just me but that is the consensus judgment of all morally sane people. But there is no cosmic court of justice that can look at what Stalin did (and why he did it) and decide that he was morally wrong (or morally justified): that is our job. If we don't do it, it won't get done.

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  4. "But it is not just me but that is the consensus judgment of all morally sane people."

    Oh please. You're saying that twenty million or more murders of innocents might be considered consensually moral if the benefits had outweighed the harm. That's exactly the moral "reasoning" of people like Stalin, Hitler and all the others. You are proving my point. I'm afraid you are the one that fails to understand your own moral premises.

    Do you see why so many people distrust atheism?

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  5. Do you see why so many people distrust atheism?

    No, because we sure don't get a better deal from religion.

    The core of the Thuggee practice is religious, the Borgia popes never scrupled to murder for fun, profit or power and the crusaders would have nuked the Saracens if they had the technology. Other than the greater scope afforded by industrial methodologies and a moustache, what did Stalin have that Tomás de Torquemada didn't?

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  6. You're saying that twenty million or more murders of innocents might be considered consensually moral if the benefits had outweighed the harm.

    History is replete with examples of governments causing great harm to innocents for what they believe to be a greater good.

    -Lincoln started one of the bloodiest wars of our history in order to preserve a particular government.

    -Truman dropped the atomic bomb on two cities causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians in the hope of ending the war.

    -George W. Bush ordered a missile strike on a house that had a known terrorist leader in it. It also had a number of innocent men, women and children in it.


    So, yes, when there is sufficient benefit we can condone causing great harm. Can you disagree with the evaluation? Sure, you may think that the potential benefit isn't worth the pain and deaths but you are still making the same harm/benefit evaluation.

    Some of the time we can look at these decision and say, yes the expected cost was worth the expected benefits. Other times, the balance is too close or too uncertain to make a determination. But there are also those times when the harm is just so egregious that there is no reasonable way for there to be enough benefit to justify the harm - those actions we call evil.

    (Actually, I also consider fairness and basic human rights in my moral evaluations but the process is the same, just more complicated.)

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  7. Mao the Murderer.July 20, 2009 at 6:04 PM

    Atheists don't have a right and wrong we just vote on it! Some of our votes count more than others!

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  8. Very nice article Mariano.
    Good to see those who still think Richard Dawkins has not gone senile are defending their champion of Aspergers Syndrome by simply repeating his argument.
    Bravo "Brights".

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  9. Other than the greater scope afforded by industrial methodologies and a moustache, what did Stalin have that Tomás de Torquemada didn't?

    Then you agree with Mariano. Atheism does not confer a greater sense of morality nor a more potent grasp of reason. The New Atheists are irrational to claim as such.

    History is replete with examples of governments causing great harm to innocents for what they believe to be a greater good......So, yes, when there is sufficient benefit we can condone causing great harm.

    That's just laughable. And the irony is completely lost on you. If Stalin believed that he was working for the greater good, then by your own reasoning, he cannot logically be considered wrong, evil or immoral.

    You are simply incapable of comprehending that the problem is precisely that you believe that you know what the greater good is, just like Stalin and, yes, Torquemada. I condemn the Inquisitor because he acted against the teachings of his religion. You condemn Stalin because he failed to produce enough benefits to outweigh the negatives. Not particularly rational or moral.

    So yes, distrusting atheism would seem to be a reasonable and logical conclusion.

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  10. Then you [me] agree with Mariano. Atheism does not confer a greater sense of morality nor a more potent grasp of reason.

    What I was saying is that religion does not deliver on its sales pitch to make people better. It would be more accurate to say that religion does not provide more than atheism in the morality department. In the end, people are people and do what people do, with or without religion. As sages have wisely written, a man without religion is like a fish without a bicycle.

    The distinction is that atheism doesn't/can't appeal to fictitious authority, or rationalise it's tenets by reference to imaginary friends and foes; we have no angles or devils to blame things on. We don't have your convenient all-purpose excuse that "the Devil made me do it!" I suppose that fundamental honesty and realism is somewhat superior religion, but, no, it doesn't necessarily confer superior moral judgement by itself.

    WRT Stalin (and Hitler, and the other monsters of fame and legend), other than being convenient to your prejudice, why do you attribute their actions to atheism? Did it ever occur to you they were just plain crazy? Can you show a connection between belief/disbelief and violence? For example, both Hitler and Stalin were abused as children, why is that a less relevant explanation for their behavior than their church attendance?

    The US has 5% of the world's population, 75% of which is religious, and produces 80% of the world's serial killers. What's your theory of religious moral prophylaxis for this correlation?

    I condemn the Inquisitor because he acted against the teachings of his religion.

    No, he didn't. His actions were sanctioned by the church. He was as religious as you, just a different mutation of the same core. The Thuggee were as relisious as you, just a different religion. The precolumbian Maya and Inca indians, who practiced human sacrifice and cannibalism, were very religious. And if you think what they did was bad, the brutality of their new european chirstian masters make the Inca gods look like pikers.

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  11. I don't find your argument from special pleading to be particularly compelling, but I'm glad that you acknowledge that, contrary to what some high-profile New Atheists assert, disbelief does not lead to superior morality or rationality. In fact, your certainty of the level of my religiosity and prejudice are perfect examples that atheism does not equal rationality. Disagreeing with what you say does not make me a bigot or a religious fanatic, and for you to claim such exposes the degree of your own bigotry which is exceeded only by your apparent paranoia.

    Your references to Hitler and Stalin make no sense in any context regarding my postings. Your point is meaningless because I've not argued that atheism turns people into immoral people.

    Thanks for the statistic on serial killers, but if that's an example of evidence showing a connection between religion and crime, then all I can say is that you seem to be extremely easy to convince.

    I see no evidence in your diatribe that atheism can lead people to be less violent, or more rational, in fact you still seem to be agreeing with much of what Mariano has written. All you have expressed in your post is a religious adherence to your own prejudice.

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  12. People blame the religion for the violence committed by its followers when those followers perform violent acts which can only be due to messages in the holy text (note sharia law and the human rights violations committed by its enforces, note suicide bombings and the verses in the religious texts which encourage death towards non-believers). Atheism isn't a dogma, it has no religious text associated with it, so any acts committed by atheists must be blamed on the individual.



    Your rants help to illustrate the despair inherent to your position. That you have to reach so far, grasp so hard for any point to attack atheists and atheism, is a measure of how weak your position is. In a century your philosophy will be long forgotten.

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  13. "In a century your philosophy will be long forgotten."

    They said that last century.

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  14. "Atheism isn't a dogma, it has no religious text associated with it, so any acts committed by atheists must be blamed on the individual."

    To the contrary: atheism is the dogma that no god exists.

    Unlike religion, atheists have no standard by which to judge others or themselves. Therefore, any moralizing by atheists is thoroughly ironic.

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  15. Good one. Anonymous. ;)

    signed "that anonymous troll"

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  16. Talking to yourself again, Anonymous?

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