Monday, February 10, 2014

Atheists Can't Depend on Atheism to Even Assert Their Rights

Note Updates Below

I almost feel sorry for Valerie Tarico who, obviously hard up for something to post, came up with

20 Atheist Quotes About Joy and Meaning That Crush ‘Angry, Empty’ Stereotype

The list is cribbed from what I guess is an atheist coffee table book which promises that through it you can "Explore the meaning and joy of life with 100 atheists in this book of photos and commentary featuring Richard Dawkins, Dan Dennett, Steven Pinker, Penn & Teller, Julia Sweeney, Alex Honnold, Derren Brown, and more!'

The full list of those shedding atheist joy and meaning includes, in addition to Penn Jillette !!! such blithe spirits as A. C. Grayling,  Christopher Hitchens, James Randi, James Watson, Patricia Churchland, "and many, many more!".   Considering this list, I wonder if that dear old sweetheart Jerry Coyne is one of those more.   

All in all, these are not folks I associate with goodness and light.   So, Tarico had her work cut out for her with anyone who was even slightly familiar with those guys

But her own experience should have dissuaded her from writing her cut and paste post.  Anyone who has read even five comment threads at Alternet, where she posts her stuff, would know to a margin within practical certainty that the Alternet atheists would immediately undermine her salvage effort with angry, empty quotes stereotyping the overwhelming majority of the human species who are religions.   You won't have been waiting with baited breath to hear that they have done that as certainly as the sun rose this morning.  


That would all be so predictable as to not warrant mentioning it, though how Alternet could continue to sponsor such obvious nonsense that it would know its readers would prove was nonsense might be a mildly interesting question to consider.

In the course of the back and forth was going on - you didn't think I wouldn't point out the above, did you - a question occurred to me that I don't think had before.  

Are atheists able to make a single complaint of their victimization that isn't based in a moral principle that 1. was not originated in atheism but in the religions that atheists hate and despise and lie about and try to destroy, 2. a moral principle that some well known atheist, adored by many if not most atheist, has not attacked as being delusional or superstitious nonsense.  3. present in any form within atheist assertion that would withstand the forms of debunkery that is the life's blood of atheism? 

Their complaint that they are not treated equally is one of the more common ones.  In its most aggravating form it's some Brit slamming the United States as being a cesspool of religious persecution of atheists,  they sitting on a country with an official state religion, which banned religious minorities from public office and a number of other things as the United States was a beacon of non-establishment with the law mandating that there would be no religious test to hold office.   A country in which discrimination against atheists is as illegal as it is any other covered group under the Civil Rights Act, a law adopted and put into effect by a legislature comprised almost exclusively of professed Christians and Jews and signed by a President who was a professed Christian. 

Anyway, the concept of equality in Western culture came directly from the Jewish scriptures based on the religious belief that we are all created by God and in God's image.  The principle of legal equality is present from at least the time of Leviticus,  some hints of it going back into Genesis.  The most dramatic expressions of equality in modern life, anti-slavery agitation, was certainly motivated by religion and not atheism.  To pretend that isn't the case is to deny aspects of the past far more amply documented and far more certain than any part of the geological record supporting evolution.  

Yet the greatest attacks on equality have been from atheists claiming that science negates equality among human beings and even among groups of human beings. The who's who of the "scientific" attack on equality, the attacks on it that have had the greatest effect in damaging equality,  are full of prominent atheists, some of them still held as heroes of atheism.  You've read part of that list here before, Ernst Haeckel, Francis Galton, Thomas Huxley,  Karl Pearson,  Francis Crick, W. D. Hamilton,  James Watson... The moral principle of equality is not discernible with science, it is not something that materialism can do anything but attack and damage.   If equality is real, and I believe absolutely that it is, its reality, its  political and social effectiveness, its manifestation in life, absolutely depends on religious belief because it can not be found any other way.  

As to the impossibility of atheists making moral stands that withstand atheist methods of debunkery, the list of atheists in the book Tarico based her post on contains the name of Rebecca Newberger Goldstein.  She was the one who did her best to turn morality into an aspect of the nature red in tooth and nail framing of natural selection  in its most dubious evo-psy manifestation.  It was her effort that Steve "bad religion" Weinberg shot down within ten minutes of her making it using the most primitive of atheist tactics, taking down the even more massive effort of utilitarianism with it. 

Atheists who want to claim their right to equality have to leave the territory of atheism to find what they are claiming.  Atheism can not produce an effective and durable claim of a moral position, atheists who want to assert even the concept that they have a right to equal consideration have to entirely leave the framing of atheism to make that claim.   If they can point to some nearly universal holding of atheism that can compete with the assertion that God created us all equal and endowed with rights for internal coherence, I'd love to see it.


Jeff Clothier • 13 hours ago −
We're actually pretty mellow folk, once you get to know us. Not walking around all the time with our head in the clouds and one foot in the grave does that for you. That I am not Yahweh's dust-puppet and my wife is not a walking sparerib is very comforting.

I only get angry and hostile when Theists act like they have the right to dictate how others live their lives.

Anthony_McCarthy  Jeff Clothier • 2 hours ago
Jerry Coyne, P.Z. Myers, Penn Jillette, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, ......

"I am not Yahweh's dust-puppet"

No, you're Richard Dawkins' "lumbering robots".

Update 2:
doubtom  Anthony_McCarthy • an hour ago
Atheism, you ignorant and pompous ass, is not a body of dogma, it is an 'absence' of the belief in gods,,, that and nothing more,, as such you have no business comparing it to any religion or religion's outlandish claims of being the originator of the concept of morality. You are beyond shallow in your arguments,,in fact you're closer to foolishness.

Anthony_McCarthy  doubtom • a few seconds ago −
Atheism is an ideology that can contain no basis for morality, no basis of civil rights, no basis of a moral obligation to respect rights. In short, as I've been pointing out, it provides atheists with no basis for asserting that there is anything wrong with anyone violating their rights. They can't even identify rights or obligations to respect rights for them to whine about other people violating. Deliciously ironic in that is that religion is exactly where they could find those things they are whining about and why the people who are violating their rights should stop doing that. Only they're so dull and arrogant that they can't admit that's the case.

You don't get it both ways, bunky, either you admit that you have to find your rights outside of atheism and, so atheism is a fatally flawed ideology that the political left can't build on securely, or you give up your whining about your rights being violated. You don't get to have it both ways.


  1. Anyway, the concept of equality in Western culture came directly from the Jewish scriptures based on the religious belief that we are all created by God and in God's image. The principle of legal equality is present from at least the time of Leviticus, some hints of it going back into Genesis.

    The Hebrew Scriptures are shot through with admonitions to care for the alien; i.e., those living with the children of Abraham who are not children of Abraham. Atheists? They might as well be. But the God of Abraham tells Israel even the alien among them must be treated with justice and hospitality.

    I wonder what atheism has to say about hospitality....(aside from the "Miss Manners" variety)

  2. We're actually pretty mellow folk, once you get to know us. Not walking around all the time with our head in the clouds and one foot in the grave does that for you. That I am not Yahweh's dust-puppet and my wife is not a walking sparerib is very comforting.

    This certainly crushes the "angry, empty" stereotype. Also crushes the notion that all atheists are obsessed with being anti-Christian.

    Yup. That's some free, free thinkin' on display there. Yuppers. No bout adout it.

  3. Thank you for reminding me I haven't looked at the dear old Miss for a long, long time. Googling I found this:

    DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a genuine fascination with cultures and religions that are not my own. I know it is incredibly rude to pester people about this, so I usually find answers to my questions online or in books.

    However, a somewhat close friend of mine shared a mutual curiosity about religion, and we had an interesting conversation about our (very different) faiths. Curious about the concept of Hell, I asked her, “If I was a good person all my life, a kind, giving, completely unselfish person, yet someone who believes differently, would I go to Hell?”

    She told me in no uncertain terms that I would. Was this rude of her? Logically, I know I asked for it. But it felt as though she was telling me I was going to Hell for having a different religion.

    Should I be offended? Must I avoid the topic of religion at all times in the future? I know that it is a largely personal and inflammatory topic, but I am eager to have open and honest conversations about it. Is this impossible?

    GENTLE READER: You should not expect salvation from Miss Manners.

    You committed a social sin by pulling a conversational bait-and-switch on your friend. Having proposed a theological discussion, you appeared to be using yourself merely as stand-in for anyone of your views. Then you turned around and took her answer personally.

    What was she supposed to say? “Well, yes, most people of your faith will go to Hell, but you’re so good that I’m sure God will make an exception for you”?

    So yes, open and honest conversations are impossible if you expect to weigh information to make sure that it is flattering.

    I love Miss Manners.

  4. Absence of belief? Doesn't that mean you have to actively deny religion in order to insist on it's absence in your life?

    Curious kind of dependency, that.