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Quote# 89223

[discussing the Global Atheist Convention]

I like the part about basing laws on rational thought and evidence. It echoes a sentiment that is a driving force in the atheist community right now, namely the idea that society must develop a set of moral values that is not rooted in any kind of supernatural belief system. I think it could end up being a really good thing that the leaders of modern atheism are coming together to discuss this, because this is an idea that needs a lot more exploration.

The New Atheists and their brethren in the secular humanist movement like to advocate for a godless value system where acceptance and goodwill toward others are prized, where people are free to be kind and loving out of the goodness of their hearts, and not because some man in the sky tells them to do so. While I appreciate the sentiment behind wanting to add more peace and love to the world, I just don’t think this works. And I can’t help but wonder if that might become clear to others as well at one of these atheist conventions.

The group of GAC attendees will undoubtedly contain a lot of intelligent, free thinking types, and so I’d imagine that it will only be a matter of time before folks start questioning the assumptions behind these ideas. For example: Yes, you can defend a peace- and love-based moral code from a purely atheistic point of view. You can point to the fact that more humans survive when we live in harmony together, that we may have an “altruistic gene” that makes us want to do nice things for others, etc. But who’s to say that harmony and survival for the greatest number of people should be our highest goals? You could just as easily advocate for a values system in which the survival of the fittest is the highest aim, and the weak are considered worthless and expendable. It sounds revolting, and it is. But it’s also perfectly defensible from an atheistic point of view.

I imagine that one day someone will get on the stage at one of these conferences, and propose a new moral code in which the the strong exterminate the weak and take all their possessions for themselves, thus ushering in a glorious age where only the most superior genes remain in the gene pool. Everyone in the crowd will gasp and fidget uncomfortably…and then realize that they cannot argue against it without stepping outside of their own atheist-materialist worldview. They’ll find themselves tempted to appeal to the transcendent to make their case, wanting to have blind faith in the fact that love should be prized above all else, believing that self-sacrifice is always better than selfishness, regardless of what the latest scientific studies say.

I hope that these events really will provide a forum for questioning assumptions and asking tough questions as much as they claim they will. Because when they do, the nearby churches will be flooded with post-convention crowds.

Jennifer Fulwiler, National Catholic Register 50 Comments [8/28/2012 3:55:49 AM]
Fundie Index: 33
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Often Partisan

Cos no atheist/materialist has ever been able to argue for a system not based on "survival of the fittest". [/sarcasm]

8/28/2012 4:08:47 AM

Leighton Buzzard

You could just as easily advocate for a values system in which the survival of the fittest is the highest aim, and the weak are considered worthless and expendable.

You want the RNC, just down the road.

Talk about 'not getting it' ...

8/28/2012 4:08:51 AM

MK

So close, so close....

8/28/2012 4:10:12 AM

Paler_Face

But who’s to say that harmony and survival for the greatest number of people should be our highest goals?

We say it is so, because that's the sort of civilisation we want to live in.

You could just as easily advocate for a values system in which the survival of the fittest is the highest aim, and the weak are considered worthless and expendable. It sounds revolting, and it is. But it’s also perfectly defensible from an atheistic point of view.

No, you couldn't. You could only argue for that bullshit if you are a psychopath.

I imagine that one day someone will get on the stage at one of these conferences, and propose a new moral code in which the the strong exterminate the weak and take all their possessions for themselves, thus ushering in a glorious age where only the most superior genes remain in the gene pool.

Such a person would be laughed off the stage, and be made an outcast in the Atheist movement. What he describes is not civilisation, it's an all-out free-for-all war of everyone against everyone. It's barbaric.
Human beings are social creatures, and as such do better when cooperating with each other. Fighting amongst ourselves is deleterious to our civilisation. It is not the path that will put man on Mars.

8/28/2012 4:14:11 AM



"I imagine that one day someone will get on the stage at one of these conferences, and propose a new moral code in which the the strong exterminate the weak and take all their possessions for themselves, thus ushering in a glorious age where only the most superior genes remain in the gene pool. Everyone in the crowd will gasp and fidget uncomfortably…and then realize that they cannot argue against it without stepping outside of their own atheist-materialist worldview. They’ll find themselves tempted to appeal to the transcendent to make their case, wanting to have blind faith in the fact that love should be prized above all else, believing that self-sacrifice is always better than selfishness, regardless of what the latest scientific studies say. "

Hmm...

My life has value to me and my family/friends... my possessions have value to me. Life is much easier if you do not have to constantly spend time and effort looking over your shoulder. It makes sense to band together to exclude those who would try to kill you and take your stuff... after all, would you want to be killed? No? What makes anyone think others want to be killed?

Empathy and some intelligence is all that is needed to make the case... no need for the "transcendent" at all.

8/28/2012 4:38:53 AM

Doubting Thomas

This scenario is just as likely as a Catholic priest getting up before his congregation and proposing that everyone worship Satan. Jennifer obviously doesn't understand the concept behind secular humanism.


8/28/2012 4:45:45 AM

Szena

"a new moral code in which the the strong exterminate the weak and take all their possessions for themselves"

See the Republican platform. It's being touted as God's will.

8/28/2012 4:49:23 AM

c4ndid3

It really ticks me off when Christians conflate Spencerism (falsely called 'social Darwinism') with the actual theory of evolution through natural selection. The survival of the fittest isn't about who amasses more resources in terms of wealth, it's about who is able to reach the stage of biological reproduction and produce viable offspring in a hostile environment.

If anything, we'd propose orgies. :P

Read The Selfish Gene, goddamn it!

8/28/2012 5:20:47 AM

D Laurier

You imagine a lot of silly nonsense Jennifer

8/28/2012 5:22:47 AM

Table Rock

So one can get trapped into an opposing view point because it is based upon the the basis. what the hell are you talking about? Can I make a Southern Babptist into a Catholic because the both believe in Jesus and read the bible?

8/28/2012 5:28:23 AM

Canadiest

Yeah, Really? Cause the Catholic church is the symbol of freedom, fairness, tolerance, honesty, progression and equality since when?

Atheists are really good at "questioning assumptions and asking tough questions". It's what you believers bitch about every time you have one of your regularly occuring scandals.

8/28/2012 5:36:31 AM

Mudak

We do have a much smaller-scale anecdote that completely refutes this claim, and while it's only an anecdote, it probably does speak volumes about what might happen if someone espoused a viewpoint such as this at an atheist gathering.

Popular YouTube atheist Thunderf00t joined the Freethought Blogs network and very promptly started to alienate himself and ostracize others by essentially discounting the need for equality for women. (it's much more complicated than that but that's the two second overview.

He was fairly promptly kicked off the network and has been losing popularity overall ever since.

8/28/2012 5:53:43 AM

OhJohnNo

This person had so much potential for the first three (well, 2-and a half) paragraphs. Now I'm annoyed.

8/28/2012 6:03:09 AM

Mister Spak

"I imagine that one day someone will get on the stage at one of these conferences, and propose a new moral code in which the the strong exterminate the weak and take all their possessions for themselves"

That already happened. It's called the Republic party convention. They just looooovvvveee Ayn Rand and her I-am-Atlas-and-I-will-shrug-and- you-losers-will-all-starve philosophy.

I hope that these events really will provide a forum for questioning assumptions and asking tough questions as much as they claim they will. Because when they do, the nearby churches will be flooded with post-convention crowds."

I won't happen because the Rand loving Republic Party convention is already full of church going fundies.

You're just pissed because atheists don't provide little kiddies for your diddling pleasure.

8/28/2012 6:04:35 AM

dionysus

But who’s to say that harmony and survival for the greatest number of people should be our highest goals? You could just as easily advocate for a values system in which the survival of the fittest is the highest aim, and the weak are considered worthless and expendable.

The strong are not very strong without the rest of society behind them. We as humans have this illusion that we are untouchable and above the rest of nature but take away society and we are pretty weak. We don't have claws, we don't have sharp teeth, we don't have a strong bite, and without society we only have whatever we happen to find on the ground as a weapon. We find pretty quickly that these so-called "worthless" people are actually necessary to a functioning society. The only ones that really ARE worth less are those that try to damage society: criminals, con artists, bigots, etc. And that's why those people are disliked and, in the case of criminals, put in jail.

It sounds revolting, and it is. But it’s also perfectly defensible from an atheistic point of view.

Sure, given that atheism is a blank slate you can defend anything from an atheistic point of view. You can defend a horrible, brutal philosophy or a highly altruistic philosophy and everything in between. But you can even do the same with something that's not as much of a blank slate, like Christianity. What are there like 40,000 denominations or so? You can't tell me that Christian terrorists don't also have a pretty warped philosophy. As do the fundies that shot down anti-bullying laws recently because those laws would protect gays.

TL;DR version: people will follow whatever philosophy they want to follow and you can just as easily get a horrific atheist philosophy as you can a horrific Christian philosophy or horrific Muslim philosophy or whatever. People will justify their philosophical beliefs in any way they can.

8/28/2012 6:16:03 AM

dionysus

They’ll find themselves tempted to appeal to the transcendent to make their case, wanting to have blind faith in the fact that love should be prized above all else, believing that self-sacrifice is always better than selfishness, regardless of what the latest scientific studies say.

That's an is-ought fallacy. Just because science finds that something is more beneficial or works a certain way in nature does not mean that morally it ought to be that way. After all, computers are pretty unnatural and jobs that involve computers tend to make people more unhealthy. Does taht mean that we shouldn't ever use computers? No. So if being a jackass makes you healthier, more confident, whatever that doesn't mean we ought to be jackasses.

I hope that these events really will provide a forum for questioning assumptions and asking tough questions as much as they claim they will. Because when they do, the nearby churches will be flooded with post-convention crowds.

Don't hold your breath on that one. The Catholic Church doesn't exactly have a sterling record with regards to morality.

8/28/2012 6:21:31 AM

Filin De Blanc

Sure, you're all for asking tough questions of people who aren't you. But when the tough questions being asked are "why does the Catholic Church cover up child rape?" suddenly you have somewhere else to be.

8/28/2012 6:40:03 AM

Metallic Space Dragon

She was doing so well in the first half, but then dives straight into the assumptions and stereotypes that Christians and other theists have about atheists.

Not that I'd expect anything different from something called the National Catholic Register.

8/28/2012 7:06:50 AM

Ebon

You're thinking of the Republican platform.

8/28/2012 7:14:53 AM

John_in_Oz

Meh.
As a person of goodwill, many of her errors can be forgiven her.
Her nonsense is not that objectionable. Like the idea of putting a giant fan on a sailboat, it seems perfectly reasonable at first glance to almost everyone.
As long as she keeps the goodwill as she grows up, she'll be a nice person to have around.

8/28/2012 7:18:08 AM

Anon

>>You could just as easily advocate for a values system in which the survival of the fittest is the highest aim, and the weak are considered worthless and expendable. It sounds revolting, and it is. But it’s also perfectly defensible from an atheistic point of view. <<

"Survival of the fittest". You Keep Using Those Words. They Do Not Mean What You Think They Mean.

For humans, for much of the last few hundred thousand years "fittest" has meant "smarter", "can run further", and "can cooperate with other humans better". These days, the first and last are the ones that matter.

8/28/2012 7:29:18 AM

pete

Funny. Every case of genocide I can think of was perpetrated in the name of religion, racism, nationalism, or a combination of the three. Even the so-called "atheist communists" leaders the fundies love to bring up are nothing of the sort since they viewed themselves as gods or demigods at the least.

8/28/2012 7:59:52 AM

J. James

Replace "humanist" with "liberal Christian" and "survival of the fittest" with "religious extremism" and you have one giant fucking whopper of a projection here.

8/28/2012 8:05:47 AM

Indicible

Because, of course, the Catholic Church has, at all times, defended a world view of, as you put it, "peace and love". [/sarcasm]

8/28/2012 8:53:51 AM

gravematter

Social Darwinism, blah blah blah. As an atheist, I'd rather live in a society based on truth, than one based on mystical drivel. I'm happy to see what such a society would be like. I cannot imagine, given the hideous crimes against humanity that religion has given rise to again and again, that it would be any worse than a religious one.

8/28/2012 9:32:33 AM
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