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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Violence and religion

3 comments:

  1. Here's a comment I stumbled upon here http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/blog/2009/apr/09/religion-controversiesinscience. I guess it relates to "Atheism" and violence.

    This fascinates me, too. I am in my fifties and have met many very clever believers over the years. It annoys me that none has been able to explain why he or she believes such silly thingsI have often felt much the same way about non-believers who posit an ultimately meaningless universe and then drone on about how 'moral' they are, seemingly unaware of the unsettling and inescapable fact that they are no more 'moral' than a herder of children into concentration camps in such an ultimate scenario (as 'morality' like religion would be equally a merely human construct - and equally fraudulent ).

    As Nietzsche pointed out - 'morality is simply a conspiracy among the sheep to persuade the wolves not to devour them'. Nietzsche might have often been repellent, but unlike Dawkins or any of the New Atheists he had the courage to accept the logic of his beliefs.

    The atheist must ultimately accept that the genocidal or 'depraved' atheist (there is no God therefore I do what I will) is no "worse" than the 'gentle' atheist (there is no God therefore let's all be friends) if his creed is true. For the believer, the consequences for holding the former viewpoint would be (in eternal terms) grave indeed. In a meaningless universe it is however no more insane or wrong than any other position. But you wouldn't believe how angry an atheist can become when this is pointed out.

    I'll be impressed (if repelled) when a prominent atheist finally stands up and declares his allegience to murder and death on personal psycho-sexual gratification grounds and challenges his fellow atheist to gainsay his 'morality'. I'll then truly believe atheism has been thought through.

    Meanwhile, most 'atheists' appear to be just an anticlerical faction of the C of E. None has ever explained to me why their 'moral sense' makes any sense whatsoever in a 'scientific' viewpoint.

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  2. I just found the author's second post. maskedavenger, his/her name is. The second post was even better, although I'm sure most of the atheists on this blog will think it even worse. I'd encourage you to check out the discussion though, I'm currently up to the end of page 1 (of 7) and I look forward to hearing this person reply to any objections about their view point.

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  3. I'm not sure what your link had to do with atheism and violence... might want to check the link or explain the connection a bit better.

    I have often felt much the same way about non-believers who posit an ultimately meaningless universe and then drone on about how 'moral' they are, seemingly unaware of the unsettling and inescapable fact that they are no more 'moral' than a herder of children into concentration camps in such an ultimate scenario (as 'morality' like religion would be equally a merely human construct - and equally fraudulent)There's so much wrong with this that it's difficult to know where to start.

    Trav, you should know better than to make Nazi comparisons. Terrible move, Trav.

    Morals are, as you say "a human construct", but your argument that this renders it "equally fraudulent" to religion is a complete non-sequitur. It is also based on the fallacious unstated premise that 'all human constructs are fraudulent', which is nonsense and not representative of any argument I've ever been privy to. Either, you're just trying to bait a response, or you really need to refine your argument structure.

    Morals are a set of recommendations, or a construct, which is based on minimising social disorder. Morals can be authoritative (you should do X), or a matter of personal conscience (I should do X). Whether a moral is right or wrong can be judged on it's success in the maintenance of a balanced and affective social order.

    If an individual takes the moral position of an authority, they are shackled by the inevitable situation where a choice is called for that has not been prescribed a response from the moral authority being used. Also, as morals are very often relative to the climate in which they are formed, an authoritative moral set will need to be updated to fit the current situation.
    For example, it is an immoral act to kill another person, but it is less immoral to kill another when doing so will save a group of people from death. There are many of these kinds moral dilemmas, most famously explained in the trolley cart vignettes.

    When an individual is capable of arriving at successful moral choices on their own, they will be acting from within, rather than just following a set of orders handed down from an authority. In this situation, the individual is a higher moral position. They are the ones making the right choices and are therefore more likely to be able to react appropriately to novel situations.
    By this I an not trying to say that the person following their own moral rationalism will always chose higher moral positions, just that it is better to arrive at morals that way than through authority.
    For example, compare a child who doesn't steal a cookie because they were told not to, to a child who doesn't steal a cookie because they realise that it belongs to someone else. The latter child is operating on a higher moral level than the former, even though the outcome is the same. Now, if the same children come across a cupcake, the first has not been told that it is wrong to steal cupcakes, just cookies, whereas the second would be able to apply the same reason and would be more likely to abstain from stealing the treat. (yes, this is a hypothetical situation and real-life examples can be more complicated, but such is the nature of hypotheticals)

    At the base of it, there is no prescribed 'atheist morality'. Morality and atheism are completely separate areas of philosophy. Atheism describes ONLY a lack of belief in gods, morality describes the ways that a person acts in a given situation and can be weighed up on a continuum based on the success of each individual choice. Atheists do have the added advantage of a loose connection to authoritative moral systems and greater propensity to base morals on individual conscience, which is a good starting point to move towards a higher moral system.

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