Monday, August 27, 2012

More Christian Than Christians

Reading Pharyngula has definitely plummeted into diminishing returns territory, but what the hell, we're here for the moment, let's do this:

Im in that awkward position where i do agree with most of the values and dislike the misogynist idiots but see no value or reason to mix atheism and the other values. For me atheism just is the simple disbelief and my political values stand apart from it.

Now you see, that’s just stupid. There are lots of atheists who take this blinkered stance that atheism is just one specific idea about rejecting god-belief, and it has absolutely no philosophical foundation and should have no political or social consequences. And that’s nonsense. This commenter is deluding himself as thoroughly as any god-walloper.

If there is no god, if religion is a sham, that has significant consequences for how we should structure our society. You could argue over how we should shape our culture — a libertarian atheist would lean much more towards a Darwinian view, for instance, than I would — but to pretend that atheism is just an abstraction floating in the academic ether is silly.

No, you jackass, you idiot, you fatuous blowhard, the point he was making was that political values are not derived from one's stance on the truth or falsity of monotheism. They can be justified or rejected without appeal to religion or the lack thereof. As evidenced by, oh, I don't know, the fact that a strict atheist like Ayn Rand could share common political cause with the party of Christian fundamentalism. Or the fact that many lay members of various denominations would be willing to work with you on all your social justice goals, regardless of how suspiciously you eye each other's ultimate motivation. Or the fact that your old pal Hitchens managed to carry his Trotskyist beliefs across the political spectrum into alliances with widely varied political bedfellows, all while remaining an atheist. The fact of a godless world has inspired everyone from fascists to communists, which makes it pretty much useless as an organizing principle for your intents and purposes.

Because I’m an atheist and share common cause with every other human being on the planet in desiring to live my one life with equal opportunity, I suggest that atheists ought to fight for equality for all, economic security for all, and universally available health and education services. Peace is the only answer; extinguishing a precious human life ought to be unthinkable in all but the most dire situations of self-defense. Ours should be a movement that welcomes all sexes, races, ages, and abilities and encourages an appreciation of human richness. Atheism ought to be a progressive social movement in addition to being a philosophical and scientific position, because living in a godless universe means something to humanity.

If you agree with that, you’re an atheist+. Or a secular humanist. Whatever. You’re someone who cares about the world outside the comforting glow of your computer screen. It really isn’t a movement about exclusion, but about recognizing the impact of the real nature of the universe on human affairs.

And if you don’t agree with any of that — and this is the only ‘divisive’ part — then you’re an asshole. I suggest you form your own label, “Asshole Atheists” and own it, proudly. I promise not to resent it or cry about joining it.

Actually, it's not about agreeing or disagreeing with any of those insipid platitudes propositions. It's about finding them incoherent and hopelessly utopian, ignorant of both history and basic human psychology. Do you honestly think religiously-inspired unreasonableness is the only thing preventing such a world from coming into existence? Better minds than yours have tried and failed to reorganize the world according to ideals of perfect justice and rationality, yet you apparently think tiresome adolescent bravado will carry you the rest of the way there. The sort of equality you envision only exists as a mathematical abstraction, not as the end result of policymaking. Practically speaking, you sound like you're trying to form a Green party minus the pantheism or mystical nature-worship. Philosophically speaking, for all of your blather about the immense significance of a godless universe to humanity, you don't seem to have strayed far from the familiar path blazed by the most extreme Christian idealism.

2 comments:

Brian M said...

I just feel the LURVE, Scribbler! LOL.

What do you think about Ophelia Benson?

The Vile Scribbler said...

I've only read the occasional post here and there, not enough to form any real impression of her.