Saturday, June 09, 2007

The “logical” conclusion

A piece of clichéd theist rubbish inspired a few off the cuff comments, which bear repeating.

The blog author, Paul, presents a ridiculous straw man of a budding atheist, "Nick". On the threshold of deconverting to atheism, "Nick" writes,
It's a relief to know that there is no god haunting my thoughts and actions, no spiritual quests to waste my time, no church to bore me, and no money to be surrendered. My mind is free and my goals are my own to set. I know now that my conscience, which was my last hurdle toward atheism, is just the product of my Christian upbringing, or perhaps it is an evolutionary instinct meant for my survival. In any case, it doesn't need to trouble me again, since I am free to make my own values and follow my own natural desires.
Note how Paul Nick slips in that bit about "conscience" as if ones conscience were anything but one's own values and natural desires. Paul Nick goes on,
I've grown so tired of trying to resist my desires and fight my conscience that it feels so liberating to reject the god hypothesis and everything that goes with it. If I want to party and do drugs, or view any kind of pornography, who's to say it's wrong? In fact, if I want to have an affair, so long as my wife doesn't find out, it's no problem with me. Heck, even if she does find out and doesn't like it, divorce is a perfectly acceptable option. For that matter, murder is on the table as well!
The bullshit goes on for a couple more paragraphs; Paul Nick lays it on pretty thick.

It is a fact that people do party, take drugs, view pornography, have affairs, get divorced, even commit murder. And there is no god to punish them. Justice is a human construction.

I have nothing but contempt for those whose only moral restraint is fear of a magical sky fairy. I have no doubt that such people actually would commit the most atrocious crimes if they were convinced that God ordered them to do so. And, according to Christian scripture, people have been convinced that God has indeed ordered them to commit murder, rape, slavery, human sacrifice, etc. ad nauseam.

A theist who is good only because God—or, more precisely, priests and prophets purporting to speak for God—commands him to is nothing but a contemptible slave. Atheists are free people. We do not murder because we ourselves choose not to murder. Such theists choose not to murder only because they have not been ordered to murder, at least not yet.

Atheists are not free of the burden of conscience. We are freed only from the arbitrary restrictions handed down from ignorant and superstitious tribes millennia dead. My wife is an apostate from Islam, freed from the Koran that relegated her, by virtue of nothing but her sex, to second-class citizenship and second-class humanity. No small few formerly Christian gay people are liberated from the theology that taught that their ordinary, human love was sinful and hateful.

A conscience—moral and ethical beliefs, love, empathy, joy—is just as much a part of the human condition as are desire, pleasure and happiness, and all of these for their own sake. Atheists do not abandon their humanity when they abandon their submission to the authority of an invisible sky fairy or the frauds who claim to speak for Him. Atheists are free to embrace their humanity, so long denied by the fearful faithful, and they are no longer deathly afraid of any happiness that comes from freedom, not servility.

Paul's mythical straw man, Nick, is devoid of compassion, of empathy, of much ordinary human feeling. As an atheist he would, of course, be a monster.

But as a theist, he would still be a monster, and more. He would be a Torquemada, a Fred Phelps, a Crusader, an Inquisitor, an fatwa-spouting Imam. He would simply project his selfishness and ruthlessness onto God and thus grant his monstrousness divine justification. The atheist monster can go only so far: It takes theism, and a sense of divine justification, to amplify a serial killer who murders for pleasure into an Inquisitor who murders for the glory of God.


  1. Yes, it does sound dreadful shallow twaddle. Does no-one read Nietzsche on the re-evaluation of values these days?

  2. Apparently not, Anticant. Which is a shame.


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