Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Ultimate good

Fucktard* Tom Gilson asserts
Atheism entails that there is no ultimate good...

Likewise and with the same kind of condition attached, atheism entails that there is no ultimate meaning, no ultimate morality, no ultimate beauty, no ultimate purpose for anything.
*His actual fucktardery lies elsewhere

Well, OK, I'll bite. Atheism per se doesn't actually entail this conclusion, but skepticism and evidentiary reasoning do, at least on the evidence we presently have. The evidence supports the conclusion that good, meaning, beauty, morality and purpose are contingent characteristics of actual human beings; in some senses contingent on individual personality, in other senses contingent on the specific biological and social evolutionary history of human beings.

But what good is an "ultimate good" anyway, especially an ultimate good that must be justified by reference to a deity and, more sharply, by virtue of private revelation of the deity's ultimate good to priests and prophets?

If some ethical system (such as humanism) is somehow naturally justifiable (objectively or subjectively by some appeal to moral intuition) then the natural justification is sufficient: one need not gratuitously invoke a deity to explain what has already been explained naturally. On the other hand, if no ethical system were naturally justifiable, then there is no reason to believe an ethical system justifiable only by a deity and by private revelation would be humanistic. For all we know, a deity might just as easily approve of as disapprove of rape, genocide, and slavery; if we exclude a priori natural justification, our moral intuition is therefore also excluded; there are by definition no naturally knowable constraints on what a deity might approve or disapprove of of.

And of course we have actual evidence that Christians believe their deity can under some circumstances not just permit but actually command that human beings commit rape, genocide, and slavery.

To proclaim that your ethical beliefs come from a deity does not seem like an effective way to build trust. I hear every Christian saying to me, "I am a slave; my own will is irrelevant and meaningless. That I don't kill you, rape your wife, enslave your children and plow salt in your fields has nothing whatsoever to do with me personally; nothing to do with what I personally want; nothing to do with what I personally approve or disapprove of. The only reason I refrain from such behavior is that God, through the agency of the priests and prophets I'm subservient to, has not commanded such behavior... at least not yet. If, however, I am tomorrow commanded to do so, I will have no moral or emotional qualms whatsoever. I care nothing for you on my own account; I care about you — at least today — only because I'm commanded to do so. Indeed I will assert that it is not only right for me to obey priests and prophets God, it is wrong to interfere in any way and under any circumstances with my obedience."

The subjectivist, on the other hand, says, "I am a free person. I care not a whit what anyone else — priest, prophet or deity — commands me to do: I will do what I want, and I will not do what I do not want to do. I do not want to kill you; I do not want to rape your wife, enslave your children and plow salt in your fields. I do want you to be happy, just like I want everyone else, myself included, to be happy. These are deep and constant desires, not just transient whims. Furthermore, I will guarantee my good will and the constancy of these desires: I consent to and will pay for a democratic process to determine what is lawful and unlawful, as well as police, courts and prisons to subject myself to overwhelming coercion if I'm lying or inconstant."

I see no reason whatsoever that I should consider Christians, Muslims, and indeed anyone who asserts a necessarily theistic morality as anything but a potentially violent lunatic, who proclaims the "ultimate good" of slavery, mindless obedience and sanctimonious delusions, i.e. a commitment to long-outmoded feudal social constructions.


  1. contingent on the specific biological and social evolutionary history of human beings

    HAHAHAH! You did it yourself this time. Good job, holmes!

  2. Good grief, Comrade. I've never denied that there are substantial contingencies in human development, and every time you've brought the issue up, I've quickly agreed with you. I've read Gould, and I agree with him.

    One of the strengths of dialectical materialism is that it talks directly about how contradictions can interact to give tremendous power and scope to contingencies to shape the nature of actual reality.

  3. Dude, I'm just busting your chops! I know dialectical materialism is some serious shit, but you still gotta LOLZ here and there.

    Hey, here's a serious question: What is the basis for dialectical materialism being based on dichotomous contradictions, rather than some other number of mutually contradictory elements: three, four, eleventeen, bajillion, fucktillion, or even infinity?

  4. What is the basis for dialectical materialism being based on dichotomous contradictions...

    I don't think that dialectical materialism requires specifically dichotomous (i.e. exactly two) elements. It does, however, require at least two elements, and I think it's possible to talk about the emergent behavior to some extent of any arbitarily selected pair of elements.


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