Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Free Will, Atheism and Pharyngula

Our Precentor of Measurements linked to a post over at Pharyngula where the loud and proud (alleged) atheist P Z Myers asked one of his readers to get a consecrated Eucharist so he could defile it. His post was a response to the reactions of a congregation when someone tried to walk out of a church with one.

I don't understand his point at all and suspect that he is not an atheist, but instead uses the cause of atheism to puff himself up and mock others.

P Z Myers is a scientist by training. He blogs a lot about evolution and clearly understands quite a bit about physics and biology. He also has a good command of logical reasoning. As an atheist and a scientist, he must understand cause and effect, particularly as it applies to the chemicals and chemical reactions that make up our existence. If he really was an atheist, he would believe that we have no souls that drive our decisions and that our decisions are simply the result of chemical reactions and the absorption and release of energy.

In short, P Z Myers' reactions lack the peace of mind that comes with true atheism, the realization that nothing has meaning, that things happen because that's what they do. The religious people he mocks and the objects he longs to desecrate, are not the villains he wants them to be. Just like him, they are simply the current form of those packets of energy and those subatomic particles. The Catholics who became enraged at the desecration of the host did so because that's what those subatomic particles' existences led them to do. His entire objection to religion and those who practice it, his desire to desecrate the body of Christ has no meaning at all.

P Z Myers' most notable characteristic is not his atheism. No atheist with the training and the deductive powers that he clearly possesses would bother with such actions. I doubt that he has any real underlying philosophy at all and instead has a particularly strong, childish need for attention. That he chooses atheism as his vehicle seems arbitrary. He is the intellectual equivalent of a flasher.

P Z Myers in a different life.


Dean said...

I'd probably react in the same manner if that wasn't Ed McMahon at my door, either.

Nice post. Never quite got the grasp of atheism.

Anonymous said...

Samuel Skinner
That is called nihlistic fatalism. Most atheists don't have such feeling or adopt such a philosophy- things happen because people make them happen.

Unfortunately, people like you can't understand morality, meaning and thelike in the absence of God. Emperor perserve us if you vote... the fact is this things still exist and still important.

Yes, we are made of matter- so what? How does it have any bearing? We feel pain- sure it is just a chemical reaction, but are rejection of it is also just a chemical reaction. The only reason this seem to be insults is the antimaterialistic bias in so many people.

Miers does this because he is an antitheist- he, unlike you, cares about the world and fights for what is right and true.

What is next? The slaves shouldn't have revolted because their position is an arbitrary station in a made up social order? Or maybe murder is okay because it is simply a change of form?

Morality doesn't cease just because it is no longer divine command. You are free to reject it... but don't expect people to do anything but laugh when you need help.

K T Cat said...

anon - you haven't really accepted your own belief. You have not internalized what it means to be made up of matter and nothing else. Pain is simply a biochemical reaction. It has no more meaning than a lack of pain.

In the end, for an atheist, for someone who truly believes that we are mere matter, the definitions of right and true are meaningless. In fact, all of consciousness is an illusion. You are nothing more than the current form of your atoms.

Kristopher said...

Ok, Samuel. Then tell me why is murder wrong? It's not because of some sanctity of life, since there's no God. It also can't be because murder is detrimental to society. Hell, the earth could blow of tomorrow with no long-term impact on the fate of mankind, oblivion is inescapable in an atheist worldview. So, how can something with no real material effect have any rational basis for being called immoral? Sure, even without God, murder may be illegal, but it could just as easily not be. Look at the honor killings that are common in several countries in the East.

So, tell me: why? Why do you know murder is wrong? Give us all a completely rational, fully grounded in reality answer. None of that emotion or faith crap. Just hard data.

Because if you can't, if your views are not completely based on cold, hard facts, if there is, in fact, no solid evidence for your claim, then your entire moral code is just another delusional pile of gas, just another religion added to the mix, and you're no different then the "theists" you so despise.

Well except for the fact that most religions, unlike yours, actually offer some sort of hope for paradise down the line. Even if it is a false hope, that's still better than none at all.

As for me, I'll be sticking with Jesus.

Mostly Nothing said...

> Miers does this because he is an
> antitheist- he, unlike you, cares about > the world and fights for what is right
> and true

Hmm. What does defiling something that has significants to others have to do with fighting for what is right and true?

I don't care what it is, a religious item, the flag of the country, an Elvis handkerchief that someone has as a keepsake, whatever. This is simply a pathetic display trying to get attention. It has nothing to do with belief, or dis-belief.

Miers needs to grow up, and do the one thing that would help the world improve more than anything else. Follow the golden rule. Treat others with respect.

Anonymous said...

Samuel Skinner
Ah, yes... you sound just like Yang.

I am fully aware that I am made entirely out of matter- you don't seem to be aware of the hypocrisy of your own position. If it doesn't matter, why are you posting?

Why is murder wrong? Simple. First, you have to deal with the fact that MODERN society could not function with murder. The quality of life would drop, trust would be rarer and capitalism, which relies on the rule of law, would fall apart.

In short, if murder was acceptable, everyone would be worse off. Therefore, murder isn't acceptable.

This isn't hard you know- even in societies with killing, there are rules about said killings. Honor killings are only applied to women who can't defend themselves for instance.

The other reason murder is wrong is because your rights and desires conflict with other people, and so you have to find a compromise. The compromise is less than "I kill you and take your stuff".

Kristopher... Jesus doesn't say murder is wrong. That is the old Testament. The one with slavery and genocide. Your position is known as "divine ethics" and it's... evil.

Well, it is a bit like sitting at the white counter if you are black. Not as extreme, but it has the same purpose.

Myers IS following the Golden Rule you twit- "do unto others as you would have them do unto you". Myers wants people to point out if he has false beliefs and he is doing that to others. The problem arises because they don't believe their beliefs are false or don't want it pointed out.

As for being an asshole... I'm going to go with my civil rights analogy. It is a bit over the top (although excellent for the GLBT community), but it applies. Would you tell blacks to stay at the back of the bus?

Being an asshole is justified when you are going up against things that are irrational and wrong.

And, if you aren't atheists (which, given a commentator it sounds like) how the heck are you asserting that he isn't a "true atheist". Atheists are simply those who lack belief in God- there isn't an atheist pope tacking on dogma. And if you believe there is than I have only one option:

Kristopher said...

Um, no Samuel. I was very clear about that. In an atheist worldview, if everyone lived a long fulfilling life until the universe died a heat death or the everyone died tomorrow, then end result is exactly the same. Thus, the preservation of society has no innate moral value, so it cannot serve as a rational basis for a moral code. It's just something delusional people do to make themselves feel like they matter.
In that sense, it would be no different than any such code based on any rationale.

As for your civil rights, you have none. The universe could care less whether you live, die, or are enslaved. Any "rights" you have in this country are granted to you by laws, which can best be described as made up rules and beliefs written by people to govern people's behaviors and protect them from the harshness of reality.By the way, that description sounds familiar, doesn't it? Those laws could just as easily say you don't have rights, or you're a slave, or whatever. It's completely arbitrary. If there is no default moral order in the universe (and without a god, there isn't), then morality is whatever people who have the power to enforce their views say it is. Hitler was morally right. Pol Pot was morally right. They used "for the good of society" as their justification too.

Anyway, you've pretty much admitted your moral code is a bunch of fabricated nonsense.

But that's not really important is it? After all, you're a true atheist. You're not like those benighted heathens who cannot accept the True Way. So continue your crusade against the infidels, Samuel. Remain true to the Way, until all those false religions are ground into dust, and the way is open to Paradise.

K T Cat said...

And, if you aren't atheists (which, given a commentator it sounds like) how the heck are you asserting that he isn't a "true atheist".

Because atheism is the most simplistic belief system out there. It's a trivial exercise to go from "we are nothing more than our component atoms" to the resulting complete and consistent moral framework and world view. There's really not that much to explain or work out.

Like Kristopher said, you don't have any basis for morality because morality is an arbitrary construct. You're just a pile of atoms, for cryin' out loud. You are no more or less moral than Judas Iscariot, Pol Pot, Mother Theresa or Barry Bonds. It's all irrelevant.

Mostly Nothing said...

I'm disturbed by 'Anonymous' personal attacks. Name calling and personal attacks are uncalled for.

If you can't have a reasonable debate, and act civilized, don't start. Please

K T Cat said...

I agree, mostly nothing.

kristopher, on the other hand, can come back any time. Wow!