Friday, 27 July 2007

Those Immoral Atheists!

Why Do Religious People Often Call Atheists Immoral?

1. You Have No Absolute Standards of Morality!

I think this is not true. There are some things, in my opinion, that are always wrong, regardless of the consequences. Adultery is one example. Although it is possible for there to be a gain in happiness if the other partner didn't find out and the adulterer had fun doing it, it would still be wrong. This is because of the betrayal of trust in the relationship. So it is quite possible for an atheist to have an absolute moral rule.

And of course, there are problems with the "It's moral because God" argument anyway, the most obvious being the Euthyphro Dilemma: Is it good because God commands it, or does God command it because it is good?
On one, torturing a baby could be moral if god said so, and on two, the atheist can derive the same moral conventions without God.

Also, absolute morality can be used to argue against God anyway, on the following:
(1) There are some things that it is always wrong to do.
(2) God, in the Old Testament, has done, or commanded that you do some of these absolutely immoral things.
(3) Thus God cannot be moral.

2. You Have No Reason To Be Moral!

"So, you may know what morality is, but why should you be moral all the time, as no-one is watching you!"

Here are some reasons for an atheist to be moral:

a) Duty as a reason to be moral - If you believe it is your moral duty to do something, you will believe it right to do it regardless of whether God is watching or not.
b) Compassion as a reason to be moral
c) Self-interest as a reason to be moral - Even if you break a moral conviction you have, your consciousness will haunt you about it and make you miserable. Thus, self interest can be a reason for morality.

3. The Liberal/Conservative Divide

Atheists, as a general rule, tend to be more politically liberal than theists. And atheism is often associated with liberalism by religious groups. This is one reason I believe theists may see atheists as immoral.

There is no particular justification on an atheistic worldview to argue that, say, homosexuality or premarital sex are wrong. Whereas theists often hold this conviction very strongly, due to duty to God's ethics. This leads to theists thinking that atheists are immoral, because they do not have these convictions, even though the theist thinks that they are important moral commandments.
This is just an idea of mine; it may not be correct, but it seems rather reasonable, judging on what i know of fundamentalists.

Thus concludes this discussion of atheistic ethics.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

The Ethics Of Abortion

This article is written to defend the view that abortion should be legal and a morally acceptable choice. This argument is meant convince pro-lifers that abortion is acceptable by a comparison to something that the vast majority of people see as wrong, and the underlying ethical principle behind this.

Basic Argument

One of the most important ethical principles is the one that states that all people should have sole rights over their own body. Nobody should be allowed to infringe on that right by forcing someone to compromise that integrity-- a prominent example of this kind of violation being rape. This principle of bodily domain is the reason we think rape is morally wrong and abhorrent--it is forcing someone to compromise that bodily domain against their will. And also, we think that if a man is trying to rape a woman, she is justified in killing him to protect herself--the principle of self-defence.
In the same way, an unwanted fetus is infringing on the woman's right to her bodily domain, and for her to kill the fetus is self-defense. To decry abortion, then, is to say that women should no longer have control over their own bodies. If you deny this ethical principle of bodily domain, however, then many more things become morally permissible, including rape and domestic violence.

In other words, my main argument is:
(1) The principle of bodily integrity allows people to have control over their own bodies, and allows them to use force to protect their domain.
(2) Rape is morally wrong because it is a violation of bodily integrity.
(3) To reject the principle of bodily integrity is to allow rape. (From 1)
(4) We should uphold the principle. (From 2&3)
(5) Abortion is a use of this ethical principle, and thus acceptable. (From 1)

Objections to My Argument

I will now deal with some anticipated objections.

Possible Objections to Premise 1
One could reject premise one by saying that force should not be used in any circumstance. ie. pacifism. However, there are many scenarios where it is acceptable to use force. For instance, you have a man with no ethical scruples invading and killing innocent civilians--to be a pacifist in that situation is merely a willingness to let other people suffer and die.

Possible Objections to Premises 2 and 3
I would assume, or at least hope, that nobody wants to argue that rape is acceptable. But are there other grounds from which to conclude that rape is wrong without invoking the fact that rape is a violation of the victim's body and is thus wrong--in other words to reject premise 2? I personally don't think there is another ground to reject rape as immoral. One could argue that rape contributes negatively to human happiness, but it contributes negatively to human happiness precisely because it is such a violation.

Possible Objections to Premise 4
The person may argue back here that we don't allow people complete control over their bodies, but I would just respond, "Perhaps we should, at least so long as they are given the information to make an informed decision, and so long as they don't infringe the rights of anyone else."

Possible Objections to Premise 5
This is the one where there is most likely to be objections: that abortion is to protect the woman's bodily integrity. I shall deal with some typical objections here.

One objection to this argument is fault, or responsibility. ie. It's the woman's fault she's pregnant arguments, but it is not her fault she was raped. But this is irrelevant. If I am having sex with a man of my own free choosing, and tell him to withdraw from me, if he doesn't immediately, it's rape. Consent by its nature is ongoing. The same thing applies to the fetus, if I have it in my body and I withdraw my consent to have it there, it's a violation.

One common objection to abortion is the potential argument. But this is even more irrelevant here. The rapist is an actual human being, yet to protect myself against him by killing him is acceptable.

The next line taken would be intent. The fetus is innocent and it is wrong to kill something innocent, whereas the rapist is evil or malevolent. The objection to this argument is that a fetus cannot be innocent when it is not even conscious. To be innocent one by nature has to be conscious. Otherwise one could say that taking antibiotics is killing all the poor innocent bacteria in a body. In other words, the intent of the fetus is irrelevant because there can be no such intent. One could also postulate scenarios where the rapist was not responsible for his actions, say, if he was mentally ill or insane. That would not make a woman' self-defense less important, and his lack of intent doesn't infringe on her right to protect herself.

Finally, harm. The rapist is causing harm to the woman, where the fetus is merely an "inconvenience". But this is simply factually inaccurate. Carrying to term permanently alters a woman's body and can lead to death--and is certainly more likely to lead to death than abortion.


Pro-life advocates are thus forced into a dilemma: to either reject the ethical principle of bodily integrity and thus permit rape, or to support the ethical principle of bodily integrity and thus support the legality of abortion.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

World Net Daily and "Quitting" Homosexuality

Yesterday, I discovered this World Net Daily article when somebody on a message board I sometimes use brought the topic up.
If you don't want your eyes to get polluted by the WND website, the article basically talks about a man, Mike Glatze, who claims that he has left the gay lifestyle and is no longer a homosexual. I felt obliged to tell the people in this debate that the evidence suggests you can't change your sexual oreintation, though some of them seemed to think testimony was more reliable than scientific evidence(not that surprising, sadly).

Here's a few comments on the article:

"In his column, Glatze doesn't mince words, calling homosexual sex purely "lust-based," meaning it can never fully satisfy.
"It's a neurotic process rather than a natural, normal one," he writes. "Normal is normal – and has been called normal for a reason.""

Firstly, how does he know all homosexual sex is lust based? Just because HIS gay sex was, does not mean everyone else's it. "Normal", well depends on how you want to define it.

"Just before leaving, not fully realizing what he was doing, he wrote on his office computer his thoughts, ending with the declaration: "Homosexuality is death, and I choose life.""

Cos Gays hve teh AIDS, lolz!!!111!
Seriously, I don't understand. Homosexuality is death? Last time I checked, I still have a pulse.

"Glatze said he thought opponents of homosexual activism were "mean and crazy, and they wanted to hurt me.""

THAT makes more sense, judging on a lot of rabid fundies.

It almost seems from the article that he had some underlying issues, like he's been raised in a religious manner and couldn't quite get over it.

Mike, after you get over that initial euphoria of God supposedly healing you only to realise you're still gay, don't make the mistake other people have made. Don't continue to pretend. It's not worth it.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

So, Is It All Meaningless?

One of the most well-known criticisms of atheism by theists is that atheism makes life meaningless. If atheism(naturalistic atheism, I should say) is true, there is no purpose, and when we die we merely cease to exist, it's all for nothing. But is this point against atheism defensible?

Temporary Life

So if life is only a brief interlude in between eras of non-existence, does that make life worthless? To me, the answer seems to be obviously "no". Most positive experiences that we have are only temporary. Love fades and good feelings die, friendships fall apart, but that doesn't mean that love or friendship are meaningless.
In a way, atheism makes life more meaningful. This is all you are going to get, so you'd better make sure you enjoy it! Whereas for religious people it is often a chore to be endured until you meet your creator.

A Lack Of Purpose

"That may be so, but isn't the fact that your life is ultimately meaningless make it not worth living? What purpose can an atheist have?"-- a hear the theist say.

Many things are ultimately meaningless. Many things theists do are ultimately meaningless, regardless of whether God exists or not. A theist reading this blog right now would be an ultimately meaningless activity.
My life is indeed ultimately meaningless. Five billion years from now, the sun will explode and any life left on the planet will be wiped out(of course, the possibility that Homo sapiens is long dead before then is high.) But that doesn't mean that it can't have meaning to me, or to people who know me.

I'd also like to say that if God exists and that my purpose is to worship him, that is a purpose pushed upon me, not freely chosen. Whereas if the atheist chooses his own path, that is free, and ultimately far more fulfilling, as only following our own choices can be.

Spice Girls: Cause Of Britain's Flood!

Birmingham, England--Church people say that the recent flooding in Britain has been due to the fact that the Spice Girls had been planning to return there for a gig in London.

"The abysmal quality of the so-called "music" is definatly responsible," said Reverend Michael, a spokesperson for the Church of Godly Minor Keys, "the catawalling of the CDs dug out by fans for that 90's nostalgia directly caused the wrath of our Lord."

"The Almighty Lord always hated the Spice Girls," he continued, "as they represent all that is wrong with modern society--the immorality and debauchery that they embrace, but most importantly the way they sing. Have you HEARD it? God was always more of a classic rock fan."

Another spokesman, Rev. Hurst said, "If you want the flooding to stop, destroy your Spice Girls nostalgia, boycott the gig and rock out to some Zeppelin."

Forecasters predict an increase in sales of Led Zeppelin IV.

(Reply to Bishops blame gays for floods)