Author Topic: PZ Myers once more claims that atheism is more than non-belief in deities  (Read 4219 times)

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Offline Quetzalcoatl

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PZ Myers a while back wrote a blogpost again trying to claim that atheism is more than non-belief in deities: Atheism is what we do believe

Quote
Atheism doesn’t have a moral code, they will say, it’s nothing but the absence of a supernatural moral authority. That’s what they tell themselves, anyway, but it’s all a lie — they’re humans, and they’re simply loaded with moral assumptions.

...

So please, stop giving atheism the blank check they want, the claim of an absence of any kind of moral imperatives or any prior suppositions. It isn’t the case, it’s only that they want to pretend to have an absence of priors so they can assume the mantle of objective, bias-free decision making, which, by the assumptions they claim that they don’t have, makes their moral decisions superior.

It also drives me up a tree that whenever anyone proposes that atheists ought to recognize the consequences and obligations of their ideas, there will always be some pissy wanker who’ll tell them they should go join the humanists, because atheists don’t do that. Yeah, atheists do do that — it’s just that they prefer that their implicit biases be invisible. Humanists at least try to make the framework explicit.

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Tempting as it is to abandon the institution of atheism (and it is an institution, a movement, a framework for thinking)

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Offline superdave

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I do think Atheism has many downstream implications for ethics and morality, so I don't think it's wrong to group those things, however, they are not synonymous either.
I disavow anyone in the movement involved in any illegal,unethical, sexist, or racist behavior. However, I don't have the energy or time to investigate each person and case, and a lack of individual disavowals for each incident should not be construed as condoning such behavior.

Offline Andrew Clunn

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Where I think he's mistaken is that he's not drawing the right parallels for atheism.  Humanism is an atheistic ideology (or at least attempts to be one).  Viewing it as the atheistic ideology is the fundamental flaw.
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Offline Enkidu Shamesh

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Humans have some implicit moral imperatives that come from being social animals (some argue eusocial). So yeah, that's in our blood. That has nothing to do with being atheist though. Yes atheists have morals (generally) but it's because they are human, not because they don't believe in deities. It's like saying not believing in bigfoot has moral imperatives. Nope. Not really. Please shut up.

Offline Quetzalcoatl

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Humans have some implicit moral imperatives that come from being social animals (some argue eusocial). So yeah, that's in our blood. That has nothing to do with being atheist though. Yes atheists have morals (generally) but it's because they are human, not because they don't believe in deities. It's like saying not believing in bigfoot has moral imperatives. Nope. Not really. Please shut up.

Exactly. PZ Myers committed a non-sequitur.
"Large skepticism leads to large understanding. Small skepticism leads to small understanding. No skepticism leads to no understanding." - Xi Zhi

Online daniel1948

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Atheism is by definition the lack of a god or gods. This can be hard (I believe there are no gods) or soft (I do not believe there are gods). But that's what atheism is.

Beyond that, there are many atheistic philosophies, some of which have concrete moral philosophies.

Note, however, that Humanism is not necessarily atheistic. Many Humanists are also atheists, but there are Christian Humanists as well, and I'm sure every religious tradition contains its humanists. My best friends are Christian Humanists, though their Christianity is Jesus-centered rather than Pauline or Trinitarian or church-centered.
Daniel
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Online Boßel

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I, once again, find myself apathetic to what PZ Myers has to say.

Offline Gerbig

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Its a wonder what an air tight echo chamber can do.
I mean, by definition atheism only requires a non-belief in deities. Is he trying to guilt people into lumping an ideology onto it? I just don't understand how this can actually be his position. Claim that atheists "should be" or "ought to be" one thing or another, that's fine, but claim that atheism is these things is just categorically wrong.

It seems like a no true atheists fallacy now that I look at it. "REAL atheists believe in x, y, z guys. Its just true"

Online Harry Black

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Its a wonder what an air tight echo chamber can do.
I mean, by definition atheism only requires a non-belief in deities. Is he trying to guilt people into lumping an ideology onto it? I just don't understand how this can actually be his position. Claim that atheists "should be" or "ought to be" one thing or another, that's fine, but claim that atheism is these things is just categorically wrong.

It seems like a no true atheists fallacy now that I look at it. "REAL atheists believe in x, y, Pz guys. Its just true"
Ftfy.
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Online The Latinist

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I absolutely have moral assumptions.  Of course I do.  And I don't think I've ever heard any atheist argue that they do not.  What I have heard atheists argue—and what I feel about my own moral assumptions—is that they are not the result of atheism.  I did not deduce my morality from my lack of belief in a god.  Indeed, as nearly as nearly as I can tell all of the fundamental principles of my morality we're established at a very young age when my thoughts on god(s) amounted to a vague cultural default assumption that there was one.  And, as I've written elsewhere, those principles are derived primarily from a few significant formative experiences and lessons which did not involve religions or gods or atheism in any way.
I would like to propose...that...it is undesirable to believe in a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true. — Bertrand Russell

Offline Nosmas

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Re: PZ Myers once more claims that atheism is more than non-belief in deities
« Reply #10 on: January 01, 2017, 09:19:28 PM »

Exactly. PZ Myers committed a non-sequitur.

That's exactly what he's doing. I just can't understand how he can make this argument. He's smart enough to know that atheists aren't claiming that atheism is some kind of basis for their morality. At least none I've talked to. It makes me wonder if he genuinely believes what he's saying here or just trying to get his fan base worked up while hoping to trick someone into thinking this makes sense in the process. I mean he even goes as far as to say we're lying when we say how we define atheism. Not that we're mistaken, we know he's right and we're lying?
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Offline Desert Fox

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Re: PZ Myers once more claims that atheism is more than non-belief in deities
« Reply #11 on: January 01, 2017, 09:22:15 PM »
I absolutely have moral assumptions.  Of course I do.  And I don't think I've ever heard any atheist argue that they do not.  What I have heard atheists argue—and what I feel about my own moral assumptions—is that they are not the result of atheism.  I did not deduce my morality from my lack of belief in a god.  Indeed, as nearly as nearly as I can tell all of the fundamental principles of my morality we're established at a very young age when my thoughts on god(s) amounted to a vague cultural default assumption that there was one.  And, as I've written elsewhere, those principles are derived primarily from a few significant formative experiences and lessons which did not involve religions or gods or atheism in any way.

I would argue that my morals did evolve when I accepted that there was no God. Now, it does not mean it is the only source however.
"Give me the storm and tempest of thought and action, rather than the dead calm of ignorance and faith. Banish me from Eden when you will; but first let me eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge."
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Offline Quetzalcoatl

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Re: PZ Myers once more claims that atheism is more than non-belief in deities
« Reply #12 on: January 02, 2017, 06:02:29 PM »

Exactly. PZ Myers committed a non-sequitur.

That's exactly what he's doing. I just can't understand how he can make this argument. He's smart enough to know that atheists aren't claiming that atheism is some kind of basis for their morality. At least none I've talked to. It makes me wonder if he genuinely believes what he's saying here or just trying to get his fan base worked up while hoping to trick someone into thinking this makes sense in the process. I mean he even goes as far as to say we're lying when we say how we define atheism. Not that we're mistaken, we know he's right and we're lying?

I think that guy has closed himself off in his own little echo-chamber too long to be sensible anymore.

His way of thinking about atheism makes very little sense in an American context, even less so outside of it.
"Large skepticism leads to large understanding. Small skepticism leads to small understanding. No skepticism leads to no understanding." - Xi Zhi

Offline Nosmas

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Re: PZ Myers once more claims that atheism is more than non-belief in deities
« Reply #13 on: January 02, 2017, 06:37:59 PM »

Exactly. PZ Myers committed a non-sequitur.

That's exactly what he's doing. I just can't understand how he can make this argument. He's smart enough to know that atheists aren't claiming that atheism is some kind of basis for their morality. At least none I've talked to. It makes me wonder if he genuinely believes what he's saying here or just trying to get his fan base worked up while hoping to trick someone into thinking this makes sense in the process. I mean he even goes as far as to say we're lying when we say how we define atheism. Not that we're mistaken, we know he's right and we're lying?

I think that guy has closed himself off in his own little echo-chamber too long to be sensible anymore.

His way of thinking about atheism makes very little sense in an American context, even less so outside of it.

That's true but I still wonder if he believes what he's saying or if it's just for his audience. His argument isn't clever or convincing even at a glance. For some reason it always bothers me to no end not knowing if someone has managed to bullshit themselves or if they're just bullshitting others. I also suspect for PZ it's sometimes about poking the bee hive to get some kind of reaction.
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Offline Eternally Learning

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Re: PZ Myers once more claims that atheism is more than non-belief in deities
« Reply #14 on: January 02, 2017, 06:52:13 PM »
I've never defined atheism as simply a lack of belief in any gods to give myself moral superiority.  I've done it first because I believe that's the correct definition, and second because there is no monolith of atheism like there are with most religions.  People who call themselves atheists have an exceedingly wide and varied set of beliefs and quite often don't agree on much at all.  "Atheism is solely a lack of belief in gods," serves to explain why comparing atheism to a religion makes no sense, as does trying to say we are hypocrites for abandoning percieved atheist dogma. 

Sorry PZ, but just because a thought or belief system has atheism at its core does not make identical to atheism and the concept of a well known atheist essentially prescribing atheistic dogma to the rest of us is so wrong and off base it's sadly hilarious.

 

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