Where Can Atheism Lead?

All one needs to do is study Peter Singer, the eminent ethics professor at Princeton University.  He is one of the few who have actually taken atheism to some of its uncomfortable conclusions (I think Nietzsche also did this in the 19th century).  Check out this post over at GeoChristian to find out what Singer believes.  It’s quite eye-opening.

  • Sorry, but D’Souza’s article is full of quote mining.

    Which is not to say that I agree completely with Singer. But D’Souza is intellectually dishonest.

  • This is literally the sixth or seventh post I’ve seen about ‘Singer and Nietzche are the only intellectually honest atheists’.

    Is this all just coming from the D’Souza article, or is there some new shift in Christian apologetics that I missed?

  • Gino Barcal

    The Atheist Counter-History

    Behind the pacifist and loving speech, the majority of the religions promote in fact the destruction of everything that represents freedom and pleasure. They hate the body, the desires, the sexuality, the women, the intelligence and all the books, except one. The religions promote the submission, the chastity, the blind and conformistical faith on behalf of a fictitious paradise after the death.

    Only an atheistic person can be free, because the idea of a god is incompatible with the freedom of the human being. The idea of a god promotes the existence of a divine dimension, which denies the possibility to choose your own destination and to invent your own existence. If god exists, the Is is not free; on the other hand, if god does not exist, the Is can be free. The freedom is never given. It is acquired day by day. However, the basic principle of a god is an inhibiting impediment of the autonomy of the man.

    It means that when a person does not content himself only in believing dully, but starts to make questions on the sacred texts, the doctrine, the teachings of the religion, there is no way not to reach these conclusions. It is about not to leave the reason, with capital R, in second plan, behind the faith, and to give to the reason the power and the nobility that it deserves.

    The mechanism of the religions is of an illusion. It is like a mysterious toy we try to decipher by breaking it. The enchantment and the magic of the religion disappear when we see the mechanism and the reasons behind the beliefs.

    The priests are limited to use only one handful of words, texts and references that allow to better assure the control on the bodies, hearts and souls of the followers. The mythology of the religions need simplicity to become more efficient. The religions make a permanent promotion of the faith, the belief before the intelligence and the reason, the submission of the followers against the freedom of the independent thought, the darkness against the light.

    The necessity of cultivate culturally a god is based in ridicules ideas. We don’t have nothing in the brain beyond what we put in it. Have you seen a child believing in gods? Religions and gods are human beings inventions, just like philosophy, arts and metaphysics. These creations have been made to answer the necessities of confront the anguish of the death; But, we can react in other ways: For example, using the philosophy.

    The believe in a god is an impotence signal. We must be conscious of our possibilities. When we cannot prove something is necessary to recognize these limitation and not make concessions to tale-stories or mythology. The idea of the divine child is a species of infantile illness of the reflective thought.

    The majority of the people is allured by the elected icons of the media, and believe more in them than in the physical truth. The truth is that the role of the religions was not the best one: Attacks against Galileu, genocide during the crusades, the Muslim radicalism, silence before the holocaust, etc. What history show is that the religions instead promoting peace, love, fraternity, friendship between the people and the nations, for the most part produced most of the time the opposite. It does not seem very worthy that the monotheists generated some good here and there. In compensation, they generated extreme human barbarity; and this seems much more important as prove of the impotence of the doctrines.

    We cannot make much about it, except to say what it is truth. The Christians have little moral to disapprove old truths, when they themselves promote old errors until today. The philosophy can allow each one of us the comprehension of what is the world, of what can be our morals, our justice, the rules of the game for a happy existence between the humans, without the necessity of appealing to a god, to the holy ghost, to the sacred one, to the skies, to the religions. It is necessary to pass from the theological age to the age of the mass philosophy.

    The weakness, the fear, the anguish before the death, are the sources of all the religious beliefs, and they will never abandon the humanity.

    The history of the Christianity has just as much value as the mythology of Santa Claus. It is in the same level of the fairies stories, where the animals talk and the witches eat little kids. A thought that only serves the children.

    It is necessary to allow the free construction of ourselves as independent beings. To develop the counter-history of the atheist, sexualist, hedonist and anarchist philosophy.

    Gino Barcal

  • shamelesslyatheist

    D’Souza can be intellectually dishonest? Say it isn’t so!!!!

  • Bill Pratt

    morsecode,
    Why don’t you and Shamelesslyatheist deal with D’Souza’s arguments instead of calling him dishonest? You aren’t convincing anyone of anything by merely calling people intellectually dishonest? In fact, I’m not really sure exactly what intellectually dishonest means (although it sounds bad). Is it any different from a person who just flat-out lies?

    And please also explain what quote mining means. If Singer said those things (and I have read those things from Singer many times over a period of many years), then what is wrong with D’Souza quoting him? Do you thing Singer would claim that he is being misquoted or misunderstood? I don’t, but maybe I’m wrong.

  • Bill Pratt

    Augustine,
    I’m not part of a vast apologist conspiracy or consortium, but I can understand where this interest comes from. Christians have noted for hundreds of years, and especially in the last couple hundred, that many atheists want to live in societies grounded in Christianity because these societies tend to produce moral people. They want the general morality of Christianity, but they don’t want all of the God-stuff attached to it. Many apologists have pointed out that it is a package deal. If you ditch Christianity and embrace full-blown atheism, then you will no longer have the same kind of moral society. It’s not like you can detach the two. Both Nietszche and Singer realized this. They have taken the consequences of materialistic atheism to its logical conclusion (see my post on this very topic).

    So no, it’s not something new. It’s just that D’Souza reminded us of this issue through his recent debate wth Singer.

  • Bill Pratt

    Gino,
    Did you have one or two points you wanted to make? I wouldn’t even know where to begin with your comment as it stands.

    Thanks,
    Bill

  • “Quote mining” is selectively taking quote out of context in order to misrepresent what a person has said.

    So D’Souza quote mines to make it seem like Singer is saying “Let’s kill babies, even after they are born!”, when he is actually saying “If a child is born and it is discovered that they have a debilitating and/or horrifically painful condition, euthanasia should be considered.”

    Perhaps D’Souza doesn’t see a difference between the two statements. In that case, he is just inept and not dishonest.

  • Bill Pratt

    Here is the exact quote from D’Souza:

    “Singer writes, ‘My colleague Helga Kuhse and I suggest that a period of 28 days after birth might be allowed before an infant is accepted as having the same right to life as others.'”

    I don’t see anything there about a painful condition at all. He is saying they don’t have a “right to life” which means they can be disposed of if the parents, for whatever reason, don’t want them. He has just extended the right to abortion by 28 days, and abortion, in the US, can be performed for any reason at all. If you can find other quotes that clarify Singer’s position, I will cheerfully post them, but I have never seen him say that he only would allow abortion or infanticide for extreme cases where a baby is in a painful condition.

  • “I don’t see anything there about a painful condition at all. ”

    Of course you don’t, because D’Souza quote mined it.

    Read the sentences before and after the quoted sentence, and you’ll find all that D’Souza left out.

  • Bill Pratt

    I don’t have Singer’s writing. I only have what D’Souza quoted, which is similar to what I’ve seen quoted from Singer many times in the past. Do you have Singer’s writing so that you can provide more context to the quote?

  • Rob

    I did look at the link and found it simply focused on the issues of abortion and euthenasia. I think it grossly misrepresents the feelings of atheists on these issues and is a very minor slice of the pie of one person’s views.

    While I am not personally against the idea of assisted suicide for the terminally ill, I can absolutely see the slippery slope once that door is opened. As a result, I would be very hesitant to open it.

    To your point of bringing this up though, I wrote a short blog entry about morals, atheists, and borrowing from Christians last month.

    I’m not sure what an atheist society would look like. Opponents will usually throw Stalin’s Soviet Union out there, but I reject that.

    If you look at Western Europe, it has become increasingly secular at a much faster pace than the United States. One can argue the success of it, but it doesn’t appear to have collapsed into immoral decadence. I suppose the definition of immoral decadence comes into play and even then the jury is still out, eh?

    I’d like to think that if the U.S. became a secular, atheist society, we would keep the best of Christianity with us. Contrary to popular belief, a rejection of the supernatural is not a rejection of many of the morals promoted by the Bible. If those morals hold water, outside of “God said so”, then it’s likely to be embraced by atheists in a formerly Christian culture.

  • Andrew Ryan

    “I don’t have Singer’s writing. I only have what D’Souza quoted”

    Right, and there’s the problem. Perhaps you should actually take the time to read Peter Singer, instead of relying on a quote miner. This is exactly why D’Souza’s dishonesty is such a problem – his misleading quotes gets repeated by dozens of other commentators, none of whom actually read Peter Singer’s original work.

    “Do you have Singer’s writing so that you can provide more context to the quote?”

    You’re the one who is trashing Singer here, YOU should be the one who has researched the context.

  • Andrew Ryan

    “To understand Singer, it’s helpful to contrast him with “New Atheists” like Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, and Richard Dawkins. The New Atheists say we can get rid of God but preserve morality. ”

    How does this contrast with Singer? Singer gives away a quarter of his annual income to charity. He wrote a book that was one long argument that we should all be more charitable. Has D’Souza read it? Have you?

    “If you are living comfortably while others are hungry or dying from easily preventable diseases, and you are doing nothing about it, there is something wrong with your behavior.” – Peter Singer.

    D’Souza didn’t find the space to quote that? I’m guessing because it wouldn’t fit in with his theses that Singer is distinct from the ‘New Atheists’ in that he doesn’t argue for keeping morality.

    D’Souza claims that Singer argues that “Humans have no more value than animals”.

    How one parses that sentence depends on how much value one places on animals. If a butcher says he’ll ‘treat someone like an animal’ then it means something different than if a vegetarian says it. Singer is not only a vegetarian, he wrote a book arguing we should place a far higher value on animals. Not mentioning this, D’Souza creates a misleading impression.