A letter from an atheist to other atheists

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ScioVeritas
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A letter from an atheist to other atheists

Post #1

Post by ScioVeritas »

I came across this letter which was cited as being from an atheist to other atheist concerning the author's perceived understanding of the atheistic worldview. My question is to atheist - do you agree or disagree with his assessment? and why?

Here is the letter:

“[To] all my Atheist friends.
Let us stop sugar coating it. I know, it’s hard to come out and be blunt with the friendly Theists who frequent sites like this. However in your efforts to “play nice� and “be civil� you actually do them a great disservice.

We are Atheists. We believe that the Universe is a great uncaused, random accident. All life in the Universe past and future are the results of random chance acting on itself. While we acknowledge concepts like morality, politeness, civility seem to exist, we know they do not. Our highly evolved brains imagine that these things have a cause or a use, and they have in the past, they’ve allowed life to continue on this planet for a short blip of time. But make no mistake: all our dreams, loves, opinions, and desires are figments of our primordial imagination. They are fleeting electrical signals that fire across our synapses for a moment in time. They served some purpose in the past. They got us here. That’s it. All human achievement and plans for the future are the result of some ancient, evolved brain and accompanying chemical reactions that once served a survival purpose. Ex: I’ll marry and nurture children because my genes demand reproduction, I’ll create because creativity served a survival advantage to my ancient ape ancestors, I’ll build cities and laws because this allowed my ape grandfather time and peace to reproduce and protect his genes. My only directive is to obey my genes. Eat, sleep, reproduce, die. That is our bible.

We deride the Theists for having created myths and holy books. We imagine ourselves superior. But we too imagine there are reasons to obey laws, be polite, protect the weak etc. Rubbish. We are nurturing a new religion, one where we imagine that such conventions have any basis in reality. Have they allowed life to exist? Absolutely. But who cares? Outside of my greedy little gene’s need to reproduce, there is nothing in my world that stops me from killing you and reproducing with your wife. Only the fear that I might be incarcerated and thus be deprived of the opportunity to do the same with the next guy’s wife stops me.

Some of my Atheist friends have fooled themselves into acting like the general population. They live in suburban homes, drive Toyota Camrys, attend school plays. But underneath they know the truth. They are a bag of DNA whose only purpose is to make more of themselves. So be nice if you want. Be involved, have polite conversations, be a model citizen. Just be aware that while technically an Atheist, you are an inferior one. You’re just a little bit less evolved, that’s all.
When you are ready to join me, let me know, I’ll be reproducing with your wife.

I know it’s not PC to speak so bluntly about the ramifications of our beliefs, but in our discussions with Theists we sometimes tip toe around what we really know to be factual. Maybe it’s time we Atheists were a little more truthful and let the chips fall where they may. At least that’s what my genes are telling me to say.�

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Re: A letter from an atheist to other atheists

Post #21

Post by Artie »

Divine Insight wrote:We do tend to agree on many of the more obvious things though. Most people would not like to be stuck in the head with a hammer. So they would consider it to be immoral to go around striking other people on the head with a hammer.

In short, the concept of not doing to others what you wouldn't want done to yourself is a no-brainer, and certainly didn't originate with Christianity or Jesus.

So yes, morality is a man-made subjective concept. This doesn't mean that it has no value. It simply means that there is no need for any higher being to exist for humans to understand this concept.

So humans "invent" the concept of morality based basically on what they like versus what they don't like.

We equate the concept of "good" with things we like, and the concept of "bad" with things we don't like. There is no need for a God for humans to understand and appreciate this.

Moreover, when it comes to the behavior of any particular human, we refer to a human as being "moral" if they do and support things that we consider to be "good". And conversely we consider them to be "immoral" if they do and support things we consider to be "bad".

So this is how humans have constructed our sense of subjective morality.
The reason why humans don't want to be struck in the head with a hammer is because we evolved a survival instinct. Because of this survival instinct we consider behavior that leads to better chances of survival morally "good" and behavior that leads to death "immoral", such as murder. This goes for all species. Some behaviors are good for survival and other behaviors are not. What we call "morality" is just the ability to differentiate between these behaviors and call those good for survival "moral" and those bad for survival "immoral".

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Re: A letter from an atheist to other atheists

Post #22

Post by Divine Insight »

Artie wrote: The reason why humans don't want to be struck in the head with a hammer is because we evolved a survival instinct. Because of this survival instinct we consider behavior that leads to better chances of survival morally "good" and behavior that leads to death "immoral", such as murder. This goes for all species. Some behaviors are good for survival and other behaviors are not. What we call "morality" is just the ability to differentiate between these behaviors and call those good for survival "moral" and those bad for survival "immoral".
I don't agree with the notion that everything is about survival and procreation of genes, etc.

I don't want to be hit in the head with a hammer even if I could be assured 100% that no permanent damage will result. I don't want to be hit in the head with a hammer for the very simple reason that it HURTS and it's not something I would like to have done to me.

It doesn't need to have anything at all to do with survival instinct.

We can, and do, call things that merely hurt (either physical or emotionally) immoral.

Take rape for example. Rape can actually insure survival if the victim of the rape becomes pregnant and thus procreates. Yet we still condemn rape as being "immoral" for other reasons.

So our sense of morality is not driven solely by an evolutionary desire to merely survive and procreate.

We often choose to label things as being "immoral" simply because we don't like them. Period.
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Re: A letter from an atheist to other atheists

Post #23

Post by Artie »

Divine Insight wrote:I don't agree with the notion that everything is about survival and procreation of genes, etc.

I don't want to be hit in the head with a hammer even if I could be assured 100% that no permanent damage will result. I don't want to be hit in the head with a hammer for the very simple reason that it HURTS and it's not something I would like to have done to me.
Pain is a signal that something is happening to your body that might be detrimental to it's survival so hurt is something to be avoided.
We can, and do, call things that merely hurt (either physical or emotionally) immoral.
Because pain is a signal that something has happened that is detrimental to the well being and survival of the body.
Take rape for example. Rape can actually insure survival if the victim of the rape becomes pregnant and thus procreates. Yet we still condemn rape as being "immoral" for other reasons.
Because the detrimental effects and negative consequences for the individuals and society including raising unwanted children reduces the survival chances of the society and the individuals in it.
We often choose to label things as being "immoral" simply because we don't like them. Period.
And the reason we don't like them is because they reduce our well being and chances of survival.

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Post #24

Post by Neatras »

I think we're getting too polarized with how 'morality = survival' seems to play itself out. Humans have a lot going on in their heads, and as time passes and trends develop, we start thinking about survival a lot less, and considering things that are 'happy' or 'enjoyable'. Thing is, different folks enjoy different things, and sometimes groups of people can influence the enjoyment of others. Trends develop, and suddenly we have etiquette, which to be violated causes a very disdainful response, as if one were acting 'immorally'. Eating with improper finery and using the inappropriate eating utensils at meals could be considered 'wrong' in certain social settings. Are these circumstances the result of survival genes? Nope, morality covers a broad spectrum of behaviors that have come about due to both the need for survival and procreation, as well as myriad circumstances and trends that distinguish closed cultures from each other. To insult ones' tastes in pop culture is 'rude' in most cases, and seen as immoral. If the subject having his tastes insulted feels great stress from this, it's seen as increasingly immoral to antagonize him. And if he shrugs it off, elastically rebounding with no apparent damage, it's seen as a morally neutral action to insult his tastes. Where does 'survival gene' come into this?

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Post #25

Post by Artie »

Neatras wrote:Eating with improper finery and using the inappropriate eating utensils at meals could be considered 'wrong' in certain social settings. Are these circumstances the result of survival genes?
Yes. Some behaviors are good for survival and some are bad. Order and following the social customs is good for survival, disorder and anarchy and chaos is not. So we use the appropriate eating utensils to show we are not a threat to that group and don't intend to disrupt the order and reduce the survivability of the group by acting out of order.
Nope, morality covers a broad spectrum of behaviors that have come about due to both the need for survival and procreation, as well as myriad circumstances and trends that distinguish closed cultures from each other. To insult ones' tastes in pop culture is 'rude' in most cases, and seen as immoral. If the subject having his tastes insulted feels great stress from this, it's seen as increasingly immoral to antagonize him. And if he shrugs it off, elastically rebounding with no apparent damage, it's seen as a morally neutral action to insult his tastes. Where does 'survival gene' come into this?
Getting "greatly stressed" reduces chances of survival. Stress increases mortality.

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Post #26

Post by Neatras »

[Replying to post 25 by Artie]

This is all well and good, but it seems to me that you're arguing every social custom throughout history has direct relevance to mortality and procreative tendencies. I'm not convinced of that. Biology may demand certain behaviors for certain results, but the complexity of psychology lends to the idea that trends in behavior can develop without giving immediate concern for personal well-being.

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Post #27

Post by Divine Insight »

Replying to Artie

Is it necessary, or even wise, to suggest that we need to pin down the human concept of morality to evolutionary pressures?

I don't see where this makes any sense. In fact, if we actually demand that all morality must be tied directly to survival that can indeed open the door to many concept of morality that most people would consider to be extremely immoral. After all, even Hitler's idea of creating the ultimate human race by doing away with genetics that appear to have inferior traits could be argued in terms of "morality" if we are allowing the evolution of humanity to be our only guide in morality.

After all, if that's the only standard for morality then how could anyone argue against killing off weak, diseased, unintelligent, or otherwise less perfect humans? We already know that there are diseases that are hereditary. So if we accept evolution as the "Standard of Morality" then doing away with people who have diseases that can be inherited would be a "Good Thing" by this way of thinking.

So I totally disagree that we should even consider evolution as being a valid means of determining morality. In fact, animals continue to survive and they eat each other all the time and do many things that would be considered "immoral" if a human did them.

So I don't see where arguments that evolutionary pressure equals morality has any merit at all. On the contrary, it appears to be an extremely dangerous line of thinking that can actually lead to extremely immoral ideals.

~~~~~~

Further more, humans are creative in many way. Just look at how many different genres of music humans have created. Do we then need to claim that every single abstract concept that humans have come up with must be explained by evolutionary pressure to survive?

I don't see where that makes any sense at all.

The idea that we need to explain all human behavior and abstract thought in terms of being beneficial for evolution just makes no sense at all.

Placing morality into the that box can indeed be an extremely dangerous thing because I can offer many behaviors that would be good for survival of the fittest but would be considered to be appalling immoral by any decent human being.

In fact, if we allow survival of the species and procreation to be the guiding point of morality, then obviously being gay would be immoral because same sex couples can't procreate.

Not only that but it would also be immoral for any heterosexual couples to choose to no have children! Or for anyone to even remain single.

It would also be "immoral" for any heterosexual couples who can procreate to not procreate as much as they possibly could. In other words, it would be immoral to have small families when they could be having large families.

In fact, many geneticists have argued that humanity is already deteriorating their own gene pools by not having large families. And this deteriorates the gene pool of humanity.

If we allow the survival of humanity, and especially the genetic improvement of humanity. to be the guide of our morality, we would indeed come up with a lot of "moral laws" that most people would consider to be highly "immoral".

I don't see where there is any valid argument that evolutionary pressures or the need to survive or procreate should ever be the basis of morality. On the contrary if we get that desperate to where we need to consider those things we will no doubt need to toss out our very notion of morality in favor of merely surviving.
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Re: A letter from an atheist to other atheists

Post #28

Post by Bust Nak »

This is my response to the open latter:
Atheist friend wrote: We are Atheists. We believe that the Universe is a great uncaused, random accident. All life in the Universe past and future are the results of random chance acting on itself.
Accident implies something negative has happened against the plan, we don't believe there was a plan to begin with and I certainly don't consider life to be negative. As for random chance, unguided does not imply random. You are opening yourself for an easy "gotcha" when a theist can point out endless examples of predictability in nature.
While we acknowledge concepts like morality, politeness, civility seem to exist, we know they do not... My only directive is to obey my genes. Eat, sleep, reproduce, die. That is our bible.
I don't see how you can say we know morality do not exist simply because we understand the underlining evolutionary mechanism. That's like saying we know the sun doesn't exist, make no mistake, it's actually just a hot ball of plasma. No, we know morality exist and we can explain it scientifically.
We deride the Theists for having created myths and holy books. We imagine ourselves superior. But we too imagine there are reasons to obey laws, be polite, protect the weak etc. Rubbish. We are nurturing a new religion, one where we imagine that such conventions have any basis in reality. Have they allowed life to exist? Absolutely. But who cares? Outside of my greedy little gene’s need to reproduce, there is nothing in my world that stops me from killing you and reproducing with your wife. Only the fear that I might be incarcerated and thus be deprived of the opportunity to do the same with the next guy’s wife stops me.
I see a contradiction. You say there is no basis in reality for morality. How is allowing life to exist not based in reality? How is our greedy little gene not based on reality? How is ones fear of incarceration not based in reality?
Some of my Atheist friends have fooled themselves into acting like the general population. They live in suburban homes, drive Toyota Camrys, attend school plays. But underneath they know the truth. They are a bag of DNA whose only purpose is to make more of themselves. So be nice if you want. Be involved, have polite conversations, be a model citizen. Just be aware that while technically an Atheist, you are an inferior one. You’re just a little bit less evolved, that’s all.
When you are ready to join me, let me know, I’ll be reproducing with your wife.
I fully acknowledge that I am a bag of DNA whose "purpose" is to make more of themselves. (I put purpose in quote because purpose implies conscious planning.) But what makes this polite bag of DNA inferior to this other less polite bag of DNA? Where is the connection between being bags of DNA and being impolite? This thesis of yours is made all the more odd after you acknowledged the role morality, politeness and civility played generally in evolution and specifically in society.
I know it’s not PC to speak so bluntly about the ramifications of our beliefs, but in our discussions with Theists we sometimes tip toe around what we really know to be factual. Maybe it’s time we Atheists were a little more truthful and let the chips fall where they may. At least that’s what my genes are telling me to say.�
It seems the so called "ramifications" aren't actual ramifications. My genes are telling me to be moral, if that counts as having fooled myself "into acting like the general population," then what does saying what your genes are telling you to say mean for you? Are you fooling yourself?

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Post #29

Post by Artie »

Divine Insight wrote:Replying to ArtieAfter all, if that's the only standard for morality then how could anyone argue against killing off weak, diseased, unintelligent, or otherwise less perfect humans?
Because we need genetic diversity to survive and who knows what other traits these people have lurking in their genes that might become useful for survival later?
We already know that there are diseases that are hereditary. So if we accept evolution as the "Standard of Morality" then doing away with people who have diseases that can be inherited would be a "Good Thing" by this way of thinking.
No it wouldn't because we might also be doing away with genetic traits that might help us survive.
So I totally disagree that we should even consider evolution as being a valid means of determining morality. In fact, animals continue to survive and they eat each other all the time and do many things that would be considered "immoral" if a human did them.
Humans eat animals all the time. Crocodiles eat humans all the time. Just a part of the natural order.
Placing morality into the that box can indeed be an extremely dangerous thing because I can offer many behaviors that would be good for survival of the fittest but would be considered to be appalling immoral by any decent human being.
Name some.
In fact, if we allow survival of the species and procreation to be the guiding point of morality, then obviously being gay would be immoral because same sex couples can't procreate.
Since they can't procreate their genes will automatically be selected out of the gene pool.
Not only that but it would also be immoral for any heterosexual couples to choose to no have children! Or for anyone to even remain single.
If they don't have children their genes will automatically be selected out of the gene pool.
It would also be "immoral" for any heterosexual couples who can procreate to not procreate as much as they possibly could. In other words, it would be immoral to have small families when they could be having large families.
That just depends on the circumstances and availability of resources.
In fact, many geneticists have argued that humanity is already deteriorating their own gene pools by not having large families. And this deteriorates the gene pool of humanity.
Yes it does.
If we allow the survival of humanity, and especially the genetic improvement of humanity. to be the guide of our morality, we would indeed come up with a lot of "moral laws" that most people would consider to be highly "immoral".
Name some.
I don't see where there is any valid argument that evolutionary pressures or the need to survive or procreate should ever be the basis of morality.
It just is. We evolved a survival instinct so we say murder is immoral/wrong/bad because the victim doesn't survive. Simple as that. The instincts we evolved is the reason why we say murder is immoral. We already have a good basis for morality: That which improves the well being and survivability for the community and the people is moral. If it doesn't it's immoral.

"What is IMMORAL?
Contrary to good morals; Inconsistent with the rules and principles ofmorality which regard men as living in a community, and which are necessary for thepublic welfare, order, and decency."
http://thelawdictionary.org/immoral/
And what is so important about public welfare, order and decency? It leads to better chances of survival for the community and the people in it of course...

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Post #30

Post by Goat »

Neatras wrote: [Replying to post 25 by Artie]

This is all well and good, but it seems to me that you're arguing every social custom throughout history has direct relevance to mortality and procreative tendencies. I'm not convinced of that. Biology may demand certain behaviors for certain results, but the complexity of psychology lends to the idea that trends in behavior can develop without giving immediate concern for personal well-being.

That might be so. However, if there is a behavior that is counter well being of the society, over time, it will be changed and filtered out. It just might be uncomfortable for some people
“What do you think science is? There is nothing magical about science. It is simply a systematic way for carefully and thoroughly observing nature and using consistent logic to evaluate results. So which part of that exactly do you disagree with? Do you disagree with being thorough? Using careful observation? Being systematic? Or using consistent logic?�

Steven Novella

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