A Tiny Smidge More on Morals and Atheism

Ann Coulter is perplexed and mystified that democrats aren’t up in arms about being called “godless.” Well, Ann, I can’t speak for others but I would consider that a complement. I don’t believe in Santa Claus or pixies either. Shocking! But the sceptical conservative is a rare breed, and here’s an interesting article by one of them

I have heard it said in the last six years that what makes conservatives superior to liberals is their religious faith—as if morality is impossible without religion and everything is indeed permitted, as the cliché has it. I wonder whether religious conservatives can spot the atheists among them by their deeds or, for that matter, by their political positions. I very much doubt it. Skeptical conservatives do not look into the abyss when they make ethical choices. Their moral sense is as secure as a believer’s. They do not need God or the Christian Bible to discover the golden rule and see themselves in others.

Read Heather Mac Donald’s full article at http://www.amconmag.com/2006/2006_08_28/article14.html

9 Replies to “A Tiny Smidge More on Morals and Atheism”

  1. The loudest spokespeople for the Right seem to be the biggest idiots. O’Reilly and Coulter barely know a single fact about anything they ever talk about. I guess they’re secure in knowing that they can throw out any old bullshit (without ever having to back it up) and that since the Right is mainly a large group of lemmings, they’ll eat up any lie as gospel truth.

  2. Conservatives abandonned reason and logic sometime during the Reagan administration. It’s much easier to spout platitudes and talking points than it is to construct a rational, well-formed argument, especially if you are out-and-out wrong.

    Beyond that, if we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a dozen times: religion/belief doesn’t automatically make you morally upright. Neither does the lack of it. Nor does morality make anyone “better” than anyone else. Of course, when you start treating people who have views that differ from yours with respect and dignity, this becomes perfectly clear.

  3. “Nor does morality make anyone “better” than anyone else”

    Wait a sec. So moral, altruistic, civil rights activist isn’t “better” than immoral sexual predator?
    Seems a little wrong-headed.

    Maybe we should start looking for better and worse again. We just have to use some discretion and wisdom in our judgments. Obviously we shouldn’t make divisions along class or racial lines, but why can’t we draw better and worse distinctions? Are we so far down the wide path of Tolerance that we can no longer recognize and laud the virtuous, and uncover and speak against the wicked?

    The guy that returns your wallet to you when you drop it is better than the guy that pockets it.
    The guy that works for his money is better than the guy that steals it.

    I look at myself, and I see someone who is better than some, but not as good as others on the basis of morality. I strive to be more moral, because I believe it makes me a better human being. Now being a better person is not something to lord over others. But it is helpful for society to have a good capacity for judging the good, the upright and the noble, and then setting these things up as things worth pursuing.

    God knows people need a sense of the good these days.

  4. “Wait a sec. So moral, altruistic, civil rights activist isn’t “better” than immoral sexual predator?
    Seems a little wrong-headed.”

    As we have discussed before, nothing is ever as black and white as initially imagined. I don’t see how any human being can imagine the ultimate outcome or ultimate cause/motivation for anything. It is simply not within our ability to pass judgement.

    ex: “A guy who returns your wallet when you drop it is better than the guy who pockets it.” Really? Doesn’t motivation come into play here? What if the guy only returned your dropped wallet because he knew he was being watched, and if he had been unobserved would have pocketed it? Now we have a little moral ambiguity. Who wouldn’t do the “right” thing if he/she knew they were being observed. Conversely – the man who pockets it is “wrong”, because taking things that don’t belong to you is wrong, right? So a starving man with a sick child should return your property, because it is the right thing to do, right? What amounts to a pittance to some can feed others for days/ and I won’t begrudge the needy my own inability to keep track of my own property.

    As for your second example – “The guy that works for his money is better than the guy that steals it.” Really? So hired thugs who extort the weak for their powerful overseers are better people than starving soldiers who steal food to feed their troops? A greed-fueled corporate executive is a better person than the social activist hacker who embezzles his fortune to build a day care center?

    There are no absolutes. You can’t even judge people by their intentions, because what may initially seem to be a noble intention can be so easily twisted into something ignoble. A guy who kills his wife because she is an abusive mother may believe his actions to be noble, but society will never concur. A man who remains silent about witnessing a crime or injustice in order to keep his family and friends out of harm’s way may feel the guilt of what he feels to be wrong action. Yet if his alternative is to speak out against the injustice and endanger all those around him, I won’t cast the first stone for the crime of his silence.

  5. “There are no absolutes?”

    Are you Absolutely sure?

    But really, let’s not even begin to pretend that there are no moral absolutes. Answer me this Deadeye;

    Is it absolutely wrong to torture a child against his will, for no other motive than one’s own perverse pleasure?

    I think the “There are no absolutes” assertion is tumbling down the hill of common sense, and indeed common decency.

  6. This is a fairly specific and simple example, yet it is merely begging the same question. In answer to your question, this act is considered “absolutely wrong” according to modern social mores.

    The point I was attempting to make was that it is part of human nature to divide actions into terms of right and wrong, with little or no thought to motivation or situation. People enjoy passing judgement on everything that passes them, but in truth a moral person does not judge others.

    You speak of common sense and common decency, but these are simply catchphrases used to pass judgement on what we currently consider to be right and wrong. Sixty years ago, homosexuality was considered absolutely wrong, and an affront to common sense and common decency. Now, homosexuality is acceptable enough to be used as fodder for primetime television sitcoms. Fewer people consider homosexuality to be wrong, and the moral standard has been changed to reflect this. There are countless examples of this – slavery, child abuse, child labor, sexual/racial discrimination, etc… previously were all perfectly acceptable. Society changed over time, and now they are unacceptable. The argument can be made that these are “improvements”, and I wouldn’t disagree.

    However, there are other examples of these modern improvements that many thinking people find to be outright madness. The current climate of fear that has metal detectors in every public school, and has teams of trained professionals digging through my luggage to confiscate my nail clippers at the airport, is all being done in the name of common sense. In truth, it is all done to create an illusion – the illusion of saftey. This may seem tangential, but stick with me here. By creating laws, passing judgement and punishing the wicked, we have not made the world any better or safer, but we have created the illusion that we are a moral society. Imprisonment and even state/federally sanctioned execution are supposed to serve as deterents, yet we have more crime, more prisons, more criminals and more executions than ever. It would seem that the more we try to pass judgement, to legislate morality, the deeper we find ourselves in the rabbit-hole.

  7. “Imprisonment and even state/federally sanctioned execution are supposed to serve as deterents, yet we have more crime, more prisons, more criminals and more executions than ever.”

    Uh, we also have more people who don’t commit crimes and way more people who aren’t in prison or being executed – becaause we also have more PEOPLE than ever. Way more. What did I say about statistics?

    Sure, if you want to say that in broad generalizations that there are grey areas of morality, I can agree to that. However, all things being EQUAL – it is immoral to steal and murder. People know what is right and wrong. A big evil corporation may be committing all sorts of crimes, but that doesn’t make stealing from that corporation ‘good’. As my dad used to say, two wrongs don’t make a right.

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