My Actual Homepage - Go here for more info.

I plan to put a graphical banner here eventually...

13 June 2008

More Florida Fucktardery

You may recall a blog I had a while ago on the Bay County Board of Education (or you may not). Well, it seems they are up to their old tricks again. Seems that this time the Bay County Board of Education banned a book! I know, I know, this is 2008, but apparently a Ms Pat Sabiston wants to enforce her morality because she has no actual brain with which to think! I am pleasantly SURPRISED to see that most of the comments in my local news rag are as dismayed by this as I am. I just want to point out that it is precisely this sort of fucktardery that turned me from being a nice quiet inoffensive atheist into a much more militant atheist.

That people think that they have some sort of lock on morality because they are bible thumping xtians sickens me. They are nothing more than thought police and assassins of any sort of free thought. Reminds me of a snarky expression: "The moral majority is neither!" All I can say is that I am glad my daughter is in the Okaloosa County School District, although I still have serious doubts about the entire American Education System (but that's a topic for another blog post).

In the meantime, ponder this if you think us godless atheists have no morals:

Without God, atheists have no reason to behavior morally. What's the point of being moral is there is no God?

The idea that atheists have no reason to be moral without a god or religion may be the most popular and repeated myth about atheism out there. It comes up in a variety of forms, but all of them are based on the assumption that the only valid source of morality is a theistic religion, preferably the religion of the speaker which is usually Christianity. Thus without Christianity, people cannot live moral lives. This is supposed to be a reason reject atheism and convert to Christianity.

First, it must be noted that there is no logical connection between this argument's premises and conclusion — it's not a valid argument. Even if we accept that it's true that there is no point in being moral if there is no God, this wouldn't be an argument against atheism in the sense of showing that atheism isn't true, rational, or justified. It wouldn't provide any reason to think that theism generally or Christianity in particular is likely true. It is logically possible that there is no God and that we have no good reasons to behave morally. At most this is a pragmatic reason to adopt some theistic religion, but we'd be doing so on the basis of its supposed usefulness, not because we think it's really true, and this would be contrary to what theistic religions normally teach.

There is also a serious but rarely noted problem with this myth in that it assumes that it doesn't matter that more people are happy and fewer people suffer if God does not exist. Consider that carefully for a moment: this myth can only be espoused by someone who doesn't consider either their happiness or their suffering to be especially important unless their god tells them to care. If you are happy, they don't necessarily care. If you suffer, they don't necessarily care. All that matters is whether that happiness or that suffering occurs in the context of the existence of their God or not. If it does, then presumably that happiness and that suffering serve some purpose and so that's OK — otherwise, they're irrelevant.

If a person only refrains from killing because they believe they are so ordered, and the suffering that murder would cause is irrelevant, then what happens when that person starts to think that they have new orders to actually go out and kill? Because the suffering of the victims was never a dispositive issue, what would stop them? This strikes me as an indication that a person is sociopathic. It is, after all, a key characteristic of sociopaths that they are unable to empathize with the feelings of others and, hence, aren't especially concerned if others suffer. I not only reject the assumption that God is necessary to making morality relevant as being illogical, I also reject the implication that the happiness and suffering of others isn't very important as being immoral itself.

Now religious theists are certainly entitled to insist that, without orders, they have no good reason to refrain from rape and murder or to help people in need — if the actual suffering of others is completely irrelevant to them, then we should all hope that they continue to believe that they are receiving divine orders to be "good." However irrational or unfounded theism may be, it's preferable that people hold on to these beliefs than that they go around acting on their genuine and sociopathic attitudes. The rest of us, however, are under no obligation to accept the same premises as they — and it probably wouldn't be a good idea to try. If the rest of us are able to behave morally without orders or threats from gods, then we should continue to do so and not be dragged down to others' level.

Morally speaking, it really shouldn't matter whether any gods exist or not — the happiness and suffering of others should play an important role in our decision making either way. The existence of this or that god could, in theory, also have an impact upon our decisions — it all really depends upon how this "god" is defined. When you get right down to it, though, the existence of a god can't make it right to cause people suffering or make it wrong to cause people to be more happy. If a person is not a sociopath and is genuinely moral, such that the happiness and suffering of others really matters to them, then neither the presence of absence of any gods will fundamentally change anything for them in terms of moral decisions.

So what's the point of being moral if God doesn't exist? It's the same "point" that people should acknowledge if God does exist: because the happiness and suffering of other human beings matter to us such that we should seek, whenever possible, to increase their happiness and decrease their suffering. It's also the "point" that morality is required for human social structures and human communities to survive at all. Neither the presence nor the absence of any gods can change this, and while religious theists may find that their beliefs impact their moral decisions, they cannot claim that their beliefs are prerequisites for making any moral decisions at all.


Larian LeQuella said...

Here is a copy of the letter I just sent to them. Let's see if only Ginger replies again:

Dear Bay County School Board,

Even though I do not have children in the Bay County School Districts (THANKFULLY), this is the second time I find myself writing to you in dismay at your positively Medieval actions. When the story of you BANNING A BOOK surfaced in the NWF Daily News, the community as a whole was outraged. Not because the book may have contained strong language, but because of the incredibly narrow minded approach you took.

ONE parent complained. Some who voted to ban the book admitted to NOT having read it. Folks, this is the 21st century. I should hope none of you are Nazis. I just cannot fathom how a book that is voluntary for reading can or should be banned! I understand that someone may find the language offensive, but they have a choice to NOT READ THE BOOK! Your draconian enforcement of your own morality has no place in education or a free society. My only hope for the future is that all who voted to ban the book step down in disgrace for your shameful actions.

I will cut this short, just because I cannot continue to type without getting absolutely disgusted and sick to my stomach at your actions. May the Constitution and Reason never need to defend you in any way, for you have continually trod roughshod on them!

Larian LeQuella said...

Again, Ginger is the only smart one in Bay County it seems. Her reply:

Thank you Steve! I am so glad there are at least a few of us out there who find censorship abhorrent. I could not believe the Board I sit on did this! I well remember our previous brushes with censorship- and they were not pretty! Please stay vocal on this. We cannot afford to be silent.