Monday, September 24, 2007

Atheists and their Ethics

I still have some serious concerns with the "new atheist" movement, largely because when "new atheists" talk about morality they reveal that they get their morality from a place that is just as frightening as where the theists geti their morality.

Theists do not get their morality from scripture. This is obvious - given the large percentage of moral prinicples found in scripture which theists do not accept (e.g., working on the sabbath and charging interest).

They get their morality from "feelings", and then read their feelings into scripture, embracing those parts that "feel" right and dismissing the rest.

We can see where that has gotten us.

An atheist's "feelings" can be just as vile and corrupt as any theist.

Some theists attempt to give their feelings legitimacy by using scripture - that it was written in the Bible so it must be justified. This is a nice, convenient shortcut where an agent does not have to ask himself, "I feel this way about X, but how should I feel about X?"

Atheists try to give their feelings legitimacy by saying, "My feelings on this matter came through evolution. Therefore, they cannot be questioned." This gives atheist a parallel to the tactic of refusing to ask, "I feel this way about X, but how should I feel about X?"

Ethics is not the study of examining how one feels about something. I have no doubt that the slave owner, inquisitor, Nazi guard, jihadist, etc., all felt pretty good about what they were doing.

Ethics is about how we should feel about things.

And there is no legitimate inference from, "I feel this way about X; therefore, I should feel this way about X."

To the degree that atheists depend on their feeling for morality, I find them no less frightening than theists.

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