Q&A: The Atheist Pocket Book

Questions:

I really appreciate this book. As a fellow atheist who left Christianity, and having to think of such important questions on morality, truth, etc, mostly by myself it is so good to read your book and have my thoughts on these topics validated. It also shows how inherently simple these concepts are if one applies rational thinking into them.

However as I read your book, I feel there are some unexplained loopholes which you’ve either accidentally left out or you’ve not thought of or you thought of them as being trivial. In any case, I would greatly appreciate if you could clarify them for me.

I read the Kindle version of your book. I therefore don’t know which page numbers are the texts I’m referring to in the actual book. However you’ll be able to know as you’re the author. If you still insist, I can send you the highlighted texts to your email. Here we go:

1) How can you boldly claim that everyone is born with an inclination to be religious…? How can such a claim be tested?

2) If morality is subjective, then there might be someone for whom bashing puppies with a hammer (an example you used in your book) might be the right thing to do. Doesn’t that mean that it is only because of a universal objective law of morality (from Governments or a God) that we have a unified moral conduct that transcends the possible contradicting subjective moralities? So can we then say that the only valid morality is objective?

3) You state that a person’s moral code should be “whatever is necessary to keep as many people alive and happy as possible, for as long as possible”. I think this is a very naive explanation. Consider the famous trolley problem in ethics. According to your definition of what a moral conduct should be, one must kill a person (even if it is his own mother) in order to save more than one stranger. Now in ethics, this situation is considered as a dilemma with no right or wrong answer. However your definition gives this problem a clear right answer that many atheists might find objectionable.

4) What’s the evolutionary benefit of being gay? I think there is none (and one can say it’s harmful for the continued existence of human species because gays cannot create offspring if they insist on having sexual relationship only with men. I’m purposefully ignoring non-sexual procreation methods). If there is no evolutionary benefit, then won’t your definition of personal moral conduct allow one to rightfully harm gays? I must obviously mention that I’m not homophobic and you’ll appreciate that this is only to understand the deeper truths of morality.

5) You state that “truth is ever present, whether I know it or not… Truth is truth regardless of what I want to believe” So truth is objective. From there, isn’t it easy to construct a sound argument to show that morality is also objective? Am I confusing it? Is truth different from morality?

My Answer:

Thanks for the comment. I’ll be happy to reply. Please share my book with others, if you are inclined.

1) We are born knowing nothing beyond our basic instincts. I think it’s safe to claim that the moment we’re born, we’re not even aware that we’re alive. So, I think it’s even safer to say that we most likely don’t come into this world believing there’s a divine being in the sky (or in a different realm). That’s very specific. No, I don’t know for certain what everyone thinks when they’re born, but reason says it’s pretty much impossible to believe anything that specific at birth.

2) No, morality is not objective. In the United States, it’s illegal in multiple states to hold government office if you’re an atheist. But so what? That says nothing about whether that’s right or wrong. When a bunch of officials come together and decide something is legal or illegal, how does that suddenly download into our minds and make us think, “That must be the moral thing now!” It makes no sense. We can decide what is law and what is not, and we certainly need laws in a society, but at its deepest level, morality alone is based on what an individual chooses. A serial killer or a thief doesn’t care what the law is, they will do what they want, or feel they need to do.

3) The scenario you used as an example doesn’t contradict my definition of what everyone’s moral code ought to be. Sometimes you can’t save everyone. Sometimes you can only do the best you can do. Which is why I wrote, “Whatever is necessary to keep as many people alive and happy as possible, for as long as possible.” That doesn’t mean if you’re forced to let someone die then you made the wrong choice. In that situation I would hope people do the best they can. And by the way, that scenario perfectly aligns with my statement. Your goal in that situation is to keep as many people alive, safe, and happy as you can. Whatever your choice is in the end, it’s still the closest you can get to that.

4) When it comes to evolution, there is no debate among scientists that it happened, only how it happened. Being gay might (emphasis on the word ‘might’) be on the same level as having a cleft lip or an eating disorder. DNA isn’t perfect, and no individual person is perfect. We humans reproduce sexually because it mixes genes. You can’t constantly mix genes and somehow produce a perfect organism every time, or even some of the time. BUT if homosexuality is not a deformity, whether in a person’s hormone balance or what have you, and it actually has an evolutionary purpose, nobody knows for sure what that would be. I’ve heard one theory that gays might have had the purpose of not reproducing with others so that they can focus more on taking care of the tribe, and other tribe members’ children, sick, and elderly instead of focusing on their own families. That would make sense for when populations were low and tribes were small. Our species only became civilized and global only a few thousand years ago, and this purpose would have had been necessary for the first 90,000-190,000 years of our species’ existence. But that’s only a theory. There might be better ones out there. I just don’t know.

5) I’m not really sure how you can confuse ‘truth’ with ‘morality’. They are very much not the same thing. Humans are social animals, and social animals take up such a tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny fraction of all the matter in the universe, which has no need for morality of any kind. Should a lightning bolt or a supernova consider what it might be affecting? Should fire stop and consider if it should burn, or does it simply just burn? There are laws and occurrences all throughout our universe, and many of those things are objective and cannot be different than what they are. But why should morality, which is a concept that only concerns social animals, also be objective? It makes no sense.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s