Atheism and Theism, A Grounding of Ethics

According to the standard dictionary, Ethic (singular) is defined as: The branch of knowledge that deals with moral principles.
Ethics (plural) is defined as follows: Moral principles that govern a person or groups’ behavior or the conducting of an activity. Ethics as a subject is the study of what actions we should take, which ones are commendable, which ones we should disapprove of and how we should live our lives.
synonyms: moral code, morals, morality, values, rights and wrongs, principles, ideals, standards (of behavior), value system, virtues, dictates of conscience
The origin of the word begins in late Middle English (denoting ethics or moral philosophy; also used attributively): from Old French éthique, from Latin ethice, from Greek ( hē) ēthikē (tekhnē ) ‘(the science of) morals,’ based on ēthos.

Atheists claim that their “lack of belief” has no ethical ramifications, but they are wrong. Without a grounding in the absolute (as Deists and all religious understand it) there is no possibility of morality outside of subjectivism.
Virtue ethics is a philosophy primarily based on the understanding of Aristotle, who learned from Socrates, a student of Plato. Because virtue ethics is a quest to understand and live a life of moral character, theists such as Christians, Jews, Muslims and Deists will likely agree in broad strokes, or at least find it a compelling way to understand ethics. As a character-based approach to morality, virtue ethics assumes that we acquire virtue through practice. By practicing being honest, brave, just, generous, and so on, a person develops an honorable and moral character. According to Aristotle, by honing virtuous habits, people will likely make the right choice when faced with ethical challenges.

To illustrate the difference among three key moral philosophies, ethicists Mark White and Robert Arp refer to the film The Dark Knight where Batman has the opportunity to kill the Joker. White and Arp suggest that Utilitarian Ethics would endorse killing the Joker because taking this one life would save multitudes (Do whatever does the most good/the ends justify the means). Deontologists, on the other hand, would reject killing the Joker simply because it’s wrong to kill (following the fixed rules of morality trumps the results of (in)action). Virtue ethics instead manifests as the character of the person, Batman does not kill because he does not want to be the kind of person who takes his enemies’ lives.

In this way, virtue ethics helps us understand what it means to be a virtuous human being by giving us a guide for living life without giving us specific rules for resolving ethical dilemmas. The important part of determining the correct actions are the qualities you have as a person. A person who acts with ‘goodness’ (acting with wisdom/forethought, justice, courage and self-mastery) is acting ethically. By the same token, someone performing bad actions (acting foolishly, unfairly, cowardly, greedily or with vicious intent) is acting unethically according to virtue ethics’ principles. Virtue Ethics guides a person to take a much longer view that the immediate, or even lifetime gains or losses any action will cause a person. By looking at the virtue, rather than the advantage, a person considers their own, personal telos, or destination of their life’s journey.

For many (both past and present), life is a journey with no destination. The ancient Greeks described history as an endless cycle of events, perpetually moving but never arriving. Like them, secular humanity drifts anchorless through life, experiencing and responding to each circumstance as it appears on the horizon but never really getting anywhere.

For the theist, however, every event-past, present, and future-moves toward a final goal. The Creator God that brought the universe into existence, and maintains it in existence, causes all things to work together to accomplish His purpose. To explain this concept, the New Testament uses the Greek telos, meaning “end, goal, result, completion or fulfillment.” To each of the Abrahamic Faiths, that destination is ultimately either paradise or perdition. However, all religions offer the promise of some form of afterlife, even if it is as a higher or lower ‘station’ to be reborn in that is awarded according to the objective truth of one’s life’s deeds.

In many respects, to accomplish one’s telos is to live in accordance with the purpose for which you were made. This coincides with Aristotle’s definition for an entity that performs well or excellently by fulfilling its proper (i.e., essential) function. Aristotle saw a universal teleology or purposiveness in which everything in the universe was goal-directed and striving to actualize its essence. For him, an object actualizes its distinctive essence when it achieves an identity of formal and final causation. Man, as a rational being with free will, should strive for his own perfection.

By achieving his fulfillment and all-around development he would attain happiness or fulfillment (Eudaimonia). It follows therefore, that in ethics a man should choose actions that are properly ordered with respect to human affairs; a project through which people aspire to happiness through the cultivation of virtues. Aristotle taught that people acquire virtues (i.e., good habits) through practice and that a set of concrete virtues could lead a person toward his natural excellence and happiness. Morally good habits promote stable and predictable behavior and foster coordination in an imperfect world. Habits are born from natural dispositions created through the repetition of actions. If these habits are morally good, they serve to underpin virtues.

Because the shortcomings of Utilitarianism have become apparent and the concept of referring to an absolute standard of right and wrong is politically incorrect, many have searched for another system of morality. One such system is Quasi-Utilitarianism, created by Iain King, CBE. Iain is an expert on military history, and has given lectures on war to packed university theatres across Britain. He has worked in ten conflicts around the world, and in 2013 became one of the youngest people ever to be honored with the title ‘Commander of the British Empire’, for his frontline roles in Libya, Afghanistan and Kosovo. He has written acclaimed non-fiction books on modern conflict and philosophy and fiction in the techno-thriller genre.
Iain’s philosophy book, “How to Make Good Decisions and Be Right All the Time,” lays out his quasi-utilitarianism philosophy. After laying out that both Intuitive and Utilitarian Ethics are flawed and untenable in all situations, Iain claims that rethinking ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ from scratch makes us wonder what ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ actually refer to. This must be done to find what consequences and motives separate ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ in ‘meta-ethics’, which means ‘beyond’ or ‘above’ ethics. Different philosophers have come to different conclusions on meta-ethics. Some say ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ are absolute qualities in the world perhaps as real as numbers; others say they are little more than personal tastes, or expressions of ‘boo’ and ‘hurray’ in response to what we witness.

Iain states that ‘How to Make Good Decisions and Be Right All the Time’ sets out four routes for establishing a basis for right and wrong, which also answer ‘What should we do?’ All four routes converge on the same conclusion – the Help Principle: (1) Route One: Reconstructing Utilitarianism, which means reconsidering the common argument for ‘do whatever has the best consequences’ (utilitarianism). Route Two: ‘Correcting’ John Rawls’ approach by adapting the method of denying self-interest to establish a basis for right and wrong (from ‘A Theory of Justice’, 1971). Route Three: The Argument from Evolution: Evolution has instilled moral instincts in us. Because evolution; a chain of our ancestors adapted to their environments, which were arbitrary, this means the genes, and the moral instincts that go with them, which have survived to now are arbitrary too. Route Four: The ‘Sherlock Holmes’ method states that there may or may not be something of value, or meaning in life. If there is meaning, it makes sense to seek it; and if there isn’t any meaning in life it doesn’t matter what we do, since there is nothing of value to be lost.

To define the Help Principle, Iain King says it is necessary to consider the consequences of our actions independently of when we make our decisions because right and wrong should not depend on ‘when’. The hypothetical impact of choices must be applied to the past as well as the future. This is important for promises etc. The Help Principle is reciprocal to be applied to people only as much as they would apply it themselves. When group members don’t reciprocate help they receive, the Help Principle generates: ‘Choose whichever option brings about the greatest all-time direct benefit’ (close to Utilitarianism, but excluding person-to-person wants and including hypothetical impact on the past happiness). For the Help Principle to serve as a practical guide to action, it needs to adapt to the real world. Problems of incomplete information, uncertainty, complexity, inertia, and the impact of previous commitments mean we can rarely make perfect calculations. Iain states that coping with the inevitable uncertainty, complexity etc. of the real world, we must adopt conventions such as social norms, ‘rules of thumb’, traditions of expected behavior and some institutions.

This move reflects a now-common desire to ground ethics without God or religion. The secular/atheist activists/influences in our current culture demand that any/all religious influences be eradicated from the public square. The demand to expunge religion seems to come even if the religious influence has no effect on the culture at large.
Secular rejection of religious basis for ethics may start with the rejection of Pascal’s Wager. Blaise Pascal offers a pragmatic reason offers a pragmatic reason for believing in God: even under the assumption that God’s existence is unlikely. The basis Pascal offers for believing is that the reward for believing/punishment for not believing is substantial in the event God does exist; while the negatives are miniscule if God does not exist. Therefore, it is universally advantageous to believe that God exists.

Pascal’s argument has many objections, including intellectualist objections that one cannot believe something by simply deciding to do so. While true, this objection has perhaps less weight that at first glance. No one can do anything simply by virtue of deciding to. Aristotle, acknowledged doing the right thing is not always so simple, even though few people deliberately choose to develop vicious habits in sharp disagreement with Socrates’s belief that knowing what is right always results in doing it. The great enemy of moral conduct, on Aristotle’s view, is precisely the failure to behave well even on those occasions when one’s deliberation has resulted in clear knowledge of what is right. One cannot get to work or school simply by deciding to. Any/every decision must be followed up with actions and behavior that support and reinforce the decision.

Moral/Ethical Subjectivism holds that there are no objective moral properties and that ethical statements are in fact arbitrary because they do not express immutable truths. Many modern atheists/materialists claim that moral or ethical statements are made true or false by the attitudes opinion, personal preference feelings and/or conventions of the person speaking. Thus, for a statement to be considered morally right merely means that it is met with approval by the person of interest. Another way of looking at this is that judgments about human conduct are shaped by, and in many ways limited to, perception.

An Ethical Subjectivist could argue that the statement “Stalin was evil” expresses a strong dislike for the sorts of things that Stalin did, but it does not follow that it is true (or false) that Stalin was in fact evil. Another person who disagrees with the statement on purely moral grounds (while in agreement with all non-evaluative facts about Stalin) is not making an intellectual error, but simply has a different attitude.

It is compatible with Moral Absolutism, (belief that an individual can be certain that at least some of their moral precepts apply in all situations), but it is also compatible with Moral Relativism (the truth of moral claims is relative to the attitudes of individuals). Moral/Ethical Subjectivism is a cognitivist theory that holds ethical sentences to be subjective, yet still the kind of thing that can be true or false, depending on whose approval is being discussed. It stands in direct contrast to Moral Realism (under which ethical statements are independent of personal attitudes).

Ethical Subjectivism seemingly provides a simple, common-sense explanation of what morality is. Though ethical views often give an internal appearance of objectivity (it feels like we are making, or attempting to make, an objective statement), all that means is people believed them to be true, due to the assertive nature of most ethical statements.
Ethical Subjectivism creates significant problems because it offers no way for people engaged in ethical debate to resolve their disagreements. Instead it requires each side to exercise tolerance by acknowledging the equally ‘factual truth’ of the perceptions asserted by opponents. This tolerance counteracts the issues ethics seeks to resolve, namely deciding ‘what is the right thing to do’. In addition, feelings and attitudes often change over time, as knowledge, experience and circumstances change. Variable foundations and non-judgementalism may serve to insulate one from criticism from their peers, but do not make a good base for ethical decisions.

Subjectivism also leads inevitably to the claim that objective morals don’t exist. The claim that our universe contains moral categories of values (good and evil) and duties (right and wrong actions) that exist independently of anyone’s opinion and apply to the actions and motivations of all persons is unacceptable to Subjectivists and Atheists alike. Whether this is because universal rules are inconvenient/restricting or imply the existence of a universal rule-giver (God) is irrelevant. Therefore, the topic at hand is a question of ontology-whether these categories actually exist, and not epistemology-how we know these categories. How we come to knowledge of morality is irrelevant to the question. The question is whether these moral categories exist in reality, not in someone’s private belief system. Neither ignorance of a given law, or claiming you are immune because you do not accept the law are admissible as a defense in court of most ‘civilized’ nations (unless you are of an artificially favored/protected population).

So the question presents us with two different types of realities; a moral universe in which objective moral categories exist, and an amoral universe that contains only subjective moral categories (where each person’s standard of right, wrong, good, and evil is defined by themselves and applies only to themselves). In order to determine which of these descriptions applies to our own universe, let’s take a look at what both of these realities might be like, and then see which most closely describes the features of our own universe.

In an Amoral Universe, where objective moral categories do not exist, no action can be called objectively evil. While one might dislike another’s action, no external standard exists by which any action can be called good or evil. In the overall scheme of things, feeding your child is no better or worse than beheading your child, and any feelings one has to the contrary are simply opinion. In this universe, moral opinions have no basis in reality; that is to say, nothing objective exists on which to base such a concept. The only basis for making such a claim here is just private interests and taste. When people say “that’s wrong!” they are saying: “That is against my interests/standards/tastes!”

In a Moral Universe, objective moral categories exist as objective features of the universe, and not of an individual human. Therefore, these categories apply to all humans, just as the law of gravity and laws of physics apply to all physical objects. The laws of morality are just as binding as natural laws on moral creatures. However, the moral categories are necessarily different from other laws of the universe in that they are prescriptive (describing how things ought to be) and not descriptive (describing how things are). Any given action can fall into one of three categories:
Moral actions – actions that conform to the objective moral standard (ex: Helping someone in need without asking for reward.)
Immoral actions – actions that violate the objective moral standard (ex: Violating another person’s rights to life, property or person.)
Amoral actions – actions which are not addressed by the objective moral standard (ex: Parking in the wrong lot without a permit (illegal, but does not violate any moral code) or buying only organic produce.)

The idea of an amoral universe is existentially self-refuting, though not logically self-refuting. There is no logical incoherence in the statement “No objective moral values and duties exist.” However, when one attempts to describe how one should live in such a universe they automatically invalidate the concept. In an amoral universe, “how one should live” is meaningless because no standard exists to describe how one should live.

Many find it is easy to claim that “Objective moral truths do not exist; I have the right to do as I please!” Yet, they are making this statement without considering that it makes a moral claim to a “right” while denying a moral reality. If you believe that others ought to allow you to live according to the dictates of your own will and your own conscience, then you are appealing to objective morality to justify what others “ought” to do.

Sources:
http://www.philosophypages.com/hy/2s.htm

Aristotle: Ethics


http://www.telos.edu/onlinecatalog/WhatDoesTelosMean.php

Virtue Ethics


http://www.quebecoislibre.org/031122-11.htm
https://www.fantasticfiction.com/k/iain-king/
How to Make Good Decisions… a 62 Point Summary

Pascal’s Wager about God


http://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_ethical_subjectivism.html

Do Objective Moral Truths Exist in Reality?

Rebuttal of Freethinker Propaganda, Part 5

When this author left off last week, I had just finished examined each of the approximately 12 people Dan Barker had listed as prominent atheists who had made great contributions to the world.  Of those twelve, no more than four met the actual criterion set by Dan Barker/Richard Dawkins for atheists.

As a partial counterpoint, atheists figure prominently in the annals of the greatest mass killings and atrocities of the twentieth century.  Communist Russia, Communist China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia and Cuba all are (or were) Communist Regimes that commit(ed) massive atrocities on their own citizens.  An atheist is not necessarily a Communist.  Communists must be atheistic because the state must supplant God as the supreme entity.

Religious Affiliation % in List
Catholic 31%
Anglican/Episcopalian 13%
Jewish 7%
Atheist 6%
Greco-Roman paganism 6%
Chinese traditional religion/Confucianism 5%
Lutheran 5%
Russian Orthodox 4%

The web page http://www.adherents.com/adh_influ.html.  Lists the names, religions and achievements of the top 100 most influential people in world history and given by Michael H. Hart’s book ‘The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History.’  The top eight religious (non)affiliations are seen in the box to the right.  The atheists in that Top 100 list were: Karl Marx Simon Bolivar Joseph Stalin Sigmund Freud Vladimir Illych Lenin and Mao Zedong.  Considering the legacy of these people, it seems that there is something common in their ideology that leads to slaughter.

Dan states that “Most religions have consistently resisted progress–including the abolition of slavery; women’s right to vote and choose contraception and abortion; medical developments such as the use of anesthesia; scientific understanding of the heliocentric solar system and evolution, and the American principle of state/church separation.”

In the words of Ronald Reagan, “There you go again…”  Dan paints ALL RELIGIONS EVERYWHERE AT ALL TIMES with the same brush.  Is he judging the society of the Pharos, Alexander the Great or Julius Caesar by today’s standards?  Does he judge the regimes of Lenin, Mao, Stalin, Ho Chi Min, Kim Jung Il and Pol Pot by those same standards?

The practice of slavery is as old as time, likely dating back to the Stone Age (as the Stone Age civilizations found in the Americas did).  The practice of slavery was global as every society (at one time or another) practiced slavery

The ‘enlightened’ (and often atheistic) ‘elite progressives’ such as Margaret Sanger and Woodrow Wilson (resurrected the dying KKK) of the first half of the twentieth century, judged themselves as the torchbearers and arbiters of human progress.  They alone had the intellect and wisdom necessary to guide and make all the ‘tough calls’ for the ignorant masses they would rule over.  They were the source of the eugenics movement which was used in turn to support many of the Jim Crow and segregation laws as well as the ‘Cleansing’ of undesirables in/by the Third Reich. Today, the eugenics movement is almost universally condemned now as evil, unfounded and pseudoscience.  Do we hold the progressives to today’s standards?

The standards for morals, public or private behavior, just as everything else changes as time goes by.  Christ did not explicitly condemn slavery, but the Golden Rule “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” makes it rather clear what He wanted people to do.  Hebrew law ordered Jews to treat slaves as family and the Jew who killed a slave was to die, just as they would for killing a fellow Jew.  The Muslim Religion not only allows, but prescribes enslavement of non-believers.  Christianity and Judaism both demand humane treatment of others.  Christianity demands it regardless of race, class, sex, etc.  The abolitionist movements in Europe in America came from Christianity.  Bahá’u’lláh, founder of the Baha’i faith, officially condemned slavery in 1874.  In Hinduism, the vedas of about 600+ BC taught that slavery was contrary to their goals.  Over time, the teachings of the leaders in the religion went back and forth.  Buddhism has a long history of generally condemning slavery, though debt slavery could still occur.  Finally, Buddhist Emperor Ashoka banned slavery and renounced war.  This list does not contain any pagan religions, Confucianism, Shinto or innumerable others that have existed throughout time.  Do these marked difference in beliefs not illustrate that lumping religions all together is like lumping all political parties, all Germans, Japanese (or any other nationality) or atheists into a single unit?  Five of the six most influential atheists were dictators of the most tyrannical, bloody regimes of history.  The sixth was their political inspiration.  Can we therefore judge all atheists to be just like them?

All humans from any time and any place are hypocrites to one extent or another.  A person can behave devoutly in church and public places and become a veritable demon in their home or in a neighborhood where they are not known.  Yes some rulers in the past have used religion to justify war, subjugation, enslavement and many other evils.  Many atheists have done the same or worse with no excuses or cover whatsoever beyond ‘The Dialectic Demands It’.  The atheist has no standard for behavior.  By rejecting all religions and their teachings, the only available guide will be expediency.  Most religions seek to elevate the self to a higher level of purity or holiness.  Any theist who takes their faith seriously finds themselves held to a supposedly unchanging standard of ‘Good.’  A theistic person (if they are entirely honest) is aware of how far they fall below the goal of their faith and must therefore strive to improve themselves to become closer to the Creator, and finally reach Enlightenment/Nirvana/Heaven/Paradise.

To judge all religious people by a single incident or period of a single sect is patently ridiculous.  For every Salem Witch Trial there are civilians who hide friends, neighbors and strangers in their home because their faith tells them to.  Pope Pious XII sheltered 3000-4000 Jews in the papal summer palace outside Rome.  Allied airmen and Jews were sheltered inside the Vatican or other church and private properties.  If the Germans had chosen to search those locations, the SS would have likely looted the entire Vatican complex within Rome, all properties or accounts owned by the Holy See and the private homes then kill or imprison everyone within.

Women’s suffrage is yet another case of judging the past by today’s standards.  The pursuit of equality with men in political and other arenas amounted to the overthrow of 1,400 or more years of both tradition and laws based on those same traditions.  To claim that religions opposed women’s suffrage is equivalent to saying politics opposed women’s suffrage.  Religion is an ideology.  People are born into or choose to join one religion or another.  Western culture (particularly American) has chosen to divide the political and religious portions of our lives.  It is their choice whether they follow the dogma and traditions of the faith.  No one can or will force them.  If a preacher gives a sermon about a political issue, they are not serving a deity.  They are substituting politics for faith.  That being said, how can Dan, sitting in the nosebleed section of the bleachers, be in a position to criticize those who are actually trying to finish the race?

Next, we shall address the charges that Dan brings about religion slowing medical research, scientific advancement, hindering acceptance of evolution or interfering with the separation of church and state.

To the charges of interfering with medicine and science:  This author shakes his head slowly and repeats the Ronald Reagan quote from earlier.  The Catholic Church was the cradle of modern western science.  James Hannam refutes these accusations in his article found at: http://blogs.nature.com/soapboxscience/2011/05/18/science-owes-much-to-both-christianity-and-the-middle-ages.  Dr. Hannam points out where in history the charge of suppressing science originated and who exactly created the charges.   Even Stefan Molyneux, an atheist Canadian YouTube vlogger and host on Freedomain Radio has created episodes acknowledged that the Catholic Curch built western civilization.

When it comes to evolution, Dan may have a solid case.  Yes, some religions reject the theory because they read the bible in a literalist manner.  Others reject the theory because it seems to be a tool to eliminate God.  Many religious people embraced it enthusiastically and still do.  This writer believes it may simply be that God used evolution as a mechanism of creation.  Whenever belief systems are seen to collide, it will create tension and disagreement whether the two are actually contradicting each other or not.

The separation of church and state was never under the control of religion.  The truth is that in the Western Hemisphere, the church was never in control of the state.  The church often served as advisor or attempted to rein in rulers with threats of excommunication.  The union of church and state was done through political leaders declaring a religion the ‘official’ religion of the nation, then imprisoning, executing or exiling all who refused to follow the new official religion.  The American Experiment with the separation of church and state was never hindered by religion or religious leaders because no one wanted to wind up on the receiving end of state power used to suppress them.

The atheist initiative to drive religion out of any and every public or government space is in direct conflict with the portion of the First Amendment that states: “Congress Shall Make No Law Regarding Religion or the Free Exercise Thereof.”  Dan seems to be simultaneously claiming suppression by religion while attempting suppression of religion.

Dan Barker claims that freethought is a philosophical, not a political, position, that embraces adherents of virtually all political persuasions, including capitalists, libertarians, socialists, communists, Republicans, Democrats, liberals and conservatives.  There a great deal of literature to negate his claim that there is no philosophical connection between atheism and communism.  The atheism in Communist regimes has been and continues to be a form of militant atheism which led to various acts of repression, including the razing of thousands of religious buildings and the killing, imprisoning, and oppression of religious leaders and believers.

The persecution of Christians in the Soviet Union was the result of the violently atheist Soviet government. In the first five years after the October Revolution, 28 bishops and 1,200 priests were murdered, many on the orders of Leon Trotsky. When Joseph Stalin came to power in 1927, he ordered his secret police, under Genrikh Yagoda to intensify persecution of Christians. In the next few years, 50,000 clergy were murdered, many were tortured, including crucifixion. “Russia turned red with the blood of martyrs”, said Father Gleb Yakunin of the Russian Orthodox Church.  According to Orthodox Church sources, as many as fifty million Orthodox believers may have died in the twentieth century, mainly from persecution by Communists.

Dan claims that Adam Smith and Ayn Rand were freethinkers and staunch capitalists though he provides no proof to indicate that they had heard of, never mind joined, the ‘Freethinker’ movement.  Ayn Rand claimed to be an objectivist, though, not a freethinker.  If he is claiming those two simply because they are atheists, then he must also accept Timothy McVeigh, Jeffery Dahmer and every other atheistic criminal in modern history.  Though the early Christian Church did have a somewhat communistic organization (see Acts of the Apostles) the experiment was quite short-lived because communism is a system that kills the human spirit and is actually contrary to Jesus’ teaching.

Dan says that North American freethinkers agree in their support of state/church separation.  This is quite an extraordinary claim.  It is almost unheard of for an organization to have 100% agreement on anything.

To answer the following question:  Is atheism/humanism a religion?  Dan Barton states, “No. Atheism is not a belief. It is the “lack of belief” in god(s). Lack of faith requires no faith. Atheism is indeed based on a commitment to rationality, but that hardly qualifies it as a religion.  Freethinkers apply the term religion to belief systems which include a supernatural realm, deity, faith in “holy” writings and conformity to an absolute creed.”

Claiming the definition of atheism to be merely ‘lack of belief’ is obfuscation as the definition has traditionally been belief that no God or gods exist/active denial of God’s existence  To hang onto a new redefinition in one dictionary out of all the brands available, is begging the question.  Further, to state lack of faith requires no faith is patently false. To even make this statement requires faith.  There is no research or empirical data to support that allegation.  Dan Barker has to have faith in his logic or reasoning to even make that statement.

https://humanism.org.uk/humanism/humanism-today/non-religious-beliefs/ The Humanists UK website features the following definitions for Atheist, Freethinker and Humanist

Atheist” includes those who reject a belief in the existence of God or gods and those who simply choose to live without God or gods. Along with this often, but not always, go disbelief in the soul, an afterlife, and other beliefs arising from god-based religions.

“Freethinker” is an old-fashioned term, popular in the nineteenth century, used of those who reject authority in matters of belief, especially political and religious beliefs. It was a very popular term in the 19th century and is still used in different languages in some European countries by non-religious organisations to describe themselves.

“Humanist” is used today to mean those who seek to live good lives without religious or superstitious beliefs. A humanist may embrace all or most of the other approaches introduced here, and in addition humanists believe that moral values follow on from human nature and experience in some way. Humanists base their moral principles on reason (which leads them to reject the idea of any supernatural agency), on shared human values and respect for others. They believe that people should work together to improve the quality of life for all and make it more equitable. Humanism is a full philosophy, “life stance” or worldview, rather than being about one aspect of religion, knowledge, or politics

Secular humanism has no god, bible or savior. It is based on natural rational principles. It is flexible and relativistic–it is not a religion.

The claim that ‘Freethinkers/Humanists/Atheists are not religions because they do not rely on “ a supernatural realm, deity, faith in “holy” writings and conformity to an absolute creed”  is completely false.  As Dan Barker describes ‘free thought’ it does in fact have a god (atheistic reason), bible (the writings of Harris, Dawkins, Hitchens, Denning, et al), saviors (the atheistic apostles who wrote their bibles) the natural, rational principles, that freethinkers claim to base their philosophy on deliberately and consistently ignores all logical/physical/rational/medical evidence for a creator, the soul and anything else related to religion.

The flexibility and relativism Dan Barker claims for the freethinkers exists only for those who adhere completely to the doctrines he prescribes.  In the first installment of this series, I examined the cognitive dissonance that is involved with that description of ‘freethinking’ and how it demands absolute adherence to a set doctrine.

Mr. Barker finished his essay with the question, “Why should I be happy to be a freethinker?

He answers his question by stating the following, “Freethought is reasonable. Freethought allows you to do your own thinking. A plurality of individuals thinking, free from restraints of orthodoxy, allows ideas to be tested, discarded or adopted.  Freethinkers see no pride in the blind maintenance of ancient superstitions or self-effacing prostration before divine tyrants known only through primitive “revelations.” Freethought is respectable. Freethought is truly free.”

I ask again, Mr. Barker, “How can you state that any of those statements be true when you have laid out absolute demands for private beliefs to adhere to.  Nothing can be said to have freedom when there are boundaries placed on inquiry or pre-set answers to those possible questions.  I refer again to the first essay I wrote on this topic.

Stating a false claim repeated times Mr. Barker, does not make you any more correct.  You claim again and again that religions are ancient superstitions that blind people and prevent ideas from being tried and tested when the very science and scientific methods you espouse were developed in Medieval Monasteries. You decry blind adherence to ancient superstitions when there are growing proofs for the existence of a Creator in every field of scientific inquiry.  I respectfully suggest, Mr Barker,that you take a long, hard look in the proverbial mirror and honestly analyze the question of who is adhering blindly to a bankrupt ideology.

 

 

Are ‘Freethinkers/Skeptics’ Really Living Up To Their Names?

Based on what I have read in most ‘Freethinker’ and ‘Skeptic’ websites and social site posts, the labels ‘freethinker’ and ‘skeptic’ are often more of a self-compliment that an accurate title.  In this brief essay, I will use the term ‘Freethinker’ to describe both of these groups.

Many self-described Freethinkers assume (like Dan Barker appears to in his essay “What is a Freethinker” [click here]) that their intellect “…forms opinions about religion on the basis of reason, independently of tradition, authority, or established belief.  Freethinkers include atheists, agnostics and rationalists.”  This attitude seems objectively self-contradictory.  It calls itself ‘free’ while simultaneously mandating that any inquiry through ‘reason and evidence’ must reject any and all notion of the Divine.  Does not the mandatory rejection of religion form a ‘tradition’ based upon the ‘authority’ of prior ‘Free-Thinkers’ in and of itself form an ‘established belief’?

As Dr. Jordon B. Peterson has noted about the high-visibility atheists such as Sam Harris, the Freethinkers, skeptics et al. are daily taking advantage of Christian Civilization.  Western Europe was founded upon Christianity, particularly Catholicism.  The Catholic Church preserved the Classical theories and thought from Greco-Roman Civilization.  Catholicism preserved and encouraged learning, built science as a way to pursue knowledge of the Creator (though learning about His Creation).  Pursuit of science (including creating the scientific method) was the work of monks and priests.  Religious orders (monks, priests and nuns) were the driving force behind creating hospitals, universities and even education for all.

All of the virtues, and desirable behaviors listed in Dan Barker’s “Free Thinker} essay are in reality Christian virtues. They were unwelcome in Communist/Atheist nations in Eastern Europe, Africa, southeast Asia and Latin America–such as honesty, or sanctity of human life, for example–if they would not be in the Party’s interest.  They are still most unwelcome in communist/socialist nations such as Cuba, China and North Korea for the same reason. They were also unwelcome in Nazi Germany or Mussolini’s Italy.

The “Freethinkers” also seem to be nice, but, outside of a Christian context, “Nice” is nothing more than a vague platitude. It is a highly subjective term about a subjective idea. Nice means almost nothing when it comes to behavior.

Any steadfast adherence to a given belief without sufficient evidence is contradictory to the idea of ‘Free Thought’ as Dan Barker describes it.  Yet those who attach themselves to that label deliberately close their eyes, ears and minds to the abundant evidence for the existence of a Creator.  Astronomers have dated the Universe as being approximately 14 billion years old.  Therefore everything about the universe (time, space, matter and energy) had a beginning.  By definitions, there was nothing before the instant when the singularity occurred. The rules of logic, from which we can determine the laws governing time, matter and space mandate that nothing can spontaneously appear from nothing. Therefore, the very existence of the universe requires a Creator that exists outside of time and space because a Creator cannot originate from inside its own creation.

Even allowing a spontaneous ‘singularity’ from which all matter, time, energy and space originated, the incredibly narrow tolerance for the laws governing the universe argue for a Creator. The balance between strong and weak nuclear forces (which allow the elements to react and interact as they do) and gravity is so precise that the odds of it happening through mere chance have been calculated as 1:(10 to the power of ten to the power of 123).

This makes the odds of everything in the universe forming so blindingly small, that anyone with free thought must question why does anything even exist?  Unless the ‘free thinker’ has already closed their mind to the possibility of a Creator (which would prove they are not free thinkers), they must at least honestly consider that possibility.

Additionally, the odds of the nuclear forces, gravity, electromagnetism, the weight and energy balances between protons and electrons and all the other factors necessary for the current universe, capable of sustaining life, to exist are analogous to giving a single monkey a word processor and it immediately typing Shakespeare’s Hamlet without a single error.

‘Freethinkers’ and ‘Skeptics’ congratulate themselves and each other for their reason and logic.  Yet they consistently choose to ignore the mounting evidence for a Creator and to cling to their faith in random chance as the sole cause of the universe and life. They hold and spout their dogma of Random Chance creating highly organized galaxies (composed of hundreds of millions of stars, many with planets that may even host life) spontaneously formed (in contradiction to the law of Entropy) from the matter that was randomly created from the wild energy and chaos resulting from the Big Bang, when nothing became something in direct contradiction of both logic and the laws of physics.