According to Jim Lippard of the Secular Outpost:
“Not surprisingly considering the content of the Bible, a Pew poll shows that 57% of those who are "secular" think that torture is never or only rarely acceptable, while only 42% of Catholics and 49% of white Protestants and white evangelicals feel that way. (I'm not sure why the poll only looked at white Protestants and evangelicals.)
The survey question was "Do you think the use of torture against suspected terrorists in order to gain important information can often be justified, sometimes be justified, rarely be justified, or never be justified?" The poll was taken of 2,006 adults between October 12-24, 2005.
I score this one as a point against the thesis that religious people are more moral than non-religious people.”
This is yet another example of the anti-intellectual bubble which the average atheist inhabits.
Clearly Lippard is intellectually isolated, not in the sense that he has no conversation partners, but in the sense that all his friends are like-minded individuals. If he were accustomed to intellectual competition, he’d never churn out so many ill-informed or ill-reasoned posts.
i) Notice how he assumes, without benefit of argument, that “torture” is always wrong. That’s the nice part of being a secular rationalist. You don’t have to give reasons for your rationalism.
Attitude trumps aptitude, platitude trumps exactitude, while turpitude trumps rectitude.
ii) He also doesn’t bring any critical thinking skills to bear on whether we should frame the issue of interrogation in terms of torture. Surely there’s a continuum here, is there not? There are many degrees and kinds of coercion.
In addition, if we capture a high-level terrorist, and he doesn’t want to talk, should we do absolutely nothing to extract actionable information from him?
If that’s the position of secular humanism, then secular humanism is one of those useless ideologies like pacifism which is incapable of meeting the challenges of a real world situation.
iii) Then there’s his position that belief in use of “torture” under any circumstances makes you a worse person than someone who rejects the use of “torture” under any circumstances.
So by that yardstick, individual Christians who reject the use of torture are better people than individual humanists to espouse the use of torture under certain circumstances.
Is that really where Lippard wants to go with this argument?
iv) Then he misstates the “thesis” that believers are more ethical than unbelievers.
But that’s not the thesis. The thesis, rather, is that unbelievers have no reason to be ethical.
This isn’t a question of whether unbelievers are more or less ethical than believers, but why they should be ethical, given their worldview.
I’ve done a few posts on the subject of “torture” as a means of interrogation. Unlike Lippard, I actually analyze the question and separate out one issue from another.
Readers may disagree with my conclusions, but there is an argument on the table.