In reply, notice two things. First, Hays refers to "what he [Lowder] regards as mistreatment of atheists" and "(alleged) offenses" without actually acknowledging the "mistreatment" is actual, not "alleged." Does he deny that these instances are mistreatment?
I’ve already responded to Jeff from one angle, but now I’d like to consider it from another angle. Jeff has also said:
Scientific evidence shows that human consciousness and personality are highly dependent upon the brain. In this context, nothing mental happens without something physical happening. That strongly implies that the mind cannot exist independently of physical arrangements of matter. In other words, we do not have a soul.
So, according to Jeff, a human being is merely an arrangement of matter. Indeed, a temporary arrangement of matter. Evolution programmed the human organism to self-terminate from aging or illness–like a snowman melting in the sun.
Not only is Jeff a physicalist, but an atheist. For him, not only is a human being just a packet of matter, but a fortuitous packet of matter.
How does Jeff think it’s possible to mistreat a packet of matter, much less a temporary, fortuitous packet of matter? Does he think a packet of matter has intrinsic worth?
Suppose one human arrangement of matter rearranges another human arrangement of matter by putting a bullet in its brain. Is that wrong? The packet of matter we call a bullet reorganizes the packet of matter we call the brain. Does Jeff think that’s wrong? If so, why so?
It’s true that some packets of matter form emotional attachments to other packets of matter. At least, that’s the folk psychological description. For instance, the arrangement of matter we call a two-year-old boy may become emotionally attached to the arrangement of matter we call a teddy bear. If his teddy bear burns up in a fire, the two-year-old may cry.
On the other hand, many packets of matter don’t engender the same affection. If the coffeemaker breaks, we toss it in the dumpster and buy a new one. We don’t weep over the coffeemaker.
Given Jeff’s secular anthropology, why does he think it’s even possible to mistreat the arrangement of matter we call an atheist? Does matter matter?