Thursday, August 20, 2015

Atheism has no brakes

The 7th Planned Parenthood sting video has been released. Here's a summary:

Thus far I haven't posted much about the PP scandal. That's in part because it's a developing story, and–relatedly–people get tired of the story if you talk about it too often. Their eyes begin to glaze over and they turn the page. 

i) In a way, it's hard to know what's left to say about evil when it reaches a certain nadir. The video depicts the vivisection of a premature baby born alive. This is straight out of human experimentation by Nazis on Jews and Japanese on POWs. It's not coincidental that after Josef Mengele skipped the country, he made his living as an abortionist in South America. 

ii) In attempting to reason with people on moral issues, there are various strategies. We use analogies. But PP is already a worst-case scenario. If some people are too morally hardened to see the problem, what can you say? It's like trying to appeal to Ted Bundy's conscience. There's nothing there to work with. You have no moral leverage. The lever is broken. 

We compare certain modern atrocities to the Nazis. But, of course, some people were Nazis. Devoted Nazis. So that comparison wouldn't work for them.

Imagine the outcry if PP vivisected puppies for spare parts? But many people have already crossed that line. By that I mean, many people care more about puppies than babies. When you describe the video, they just shrug.

We appeal to a sense of empathy. How would you like it if someone did that to you? And, indeed, they wouldn't like it if someone did it to them. But that's only because it happened to them instead of somebody else. In their philosophy, nothing is good or bad in general; it is only good or bad for me

You might reply that if everybody, or even most folks, had the same attitude, that would not be good for me. But they shrug. That's hypothetical. They don't respond to abstractions. Unless and until it hurts them, they just don't care. 

They say the "fetus" is "just a clump of cells." You counter that by that logic, an adult is "just a clump of cells." A bigger clump of cells. 

How do they respond? They shrug. Yes, I'm a clump of cells and you're a clump of cells, but the clump of cells you are isn't the clump of cells I am, and I only care about me. I care about a clump of cells if, and only if, that happens to be me. If that happens to be you, then you're out of luck!

In their minds, if not their actions, many Americans have already crossed the same line as the PP employees. How can people commit or countenance such evil? 

i) Some people have no conscience. Never did. What they do or refrain from doing is based on what they think they can get away with as well as the approval or disapproval of their peer group. 

ii) Some people are initially disturbed, but they get use to it. They become callous. Morally and emotionally inured. 

iii) Some people believe the propaganda, just like some Nazis really did view themselves as the master race. 

iv) Ultimately I think many Americans have internalized the secular outlook. There is no afterlife. No heaven or hell. So it comes down to getting as much as I can while the getting is good. There is no right and wrong, just winning and losing. 

Atheism is a car on a hilltop without a parking brake. The only thing that keeps it from rolling down the hill is the wheel chock of Christian culture. Remove that, and watch what happens. Atheism has no moral brakes. Remove the Christian wheel chock, and unstoppable nihilism ensues.


  1. Well said. What's left except for Planned Parenthood to begin kidnapping children at random and dissecting them alive for organ harvesting and sale?

    Would that raise eyebrows?

  2. I once tried to counsel a man in prison. His concept of innocent and guilty was completely upside down. His opinion was that any action he took he was not guilty unless he was arrested by a policeman and the court declared him guilty. Until that happened, it didn't matter what he did, he was not guilty of anything. Incomprehensible.

  3. Why do you insist on lumping all atheists together as if we were some ideological monolith. All atheism tells you is what I don't believe in, not what I do. So allow me to state that I, an atheist in that I don't believe in god also as hard as it might be for you to conceptually grasp do not suuport abortion. That's right, I am an atheist and not pro abortion. Furthermore my reasons for not being pro abortion have absolutely nothing to do with some arbitrary edict from an imaging strongman. No my reasons are rooted in ruthless uncompromising pragmatism or in other words morality grounded in the facts of existence.

    1. Morality. You keep using that word. But I don't think it means what you think it means.

      Without God, you *are* just a clump of cells, governed by physical forces and whose notion of morality always amounts to mere opinion. Tell me, as an atheist (and, by extension, a materialist, since, absent God, matter is all there is) what difference does it make to you whether abortion occurs or not? Unless it affects you, why would you care?

    2. Yes, technically, atheism is just a statement of what an atheist doesn't believe rather than what he does believe. However, by denying God's existence, he denies the foundation of morality.

      It's nice that some atheists are inconsistent. That some atheists are more virtuous than what their position implies. But that's in spite of their atheism, not because of it. And, increasingly, that's breaking down.

  4. "Morality. You keep using that word. But I don't think it means what you think it means."

    Good point. I never hear Christians ask what is morality and why is it important. So yes that word does refer to a different conception for us. For me morality is a guide to action. It is the understood and the chosen not the commanded and the obeyed.

    You call me a clump of cells, yes and the Earth is just a planet, whats you point. Your chose of words downplays the wonder, complexity and marvel that is a self aware biologically entity the end product of billions of years of.... yeah you should know the rest. Next you like the author feel the right to put words in my mouth by calling me a materialist. Nope! wrong again. I accept for example concepts which are means and methods of the mind. I accept the existence of information which is the arrangement of matter and not the matter itself, I believe in action, energy, space and time, none these constitute "matter".

    Next you ask why I should care about abortion if it does not effect me. Morality is a guide to choice and these choices must be measured against a scale of values if one is to make the correct one. If I place the highest value on personal freedom then I should support abortion rights. However such unbridled personal freedom will have disastrous long term consequences for society as a whole. Thus if I place a higher value on the health and continuation of my society I should be opposed to abortion.

    Personally at this point in my life (age 44) I have become so disgusted and disappointed with society and by extension human nature at large that It goes beyond me "not caring". At times in the deeper levels of my despondency I actually want to see it all comes crashing and and burn, however I digress.

    I said I don't support abortion rights, that does not mean that I am going to burn so much as one calorie to oppose it either. There used to be expectations, roles for each gender that made our society function. To cut to the point here men were expected to in time of conflict which was nearly perpetuation go off and do the fighting. Women because of their abilities were expected to mother children (replace losses). In our oh so wonderful modern society women have been released of their obligations but not us men. I still have to register for the draft, I still am expected to pay for the raising of a child I might sire even though I have no legal rights in the matter and can not surrender my "parental rights" in the matter as a women can. She can walk away and not deal with the consequences of her action but not I or you Ray if you are a man.

    So to get back to my point. I feel disenfranchised by my society and so don't care about its health or future anymore. Likewise I since the liberal left cares nothing about me and my concerns (single middle aged white male) I likewise could not care about theirs such as abortion rights. I keep being told that has a man I am not allowed to have a say in the matter anyway. Fine, my answer to both the ideological right and left is I DON'T CARE, let it all burn.

    1. oh, I posted in haste, you got my blood up:) so sorry for any grammatical mistakes I made. Having reread it I see a few.

    2. Christ has the resources to deal with all the various and sundry worldview issues you just sketched, JH.

    3. @Steve you of all people should know better. You are not ignorant of Objecivism and its ethical framework. That being said however I am sympathetic to your complaint. Many if not most atheists give no thought to ethics and their importance. They go with what feels good or feels right without gauging what the actual consequences are going to be and no thought as to why they value what the do.

      @CR life may and has presented me with insurmountable problems. That is not an excuse to embrace the imaginary. The brave thing to do is accept what is real and true regardless of how it makes us feel.

    4. Yes, I'm aware of Objectivism. It's a hack philosophy.

    5. regardless of whether you believe it to be a hack philosophy or not it does provide a framework and grounding for a moral system that is not predicated on the existence of god or belief in god.

    6. One of many examples of failed secular ethics. I've documented these in detail for years on end. And this isn't just a Christian critique. As I've also documented in detail, many secular philosophers reject moral realism.

    7. can you recommend a particular resource you think I should read.

  5. @CR life may and has presented me with insurmountable problems. That is not an excuse to embrace the imaginary. The brave thing to do is accept what is real and true regardless of how it makes us feel.

    What is truth?

    The problem is you lack the resources to ground your metaphysical claims. Christ alone has those resources.

    Christian theism is the one and only worldview that can help you.