March 2007

I should have made it a bit clearer.

1) Atheist; do not need to demonstrate to religious people that they are moral. Morality is cultural and arguably genetic rather than religious. Therefore my comment; neither require nor subscribe too, refers to the list in its entirety. Effectively please don’t replace a set of rules for a similar set of rules, you or I don’t have the moral authority for that.

2) Creating a ten commandments is a step towards creating a creed that I suggest only supplants one creed for another and leaves the religious groups (deists used loosely) fodder to call atheism a religion, this is prevalent on some evangelical websites.

I hope that sums up my position

Okay, I think I understand you a bit better now.

In item #1, when you say that atheists do not “need” to demonstrate to religious people that they are moral you are technically correct. However, there are a great many religious people who believe that atheists are necessarily immoral. It’s this assumption of immorality (or, at least, non-morality) that makes some people think that atheists shouldn’t, for example, hold public office. I’d say that it is in the best interest of atheists to show these theists the error of their ways.

Your statement that morality is cultural and possibly genetic rather than religious is, I think, a little ill defined. Many people’s culture is inexorably intertwined with their religion. Also, many people believe that morality requires religion or a deity, and even though they are wrong, they are making important decisions based on this belief.

You are completely correct that I do not have the moral authority to dictate a set of rules for moral atheism. As I said, the point of the page in question really isn’t to create such a list of rules. However, I think that moral atheists would largely agree with most of the statements on that page, so I don’t mind saying that this is the case in order to make a broader point.

I am somewhat in agreement with your point #2 and would never insist that there are atheist “commandments.” However, I do think that there are a number of things that moral atheists have in common, and enumerating them is no more creating a creed than enumerating things mathematicians generally agree upon would be. The main differences between my list and a religious creed are that mine is subject to argument and change, and that I recognize that it does not apply to all atheists.

You are definitely correct that some theists believe atheism to be a religion (or, at least, think it should be legally treated as such). I don’t think that my list of rights and responsibilities would be much help in their efforts, in that by quoting it they would be doing more to poke fun at their own position than to damage mine.

So, to sum up, I agree with you that I have no right to dictate morality to atheists, but since the Web page in question is satire I don’t think it’s philosophically problematic. I do, however, maintain that this list of items generally applies to moral atheists, and would be very interested in any argument to the contrary.

Posted on March 7, 2007 at 11:10 pm by ideclare · Permalink
In: Criticism

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