My last post on this as it deteriorates in the predictable manner
The gist is Atheists complaining about preaching while preaching just from another angle is patently ludicrous. I would vote that some of the long winded vents in this very thread are doing just that. All of course while preaching in another form. It is every bit as vexing as the religious types who knock on my door and wake me from an afternoon nap. If you do not see that then argue against it till you are blue in the face it is nothing to me even if it simply illustrates my point.
 May the force be with you or live long and prosper whatever does not offend you while I am trying to be polite.
Your point is erroneous. The OP, me, hasn't been preaching at all. And as far as I can tell, everyone in this thread has politely given their opinions and rebuttals with one minor exception, which was handled with respect by those it was directed at. It would seem to me that you aren't analyzing the pace of the thread properly. No one is preaching. We are having civil discourse, and no one is knocking on your door. You offered your opinion and entered the debate hall of your own free will. I won't be arguing blue in the face, because this isn't an emotional issue. It's a methodological and a logical one. No one is saying that all of the theists and agnostics should be rounded up and castrated. Stop inciting ire, please and thank you.
And of course I don't take offense at your opinion or tone. Thank you for that clarification.
Let's stop right there. So what you're saying is that, for example, there are no atheist misogynists or racists, since such positions are clearly not based in logic or sound empirical studies?
Or is secular morality just as likely to go off the rails depending on the biases of the person implementing it?
There are clearly atheists who have poor moral character. I think Mathim was saying that secular morality is derived from logical and empiric conclusions, but not that everyone considers the same things logical, nor does everyone think of 'the best outcome' the same way. Secular morality can be wrong, but I would argue that it is less wrong more often than nonsecular morality, not in principle necessarily, but in practice. Am I representing you correctly Mathim?
1) The 'because I said so' style of deciding right from wrong isn't a criticism of all non-secular morality, just those which follow that method (primarily those with a deity who on some level proscribes right from wrong). It may be raised as a criticism of specific non-secular moralities but not as a whole.
2) Define "best outcomes" and how these can be logically and empirically reached... and how if these conclusions are reached logically and through empirical study that so many non-secular moral theories disagree with each other on a pretty fundamental level.
3) Touching on the first point with regard to a specific religion, there's a strong school of Christian thought which holds that God didn't make up or invent moral values, they are instead an intrinsic part of his nature and character; as God is supposedly the ultimate expression of moral values (kindness, love etc etc) and the universe is a expression of himself, those moral values thus apply to the world and it is/was up to humans to discover them. Aquinas, who is pretty much the definition and perfect example of a non-secular ethical theorist, holds that it is through what he describes as "practical reasonableness" that we discover these moral values and thus ought to live our lives through them. It's actually interesting to compare Aquinas' ethical approach and Kant's (arguably the leading secular ethicist) and note how similar they are not just in the end result but in the methods they choose to follow to get there.
4) Most natural law (and many moral realist) theories, whether secular or non-secular, have to rely on a "because I say so" element; it is a struggle for both to adequately explain where moral facts come from.
That's a rather limited view of what constitutes secular ethics; under such a system any natural law or moral realist theory is thrown out, most notably Kant (and anyone who has in turn built on Kantian ethics).
To give a specific counter-example Norman Borlaug is generally credited as a man who saved a billion lives, generally through the Green Revolution. Yet he faced opposition throughout the process, notably when he tried to expand the program into Africa, from environmentalist groups generally of the secular variety, largely due to the fact that he used GM crops.
1. True, it can. The difference is that it often doesnít and there are many arguments against such things in secular philosophies, while many religious philosophies actively espouse it. Methods are important, but so are results.
2. The Ďbest outcomeí, according to some, is the reduction to the greatest reasonable degree of suffering for peoples of a specific society. Different people have different opinions about cost/benefit when it comes to logical and empirical conclusions. Here is a hypothetical example: A study shows that citizens who work for minimum wage are far more likely to commit violent crimes than citizens who do not. Some members of the legislative body of the community donít think that raising the minimum wage in order to decrease violent crime would be worth the hit to productivity in the society. Some others think that the financial hit would be worth it for the reduction of crime. That is an example of logical and empirical evidence leading sound-minded people to different conclusions. Disagreement isnít a stop sign to progress.
3. Letís say for a moment that every Christian believed what you outline, that Godís nature and character are intrinsically moral. Letís also say, though I am not claiming all Christians believe this, that this god is also all knowing (omniscient) and all powerful (omnipotent), and intervenes in the world, as many Christianís believe. Now we are faced with Epicurusí dilemma. This is a post from http://ericback.wordpress.com/2011/01/18/the-epicurean-dilemma/
. Read the first few lines and you have my rebuttal to the claim that God is moral, all powerful and all knowing. Now, if he is moral, but not omni-anything, or even manifest in reality at all, why even have the concept of God? And in regards to Aquinasí statement about practical reasonableness, if secular and nonsecular societies practiced his views on the matter, there wouldnít need to be a discussion about it. My claim is the more often, secular societies are more prone to practical reasonableness. For example, abortion is practically reasonable with all that we know about science, but religious dogma is wasting taxpayer dollars clogging up the process with iron age ethics. That isnít practical reasonableness.
4. Secular society doesnít rely on Ďbecause I said soí. Secular societies and nonsecular societies that act exactly like secular ones, like England, have legislative and judicial discourse about issues, hashing out the issues and coming down on once side or another. Authority for enforcing laws comes down to ĎI said soí, but that is by proxy of the legal processes that decided the laws in the first place.
The example I gave was just a single example of a policy difference, not my entire view of secular ethics. Of course red tape and politics and cause some noble cause to be rejected, but my example is actually an example of religious ethics causing harm to people. There is a rather wide difference in our examples, donít you think?
I say live and let live.
What I don't like are Atheists that think that because someone believes in a spiritual entity, it is suddenly acceptable to mock those individuals and to try and make them "see reason" through insults and comments ranging from "hallucinations" to blatant attacks on a person's intellect, then claim to hold a higher moral ground.
I have met people like this and the hypocrisy makes me laugh. These types of individuals are annoying, and in my opinion as bad as the extreme Christian fundamentalists.
I have also met many that understand that because I believe in God, it doesn't make me any less intelligent or more delusional than them. They simply understand in my life, I need and like the presence of God.
Anyone may disagree with me, that's fine. However, I don't take kindly to to any attempt to belittle my beliefs or person. I don't do it to them, and expect the same common courtesy.
I agree that atheists shouldnít mock the religious so much, though I think religious beliefs are laughable in private. But the ridicule does run both ways, I assure you. I would argue that, in our current world, secularists do hold the moral high ground. I think that the dogmas of the Abrahamic religious texts are immoral and harmful to society, and that secularists are fighting against abuse by the religious every day. One of my examples from earlier is the child abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Church that are still unresolved.
You believing in God doesnít make you less intelligent. Intelligent people are allowed to be wrong, after all. I might make you more delusional than a non-theist, but that isnít a scar on your entire character. Have you ever lost something and you swear you put it somewhere? You become convinced that someone else must have moved it? Then when you find out youíre sitting on it, you feel bad. That is how easy it is for a healthy human mind to be delusional. And when billions of people share your delusion and you have no obvious way to find that youíre sitting on what youíre looking for, it become nearly impossible to shake the delusion. I donít mean offense by my comments, so please do not read my statements as mean. :) Also bare in mind that non-theists can be delusional about the supernatural as well. Many non-theists believe in alien abduction and ghosts, and they are equally ridiculed by atheists.
I respect your wishes to not have your beliefs belittled. I wonít be trying to belittle them, but I will challenge them. If you do not wish to participate in that discussion with me, I will not be offended. Thank you for your imput.
Assuming that by "Atheism", you mean a belief that there is no god, my current stance is that there is not enough credible evidence to support the notion that a god ( however you might define one ) exists or that the gods of religious lore are real.
As for just letting people believe and proselytize as they will, I choose to point out the truth in public discussions about gods and religions. Not because I'm a "fuckwad" with a small penis and no self esteem, but because I have every right to contribute my point of view - just as the religion person does. If religious people are going to spread their religious propaganda, then I'm going to point out the flaws in their logic. Hopefully, the truth ( whatever that might be ) survives.
On the other hand.... I've been wondering lately, if religion has some sort of value and importance in the same way that art does. Art is not bound to fact, neither is religion. Art is good in that its an expression of our humanity, hope and struggles. I wonder if religion too - even if presented as if it was factual, has a similar abstract sort of value?
From a logical/rational point of view, religion seems cancerous, but so too does art if judged by the same standards.
Your assumption that atheism is the belief that a god or gods do not exist is false. Atheism is the rejection of religious claims that a god or gods exist. This means that we donít believe in supernatural claims until there is good evidence of them, not that we positively claim that there are no gods. Anti-theists make that claim, and anti-theists are also atheists, but not all atheists are anti-theists. As it happens, I am anit-theist, but I understand that the claim Ďthere is no Godí isnít substanciated, only extremely likely. I will not rebut your other points until you have the chance to adjust them.