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Logical Conundrum from the Atheist/Materialists May 9, 2006

Posted by Administrator in Cultural Pessimism, Mechanistic Relativism.

From Pharyngula (Where else??):

It's a reminder of the idiocy I will fight to my dying day. Oh, and may you stew in ineffectual ignorance until your dying day, and may you then pass on into oblivion blissfully, confident of an eternal award, unaware of the darkness before you. As you live with your eyes closed, you should end the same way.

(Note: The idiocy in question is the notion of religious belief, in God, and a rewarding afterlife).

PZ Myers is saying nothing new here, of course. And he is more than deserving of painting life as one of brief and furious action here on this earth followed by utter oblivion.

Scientifically speaking, he can hope for nothing else and is maintaining a semblance of consistency in the claim.

It should then seem eminently sensible that the goal of people on this earth is to seize whatever material happiness while possible. In such an environment, greed, as Gordon Gekko said, becomes very good indeed. The notion of cooperation, idealism and watching out for one's neighbor come about only when there is an obvious future payoff. Otherwise, root hog or die, everyman for himself and so on. THe notion of altruism does not fit in this cosmology. There is no inherent payoff for it. Without that payoff, with the limited amount of time we have to maximize our time here on earth, where does it come from? Logically, in this arid cosmology, altruism, as in the wild, does not exist. And if he were to advocate for this state, I would be mourning his lack of basic humanity but applauding his logical consistency.
Yet, he seemingly contradicts himself in an earlier post:

No, we don't need religion for that. Atheists can have a conscience, too, and we are aware that there are human limits to what we should do.

Well, which is it, PZ? Either we have a conscience and we look out for the benefit of all (meaning we engage in self-sacrifice, setting aside our need to get what we can while we can and reach for that altruism), or we all fight like mad dogs for our own before we die. Which is it? Either we have that altruism, and the belief that there is a subsequent payoff for behaving as such (like eternal life) or I fight you for yours and you fight me for mine.

Pascal already outlined the choice for you centuries ago.

Pick one.



1. IndianCowboy - May 9, 2006

this is what I was trying to get at with my discussions of invadability on PZ’s blog.

They’re folding their hands in prayer and saying ‘well, we won’t necessarily turn into bastards, even though there’s nothign stopping us from it either.’

2. IndianCowboy - May 9, 2006

lol your thing says ‘no comments’ but i’m looking at my first comment right now.

3. demolition65 - May 9, 2006

Dunno what’s up with the “no comments” bit. . .wordpress is not perfect, by any means.

And your comment is RIGHT ON.

4. Idetrorce - December 15, 2007

very interesting, but I don’t agree with you

5. demolition65 - December 15, 2007

Wow, that was informative.

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