Monday, September 14, 2009

If atheism becomes predominant, will it lead to eugenic research?

This article is written by an agnostic.


Anonymous said...

Do you think it would, Victor?

Causal slippery slope, anyway...

Victor Reppert said...

It could go that way.

Doctor Logic said...

Rationality is a way to know the truth and to know the best policy to satisfy our desires/values (which are ultimately non-rational).

The author implicitly tries to convince us that irrational policies (taboos, in this case) will do a better job of satisfying those non-rational desires/values than rational policies.

If we desire to live in a society that's equitable, why would rational people choose to frustrate that desire once they become more rational (i.e., when irrational taboos are eliminated)?

Are you ready to embrace the author's irrationality yet?

Blue Devil Knight said...

The author is good at being provocative, but doesn't seem particularly good at thinking.

First, it ignores the fact that for legal policy we already employ secular reasoning. If your only justification for prohibiting/enforcing X is sectarian, then that is insufficient to turn X into law. Maybe he lives in Iran, but then he probably wouldn't be an agnostic.

Second, even if your religion strongly holds that X should be done, that doesn't imply anything about what the laws should be. If you are a Christian Scientist, that doesn't mean you can withhold medical attention from your children. It's secular laws that will step in to protect the child. At a (related) extreme, if God or your religion tells you to kill someone, should the cops not intervene? [hat tip to Obama for that example]

Third, which religion? He focuses on parents aborting a fetus because they want their child to be a certain sex. This is, indeed, a great gray area given present laws. In my old liberal Presbyterian church the minister is OK with abortion. So, which version of Christianity is this guy assuming is the bedrock of morality, the bedrock which if abandoned will lead us to abortion sexing?

That is, the argument pretends to be about atheism versus religion, but really it is about different competing moral systems, some secular some not, and these categories cross-cut the discussion in question.

Fourth, calling it eugenics is tendentious.

Overall, he has one good point. Moral issues become more complicated when previous rules go out the window. That may be because reality is complicated, as is moral reasoning. He picked a nice gray area, and could have done something smart with it. He didn't.

He is dismissive and unsubtle, ignorant and presumptuous. Very unimpressive, and I'm a bit surprised to find it via this blog. My take-home-messages is that the guy is not good with subtlety, and the post is an exercise in said disability.

Anonymous said...

Bob Prokop writing:

I'll be deliberately provocative here. The inevitable result of predominant atheism would be something closely akin to Stalinism. This has been the case throughout human history. To me the most telling example is the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes (215-164 BC). He was ruler of the most enlightened civilization to that time anywhere in the world, and ended up as the object of what the 20th Century would label a "cult of personality" - in the process, subjecting the Jews to something horribly akin to Hitler's "Final Solution". Very similar results for Napoleon in the 19th Century. Let's not even go into the endlessly horrible object lessons of the 20th Century. There seems to be a fatal inevitableness to the process, whenever purely human reason is enthroned as the Highest authority.

Anonymous said...

Are Western Europeans and Canadians Stalinists? Give me a break.

Non-religious countries have higher literacy rates, lower crime rates, and higher standards of living than religious countries, such as the United States.

By contrast, Religious Americans gave us our previous president, and along with him, nationalism, jingoism, global warming denialism, global economic meltdown (thanks for ruining my economic future, by the way), the loss of habius corpus, a manufactured war, and the rejection of the Geneva Conventions as "passe". Give me a fucking break.

Anonymous said...

And of course our enlightened current president reversed all those things. LOL.

And Canada is an atheist nation? Bwahaha. Man, what skewed reasoning would lead someone to that conclusion. People really have to learn that there are marked differences between those with 'no religion' and those who are declared atheists.

Mike Darus said...

Blue D.Knight said:
"First, it ignores the fact that for legal policy we already employ secular reasoning."

This is partially, maybe even predominantly, true. There remains a vestige of legal precedence in common law, statutes, and even case law tied to religious and even biblical roots. Secular reasoning is certainly in use but it is not the only criteria considered.

In the past, religion played a significant role speaking into the realm of scientific research. Its role is severely diminished as BDK infers and at times its voice is even disqualified due to actual missteps and often due to smears and historic revisionism. Atheism is likely already the dominant voice with theism becoming a minority opinion.

It is not necessary for atheism to be the faith of the majority of the people for it be the the predominant voice is research policy.