The End of Unreason

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Wed, Jan 6 - 11:46 am EDT | 1 year ago by
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    The Wright Perspective - End Unreason

    I propose a New Year’s Resolution, not for myself, but for the world.

    Let us, all together, make 2016 the Year of Reason, when logic came back from its long exile in human affairs and was restored to its proper throne in the human soul.

    Let emotion, passion, hysteria, wishful thinking, be reduced, once again, to their proper subordinate station, no longer running wild, but domesticated.

    Let the arrogant and blank denial of reality which is the hallmark of the modern age be exiled from human discourse, and returned to its proper place in Bedlam.

    Any feminist reading these words must be elated, yet doubtful, for no doubt she thinks, “But feminism, the doctrine that holds men and women to be equal in the eyes of the law, is as conformable to reason as the opening of the Declaration of Independence! A return to reason would not just favor our cause, but coronate it with instant victory, would it not?”

    No, miss. No woman has been denied the right to vote, to stand for public office, or to own property in her own name throughout my life and the life of my father. Feminism in that sense of the word has achieved all the victory it can. Real feminism is only an issue in Islam, the one place of which no feminist, at least in my hearing, makes mention.

    What is called feminism these days is Cultural Marxism, that is, the criticism of Western Civilization on the grounds that is unfair to women. When no legal barriers to female equality can be found, the critics, whose purpose is the accusation, not the improvement, of society, ingeniously invent the rubbery standard of unequal representation of women in fields where women by nature are not suited or cannot prevail, such as battlefield combat.

    The only rebuttal offered is either an out and out falsehood, such as the idea that women for the same job are paid less than men, or an out and out insanity, such as the idea that all differences between the sexes are cultural, rather than natural.

    If women could be paid less than a man for the same work, men would price themselves out of the workforce, for any rational business owner would hire nothing but women, pay them more than they are now getting to lure them away from their present jobs, but less than the men working for his competitor are paid: and he would outperform his competitors, turn a higher profit, and get more efficient workers at a lower wage. If that is not happening, then women are not paid less for the same jobs. (Such bogus statistics exist only because they do not take all factors into account.)

    If all differences between the sexes were cultural rather than natural, then the presence or absence of the various hormones and neurochemicals in our bodies and brains would have no effect on performance of any duties, on strength or speed or endurance, concentration, aggression, competitive instincts, anger, or anything else you can name. But that logically implies a homosexual would not be allowed to claim a difference in his genetics or biochemistry caused his deviation from normal sexual behavior. If sex is artificial, then sexual orientation cannot be natural.

    If all the differences between the sexes were cultural rather than natural, the burden and moral hazard on an unmarried man fathering a child for someone else to raise would be the same as the burden and moral hazard on an unmarried woman bearing a child. The gravity of pregnancy would be a cultural artifact, and such women would be no more valuable to the tribe or to the community than an unmarried young men, and equally eager for glory in battle, and equally able to bear its privations and hardships.

    And, obviously, I would never have to open a pickle jar for my wife, since my muscles and hers are identical in all ways, despite that she exercises and I do not.

    Obviously no one in his right mind, and certainly no one who every raised babies from birth, would believe such nonsense for an instant, if he were allowed to sit and ponder the matter. Hence, to defend these shibboliths from contradiction, they must be defended from examination, and pondering outlawed.

    This is done by coining a meaningless term, “sexism” which is some sort of race hatred alleged to exist between the sexes (despite their obvious affection for each other), and by asserting that all examination into the differences between the sexes, and all thought and debate about how best to arrange a society to accommodate two sexes that are as nearly opposite as one can be and still be members of the same species, are merely declared to be “sexist” which is, for some reason, is held to be a sin.

    Unlike, say … envy.

    Meanwhile envy, especially female envy of all things masculine, is held not to be a sin, but to be laudable.

    And when reason shows these feminist fantasies cannot be, it is not envy that gives way in the mind, it is reason. They foreswear to listen to any contradiction. It is ‘mansplaining’ – another term of no meaning, but with admirable emotional impact.

    When the world returns to reason, envy will be one of the emotions no longer granted a sacred office, and the topic of the complementary nature of male and female
    will no longer be forbidden from rational examination. That means the end of feminism.

    Would a return to reason usher in an age of libertarian Capitalism, where everything, from baby organs to harlot’s sexual services, could be bought and sold?

    Much as I admire libertarians (and I do admire them a great deal!) I notice they claim reason to be on their side more than any philosophy, and yet they too from time to time have recourse to this same name-calling technique to rule certain questions out of bounds, and not open to reason: those who oppose Ayn Rand are looters and moochers and vampires, particularly we so called ‘Mystics of the Spirit’ who believe in God and who think the main problem in the world is lack of sanctity, not lack of greed.

    Ayn Rand uses admirable to critique all her enemies, but avarice, not reason, is the main driver driving the libertarians to their conclusion that they owe society nothing aside from an agreement to live and let live and keep your word, and society owes them nothing in return.

    Feminists use nothing but this magic word technique to smother reason. Libertarians use it only in certain hard cases, such as what is to be done on a lifeboat, or in wartime, or with the poor and weak, the prisoner and the stranger.

    Again, any socialist reading of our proposed New Year’s Resolution to Reason must likewise be elated, for he deems socialism to be the very paragon of scientific and rational thinking.

    However, the errors inherent in socialist schemes have been known since at least the days of Aristotle, who remarked that when a state holds all property in common, or when men as a group raise all children in common, no man cares for what is not his, and no child is reared.

    Socialist planning of the economy is impossible for precisely the reason that too many factors of production weigh in to the cost and benefit of every good and service, and so the relative value placed on goods and services cannot be calculated without a price system. Socialists simply cannot tell when they are wasting money, and so they cannot help but waste it all. This is not because they are bad men. Even with elves or angels, Martians or robots, the thing is impossible. You cannot compare prices without prices to compare.

    If the state commands all goods made and services produced by fiat, there is no price system, or, to be price, what prices the state arbitrarily assigns to goods and services, hence, convey no pricing information, and no guesses can be made as to whether the resources are being used efficiently, or simply wasted.

    A rare and precious thing might have an arbitrarily low price tag, and be taken up quickly by the first comer, not by he who most values the good, and so the treasure is wasted; or a common thing given an arbitrarily high price tag, and the excess pile up in warehouses, unused, while other needs go unmet, and so work and time is wasted. This is precisely what happened during the Carter Administration scheme of gasoline rationing: gas desperately needed in one place was simply shipped to places where they had too much.

    If socialism were capable of working, all government run programs and services, such as the mail department, the department of motor vehicles, socialized medicine, and on and on, would be at least as efficient and effective as their private sector counterparts. Catholic schools would not give a better education than the public indoctrination centers risibly called schools, for example, and Federal Express would not be cheaper and faster and better than the US Post. More to the point, the Soviet Union would not have been hiding its several famines while the United States produced half the world’s goods.

    Obviously, again, no one in his right mind believes this nonsense for a second.

    Instead, the Marxist coins new terms like ‘capitalism’ and ‘class consciousness’ and asserts that a man’s philosophy is dictated by his material circumstances, and that therefore there is no need, and no way, to reason a man into or out of an economic theory. By fiat, by axiom, in socialism, all criticism of socialism is decreed to be beyond the pale. But what is really driving socialism is a gluttony for material goods, and a desire to take from the productive and give to the unproductive. Socialism is the world’s most elaborate psychological rationalization for expropriation, robbery, theft, history has ever seen.

    Not just feminism and socialism, but every current political and economic issue in peace or war facing this generation is fitted into this same mold of merely coining a new term and decreeing certain thought to be sacred and hence beyond the pale, beyond discussion, beyond doubt.

    The word ‘homophobia’ places all discussion of marriage and chastity, decency and perversion, mental health and mental illness, beyond the pale. Anyone who reasons on these issues is disqualified without a hearing on the grounds that no legitimate difference of opinion can possibly exist: there is, on the one hand, roaring and absolute approval of sexual deviance, and, on the other, irrational, stupid, and devilish hatred. No possible honest disagreement is allowed.

    What is really going on, of course, is that the unchaste, adulterous and porn-addicted wretches cast up as the flotsam and jetsam of the so-called Sexual Revolution cannot logically ask homosexuals to be chaste when they themselves, the unchaste, are not. Lust, not reason, is the main driver of this absurdity.

    The word ‘racist’ places not only questions of race beyond the pale of discussion, but any political or economic issue whatsoever, such as deficient spending, or such as whether college students are allowed to dress up as Red Indians on Halloween.

    What is really going on is that the same party that supported slavery and supported Jim Crow now creates, sustains, and milks hatred, wrath and ire between the races for political advantage, awarding race-based plunder and subjecting the victims to a continual barrage of racist anti-White agitprop. Wrath, not reason, is the main driver of this absurdity.

    The word ‘Islamophobia’ places all rational discussion of the best way to fight the rising tide of Islamic terrorism and open of covert Jihad beyond the pale. It is not that the politically correct actually want to see their women in trash bags, and their gay voters thrown off rooftops; it is just that they have no concern for spiritual reality at all.

    They cannot see a holy war when they are in it. Sloth, not reason, is the main driver here, and by sloth I do not mean laziness, I mean indifference to spiritual reality.

    If cultists of multiculturalism saw a holy war, and they saw the difference between life in the Islamic part of the globe and life in the Christian part – indeed, if they even admitted for a nanosecond that there was a Christian part of the globe – like Semele beholding Zeus, it would blow their whole smug little agnostic world into ashy flinders to admit that religion makes all the difference.

    Islamic misery and Christian prosperity and happiness cannot be admitted to exist, and so Islamics are congratulated on their dubious and few medieval scientific discoveries, and the industrial, scientific, political, and other revolutions of Europe are quietly ignored, or recast as evils.

    Jared Diamond says that climate makes the difference, but he does not say why Christian Spain discovered the New World, rounded the Cape, and circumnavigated the globe, whereas Muslim Spain did not.

    Finally, my atheist friends are also no doubt caught halfway between elation and dismay, for they no doubt also are saying, “But, surely Mr. Wright, surely it is you who are guilty of acts of blind faith! Surely our doubt of things perfectly obvious even to a child is the paragon and epitome of reason rightly understood, and your supernaturalism is irrational, blind faith!”

    No, my friends. The first part of the New Year’s Resolution of returning to reason shall be the call things hereafter by their right names, and to draw conclusions based on the logic and logic alone, not on emotions. This includes the emotion of pride, including intellectual pride.

    The atheist cannot account for the origin of the universe, if it has an origin, and cannot account for its eternity if it does not. Entropy makes it impossible for the universe to exist as closed but infinite system. Both require the existence of something outside and above nature supporting and defining it in order for the natural realm to exist. That thing is the supernatural realm.

    The atheist cannot account for the objective nature of morality, save by unconvincing makeshifts, such as blaming genetics, or social evolution, or a favorable conjunction of star and planets at birth, or other such transparent nonsense.

    Simple logic shows that if moral laws are made by an unintelligent natural process, they have no moral authority to make a claim on our obedience. Must, for example, a woman behave in a feminine fashion merely because she is born with two X chromosomes? If the origin of morality is the Darwinian drive to reproduce, shouldn’t we all be Catholics, and eschew contraception, divorce, polygamy, prostitution, and all else that hinders parent-intensive childrearing?

    Again, if moral laws are manmade, then they can be abrogated by men, hence are not rules at all.

    And to say morality is not objective involves the philosopher attempting to think honestly about the objectivity of morality in an instant paradox: for if morality is not objective, he is not necessarily bound to be honest, even to himself, about his conclusions on any matter, including this one.

    Again, the atheist worldview cannot account for the nonatheist save by dismissing the vast majority of all men for the vast majority of all time as suffering atrocious lunacy, even men clearly wiser, more sober, and more intelligent than the atheist by every measure, from Socrates to Confucius to Isaac Newton to Albert Einstein.

    The atheist is forced to say that all these men were raving lunatics, on par with a grown man believing in Santa, or a triskaidekaphobiac afraid of the number thirteen.

    As a model of the universe, the all-men-but-me-are-mad requires a more farfetched set of assumptions than Ptolemy ever made with his awkward system of epicycles within epicycles.

    Every ghost story, every miracle, every account of the supernatural made by men no matter how sober must be dismissed beforehand, evidence unexamined, testimony unheard.

    Like the feminist, like the socialist, like the libertarian, the atheists have magic words of their own for placing certain issues beyond the pale of where thought is allowed to go: superstition, they call it, as if an ontological argument too subtle for them to follow were the same as a child afraid of a black cat crossing his path.

    Or better yet, ‘Bronze Age Superstition’ as if the mere passage of time somehow invalidate the reality of reality.

    To buttress this, they merely invent lies about history, which even atheist historians, if they are honest, find embarrassing. But the model of atheism requires that the times when religious fervor was strong in the West be times of superstition, witch-burning, wars and plagues, when in fact such periods were the ones when the greatest social improvement – by any metric one cares to name – took place, from the abolition of gladiatorial games, to the emancipation to women to the industrial revolution to the abolition of the slave trade. The scientific revolution itself is as unique a Christian cultural artifact as diatonic music or perspectival drawing, and, so far, has proved itself unable to flourish outside a Christian context.

    Secular scientists always, in one or two generations, become servants of the secular power, and sacrifice their vaunted scientific objectivity into the service of political lies. See Lysenko for details, or Nazis race sciences, or the East Anglia University Warming Alarmist scandal.

    No, the reason why atheism is and always has been the province of antisocial and unempathic social outliers and outcasts, is for the same reason that the Flat Earth Society has fewer members than the National Geographic Society: theism explains more of human existence than atheism. It is robust, it is elegant, it requires no absurdities like assuming all history is false and all men are mad, and explains what it seeks to explain, at least a far as reason can reach, and perhaps a step farther.

    And, more to the point, while Christianity places many emotions, impulses, and desires beyond the pale of what reason allows, reason itself suffers no such restriction. Even today, the best constructed atheist arguments are found within the pages of Thomas Aquinas, not Christopher Hitchens. We look on the face of evil with open eyes, and we have arguments, indeed, tedious centuries of arguments, touching every nuance of the faith. There is nothing among us that has not been talked to death and back to life again.

    Shall I give you the arguments for and against the First Century heresy of Gnosticism? Because I can rattle that off at the fingersnap. The Progressive can rarely even enunciate what it is he believes, much less list the arguments of his opposition.

    At one time, there were rational atheists who could argue their position logically: they were getting rare on the ground when I departed their camp, and converted, and since that time I have met two. One of whom has since converted. The irrational atheist outnumbers the rational atheist and drives him into extinction.

    The ancient Greeks, who were as philosophical a people as ever breathed air, toyed with atheism, and the Roman, including Lucretius, wrote brilliant, and, in his case, poetically magnificent, defenses and explanations and apologies for it.

    Nonetheless, atheism did not catch on for the same reason the Phlogiston Theory did not catch on: it does not explain the facts on the ground. Neoplatonism was more popular. Atheism operates by unreason, that is, by merely decreeing certain events and evidence to be beyond the pale of thought.

    If you ask him for an atheist explanation of the miracles of Lourdes, or the well attested and scrupulously recorded miracle healings of the Christian Scientists, or even the Resurrection itself, they simply deny even one ever happened. Even if they are sitting next to someone who saw the Risen Christ. Their theory denies that there is any evidence to look at. So they don’t.

    Some atheists, including one I had the misfortune to debate in these very pages, are so wedded to the idea that atheism is rational and theism is not, that even the idea that a theist might think theism is rational cannot be admitted into their brain pans.

    I had the disquieting experience of a man entirely blinded by blind faith explaining to me that when I said theism was both logical and rational (that is, both coherent within itself and coherent to the facts on the ground) I really meant the opposite. Since he had previously sworn me his solemn oath that he would pull no tricks or tactics like that, I assume, as a man of goodwill, he was utterly unaware of his own utter unreason. He kept claiming I had said theism was a matter of faith when I had quite clearly said the opposite: and when I pointed this out to him privately, he flew into a snit.

    Mind you, this was not a dispute over whether what I had said was true or false. It was a dispute over what I had in fact said, and the words were written on the paper for anyone to see. But he could not see them.

    His blind faith in atheism required him to believe that I believed theism is based on faith; and when I said I did not believe that, he said that I did. His theory about what I believed therefore what I said had more weight in his mind that my testimony of what I believed and more than the testimony of his own eyes as to what I had written. He kept rewriting the paragraph in question in his mind until, by bending the definition of the words into pretzels, my words said what his theory about me required me to have said.

    Not all atheists are like this. Indeed, I, for one, have never met anyone in any camp like this.

    Had his head rotated like an owl’s and his mouth vomited pea soup, I would not have been more surprised. The retreat into total denial even of what his own eyes were seeing was freakish. There is no other word for it.

    So, the sad news for the New Year to all my feminist, libertarian, socialist, sexually liberated, progressive, and multiculturalist, and atheist friends is this: reason is not on your side. On your side are envy, avarice, gluttony, lust, ire, sloth and pride.

    On your side is blindness.

    On your side is an argument, or, rather, an eructation, that only proceeds by ruling thought out of bounds via magic words and magic name-calling. It is an argument whose only tactic is to escape rational question by attacking the questioner rather than addressing their questions.
    Reason is on our side.

    The good news is our side is the forgiving side that welcomes converts. You see, we think men are something more than moist robots or hairless apes, and we believe the blind can see.

    Because to believe otherwise is unreasonable.

    Happy New Year!

    Photo by Getty Images

    John C. Wright is a retired attorney and newspaperman who was only once hunted by the police. He is a graduate of St. John College (home of Mortimer Adler’s “Great Books Program). In 2004 he foreswore his lifelong atheism and joined the Roman Catholic Church. He has published over 10 SF novels, including one nominated for a Nebula award, and was described by Publisher’s Weekly as “this fledgling century’s most important new SF talent.” He currently lives in fairytale-like happiness with his wife, the authoress L. Jagi Lamplighter, and their four children.

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      • Steven Schwartz

        I admit I am more detailed responding to the beginning than the middle; when you see the same mistakes over and over again, it drains one’s willingness to keep typing. :)

        No, miss.

        Wow. Shooting yourself in the foot with the first two words of your real argument. Most impressive.

        A clue: using a term many of the people you are addressing find diminishing and offensive is not a great start. There’s a reason that the usage “Ms.” has come into favor.

        No woman has been denied the right to vote, to stand for public office, or to own property in her own name throughout my life and the life of my father. Feminism in that sense of the word has achieved all the victory it can. Real feminism is only an issue in Islam, the one place of which no feminist, at least in my hearing, makes mention.

        Your deafness is your own problem. That you consider feminism only a matter of such specific legal issues is also your own problem.

        The only rebuttal offered is either an out and out falsehood, such as the idea that women for the same job are paid less than men

        Of course, the shrinking (but still existing) wage gap has been shrinking in large part due to the efforts of the people you decry. It’s rather like the old claim that “environmentalists have been predicting trouble for years and it never comes!” — in large part because people listen, and change. If we were still burning leaded fuel in 1970′s-style engines, for example, we’d have a much worse pollution problem than we do.

        If women could be paid less than a man for the same work, men would price themselves out of the workforce, for any rational business owner would hire nothing but women, pay them more than they are now getting to lure them away from their present jobs, but less than the men working for his competitor are paid: and he would outperform his competitors, turn a higher profit, and get more efficient workers at a lower wage. If that is not happening, then women are not paid less for the same jobs. (Such bogus statistics exist only because they do not take all factors into account.)

        I am truly impressed with your faith in rational action and the utter efficiency of the market. It’s worth noting that much of the wage gap for *different* jobs is precisely the result of people going “Hey, men won’t work for X, but women will, so we can pay the women less” that causes professions to become heavily female.

        But that logically implies a homosexual would not be allowed to claim a difference in his genetics or biochemistry caused his deviation from normal sexual behavior. If sex is artificial, then sexual orientation cannot be natural.

        Of course, if sexual differences are artificial (a claim I am not making, nor have I seen anyone make, for the reason you bring up in your next paragraph) then there is no “natural” sexual orientation, and the “deviation” would be irrelevant.

        the burden and moral hazard on an unmarried man fathering a child for someone else to raise would be the same as the burden and moral hazard on an unmarried woman bearing a child.

        As you point out, this isn’t so. Of course, no one makes the straw-man argument you present, so…

        This is done by coining a meaningless term, “sexism” which is some sort of race hatred alleged to exist between the sexes (despite their obvious affection for each other),

        Once again, you pull a definition out of your hat that has no bearing on how the word is really used. If I argued that Christianity was some sort of zombie-worship cult, you would (rightly) dispute it. To quote a reputable source: “Sexism: Prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex.”
        That’s not race-hatred, and pretending it is so is a ludicrous rhetorical trick.
        To pick an example: people have obvious affection for their pets; that does not mean they consider their pets at all their equals.

        e two sexes that are as nearly opposite as one can be and still be members of the same species, are merely declared to be “sexist” which is, for some reason, is held to be a sin.

        And here we go: because anyone with an elementary-school knowledge of biology can certainly give you examples of far greater sexual dimorphism within a single species than we humans have, so your “as nearly opposite as can be” is simply false. And constructing it that way allows you to dismiss people who do not fit your binary as “deviant”. Or, well, “envious”.

        Meanwhile envy, especially female envy of all things masculine, is held not to be a sin, but to be laudable.

        The mere fact that you choose to cut off half the species from a category of things fits, very well, the Oxford definition above.

        I’ll let the libertarians defend themselves, if they wish. :)

        If socialism were capable of working, all government run programs and services, such as the mail department, the department of motor vehicles, socialized medicine, and on and on, would be at least as efficient and effective as their private sector counterparts.

        Of course, this only follows if, for example, the government options were allowed to run as flexibly as the private sector. For example, no company on earth maintains pensions as solidly as the U.S. And socialized medicine runs much better than most systems, save for the profit margins of insurance companies.

        Not just feminism and socialism, but every current political and economic issue in peace or war facing this generation is fitted into this same mold of merely coining a new term and decreeing certain thought to be sacred and hence beyond the pale, beyond discussion, beyond doubt.

        Sort of like those old terms like “blasphemy” and “heresy”, no? Perhaps you’re just objecting that someone else has stolen your gambit.

        The word ‘homophobia’ places all discussion of marriage and chastity, decency and perversion, mental health and mental illness, beyond the pale.

        Balderdash, as usual. Indeed, without the term, we couldn’t *have* a full discussion on those subjects. What you object to is not that the term exists, but it prevents you from simply dismissing things as beyond the pale due to “deviance.”
        As usual, your projection is showing.

        No possible honest disagreement is allowed.

        See above in re: projection. Indeed, that could be the citation of the rest of this article: “People disagree with me because they’re sinful, because I am rational, and they have words that they use to make people like me potentially feel bad. Of course, my calling them sinners, evil, insane, etc. is perfectly rational because it’s true!”
        If it’s true, then so is it true to call you a sexist, homophobic, anti-science religious bigot.
        That you don’t *like* being called those things does not make them

        Jared Diamond says that climate makes the difference, but he does not say why Christian Spain discovered the New World, rounded the Cape, and circumnavigated the globe, whereas Muslim Spain did not.

        Well, among other things, Muslim Spain had a lot of fighting for its own survival to do during that time — which rather dampens the energy available to spend on exploration.
        Indeed, isn’t it funny that Catholic Spain suddenly found its urge to explore *after* the Reconquista was over, and they no longer were at war?

        No, my friends. The first part of the New Year’s Resolution of returning to reason shall be the call things hereafter by their right names, and to draw conclusions based on the logic and logic alone, not on emotions. This includes the emotion of pride, including intellectual pride.

        I look forward to your stepping back from intellectual pride, as one who declares a resolution for the world (since you appear not to need it) and dismissing millions of other people as driven not by reason but by emotion.

        The atheist cannot account for the origin of the universe, if it has an origin, and cannot account for its eternity if it does not.

        Nor can you, save by the kind of handwaving you would laugh at if it were presented by an atheist or a believer in a different religion.
        “Oh, look, this special entity that fits exactly the criterion we claim to need must exist, to fit these criteria we claim to need, and obeys no rules except those which are convenient to our particular belief!”
        Har-de-har.

        Entropy makes it impossible for the universe to exist as closed but infinite system. Both require the existence of something outside and above nature supporting and defining it in order for the natural realm to exist. That thing is the supernatural realm.

        See above.

        The atheist cannot account for the objective nature of morality

        The atheist does not need to account for what they do not believe exists. You *claim* an objective morality, but there is as little proof of that as there is of the rest of your supernatural special pleading.

        Simple logic

        The kind you most often use — and most often wrong.

        hows that if moral laws are made by an unintelligent natural process, they have no moral authority to make a claim on our obedience.

        Then we have to establish other reasons; like the fact that possessing laws makes the world a better place. Just for example. *You* may require an outside force of infinite power threatening punishment in order to want to do that, but not everyone does.

        Must, for example, a woman behave in a feminine fashion merely because she is born with two X chromosomes?

        No.

        Again, if moral laws are manmade, then they can be abrogated by men, hence are not rules at all.

        See above. It seems atheists (and I) have a far higher opinion of humanity than you do.

        if morality is not objective, he is not necessarily bound to be honest, even to himself, about his conclusions on any matter, including this one.

        He is bound by his own honor, and his own standing in the world; for were he to be dishonest, other people could catch him out at it.
        Which is why science, unlike theology, has advanced significantly and usefully — because errors can be demonstrated and corrected, while accurate observations can be confirmed.

        Again, the atheist worldview cannot account for the nonatheist save by dismissing the vast majority of all men for the vast majority of all time as suffering atrocious lunacy, even men clearly wiser, more sober, and more intelligent than the atheist by every measure, from Socrates to Confucius to Isaac Newton to Albert Einstein.

        I am impressed with your attempted argument by authority — not. Theistic notions are very powerful — though of course many of those theists would laugh at each other’s theistic views, if not declare them heretics or deluded fools. :)

        And, lacking the explanatory power of science, culturally inculcated to believe — it requires a very special mind *not* to.

        The atheist is forced to say that all these men were raving lunatics, on par with a grown man believing in Santa, or a triskaidekaphobiac afraid of the number thirteen.

        Not at all. Of course, as pointed out, your list would find each other to be wrong; what does that make them?

        Every ghost story, every miracle, every account of the supernatural made by men no matter how sober must be dismissed beforehand, evidence unexamined, testimony unheard.

        Again, not at all; but they tend to fail significantly under examination; that’s how we *know* that to be the case, because they *were* examined.

        Or better yet, ‘Bronze Age Superstition’ as if the mere passage of time somehow invalidate the reality of reality.

        Considering we understand the world much better now than we did then, it would be surprising if things didn’t change.

        To buttress this, they merely invent lies about history, which even atheist historians, if they are honest, find embarrassing. But the model of atheism requires that the times when religious fervor was strong in the West be times of superstition, witch-burning, wars and plagues, when in fact such periods were the ones when the greatest social improvement – by any metric one cares to name – took place, from the abolition of gladiatorial games, to the emancipation to women to the industrial revolution to the abolition of the slave trade. The scientific revolution itself is as unique a Christian cultural artifact as diatonic music or perspectival drawing, and, so far, has proved itself unable to flourish outside a Christian context.

        And here we get back to the traditional claim: If it’s good, it’s because it’s Christian. The fact that so much of the good came after the Church *lost* much of its power, and after ideas from the ancient world were brought in via the Renaissance, weakening the Christian-only worldview, is brushed under the rug, because, well, people were Christian, therefore we can assign all the good to them.
        The fact that major churches fought *against* much of what is credited to Christianity here is, again, swept under the rug.

        See Lysenko for details, or Nazis race sciences, or the East Anglia University Warming Alarmist scandal.

        While anyone doing anything *bad* under “atheism” — since the Nazis were not atheists, by and large — is credited to their being “secular”. The fact that human knowledge has taken vast leaps forward as the Christian influence wanes is irrelevant; there were some bad researchers, therefore it’s all bad!

        I see why you were so comfortable with your special pleading for the existence of the supernatural above; it’s your normal mode of thought.

        Hardly “reason”-heavy, though.

        No, the reason why atheism is and always has been the province of antisocial and unempathic social outliers and outcasts,

        ..has nothing to do (to the extent it’s true, which is slight) with the regular persecution and demonization of atheists, oh, no….

        theism explains more of human existence than atheism.

        Of course, it does so in thousands of different ways, all of which claim to be “True”, and which have a long and bloody history of killing people over which truth is, in fact, true — especially the monotheistic ones.

        it requires no absurdities like assuming all history is false and all men are mad,

        Neither does atheism. Indeed, history makes much more sense if you *don’t* believe that there’s a God who (apparently) falsified a great deal of the history of the planet, manifested to a small group of people in one narrow location, and has failed (despite being omnipotent) to spread their belief and worship across the planet.

        And, more to the point, while Christianity places many emotions, impulses, and desires beyond the pale of what reason allows

        And for no, well, good reason; of course, you’re quite willing to accept that they are wrong by axiom, while complaining that other people who try and explain the world are “making things up”.

        Shall I give you the arguments for and against the First Century heresy of Gnosticism? Because I can rattle that off at the fingersnap. The Progressive can rarely even enunciate what it is he believes, much less list the arguments of his opposition.

        Whoo-hoo! Another argument from irrelevant authority!

        The ancient Greeks, who were as philosophical a people as ever breathed air, toyed with atheism, and the Roman, including Lucretius, wrote brilliant, and, in his case, poetically magnificent, defenses and explanations and apologies for it.
        Nonetheless, atheism did not catch on for the same reason the Phlogiston Theory did not catch on: it does not explain the facts on the ground

        Of course, after spending a great deal of time arguing that people are irrational, our original author goes on to claim that the reason something didn’t catch on was because — it wasn’t rational.

        Religious belief can be very comforting; comforting often wins out over true, as with climate change denial. Or, for that matter, the notion that an omnipotent being cares deeply about you, in particular.

        If you ask him for an atheist explanation of the miracles of Lourdes, or the well attested and scrupulously recorded miracle healings of the Christian Scientists

        Or the multitudes of deaths resulting from attempts to apply faith-healing principles? Welcome to the world of the odd-match. Whenever the principles of these things are tested, they fail. Of course, that’s usually written off as “lacking faith” — but the same applies to Theosophy, Western ceremonial magick, voudon, etc. Shall we accept all of those as well, along with the beliefs of the East, even though they demolish your carefully-constructed Christian hierarchy.

        or even the Resurrection itself, they simply deny even one ever happened.

        Given the lousy evidence for it, I see no reason in particular to believe that it happened. I refer you to Richard Carrier on this.

        Even if they are sitting next to someone who saw the Risen Christ.

        Given that, if that happened, it happened nearly 2000 years ago, I’d be much more worried about the zombie I was sitting next to than their views. Of course, if you mean someone who had a vision, well, there are lots of people who have visions — of mutually contradictory things.

        Come back to me and talk about rational Christianity when you’ve managed to figure out what “Christians” actually believe without fragmenting into a thousand different sects.

        So, the sad news for the New Year to all my feminist, libertarian, socialist, sexually liberated, progressive, and multiculturalist, and atheist friends is this: reason is not on your side. On your side are envy, avarice, gluttony, lust, ire, sloth and pride.

        Who was it who was talking about giving up intellectual pride, again?

        The good news is our side is the forgiving side that welcomes converts. You see, we think men are something more than moist robots or hairless apes, and we believe the blind can see.

        Of course you accept “converts” — you accept surrender. Of course, you’re also the ones who believe that unless some outside force gives you a law, you have no reason to accept it, or even consider it.

        I would rather be a descendant of apes than a slave to tyranny such as you are.

        • Shawn Smith

          So do you get paid by Soros? Or are you on some sort of government dole?

        • Steven Schwartz

          Neither one. Care to make a substantive reply, or is this all you’ve got?

        • Shawn Smith

          I’m just wondering what it is you do that allows you to so much time to natter at Mr. Wright. This reply must have taken an hour or so to compose, and I’ve seen you post things this long with some frequency. Mr. Wright gets paid to write this, which is why he can spend so much time at this. No one pays random online commenters.

          As for substantive reply, maybe later. For now, I’ll just note rule #1 of SJWs.

        • Steven Schwartz

          Actually, I was home sick; but I figure it’s worth rebutting Mr. Wright every so often.

          As for the last — congratulations! You’ve rediscovered the Ad Hominem fallacy: “The person I’m arguing with is an X, and therefore is wrong!”.

          I admit, it would be simpler to say “Mr. Wright is a religious wacko, and therefore wrong”, but it would not be valid reasoning.

        • paul

          Rule #1. SJWAL :)

        • Steven Schwartz

          Rule #0: Anyone referring to rules about SJWs is engaged in a logical fallacy, and can be dismissed, unless they bother to bring something else to the table.

          :)

        • Centurion13

          Rule#-1: Anyone dismissing references about SJWs out of hand as ‘logical fallacies’ that can be dismissed, unless they happen to pique that person’s interest, is a liar AND arrogant into the bargain. From your piss-poor performance here, I recommend the following: pick up a weapon and stand a post. You strike me as an overeducated bag of wind with time on your hands. Oh my! Ad hominem? Or calling it like I see it?

        • Steven Schwartz

          is a liar AND arrogant into the bargain

          Well, given that you’ve not pointed out any lies, clearly I’m not an SJW. :)

          I mean, really; “SJWs always lie” is just a cheap rhetorical trick, rather like saying “All Christians are bigots”. It’s demonstrably not true, and all it does is say “Look! I’m on this side! See! I’m making the right noises.”

          If that’s all you bring to the discussion, why bother?

        • Ming the Merciless

          He also pesters Kratman. His job must be singularly undemanding.

        • paul

          Like any propagandist Schwartz cherry picks tiny little sound bites… “No miss.” of course the whole statement was:

          “No, miss. No woman has been denied the right to vote, to stand for
          public office, or to own property in her own name throughout my life and
          the life of my father. Feminism in that sense of the word has achieved
          all the victory it can. Real feminism is only an issue in Islam, the one
          place of which no feminist, at least in my hearing, makes mention.

          Schwartz you purposely excluded the rest of the statement in order to take the meaning out of context. What a lying weasel! ROFLMAO!

        • Steven Schwartz

          I notice you carefully edit out the *next section* of my reply, where I respond to the bit you quoted and claimed I “purposely excluded”.

          I often hear complaints that people read only far enough to get offended — of course, usually that’s people claiming that left-wingers do that. Here, we have a textbook case of someone doing that — from the far right.

          I am amused – rarely have I seen such an impressive bit of self-contradiction.

        • paul

          Matters not. Empty barrels make the loudest noise.

        • RB

          “Like any propagandist Schwartz cherry picks tiny little sound bites.”

          The duo of Mr. Schwartz and Mr. Wright serves a very important function – showing people the full spectrum of irrationality. Irrationality is not the complete lack of rationality, but rather the inability to apply it equally to all aspects of reality. What is most frustrating about human nature is this *inconsistency* in rationality – the ability to apply a certain logic to subject X existing besides the utter inability to apply that same logic to subject Y. I’m certain that it will be our doom.

        • James

          So your saying you can use factual logical arguments for things like

          Feminism-or at least modern day feminism if you want to call it that. Still haven’t had anyone convince me how a women going out and having sex with 5 men is a example of a women being free and how that same women getting paid for it is a evil part of the “patriarchy”.

          Now that I think about it looking into most feminist or often nova liberal thinking a massive ignorance of history, science, society, etc seems to be the defining hall mark.

          Socialism-namely why human beings being quite fallible and prone to corruption are capable of creating a system which works and only works when it isn’t corrupted?

          Please show me this land of perfect people.

          Hell, failing that show me a socialist country not ruled by a single rich class or a oligarchy.

          PS. Socialism is a lot like Feudalism the problem with both is that in the hands of a great leader they can be amazing. In the hands of a terrible one they can be made hell on earth.

          Socialism’s greatest failure is its inability to limit power or the consequences of those decisions upon the present and future generations. With socialism there is no way to stop on man, one party, or one people from turning a state into a police state. LAW is what the people say it is at that time. Based off of emotion and often illogical and unjust principles.

        • Steven Schwartz

          Thank you, James, for engaging.

          Still haven’t had anyone convince me how a women going out and having sex with 5 men is a example of a women being free and how that same women getting paid for it is a evil part of the “patriarchy”.

          That’s because you’re presenting a false dichotomy. Let me try and explain, with the caveat that obviously, I’m not speaking for “all feminists” here:

          In the first case, we have someone with bodily autonomy; and if she can go out and be with whom she pleases, without being automatically denigrated for it while the men are held up as “men of the world” or “playboys” as a sign of virility and masculinity for bedding more women, then it’s a sign of female equality.

          In the latter case, it depends on why she’s there: is she there because she can’t get another job, or because she chooses to be because it’s better than the other choices that she’s offered in a world that doesn’t accept/value female participation in a high level in the workplace, or is she there because she wants to be? If it’s #3, many feminists would have no problem with that, save that it helps support the structures that allow for #1 and #2, which *are* signs of a patriarchal system.

          Now that I think about it looking into most feminist or often nova
          liberal thinking a massive ignorance of history, science, society, etc
          seems to be the defining hall mark.

          I’m not sure what you mean by “nova liberal” thinking here, but here’s the thing: asserting “it was always thus, therefore history tells us it must always be thus” is not displaying a knowledge of history — it’s using history as a tool to support the status quo.

          Socialism-namely why human beings being quite fallible and prone to corruption are capable of creating a system which works and only works when it isn’t corrupted?

          Please show me this land of perfect people.

          It’s right next to the land where perfect people run capitalist states that don’t require massive state intervention to turn into monopolist or oligarchic nightmares. :)

          *Every* economic system, and every governmental system, has its failure modes depending upon the people in it; that’s one of the reasons that I have serious issues with extreme dogmatists in most every direction. I want the freedom of a market to combat the evils of bureaucratization; I want the power of a state to combat the evils of monopoly capitalism.

          With socialism there is no way to stop on man, one party, or one people from turning a state into a police state.

          Sure there is; there’s no reason you can’t have a multi-party socialist constitutionalist state. We just haven’t had one yet — not least because socialist states have tended to come into existence after revolutions, and the problems of most *any* government coming into existence after a revolution are well-documented, be they capitalist, socialist, communist, or what-have-you.

          I think we may also be having a conflation problem: “socialism” does not equal government control of the means of production — that’s one possibility, but it also encompasses worker-owned communal control, for example, which is in no way incompatible with democracy and the rule of law. Heck, we have many worker-owned communes in this country right now. :)

        • RB

          “I want the freedom of a market to combat the evils of bureaucratization;
          I want the power of a state to combat the evils of monopoly capitalism.”
          The only problem is that this kind of thinking is out of tune with both common sense and logic. Since human nature is consistent across all spheres of activity, there is no reason why the free market should necessarily oppose bureaucracy or vice versa. After all, the evils of bureaucracy stem from the same source as those of the free market, which is human nature.

          Wright’s solution – God and Western Culture – is really the same as yours, except with different labels. The one thing neither you nor Wright nor anyone with an ideological bone to pick will do is stop talking about rationality and start actually *being* rational. Rationality is like the “buy one get one free” coupon of ideology – “not only do you get to believe in our ideology, but you also become a rational person by doing so! Order now!”

        • John C Wright

          RB calls me irrational without showing any lapse in reason in the column criticized. He is, in other words, doing precisely what the column warns about: using a buzzword (in this case, ironically, ‘rational’) to rule certain people (in this case, me) beyond the pale.

          He feels he has excused himself from the need to discover any flaws in the argument because he has asserted a flaw in the arguer.

          The irony that he would pull the selfsame namecalling witchhunting tactic here being criticized is lost on him.

        • Steven Schwartz

          The irony that he would pull the selfsame namecalling witchhunting tactic here being criticized is lost on him.

          And, apparently, on you, as I pointed out earlier; you and he merely wish to describe different things as beyond the pale.

        • RB

          I’m not ruling anyone and I don’t want to. I actually agree with bits of the article, like the part where you talk about how modern feminism is utterly obsolete according to its own original premise. However, you can apply reason to things that, revealed thereby, would not endanger your delusions. The same can be said of Schwartz.

          At the moment I can’t be bothered with frustrating online debates against periphrastic zealots and ideologues.

        • Steven Schwartz

          First, a note: bureaucratization is a specific ill that was predicted to befall communism; I am not referring to the simple existence of bureaucracy. (For example, I refer you to David Graeber’s excellent “The Utopia of Rules”.)

          Since human nature is consistent across all spheres of activity,

          I’m not sure I buy this, especially given that different spheres allow for different aspects to be expressed.

          After all, the evils of bureaucracy stem from the same source as those of the free market, which is human nature.

          But the evils of a planned economy or centralized control are different than those of a complete free-market; by opposing them, we attempt to avoid the worst excesses of either.

          I submit it is rational to do so; to minimize the worst possibilities. I am curious as to what you consider actually “being” rational to consist of?

        • RB

          “But the evils of a planned economy or centralized
          control are different than those of a complete free-market; by opposing
          them, we attempt to avoid the worst excesses of either.”

          Except that there is no guarantee that they will oppose each other, or that the opposition will lead to the desired result. It’s just simplistic thinking, but then a discerning mind isn’t really part of a policy maker’s job description.

        • Steven Schwartz

          Nothing is *guaranteed* when it comes to people and government, at all, save, perhaps, that people will use power for their own ends.

          The best we can do, in making policy, is figuring out what is likely to be best, not to generate guarantees.

          I am still curious as to what you consider “rational”, since you’ve not answered, but are quite content to argue that other people aren’t being it. :)

        • Shawn Smith

          I’m not sure what you mean by “nova liberal” thinking here, but here’s the thing: asserting “it was always thus, therefore history tells us it must always be thus” is not displaying a knowledge of history — it’s using history as a tool to support the status quo.

          What about, “We’ve seen people try your way and it has invariably ended in disaster”? Such as, we’ve seen people try socialism and communism and it has invariably ended in disaster.

        • Steven Schwartz

          Such as, we’ve seen people try socialism and communism and it has invariably ended in disaster.

          Which has nothing to do, of course, with people attempting to destroy it the moment it pops up its head, therefore requiring it to spend much of its effort in defense merely to exist, oh, no.

          I mean, we used to be able to argue “We’ve seen people try this “democracy” thing, and it’s always ended in disaster, why should we give it another shot?”

        • Shawn Smith

          Which has nothing to do, of course, with people attempting to destroy it the moment it pops up its head, therefore requiring it to spend much of its effort in defense merely to exist, oh, no.

          Of course, of course. It can’t be blamed on communism that the soviet communists deliberately created a famine, starving millions of Ukrainians to death. That’s the fault of America.

          Just like it’s not the responsibility of American blacks that their murder rate is five times higher than American whites. That’s obviously because of white privilege.

          And it’s obviously not because of Islam that a Muslim attempted murder a cop in Philly for no apparent reason last week…despite him having said it was because of Islam. Oh, and it’s not because of Islam that two other Muslims murdered a dozen in San Bernadino. It’s not because of Islam that dozens of other Muslim men engaged in the sexual assault and rape of dozens of women in public in Germany on New Year’s Eve. And well, the list of things which are clearly not the fault of Islam is simply far too long. No, that’s all because of colonialism.

          And it’s obviously not the fault of feminism that as feminism’s agenda has been advanced, women’s happiness has declined. That’s clearly because of the patriarchy.

          Yup, nothing is ever the responsibility of the people who did it. It’s all someone else’s fault.

        • Steven Schwartz

          I notice you manage to completely ignore the paragraph *after* the one you replied to.

          And if all the things you describe are, indeed, the fault entirely of the things and people described, well, then, I presume you’ll accept the Albigensian Heresy as entirely the fault of Christianity — not Christians, the religion itself. And the genocide of Native Americans is entirely the fault of, well, America.

          Oh, and since men have killed women in the name of striking against feminism, clearly the patriarchy is responsible for all violence against women.

          Ludicrous oversimplifications and attempts to victim-blame don’t really help the matter at hand.

          So: Do you agree that we should have stopped trying democracy in the 16th century, because all the times before it had been tried, it failed?

        • Shawn Smith

          Victim-blame? Who, exactly, among those I mentioned were the victims?

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      • Carefully careless

        Atheism is not a political position but an intellectual one. Thanks to the straightforward nature of the term, it is relatively clear that any group of atheists has no right to delineate a “true atheist” as anyone other than a nonbeliever in gods.

        I put it to you that the rest of the terms on your list (“libertarian”, to a lesser extent) are nonspecific, meaningless or misnomers, so to attack atheists as a group, but only by that word, is a different kind of generalising than the rest, as the word refers specifically to an individual belief (not allegiance) on a specific (ish) question.

        On roughly the same point, I suspect the reason you see irrational atheists is simply because a great deal of people are irrational. Might you not by the same token decry christianity on the basis of televangelism, or skepticism because people organise groups of skeptics in which many things are not to be questioned, or givers to charity on the basis that charity has been diverted to: it simply isn’t a problem of the ideas themselves. Any idiot can pick up an idea.

        Also, as a practical point, perhaps atheists who read and enjoy your work don’t generally try to push atheism at you (as I have not), while those idiots who take offense at your Christianity quite likely would. A-priori I think you’ll have more contact, with specific regard to atheism, with irrational atheists, than you otherwise might. (as well as, on occasion, people who would in good faith wish to convert you, for the sake of your mortal soul, -I like to imagine, I’ve just found out)

        Though I suppose “skeptic”, as a word, has been co-opted to an absurd, though not complete, extent. Is such a thing happening with “atheism”? If so I am reasoning from false premises.

        On the point of “rational atheists”: I would like to be considered a possible 3rd, simply on the basis that a rational person could (please note, “could”) consider the following arguments conclusive: (these are from the top of my head, and from among many, though they are certainly among the strongest) (even if I don’t do them justice)

        1. Religion correlates with geography and tradition far more than with reason. Therefore (specific, particularly theistic*) religious belief is likely arational or irrational. The consistency of this observation suggests that, if I was raised a muslim I would have been a muslim, likewise with hindu, taoist, or aztec or viking religions.

        *As bad reasoning, premises, or coincidence, could create belief in e.g. wind spirits from e.g. tornados, but reasoning to an overarching deity, would likely have less empirical confounding.

        2. The concept of a being that can bridge the is-ought gap on a fundamental level, is, on a fundamental level, authoritarian (or tyrannic if you prefer). To accept such an idea is, to me, to accept tyranny and unreason. Less fundamental, but far worse: ideas like hell, infidel, “Taqiya”, and others, but especially hell and infidel, are downright, straightforwardly, evil.

        3. Deism is no less plausible than an infinite universe, but there is no plausible reason to move from deism to theism: I have found no evidence of any particular god or gods. Again I note that the criteria I suggested was not the correctness of the argument, but that a rational person in good faith could believe it, as I do.

        (Somewhat incidentally, that last “I” refers only back to “person”).

        4. The problem of evil, and wholly purposeless suffering. Not just their existence, -as I don’t consider omnipotence or omniscience (and any necessary supporting powers) to be requirements for technical divinity,- but the particular levels we have on this planet I think more or less preclude the existence of a single divine being, or a positive balance of gods, divine forces, or factions.

        (nor benevolence, but I consider that a separate question, as in that case, I think the being would more properly be called a demon than a god. You could call that semantic but I quite particularly don’t) (and yay for semantics in any case).

        In any case a very interesting read. Thanks!

        I do love your writing, and selfishly hope you never stop. I might as well also say that I haven’t failed to notice that many of the best writers are christian, and seemingly not incidentally so.

        • John C Wright

          1. This argument is not only based on a false premise, but a premise of total and absolute bullshit. The only region in the world were superstition is not paramount is the Christian West. In every other region, astrologers and witchdoctors advise chieftains and emperors. Except int he Christian West, supreme leaders (the pharaoh, the Tennyo, the Son of Heaven, the Brahmin) are regarded as semi or wholly divine. In no other region did science take root or does it long last. The Christian West produced Thomas Aquinas, of which no more rigorous logician has even put pen to paper.

          But even granting the premise, which is directly contrary to fact (and, as I said, total bullshit) the argument suffers the fatal flaw of being irrelevant: suppose I saw that places where the Pythagorean Theorem was invented and taught includes places conquered by Alexander the Great, and then, later, Rome. The correlation between those who believe the Pythagorean Theorem and geography and tradition is one hundred percent. Neither the Egyptians nor the Indians nor the Chinese nor the Mayans — all highly civilized peoples — had ever heard of it, or knew it, and none of them discovered it independently.

          The conclusion that reason flows by some other channel than tradition and geography is utterly bogus, irrational, and unsupported. Or should we conclude that since the Chinese never heard of Pythagoras or Euclid, right triangles in the oriental climes do not follow the rules of geometry?

          Your logic would have us conclude that geometry is irrational or arational. That is an irrational conclusion.

          2. This ‘argument’ consist of identifying an emotional reflex ‘I would not want to live under a tyranny’ with an unrelated concept ‘a being who can bridge the is-ought gap’ without any showing that the one identifies the other. There is no relation here of any kind, and without an objective standard of ‘ought’ your rejection of tyranny is an arbitrary statement of personal taste.

          Without God, there is no logical reason to prefer liberty to slavery, because there is no standard of human dignity except what humans invent. What humans invent, they can undo.

          3. This column does not draw a distinction between Deism and Theism, nor is one needed. I am not here arguing in favor of Christ, only in favor of Monotheism. Tom Paine is on my side.

          4. This is actually a serious argument. Congratulations. I had not thought you capable of it. The answer you already know: No pain is meaningless, since is all flows from our primal departure from obedience to God called the Fall of Man. God has too much respect for free will to save us from the results of our own wrongdoing, even when the wrongdoing of the parents falls on the innocent children. The answer to the problem of pain is not an argument, but a person: That person is Christ.

          That atheism is an intellectual rather than a political position is irrelevant. Of the errors and irrationalities listed the column only one, socialism, is a political stance. The others are intellectual or social stances or policy preferences.

          Since my criticism here is that absent God there is no coherent or satisfying model of the universe — one cannot account for the objectivity of morality, for example, or explain the paradox of an infinity old yet entropic universe — therefore anyone who absents God from his worldview has an incomplete model. The details of the various forms of such atheism do not matter for this argument.

          A rational atheist who is skeptical about the existence of God for a logical reason and an irrational atheist who hates God because God did not give him a pony as a child, in this case, are in the same boat.

        • Steven Schwartz

          The Christian West produced Thomas Aquinas, of which no more rigorous logician has even put pen to paper.

          Acquaint yourself with Bertrand Russell and Kurt Gödel, when it comes to rigor. Aquinas did a solid job with the tools he had, but he was limited in those.

          And, I notice, you once again combine “Christian” and “Western”, even though one could make the very strong argument that it is *secularization* that has made the West distinct from the areas you so broadly disclaim.

          After all, it’s not as if the Christian West doesn’t have people of great prominence claiming that, for example, Hurricane Katrina was the vengeance of God; and how that differs from any other superstition, you’ve not made at all clear.

          Neither the Egyptians nor the Indians nor the Chinese nor the Mayans –
          all highly civilized peoples — had ever heard of it, or knew it, and
          none of them discovered it independently.

          Ironically, there appears to be significant evidence that the Mesopotamians got to it first, and that Pythagoras was a branch off that tree, as were the Indian and Chinese versions. Just saying. :)

          Your logic would have us conclude that geometry is irrational or arational. That is an irrational conclusion.

          Save that geometry, unlike different religious views, are subject to rigorous proof. You’re mixing apples and oranges. There is no need to believe in any particular revealed knowledge to get to geometry.

          Without God, there is no logical reason to prefer liberty to
          slavery, because there is no standard of human dignity except what
          humans invent. What humans invent, they can undo.

          Who would know better about human dignity than humans? Once again, you are arguing, as you accuse Careless of doing, from what you feel *should* be to therefore what is. There is no empirical reason to presume that there *must* be an absolute standard.

          God has too much respect for free will to save us from the results of our own wrongdoing, even when the wrongdoing of the parents falls on the innocent children. .

          [slow clap] In other words, God has less compassion for his creation than we would expect out of a human parent. How utterly un-admirable.

          If a human grandparent allowed a child to suffer severely for their parent’s disobedience, we’d consider them monstrous. But somehow, God gets a free pass.

          The answer to the problem of pain is not an argument, but a person: That person is Christ.

          So a person who may or may not have existed is the answer to absolve an omnipotent being for the suffering they have allowed to be?

          And *this* is somehow a useful “account” of morality, while human beings are incapable of any of it themselves? Your accounting is very, very different from mine, or, indeed, any that we’d expect of a human.

          one cannot account for the objectivity of morality,

          Of course, this is an assumption, not something proven, or known; so why accounting for it r(which requires the construction of an entirely different category of being, freed from the moral rules it allegedly underpins) is at all important is unclear.

          Your arguments, as I’ve said before, consist of creating a need, and then insisting that only your explanation fills it, therefore your explanation must be true.

          Surprisingly enough, this is not particularly persuasive to people who don’t think your created needs actually apply.

        • Eric Brown

          one could make the very strong argument that it is *secularization* that has made the West distinct from the areas you so broadly disclaim

          But, I notice, you do not.

        • Steven Schwartz

          I have made it in the past, or versions thereof. (I am amused that I am simultaneously accused of being too wordy and not expansive enough.)

          Short form: For many years, the West was not noticeably ahead of the Middle East or, say, China, technologically speaking.

          The timeframe in which that began to change was the Renaissance, a time in which there was a significant injection of non-Christian thought (via the ancient Greeks) and challenges to the monument of Christian scholasticism.

          The rate of secularization — challenges to the central power of the Catholic Church, then schism, then weakening of church power over the state as the religious wars reached their bloody peak — increased over time — as did the gap between the West and the rest of the world in technological and military power.

          It’s a familiar argument against Islam to say “Look at how it held the Middle East back” — but many people don’t see that the same argument, in a more sophisticated form, can be applied to the West: “Look at how Christianity held it back, until its overarching grip was weakened, at which point it sprang forward.”

          This is obviously an oversimplification, because a) when you are talking about history, the world is full of complexities and b) I don’t have time to write a doctoral thesis on the issue. :)

        • Eric Brown

          Neat, simple, and wrong.

          Most of the philosophical “advances” during the Renaissance were repackagings of Medieval advances, passed off as original work.

          See, for example, God’s Philosophers.

        • Steven Schwartz

          And once again, we see the “Hey, look, Christians did it, “therefore we should credit Christianity!” From the article you cite:

          “In fact, some of the efforts by the theologians to put some
          limits on what could and could not be accepted via the “new learning” actually had the effect of stimulating inquiry rather than constricting it.”

          The fact that theologians had the power to do this at *all* is indicative of the problem. The Church does not get credit for being “not as restrictive as it might have been”.

          You are addressing a minor point, rather than the overarching one.

        • Eric Brown

          Which would be what, exactly?

        • Steven Schwartz

          “The rate of secularization — challenges to the central power of the
          Catholic Church, then schism, then weakening of church power over the
          state as the religious wars reached their bloody peak — increased over
          time — as did the gap between the West and the rest of the world in
          technological and military power.”

          The decrease of power of the Church over the continent correlates quite nicely with the rise of the continent’s power over the rest of the world — and with clear explanations for *why*, before you trot out “correlation is not causation”. :)

          Indeed, even the article you cited made advances in science in the late Middle Ages sound far more like a fortuitous side-effect of Church practices, rather than anything particular the Church did.

        • Eric Brown

          Fails to explain why this didn’t happen elsewhere in the world. What’s so unique about Christianity in this respect?

        • Steven Schwartz

          Christianity happened to be 1) parked on top of a reservoir of rediscoverable learning, and 2) had a powerful enough schismatic movement to help cause secularization.

          I also note that you appear to be ignoring the idea of historical contingency. Had sectarian splits happened differently in Islam, the same might have occurred — instead, they never had the equivalent (as far as I know) of the Thirty Year’s War, which did tremendous damage to the power of religion over the state.

        • Eric Brown

          You’re asking for it both ways. Either secularization is more powerful than Christianity, in which case it should have overcome the rather pathetic early Christian era, or it’s not. And since I’m tired of listening to your equivocations, I’m signing off this thread.

        • John C Wright

          Pfui. Save your condescension for someone not better educated than you. I went through Russell and Goedel in school, and they were not the equals of Aquinas in rigor of logic.

        • Steven Schwartz

          1) I am amused that you came to this…4 months later, and decided that this, of all the points, required “refutation.”

          2) You are obviously using some different definition of “rigor” than I. Indeed, part of the complaint against both Russell and Gödel has been that their pursuit of rigor and precision led them away from “reality”.

          You and I have both studied Aquinas, Russell, and Gödel; clearly, we drew different conclusions from our educations. I suspect this has to do with how deeply we studied each of them, but I cannot speak with certainty to that, not knowing the nature of your experience.

          So — how *do* you define rigor?

        • John C Wright

          A moment of weakness, sir, made me forget my policy not to answer back halfwits who think they can outsmart me. Please blither on uninterrupted. I am sure your amateurish ill-formed opinions about the greatest minds of the Western canon will provided us both with equal amusement, you, for the peacock vanity of your display of learning, and me, for my schadenfreude.

          Say on! Speak to your dark and empty heart’s content! No doubt you have a lot of sagging self esteem to prop up.

        • Steven Schwartz

          Rarely have I seen such a perfect case of projection.

          You respond to a months-old thread with blatant assertion, and then, when challenged on it, resort to insult and empty rhetoric.

          So: By what standard of “rigor” is Aquinas *more* rigorous than Russell and Gödel?

          (And I do find it amusing that merely claiming *similar* experience is a “peacock display of learning” while your claiming to be better educated than I is not.)

          Really, Mr. Wright, look at our exchange and imagine: if you read it in a book, who would you feel was propping up their self esteem?

        • Carefully Careless

          Please do bear in mind the context in which the arguments were presented. I was outlining my reasoning mainly to show the simple fact that it is reasoning, and it is there. I was doing so loosely, and off the top of my head. That you can mock and pick holes in them does not surprise me in the least, only that you have chosen to do so.

          If you perceived my post as an attack then I apologise. I consider criticism and engagement to show respect rather than hostility.

          (If you didn’t perceive it so, and were just neutrally responding to my post then I don’t apologise for this hypothetical apology, as I do wish to establish that I have no hostile intent towards you, or Christianity, and have the impression I have given another impression.)

          Please note also that those particular arguments were not arguments against your column in general, as you seem to have interpreted them. They were purely put forth, out of curiosity and a little bewilderment, specifically at the specific claim that you’ve met only two rational atheists in your entire life. With “rational atheists who could argue their position logically” for an implied delineation of “rational”‘s meaning, earlier in the article.

          Ignoring the fact that you could only know you’ve met two who have demonstrated themselves as such to you, and not even disputing that you have perfect judgement in such matters, all I said was: “I would like to be considered a possible 3rd simply on the basis that a rational person could (please note, “could”) consider the following arguments conclusive (these are from the top of my head, and from among many, though they are certainly among the strongest) (even if I don’t do them justice):”

          If it is not clear, that “would like” was a report of my internal state, not a demand. I didn’t particularly expect a reply, and thought I was putting them forth with a level of disclaiming and provisos generally considered beyond the pale.

          Even if the arguments I put forth were the worst trash you’ve ever read, I never said they weren’t. Maybe I’m a rational, but incredibly stupid atheist. (on this topic). Or does rationality also require excellent judgement on subtle questions? As far as I’m concerned, if someone is an atheist based on an argument to reason, then their atheism has a rational character.

          (And again, if your level of stridency, and, well, insults, was just the proper healthy level for arguments perceived to be poor and overgrandiose, then I don’t apologise for accounting for the possibility that you perceived me to have been hostile or rude (which appears to me more parsimonious).)

          Still, and nonetheless: On the topic of the most incidental part of my post: the specific arguments I outlined, to merely illustrate the possibility that I arrived at atheism via reason (of unstated quality):

          (feel free to answer them of course but do bear in mind that my object was only to suggest that I have come to my atheism via reason. (and that it is a serious rather than frivolous position).)

          1. I haven’t argued that Christianity, in aggregate, including its arational and irrational (if it has any) aspects, has not been superior to other religions (including certain types of atheism), or lack of religion.

          That does not pertain to the question of whether individual belief in Christianity tends to arise from an irrational, arational, or rational basis, or what the fact, that what religion one is a part of, or none, correlates primarily with geography, -implies about the general nature of religious belief.

          This is an inductive argument. If you don’t have the same induction (am I using that word right?), it does not mean a rational person who had honestly come to a different model of the world doesn’t have it.

          Your point about mathematics is literally true but irrelevant. There is a huge difference in character between the “tradition” of mathematics,

          -which is typically a small part of a society / a body of knowledge that one can go to, argued for by proofs and logic -only needing the assumptions that A is A, and, that one and one is two, (or lets call them that/pretend they are, and extrapolate as-if) -for all the rest to follow in perfect, flawless logical cascades, based in logic and observation, with insight and mental experiment greatly speeding the process but always folding back into the indesputable and quantum-tight logical structure.

          -and with religion, usually a more central cultural force, belief in which is more typically inculcated by authority and ritual and other ways far more characteristised by, (and it generally is far more characterised by)- the description: “tradition”, -and yet more by “religion”.

          If a religion has the same place in a culture as mathematics: if it is a school of thought that people may freely evaluate and associate with, as they judge is best, not something one’s early understanding of the world is built around. Not something one is guided to pour the strength of their capacity to hold sacred and holy into, and around. Not something which one will be punished for disbelieving in, or expected to believe in as a member of that culture, a citizen.

          -if then it holds the typical and more or less proper place of mathematics-, then the geographical correlation to that religion, in that place, is of course weak, consisting only of exposure. However religion is often far more influential and central than that, or aspires to be, and mathematics generally- and specifically as it it is relevant to this point- as the most logical of traditions, is not and does not, and never on the scale of, or with the depth of religion. That the knowledge and proofs of mathematics can be described as being stored by tradition is irrelevant: they are passed on by reason, or memorisation/training backed by proven authority.

          I think I said something more about that ^ in another reply here.

          To illustrate further, I’m not going to be a mormon just because there’s a single meeting house in my city, any more than I must be a mathematician if there’s a single university.

          And, if I was raised in a mathematical cult, which had those properties religions sometimes do, then the argument would absolutely apply to my belief in mathematics, proportionately to the purely arational and irrational cultural influence that led me to that/those beliefs.

          Belief in geometry, or any other belief that is good and true (in this case proven), may be arrived at by irrational or arational processes. Truth does not push away irrational processes, as rational processes push away untruth.

          (some irrational processes may do so, but that is antirationality, and does not spring forth directly, inherently, from irrationality).

          If geometry was arrived at in such a manner worldwide, as is implied by the predictive power of geography -more specifically cultures located geographically- and I’m a human (which i am), then that would be a reason that particulars of humanity, rather than reason, may have led me to it, as they seem to have led all the alchemists in the middle east to alchemy, and the astrologers in india to astrology. The argument is entirely symmetrical and a good general principle.

          -Because perhaps I would be arriving at my belief in geometry, by the same processes -which could perhaps be only the greatest of humanness, or may be “only human”, but as, apart from anything else, these beliefs all contradict each other, are likely the latter.

          And indeed it does apply to mathematics in our current day and age: it is taught arationally, by training rather than logical analysis, and system building. And often irrationality: “you’re not supposed to think about it, just learn the equations”.

          But that consideration is swamped out by the extent to which it is proven. For any but the most cutting edge of mathematics to be totally incorrect, would require a conspiracy on a scale of a different order than the amount of mere arationality religions’ preponderance, were they similarly totally incorrect, would require.

          Also, nothing is stopping someone from independently discovering the pythagorean theorem. With only the apparatus of pen and paper, and the direction of a pointing in the general direction of mathematics many (intelligent) children have discovered the pythagorean theorem, out of nothing but fun and logic, and some of have discovered much more for themselves.

          For a curious child to reason their way to deism is also not impossible, and perhaps they wouldn’t need any philosophical prompting at all, but for them to go to Christianity, Islam, or hinduism, to theism -via reason, without a cultural edifice funneling them 98% of the way there (lets even grant that it’s all true, divinely revealed ideas and facts, which have been passed down, and lets also grant that these have been and still are the only basis for a good society, because it’s irrelevant to the particular point) -is absurd. Specific Theisms cannot be reasoned to as deism or mathematical facts can be. They require divine revelation.

          The same logic does apply in reverse. If I wish to escape scrutiny and goodness, and love the idea that no one’s watching -so nothing counts, or whatever someone crippled by a nonexistent or highly negative framework for existing in a world where atheism is true might believe.

          -then I may have come to atheism thanks to that belief. That would be a cause for scepticism. If I observed that many people were feckless and only atheist because they can’t be satanist, or openly worship tyranny, corruption and sickness, then it would be worth asking myself if I was brought to atheism by other reasons than reason. And if there were many different varieties of atheism, with specific, contradicting claims, each for different regions with a clear tradition or social movement behind them, then I might wonder if the one I believed (if it was such a particular one) had been arrived at via reason.

          And, though the world is not that way, I have asked myself, and it so happens that I share a discomfort with death and a desire for a system that might buoy me up, and avoid the pitfalls of horror at death and cruelty and never-even-tragedy, and particularly one which is uncompromisingly bright: is not embarassed by the notion of purity, or white knights.

          And I do not share a desire to ruin things or get ahead by betrayal of humanity’s common cause. I have no fondness for things which game theory would class as defection in the game of life. I have applied the same argument to myself in reverse, it just doesn’t apply the same way at all.

          I didn’t want to feel that my actions and my being are meaningless, and i didn’t want the rug of the foundational assumptions I viewed the world through to be swept from under me, but I was compelled to by my reason and honesty.

          For the longest time I wished I hadn’t had to rebuild the basic idea, that what I am and do matters in an ultimate, literal sense, with no caveats, having trustingly tied it to a structure that I could not remain with, and maintain my integrity. (and of course at the time I didn’t see it as “a structure” in a metanalyical way, I saw it as the truth, and the light, because that is where I was told to put my truth, and my light, and I trusted that direction.

          If there is a god, he knows my atheism is a matter of keeping faith with the world and myself, -or I am wrong about everything.

          2. The emotional concept is more “Tyranny is wrong”, or “Tyranny is enemy” (of me, and of people overall, and should be of you too, listener, I put forth)” -if I’m banned as an atheist from the shorthand of wrong and right. And that’s tyranny in the sense of domination, corruption, and abuse, not rule by a single entity.

          Yes, I didn’t enumerate the connection, as the point was, that it was my judgement that it was so. The nature of the is-ought gap and how ideas relating to it influence humans for the better or worse, are things i don’t understand remotely fully, let alone to the point where I can casually hold forth on them.: In the absence of such explicit and comprehensive understanding, I must, on a subtle, aggregate question, rely on my own subtle, aggregate judgement, having nothing else.

          If the question was not of vital importance I might refrain from judgement, or at least expressing it, but it is of vital importance. (and I trust people not to be temped to substitute my judgement for their own.)

          And naturally when one of my premises is “this is what I see”, I don’t see a need to justify it to myself.

          Anyway do you acknowledge that it’s at least a serious position against theism, if true, and honestly reasoned to? – if religious metaethics have a fundamental bad influence on human ethics.

          (please note fundamental does not imply “net”, I said serious, not conclusive.)

          I’ll attempt to somewhat dissect and make explicit some of that judgement:

          1st off I grant that having an external non human authority is better than having human authority over morality, or the authority of force. Insofar as external god-grounded morality aids the opposition of such things, it is a good thing. This is a separate argument that I believe is even more important. -partially because I think no religion is coherent enough to take that place, and partially because no religion but radical islam looks to have much of a shot of placing its god above all men:

          A priori, Morality is a neutral thing. Whether something is good or not does not depend on who does it. Things are fair, or unfair, decent or undecent, cruel or kind, good for reality, or bad for it, regardless of who does them. No matter the wisdom of the priest. He can guide, or rule, but he can’t make fair unfair, or wrong right, just as he cannot make up down. No matter the wealth of a king, or the beauty of a beautiful creature, or even the goodness of a saint, they cannot make make wrong, right.

          But if a man comes forth and implies with his every third action, posture, and statement, that he can indeed do so, -for he is perfect and powerful, and generally to be held in awe,

          -and if such a man hoards power to attack any who dispute or oppose him in this, as such men often do.

          And if he has the power to hold a sword to a man’s throat, and say, but endlessly dressed up- “might makes right”, and “See the truth or die”, and similar such statements he finds with his corruption sense-

          -then an imperfect human being might begin to wonder if authority, when sufficiently great, can’t make morality its subject after all.

          Whether that man is at the sword, watching, or hearing about it from the next village, he is susceptible, or not, to such corruption, in opposite proportion to the degree that he holds that rightness consists, only, of being true to yourself and the world: only of keeping the faith. Or to put it another way, to the extent that he or she holds that the only things which matter are truth and trueness.

          Do note that tyrants aren’t restricted to overawing people with just brutality and corruption and power. They can do so through humour, beauty.. perhaps some genuine transcendence of petty human foibles through their devotion to a pseudoideal (but not seemingly, truly transcend those particular things, while selling the world down the river). -And in grace, in intelligence, in nobility of other kinds: in anything they can twist themselves towards, to tumble farther down the path they fall and drag others with them:

          A man can come in the guise of God.

          And the authority in this case is the man, but it’s also the blade. It’s also, potentially, a seeming imperative, not to face the sacrifice, and utterly jarring discomfort of recognising a terrible truth that one might be partially responsible for, despite the silence or obliviousness of one’s brothers. To face an evil one might have to face, and perhaps not just die, but die ignominiously, in fighting:

          WARNING: SERIOUSLY CLOSE TO WORST CASE in next sentence. Not strictly necessarry for argument, illustratory of what things I believe one could be called upon to accept as a possibility price for walking the path of goodness.

          -perhaps gurgling and twitching in a gutter with one’s throat cut, while cruel and brutal men laugh.

          -if, and only if, but.. if, the true path has such pitfalls on its sides.

          Or tightrope. Or nigh-dead-end which can only be dented in the best case.

          And such a seeming imperative, in seeming so, may just an imperative, not a seeming one, seem.

          A raw almost-perception of “don’t go there”, could a flawed human being have in such cases.

          Note I do say only could, not would or must.

          This I believe is the central temptation of life: An incentive, and a falsehood that could seem to make things better, at least for oneself, at least in the short term.

          And for a man to dominate and corrupt others he must become an authority, one who must be believed when he demands it, not because he is smart or good, but because he is evil.

          Therefore If a man believes that sufficient, or appropriate authority can make things right, then that’s a chink in his armor against corruption, on a fundamental level. No matter how strong, beautiful, transcendent, graceful, or anything someone is, they cannot own the truth. The world will keep on turning. By extension, this same principle applies equally to one who is omniscient and omnipotent: authority is authority, and obedience to it is subject to morality, not the other way around.

          If there were a malevolent entity which was omnipotent and omniscient, then there wouldn’t be any point to resistance, but neither to aquiescence. And if it were so, then, in any case, all would be lost. Such a possibility, by definition should not be accounted for.

          And if there is a benevolent entity which is omnipotent and omniscient, then I am glad, but it cannot make wrong right.

          (except insofar as anyone wants to be utterly pedantic, or perhaps precise -if they are feeling far more philosophical than I can even imagine at this moment, about how such an entity could cause changes in schelling points.)

          Whether such an idea is corrupting on net is beside the original point. For an individual, if this is how they see things, they have a rational duty not to be part of such a religion, preferably not as a matter of metaconsideration, but with and at the speed of thought, and realisation of belief.

          3. The arguments I made were explicitly not presented as an argument against the column, but as a possible example of reason as a basis for atheism.

          Still, why not make one or two comments.

          I consider pure deism to be far closer to atheism than theism.

          I also don’t consider deism as in a single creator, personal in some sense, to be a priori more likely than e.g., a soup of chaos where somehow causality didn’t apply, or not in the way we think, -or if somehow a circle was closed or limitless regress justified, or any other possibility, of a possibility. All we know of such a time, or non time, is that it is not explained by our otherwise universal (pun intended) logic.

          4. First off, your misestimation of my ability to reproduce something I can find on wikipedia is not particularly relevant to anything.

          And nor have you demonstrated that my other arguments were frivolous, -even had they been direct arguments against theism, lets say Christianity in particular, put to you in the meanest of spirits.

          With the addressing of pleasantries out of the way, I have no reason to dispute your answer to the problem of evil, because it was not my claim that it is impossible to answer it with integrity.

          I could argue it, but what would be the point? This is the meat of the issue, so it’s precisely what I don’t want to address, because what if I accidentally deconvert someone for whom christianity is a positive influence, with a thoughtless public blog post, rather than let them go on their own journey.

          I have no idea if “The answer..” is some kind of self referential argument for scholasticism or religious authority, a joke, both, or perhaps just an incidental typing incident, or what. If it’s a joke it’s very funny.

          I am curious, if you feel like it, about whether you think the bible does in fact stipulate (and mean it literally) that god is omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent. (I don’t have that impression and don’t make the argument on that basis.)

          Re: “atheism”‘s difference in character, as a word, to the rest of your shortlist:

          1st off I’m not saying you shouldn’t use the word as you do. The conclusion of my argument was simply that doing so with atheism has a different character than doing so with the rest of those words. (with libertarianism being somewhere between atheism and the rest). I did not argue its use was therefore here indefensible or net- negative. It was something I thought I noticed, so I shared it.

          In case anyone is confused, that is not a backpedal, it is a reiteration of what I was very careful to limit my scope to in my initial post

          :

          I’m not sure what the difference (and if there is a difference, the relevant difference) between social and political is here.

          Atheism is by far the most purely intellectual position on the list, and has by far the narrowest scope. (One’s belief on a single question). Every other word has many different axes along its use, while within the meaning of the word atheist the only axes are the same epistemological considerations that anything in the world has, and whether it is belief-there-is-not, or no-belief-in-.

          It’s also the only word on the list whose etymology completely and without error matches its meaning. Every other word there has a movement of sorts that cannot be told to clear off a word that they have no claim to.

          Atheism, extremely clearly, does not belong to any particular atheist or atheists. The word still has its literal and directly etymological meaning.

          This is not clear with “feminism”, “socialism”, “progressive”, “multicultaralist”, or arguably “libertarian”, and they don’t have half so specific meanings at all, or to put it another way they have too many to count.

          Except libertarian, they are duckspeak, so broad and vague as to have essentially no, literal, meaning. “Atheist” on the other hand has only a literal meaning: one who does not believe in a god or gods (or “God”).

          They are all certainly much less specific than “atheist.”

          “Sexual liberation” is bit different. It’s a misnomer, as lacking control is not gaining freedom. The term more or less inherently equivocates “liberation” of an appetite, with liberation of an individual, who is, all else equal, far less free if an already strong appetite is strengthened, checks on it removed, and messages designed to inflame it beamed at a person who must control it, wherever possible. One is liable to become a pilot rather than a directer. Or to put it another way, to become the pilot of a missile rather than the airship of which it is properly a controlled part.

          If one speaks of feminists, socialists, or progressives one speaks of people who have chosen to align themselves with a movement. Multiculturalists with an ideal. “sexual liberation” -ists, -for lack of a better term, with an urge. They are labels: things to forswear oneself to. That’s not inherently a bad thing I think: It depends on the movement, or the tradition.

          But atheism simply does not share that character, and if you speak of “atheists”, you speak most naturally of people with a belief, of no other homogeneity -but that which springs from the tendencies which give rise to the belief, or the belief itself. Atheism is not a movement.

          Or are there a band of atheists, who are trying to grub the name for themselves? If there are, it will be difficult.

          I wasn’t criticising your critique against atheism, which I didn’t dispute does not provide impetus in the way religion, specifically christianity, can: only in generalising, using the word atheists without proper disclaimers, to the point, perhaps, of some logical rudeness.

          Anyway, again, thanks for the article, it is lovely to hear a fresh perspective.

        • Carefully Careless

          That Gunship analogy is somewhat.. unfortunate.

          The analogy applies to any desire, and the gunship analogy was selected purely on that non-basis. Please draw no further parallels than were intended.

        • TimWB

          1. How does one define “paramount”? President Reagan had a astrologer advising him down to the time and day of appointments. Other presidents have claimed communion with ghosts, seen unidentified flying objects, and consulted horoscopes.

          3. My response is probably old hat, in that compassionate and reasonable behavior is learned and that learning is passed on through the resulting flourishing civilization. Success begats that success. Seeing as severe degrees of slavery have had religious approval, divine sanction gives me very little comfort.

          “Every ghost story, every miracle, every account of the supernatural made by men no matter how sober must be dismissed beforehand, evidence unexamined, testimony unheard.” You should look up Fortean Studies. There are millions seeking confirmation of the paranormal or the miraculous.

          PS: You do not advocate for “monotheism”. This would grant that you advocate for Islam, Judaism, or others. You advocate for Christ.

        • Shawn Smith

          Regarding point 1, atheism also correlates with origin. If you were not born in the late twentieth century, you would most likely not be an atheist. Is this evidence against the rationality of atheism? If not, why is it substantively different from your criticism of religion?

        • Carefully Careless

          Well as it happens I was raised christian, and gradually converted myself by continuous honest analysis of what I believed, (I would have been happier to stay christian, but as I saw it there was too much nonsense), so I wasn’t saying I in particular would remain a believer in e.g. the aztec pantheon.

          But, more generally, “in the 20th century” is a bigger and less homogeneous (with no negative connotation) place, specifically with regard to religion, than the strong religious cultures which I believe give rise to the majority of religious belief: “the 20th century” does not push one towards atheism in the same way that being told when you are two years old and then on that Allah is the creator of the universe, or that one’s clan’s raids on a foreign coast are justified or demanded by Thor.

          I do think that atheism is fashionable in some places, so if someone grew up in one of those the argument would 100% apply to them, If you are raised atheist you will have become an atheist by “arational or irrational” means. If WRT the microcommunity of a family, it would apply, but less so if the surrounding community did not pressure people not to question atheism, and if there was no community traditions and events that were built specifically upon atheism, as there are even in an isolated church that’s part of a larger nonreligious culture.

          I hope I have addressed your point.

        • Shawn Smith

          It appears to me that the culture of the very powerful & influential in our society is pronouncedly against religion. Would you disagree with this?

        • Carefully Careless

          Did I grant that the same argument can be applied to atheism? Perhaps it was in the novel I wrote in reply to Mr Wright’s comment. In any case I do grant that.

          As for quantity, there is such influence but I don’t think mockery and even attempted “defiling” (or being-super-shitty-about, if you prefer) of religion, is comparable to cultures where religion central, which I was positing are the main source of religious belief, therefore religious belief does not generally come from rationality.

          There is an awful lot of mocking, nasty stuff around, but I think its aimed far more generally than at religion:

          That it’s at sanctity, sacredness, and holyness and (/or, depending on delineation of concepts) purity, oh and of course, nobility.

          To answer your question directly, in case I’m misunderstanding its purpose:

          WRT major, theistic, religions, yes.

          (but more as an emergent thing than a deliberate one.)

          Opposition to one religion does often takes a religious form though: Poor and rich. Lefts and rights. Blues and green.

          Floating dogmas are created that soothe people with the idea that’s its ok not to think. The consequences, if you can’t see them, don’t count.

          I suspect it generally goes something very, very broadly, like this:

          You start with two people who want to connect with one another, who then want to agree with one another. Then wanting to connect more, they might take to laughing at people who disagree with them. That’s a mini-clique, nothing particularly wrong about it, but it can grow and mutate from there by roughly the same, and similar processes, to become a cult or a religion.

          There’s also the factor of people taking such irrational agreement as a method of rejecting reason:

          If they’re awash in a sea of bullshit that they can’t navigate anyway, then that feeling in the back of your mind that this is all wrong is, like, vestigial, right?

          I have an inkling of something else subtle there that I haven’t caught. -for my own reference.

          Other than those social dynamics there’s also posing as tough -equivocated with all kinds of things, and of course mocking things which make you uncomfortable.

          If you think I’ve dodged the question, e.g. by not judging on the balance of influence, or anything else, do let me know (and if so perhaps reword it and specify a region).

          I might not be commenting for a few days though as this should be a busy few days and I might not have the energy for such analysis.

      • HMSLion

        “Jared Diamond says that climate makes the difference, but he does not say why Christian Spain discovered the New World, rounded the Cape, and circumnavigated the globe, whereas Muslim Spain did not.”

        An interesting argument. Especially since the Moors were not expelled from Spain until the 1400s…close to the time of the discovery of the New World. And the Moslems were competent seamen. But it was Columbus who figured out the trade winds, and realized they could be used to sail west to (he thought) China…then go north and catch the eastbound winds back to Europe. His distances may have been off, but the principle worked perfectly.

        • Andrew Brew

          The very same year, in fact, that Columbus set out.

      • Stonewall_61

        Those are not the only lies atheists tell about history. When it comes to anyone who was obviously of superior intellect, like Newton, they will claim he was really a closet atheist, pretending to be religious in order to avoid persecution.

        • Steven Schwartz

          I’d be interested in a citation on that claim.

        • TimWB

          Newton was a very religious Christian.
          He was also an alchemist, which was kinda like being a really nerdy Freemason. No biggee either way.
          I’m agnostic, so I’m just saying.

      • Liam

        Here we have what is killing democracy in the West. When your ideological opponents are labelled as evil, there can be no debate, discussion, or actual thought–just dogma dressed up like reason. It’s sad, and it occurs on every side of just about every debate now. Wright does the same thing he accuses his opponents of. Tactically, they’re indistinguishable. As far as content, it’s just one camp’s thoughtless groupthink in place of his opponents’. There’s nothing actually thoughtful and considered here. As we can see from his literary and professional accomplishments, he is clearly an intelligent man which makes this total lack of intellectual engagement with the opposing side even sadder.

        • Centurion13

          Wow, Liam, thanks for homing on that. I would never have guessed that THIS was killing democracy in the West. Of course, it is always possible that, having removed through process of elimination every other probably motive, Mister Wright has finally and reluctantly settled on the conclusion that these people *intend* their perfidy. Which, IIRC, is the meaning of ‘evil’. Of course, if one is a confirmed believer in the subjectivity of everything, that doesn’t carry a lot of weight. But such a believer *might* find it difficult to distinguish between tactics, as you describe them. Good luck with that, Liam. You’ll need it.

        • John Tuttle

          The wise speak only of what they know, Gríma son of Gálmód. A witless worm have you become. Therefore be silent, and keep your forked tongue behind your teeth. I have not passed through fire and death to bandy crooked words with a serving-man till the lightning falls.

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