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As we have seen, New Atheists like Jerry Coyne are such extreme determinists that they believe terrorists cannot be held morally responsible for their terrorism. Needless to say, Coyne and other free will denialists neither think murderers, rapists, and human traffickers can be held morally responsible for their crimes. As Coyne proudly proclaims:
Tsarnaev was acting under the influence of his genes and his environment, of which Tamerlan was a part, and he had no choice other than to plant the bombs. [….] All criminals have the same extenuating circumstance: they had no choice. In what sense, then, are murderers “morally” responsible for what they did?
Determinists like Coyne would be quick to add that such criminals should still be held responsible for their actions and thus imprisoned. We can look at this reasoning in a future posting, but for now, I simply want to focus on the denial of moral reponsibility.
Jerry Coyne argues that Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev should not be held morally responsible for his terrorism. This is where New Atheism leads……..
At this moment, a jury in Boston is weighing imposing a federal death penalty on 21-year-old Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev after he was convicted on all 30 criminal counts. […]the Boston Globe notes, Tsarnaev’s circumstances are special since the bombing is seen as a terrorist act, a public one, and a gory one. He may well be sentenced to death, and actually executed. Attorney General Eric Holder made the decision to request the death penalty, and he’s supported by several of the maimed victims or relatives of those who died.
Defense attorneys are arguing that Tsarnaev did not act independently, but was under the sway of his older brother Tamerlan. This is what they must argue to avoid execution, and I’m firmly on their side. But their argument could go further: Tsarnaev was acting under the influence of his genes and his environment, of which Tamerlan was a part, and he had no choice other than to plant the bombs. [….] All criminals have the same extenuating circumstance: they had no choice. In what sense, then, are murderers “morally” responsible for what they did?
The fault, dear Brutus, is indeed in our stars—or rather in our genes and our circumstances. Tsarnaev was simply unlucky in what his parents and his life vouchsafed him, and he wound up an odious and murderous person. For that he should be put away for life, as the possibility of rehabilitation seems slim. But let’s not pretend that he could have done anything other than place those bombs.
A few days ago, Jerry Coyne wrote the following on his blog:
I think it’s time for us to stand up and say what we are: we are atheists, and we see no evidence for a God, just as we see no evidence for UFOs or Bigfoot.
Of course, this is a common notion among the atheists. But note the chosen comparitive examples. If the basis for making the comparison is the lack of perceived evidence in all cases, other examples could have been used:
I think it’s time for us to stand up and say what we are: we are atheists, and we see no evidence for a God, just as we see no evidence for life on other planets or extraterrestial intellgence (ETI).
From Publishers Weekly:
Though interesting, Coyne’s overarching conclusion—that science and religion must be incompatible—is not persuasively articulated on a number of grounds, and he suffers from the same kinds of poor sociological thinking as his “New Atheist” peers, mistaking problems of politics for those of religious belief. By equating virtually all religious believers with fundamentalists, Coyne draws far too narrow a picture of religion, demonstrating science’s incompatibility with one part of the religious spectrum but not across all of it.
A few years ago, Gnu activist PZ Myers posted a cartoon of two little bunnies taking a different approach to solving a puzzle. The blog entry was entitled Yes! The religion and science conflict, only cuter!
The objective of the cartoon was to reinforce the atheist’s stereotype that religious people are dumb and blinded, while atheists are curious and smart. One problem. Whoever made the cartoon depicted the religious bunny as a girl and the smart bunny as a boy. This led to Bunnygate – another war between the atheists.
What I find especially noteworthy is the hypocrisy of Myer’s feminist-atheist acolytes.
You can always count on militant atheists to fail when it comes to hiding their militancy.
A few months ago, Dawkins let his anger get the better of him and showed us his true feelings – all religious people are evil.
Of course, someone people might think I was reading too much into his tweets. Nah. Tweety Dawk just completed the circle. Note what he recently tweeted:
Jeffrey Taylor, writing for salon.com, offers up a common Gnu talking point:
I’m unaware of a single atheist who, motivated by his or her nonbelief, has called for or committed acts of violence against Christians anywhere, at any time.
Well, yeah. Just as I’m unaware of a single atheist who, motivated by his or her nonbelief, has done anything good for the world.
If atheism doesn’t get blamed, neither does it get credited.
Motivations don’t arise from non-belief; they arise from beliefs. So we would need to focus on the beliefs of the atheist. And atheists can have LOTS of beliefs. The New Atheist version, for example, believes religion is one of the greatest evils in the world, religious people are dangerous and/or mentally ill, and we need to rid the world of religion.
And I’m aware of atheists who, motivated by their anti-religious beliefs, have committed acts of violence against Christians around the globe.
Of course, not all atheists are New Atheists. There are many atheists who do not exhibit such anti-religious bigotry and it would be unfair to lump them in with the Gnus.
I had some fun mocking Dawkins’ logically inconsistent/incoherent defense of adultery in the last post (something I originally posted here about 3 years ago), but there is a dark side to his “argument.” Reconsider one of his claims:
Just as we rise above nature when we spend time writing a book or a symphony rather than devoting our time to sowing our selfish genes and fighting our rivals, so mightn’t we rise above nature when tempted by the vice of sexual jealousy?
The vice of sexual jealousy? Note the game Dawkins is playing. If he was to cheat on his wife, he would not be the one engaged in vice. Oh, no, his wife would be guilty of vice if she became upset about it. According to Dawkins’ Gnu sense of morality, the cheater is the victim and the victim of adultery is the villian. Dawkins, as an atheist, is attacking the whole concept of monogamous fidelity.
Yet, as it turns out, Dawkins is not the only New Atheist to have such views.
It is common for atheists to proclaim that “there is no evidence for God’s existence” as if this was some objective truth about our reality. Yet when someone says, “There is no evidence for God,” all they are really saying is “I don’t see any evidence for God.” This follows from understanding that evidence is interpreted data and as such ultimately relies on subjectivity. Evidence is conceived rather than sensed. We cannot measure “evidence.” We measure data and transform data into evidence with the act of thinking. In other words, evidence comes into existence only when the mind interprets data that are sensed. Given the existence of evidence depends on the subjective act of interpretation, it cannot escape its subjective aspect. Now, this does not mean evidence is entirely subjective. For its existence also depends on the data that are sensed. Thus recognizing the subjective aspect of evidence does not commit us to some full-blown, post-modern denial of objective reality. But it does mean that evidence is not some objective criterion that can decide an issue of dispute. Disputes are only resolved when a) data exist to be interpreted as evidence AND b) all minds agree to interpret the data similarly. We deceive ourselves if we treat evidence as an objective criterion.