The Anti-Science Side of Atheism

Peter Singer is an atheist philosopher and a professor at Princeton University.  According to Wikipedia:

He is known in particular for his book, Animal Liberation (1975), a canonical text in animal rights/liberation theory.

Yes indeed.  An atheist who promotes a secular form of ethics is the Father of the Animal Rights Movement.  The Animal Rights Movement, in turn, has a history of attacking science and scientists and, unlike the creationists, have actually succeeded in thwarting the practice of science.  Consider just the latest in a long list of examples:

MILAN — The head of pharmacology at Milan’s state university says a weekend break-in by animal rights activists who freed about 100 laboratory animals has cost years of research and hundreds of thousands of euros (dollars) in damage.

Prof. Francesco Scaglione said Tuesday the activists also mixed up cages, making it impossible to continue some experiments. Scaglione said most of the research is seeking treatments for brain diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Five animal rights activists who occupied the lab Saturday released about 100 of the 800 animals, mostly mice, while animal activists and lab supporters both demonstrated outside. Scaglione said his department plans to press charges for theft and trespassing, and to recover financial damages.

The activists said in a website post that their goal was to free the animals.

So the acolytes of atheist Peter Singer have destroyed years of scientific research.   How nice.  Imagine if a group of creationists broke into an evolutionary biology lab and destroyed years of research.  Dawkins, Coyne, and Harris would be screaming this from the rooftops and the mainstream media would pick it up.  But when a group spawned by atheistic ethics does real damage to science, they all remain silent.

Hmmmm.  Wonder why that is. Don’t these self-appointed Defenders of Science want to defend science?  Don’t you think it is time for someone to challenge atheist Peter Singer and his role in bringing about these attacks on science?

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21 Responses to The Anti-Science Side of Atheism

  1. marksackler says:

    Agreed. Anti-science is anti-science. It matters not whether it comes from the loony left or the wacko right.

  2. ChazIng says:

    Well if you believe that you are only an animal, you will behave accordingly.

  3. faraday says:

    Singer’s book doesn’t mention atheism, nor does “Animal Rights/human Rights” by Nilbert (the second Google Books hit). Animal rights and atheism are different subjects.

    Furthermore, Singer is explicitly against this sort of “activism”.

    The tactics of some of the more determined ALF activists are anathema to many animal rights advocates, such as Singer, who regard the movement as something that should occupy the moral high ground. ALF activists respond to the criticism with the argument that, as Ingrid Newkirk puts it, “Thinkers may prepare revolutions, but bandits must carry them out.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_rights#Founding_of_the_Animal_Liberation_Front

    And furthermore, Singer isn’t even involved with “rights”.

    …This position is represented by the philosopher Peter Singer, whose focus as a utilitarian is not on moral rights, but on the argument that animals have interests, particularly an interest in not suffering…

    What’s next? Evolution is basis of the eugenics movement, ergo all the contemporaneous supporters of evolution implicated in bringing about eugenics?

  4. stcordova says:

    Why is Dawkins silent? You and Krauze were the first to clue me in that Dawkins could be an Animal Rights nutter. Below is an exceprt from a letter Dawkins wrote in support of one of Singers books.

    The book by Singer was described by Amazon as:
    “A compelling and revolutionary work that calls for the immediate extension of our human rights to the great apes.”
    :
    Here is the link to Dawkins letter of support of Singer:
    http://www.animal-rights-library.com/texts-m/dawkins01.htm

    “I have argued that the discontinuous gap between humans and ‘apes’ that we erect in our minds is regrettable. I have also argued that, in any case, the present position of the hallowed gap is arbitrary, the result of evolutionary accident. If the contingencies of survival and extinction had been different, the gap would be in a different place. Ethical principles that are based upon accidental caprice should not be respected as if cast in stone.

    Accordingly, I support the proposal for which this book stands.”

    As a further thought, why do these animal rights activists go after research labs? How about municipal rat control departments which starve and poison rats en masse?

    https://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/streets/provdrs/rodent.html

    Or how about going after wolves, lions and other predators — haven’t they witnessed how inhumane these creatures behave toward their prey. Animal rights activists often feel they have the right to kill humans so why don’t these activists kill other predators?

    Peter Singer = creepy nutjob

    Dawkins = living example of the GNU Delusion

  5. Michael says:

    Singer’s book doesn’t mention atheism, nor does “Animal Rights/human Rights” by Nilbert (the second Google Books hit). Animal rights and atheism are different subjects.

    The animal rights movement is an expression of Singer’s atheistic ethical belief system. It’s not a coincidence that Dawkins, the most famous atheist in the world, would be so sympathetic to his views, even to the point of refusing to defend science when it is under attack.

    Furthermore, Singer is explicitly against this sort of “activism”.

    Can you point to the various public essays where Singer has condemned such activism. Since he did play a key role in helping to birth such activism, he needs something more than a mealy-mouthed attempt to distance himself from his creation.

    And furthermore, Singer isn’t even involved with “rights”.

    A distinction without a difference.

    What’s next? Evolution is basis of the eugenics movement, ergo all the contemporaneous supporters of evolution implicated in bringing about eugenics?

    Nah. But guess what? Funny you should mention that. If you run across a modern day proponent of eugenics on the web, chances are high that the proponent is an atheist. Dawkins himself seems sympathetic to eugenics. Like he says on Twitter:

    My liberal tribe is horrified by positive eugenics. But want there to be a better objection than just “Hitler did it so it must be bad.”

    And

    “Eugenics”: What’s wrong with a nonrandom choice of a gene your child COULD have got from you at random, anyway, by normal genetic lottery?

  6. faraday says:

    Where does Singer use atheism to support his arguments on animal liberation?

  7. stcordova says:

    Singer uses atheism to support his argument against animal liberation in a UK guardian article: “religion’s regressive hold on animal rights issues”.

    In another article “it is our own nature, not God, that is the source of our morality.” Since he disbelieves God is the source of morality, we can therefore invent our own morals. He argues we therefore invent morality based on the notion humans are not special over animals because of evolution.

    If he argues for the equal treatment of animals and (presumably their responsibility to each other), then logically he should be trying to persuade predatory animals to cease their inHUMANE consumption of other creatures. I saw videos of female lions starting to consume a zebra while it was alive. Singer ought to have a conversation with these lions about a lion’s moral obligation to zebras. I highly recomend he talks to these lions when they are starving, as he might have the chance to test his hypothesis about putting animals on the same plane with humans…it would be an appropriate test of his supposed science based morality…I mean, if he feels humans are morally obligated to chikens or other farm animals, why not lions to zebras?

    Singer fails to realize if we can invent our own morals, we can also make evolutionary arguments that favor human domination of any animal or creature they can dominate. There was a disturbing video of whales tossing around a seal for fun until it was dead. The whales didn’t eat it. It appeared as an act of pure sport. If evolution made the whale to be that way, should Singer try to fix it? If not, then why change human inclinations to do comparable things (such as hunting or doing animal experiments).

    So atheism was used by singer to hinder research on animals, and hence hinder science. Singer takes it farther by demonstrating that atheism does not inevitably lead to more rational thinking.

    Singer = Nutjob

    Dawkins supports Singer’s nutjob ideas and nutjob justification for those nutjob ideas.

  8. Michael says:

    Faraday, no atheists “use” atheism. They simply approach the world as atheists. From Wiki:

    Published in 1975, Animal Liberation[15] has been cited as a formative influence on leaders of the modern animal liberation movement.[16] The central argument of the book is an expansion of the utilitarian idea that “the greatest good of the greatest number” is the only measure of good or ethical behaviour. Singer argues that there is no reason not to apply this to other animals. He popularized the term “speciesism”, which was originally coined by Richard D. Ryder, to describe the practice of privileging humans over other animals.[17]

  9. faraday says:

    Where does atheism factor into Singer’s arguments on animal liberation?

    Are you saying that only atheists are able to expand their scope of ethical concerns to include animal suffering?

  10. Crude says:

    Are you saying that only atheists are able to expand their scope of ethical concerns to include animal suffering?

    Where did you get the impression it was being claimed that only atheists can ‘expand their scope of ethical concerns’ to include animal suffering?

    Stcordova has shown quotes about how atheism factors into Singer’s arguments not only on animal liberation, but his arguments generally (which also include infanticide support.)

    But it seems that you think that the actions of the science-destroying ‘animal liberationists’ cannot be justified on atheism. Can we see the argument for that?

  11. faraday says:

    Crude, obviously it was a rhetorical question. Obviously theists can be concerned about animal suffering, the basis of animal liberation. They can also support the radical/violent fringe of the movement. And so can faerie-believers. Neither atheism nor theism nor faerism factors into Singer’s argument for animal liberation. None are prerequisites.

  12. stcordova says:

    Whether atheism logically leads to animal liberation is somewhat beside the point. The point is Dawkins presents himself to the world as some sort of individual with superior ability to think rationally, and a necessary, but not sufficient condition for his superior rationality is his atheism…

    What is being pointed out that atheism doesn’t necessarily lead to pro-science conclusions and can support rationalizations that lead to anti-science goals. Singer advocated the extinction of humans for example: if so, that would surely end the enterprise of science!

    The GNUs were formally known as the “Brights”, a name which conveyed their presumed intellectual and rational superiority to believers. Even presuming there is no God, and the religious beliefs are ultimately falsehoods, being an atheist GNU does not entitle someone to superiority in intellect, rationality, or contribution to science (as higlighted by the post on Collins vs. GNUs).

    Since the practice science is a uniquely human enterprise, and since atheism generally leads to the conclusion tha humans are not special, it de-emphasizes the inherent ultimate universal importance of all human enterprise including science, and thus atheism can logically permit anti science goals.

    In the atheist world view, if human enterprises like science are important, it is only because we have chosen it to be so without any logical basis or ultimate foundation. No scientific discovery will tell us that humans practicing science, or for that matter humans existing, is important. Singer concludes it would be better for the human species to go extinct. That is his supposed rational conclusion:

    http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2010/06/07/peter-singer-sympathetic-to-human-extinction-as-way-of-avoiding-suffering/

    Which means his atheism which supports the notion humans aren’t special, supports his notion we should go extinct, which supports the notion we should in effect end the scientific enterprise. What I’ve tried to demonstrate (without even arguing from a religious premise) is that Singer’s ideas lead to logical absurdities.

    Singer = Nutjob

    In contrast, a famous agnostic and mentor to Bertrand Russell, Alfred North Whitehead, pointed out the presumed and humans and the creation of the universe enobled the enterprise of science, that through it we would learn great truths from the Creator. If that is so, religious belief does not necessarily lead to someone being anti-science, in fact in many cases pro-science. I provided John Harnett as an example of someone who clearly was able to succeed as a scientist despite beliefs that don’t fit the mainstream. The beauty of science is that we don’t need to vet individuals and ensure that all their notions about reality are right…if they follow the method of observation and testing of hypotheses regarding the facts in nature, they will practice science.

    If someone views that humans are more speical then animals, then logically, with respect to animal experimentation, they are more pro science than atheists who view humans as no more special than animals. If an atheist says animal experimentation should go forward, and thus support science, he has to demonstrate logically why. But even by Singer’s own admission, here is a case where religion is more pro science than he is!

  13. Michael says:

    Where does atheism factor into Singer’s arguments on animal liberation?

    It’s not a factor – it’s the template from which the arguments emerge. Are you under the impression that his arguments depend on God belief?

    When I get some time, I can put together some postings that explore the connections between atheism and animal rights extremism. I’m not saying that atheism logically entails animal rights extremism (after all, as I have shown on this blog, atheists are unable to use Reason and Evidence to reach consensus on just about anything apart from their hatred of religion). But what I do note is that atheism does seem to predispose someone to embrace animal rights extremism.

    As of now, my observation stands: An atheist who promotes a secular form of ethics is the Father of the Animal Rights Movement.

    So why not try to engage some of the points I brought up. For example:

    Imagine if a group of creationists broke into an evolutionary biology lab and destroyed years of research. Dawkins, Coyne, and Harris would be screaming this from the rooftops and the mainstream media would pick it up. But when a group spawned by atheistic ethics does real damage to science, they all remain silent.

    Why is that?

  14. faraday says:

    So we agree that Singer does not use atheism to support his arguments for animal liberation, and that atheism is not a factor in them. We (presumably) agree that people of any religion — or of no religion — can bring the suffering of animals into their scope ethical concerns. That is the essence of animal liberation; it is an ethical philosophy which is accessible to all.

    Yet there are still these contradictory views that animal liberation is “spawned by atheistic ethics” and that atheism is “a template from which the arguments emerge.”

    We (presumably) also agree that any movement that seeks social change is bound to have radical or violent individuals, for example the anti-abortion nuts who murder doctors. But whereas those murderers will gladly espouse the religious reasons for doing what they did, radical animal liberationists act for the cause of animal liberation, not atheism — atheism is not part of it and is not required.

  15. Michael says:

    So we agree that Singer does not use atheism to support his arguments for animal liberation, and that atheism is not a factor in them.

    Singer does not “use” atheism. He sees the world as an atheist and proceeds to formulate his moral case from a purely secular, atheistic perspective. Since none of his arguments depend on God belief, atheism, by definition, is the template from which his arguments emerged.

    We (presumably) agree that people of any religion — or of no religion — can bring the suffering of animals into their scope ethical concerns.

    Not so fast there. You have switched animal liberation to the more modest case of bringing the suffering of animals into ethical consideration. The latter can be done with animal welfare. And the Christian concept of good stewardship and a respect for Creation. Animal liberation is a far more radical and extreme position than any of this.

    That is the essence of animal liberation; it is an ethical philosophy which is accessible to all.

    This is not true. Singer’s notion of animal liberation is not accessible to me because my religious views prevent me from devaluing human life such that it is not more valuable the rat life. This is one place where Singer’s atheism was key. In his mind, humans are “just another species” because that’s what his atheism tells him. So he thinks it is wrong to privilege one species over another. It’s “speciesism.” I can’t adopt such a low, nihilistic view of human life.

    Yet there are still these contradictory views that animal liberation is “spawned by atheistic ethics” and that atheism is “a template from which the arguments emerge.”

    No contradictory views.

    We (presumably) also agree that any movement that seeks social change is bound to have radical or violent individuals, for example the anti-abortion nuts who murder doctors.

    But the animal rights movement is loaded with organized nuts who routinely engage in acts of violence and intimidation. Notice your reluctance to engage the empirical reality I cite in the OP. These “activists” were not some isolated nuts. They are part of a group that has since put the names of the researchers on the internet. They are likely networked with many others groups of nuts, as this is an intimidation tactic used by many groups.

    But whereas those murderers will gladly espouse the religious reasons for doing what they did, radical animal liberationists act for the cause of animal liberation, not atheism — atheism is not part of it and is not required.

    If so, that raises an interesting point. If religious anti-abortionists gladly espouse the religious reasons for doing what they do, where are the religious animal rights terrorists who gladly espouse the religious reasons for doing what they do?

    The atheist animal rights terrorists are not going to gladly espouse their atheism. They are going to argue that human life is not privileged, that we are not special, that we are just one of millions of species (as Science has shown!), and speciesism is wrong. Atheism provides very fertile ground for this type of thinking. Among the religious, those of the neo-pagan bent are likely to share in this perspective.

  16. Crude says:

    Crude, obviously it was a rhetorical question.

    Oh, so you nowhere got the impression. Alright.

    Obviously theists can be concerned about animal suffering, the basis of animal liberation. They can also support the radical/violent fringe of the movement. And so can faerie-believers.

    Leaving faerie-believing atheists aside for the moment…

    No, theists cannot ‘support the radical/violent fringe of the movement’. Not as a rule. Theisms are typically restrained in what they can support – and by all measures, any belief of violence in the name of ‘animal liberation’ is regarded as wildly incompatible with Christianity as it’s understood by billions.

    Further, ‘animal liberation’ is not totally based on animal suffering. Hence many regarding the keeping of pets as immoral, even if the animals don’t suffer. (Unless we’re expanding ‘suffering’ wildly here.)

    Now, can you tell me what part of violence in the name of animal liberation is incompatible with atheism?

    Not a rhetorical question, in case you’re wondering.

  17. faraday says:

    Since none of his arguments depend on God belief, atheism, by definition, is the template from which his arguments emerged.

    I can make a pretty strong argument that 1 + 1 = 2. Since this argument does not depend on God belief, atheism, by definition, is the template from which my argument emerged. I assume I don’t need to spell out the problem any further.

  18. Michael says:

    Asking the question, “how many are there?” is quite different from asking, “how shall we live?” Singer was not counting mice in a cage. He was making a moral case that there should be no mice in that cage. An atheistic template is not all that meaningful when it comes to adding, as no one has ever said God belief is important when counting the number of apples on the table. But when it comes to morality, and questions of good and evil, that changes.

    You really should address the points/questions I and others have raised. If you pause to think about it, you might realize just how silly your point is, for you are asking us to believe that a philosopher’s worldview has no relevance to his ethical arguments.

  19. ChazIng says:

    1 + 1 = 2 depends on (simplified) mathematical logic derived from the constancy of God’s created and sustained natural laws. Additionally, one requires a theistic worldview to make such an abstract equation practical. A purposeless existence (atheism) does not provide any basis for either the concept or use of logic.

  20. wavicle says:

    The term “anti-science” is quite fallacious here. Just like “pro-life” is fallacious. Before calling Dawkins a nutjob, why doesn’t one evaluate one’s own contributions to science or philosophy?

  21. Kevin says:

    I think you need to understand the overall message of this blog to understand the post. Michael devotes much of the blog to pointing out how the New Atheist movement styles itself as lovers and champions of science, yet curiously they only seem to really care if it’s the type of science they can try (and fail) to use to refute Christianity. Otherwise they by all evidence don’t seem to care at all.

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