Misanthropic atheism

Recall what Coyne’s atheism has him believing:

Nevertheless we all, including incompatibilists like myself, act as if we have choices, for our feeling of agency is strong. So please don’t say that I shouldn’t make “should” statements because of that. I will act as though I have free choices even though I don’t.

Over at He Lives, David Heddle nails Coyne on his hypocrisy:

Jerry, if all actions are predetermined then you cannot act as if you have choices. Acting is a volitional process of the very type you are denying. In your model there is no acting, there is only a differential equation of the universe cranking out its next time step.

He is so close! He admits that in his world-view everything is predetermined, but in the next breath he obfuscates that unsavory factoid by claiming that he can “act” as though he has free choices. He can freely chose, he believes, to pretend that he can freely choose.

Well stated.

In Coyne’s mind, his sense of free will is only an illusion. But a sense of (convenient) fatalism kicks in, making it impossible for him to escape his illusion. This is just another example of atheism collapsing into nihilism.

Coyne even concedes the inherent nihilism of his views:

So if we don’t have free will, what can we do? One possibility is to give in to a despairing nihilism and just stop doing anything. But that’s impossible, for our feeling of personal agency is so overwhelming that we have no choice but to pretend that we do choose, and get on with our lives. After all, everyone deals with the unpalatable fact of our mortality, and usually do so by ignoring it rather than ruminating obsessively about it.

So the only solution to the inherent nihilism of atheism and its implications is to ignore them. And luckily for us, it’s not hard to live in the hallucination. But ignoring nihilism with distractions doesn’t make it go away.

Look, now are finally getting to the point where I can see the fundamental flaws of atheism. For atheism is not just about God, but about ourselves. Coyne’s atheism leads him to this place:

If we can’t really choose how we behave, how can we judge people as moral or immoral? Why punish criminals or reward do-gooders? Why hold anyone responsible for their actions if those actions aren’t freely chosen?

This view of reality conflicts with the reality that I directly experience. So I am faced with a choice. Either I am trapped in some elaborate delusion or I reject Coyne’s misanthropic atheism because it contradicts the world I experience. I’ll go with the latter because I have come to trust the reliability of my subjective experiences, while I have been misled by the more distantly experienced word salads of those who have an agenda. Nevertheless, if Coyne is right, it really doesn’t matter which choice I make because I did not make the choice. For if atheism is true, truth itself no longer matters.

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11 Responses to Misanthropic atheism

  1. ChazIng says:

    Coyne is like a typical Hindu who acts as if he is independent of maya. Heddle’s title is hilarious: It Burns!

  2. Can you explain your reality without invoking magic?

  3. ChazIng says:

    myatheistlife, was that question for me?

  4. Jon Garvey says:

    The world is fully explicable without believing in magic concepts like free will. But because it’s impossible to live without free will Coyne will act as if he believes in it. He has rediscovered the way the Jesuits didn’t believe in Copernican astronomy, but found it indispensible to navigation so acted as if it were true. Consciousness is also an illusion, because it’s purely subjective and rather “woo”, but for convenience, one can live as if one were, actually, conscious.

    This could go much further: it’s impossible to describe biology without using teleological thinking, so although we know it is in reality undirected and purposeless, for practicality we’ll act as if it was designed – by an imaginary Personal First Cause, for example, since that makes the philosophical foundation more coherent.

    The trick is to keep your reality in a different compartment from your life. That way, you don’t have to believe in magic, and can be a purely rational being.

  5. Michael says:

    Can you explain your reality without invoking magic?

    The reality where I make choices? Why would I need to? What matters is that Coyne and others have confirmed that I am right. That is, if atheism is true, we have no free will, our lives have no meaning, and morality is something we make up. Atheism is intrinsically nihilistic. And, as I’ll now also add, intrinsically misanthropic.

  6. Sam says:

    Ah, but some will say that “atheism” mustn’t necessarily devolve into “materialism,” and that free will can therefore be salvaged in an atheistic world.

  7. Crude says:

    Ah, but some will say that “atheism” mustn’t necessarily devolve into “materialism,” and that free will can therefore be salvaged in an atheistic world.

    I think that’s a reasonable reply. The problem is finding an atheist who rejects materialism. It ain’t easy nowadays.

  8. heddle says:

    The problem is finding an atheist who rejects materialism. It ain’t easy nowadays.

    Although, as in Coyne’s view of free will, they do so even if they don’t acknowledge it.

  9. stevefarrell66 says:

    By selectively quoting him, you made it sound like Coyne doesn’t think we should judge, punish or reward anyone for their actions. In fairness, this is the conclusion Coyne reaches in the blog post you quoted:

    “Even without free will then, we can still use punishment to deter bad behavior, protect society from criminals, and figure out better ways to rehabilitate them. What is not justified is revenge or retribution — the idea of punishing criminals for making the “wrong choice.” And we should continue to reward good behavior, for that changes brains in a way that promotes more good behavior.”

    Whether you agree with Coyne or not, at least admit that he’s not saying people should never be held responsible for their behavior.

  10. Coyne’s not the only atheist. You should look at KnownNoMore’s channel on YouTube.

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