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.
Back in February, Gnu atheist Richard Carrier, whose “avid readers span the world from Hong Kong to Poland,” made the following announcement on his blog:
After twenty years of marriage Jen and I have decided to get a divorce…..Several years ago, after about seventeen years of marriage, I had a few brief affairs, because I found myself unequipped to handle certain unusual circumstances in our marriage, which I won’t discuss here because they intrude on my wife’s privacy. In the process of that I also came to realize I can’t do monogamy and be happy.
Carrier proudly announces he is “polyamorous”:
I have, and will continue to have, multiple girlfriends who are likewise poly or aware of my being so, and that will be the way of my life from now on. And I am going to strive from here on out to live that way as ethically and honestly as I should, working to grow and improve as a human being.
And then claims to have discovered his “sexual orientation” (although being in his mid-40s, I think this “sexual orientation” is more commonly called the “mid-life crisis”).
Carrier not only rationalizes his adultry, but proceeds to behave (surprise!) as if he is the victim of “culture.”
So what I said before remains the case: I have a great deal more sympathy for people who cheat on their spouses than our culture would expect me to, and not merely because I’ve been there, but the more so because I’ve been intimately familiar with many other people who have as well. I am starting to think expecting monogamy is the actual problem, just as expecting people to be straight has been.
What’s interesting is how Carrier tries to make his obsession with sex and pleasure sound like it is the conclusion of some objective, analytical inquiry (although I am somewhat surprised Bayes Theorem wasn’t mentioned in his analysis). One has to wonder if Carrier engages in such ad hoc rationalization when it comes to other areas (such as, say…..mytherism?) And notice that while both Dawkins and Carrier rationalize adultery by posturing as victims, they cite different causes – Dawkins blames evolution and Carrier blames “our culture.” Interesing how the scapegoat, I mean, cause just happens to line up with each man’s area of interest. So which is it? My guess is as more and more New Atheists become addicted to their brain’s pleasure center, culture will be blamed, because this better fits the narrative of their activism. I predict one day we shall begin to hear that societal expectations of monogamous fidelity are actually expressions of bigotry and discrimination derived from eeevil Christianity.
In fact, in another one of his word blizzards, Carrier already does seem to blame Christianity for his wasted years of monogamous misery. In responding to one of his critics, Carrier claims:
Of course, Shermertron doesn’t even consider the possibility that sometimes maybe this feared breaking up of families should happen. If his wife wants to have sex with other men so much that she would actually cheat on him with me, and he doesn’t like that, then maybe they shouldn’t be married. And maybe trying to manipulate her environment (by keeping us from ever meeting or being away from his monitoring eye) in order to keep her chaste, is sexist and controlling. But thinking that would just get you to the even scarier prospect of realizing that maybe our current model of monogamy is a Christian, fear-based, moralistic invention that reduces women to sexual and reproductive property and denies they even have desires much less the capacity to make decisions for themselves.
Give it some time, but how long will it take for New Atheism to become incompatible with monogamous fidelity?