We are told that atheism is nothing more than a lack of belief in God. While this claim passes the dictionary test, the problem is that as we observe what atheists believe and say, there appears to more to atheism than simple lack of God belief. I think this is because our views about the existence of God are linked closely to our views about the nature of humanity.
There are many ways to see this connection. Let me draw your attention to one of them – the connection between atheism and infanticide.
I first noticed this connection many years ago. What I noticed, with help from internet search engines, was that anyone out there who was trying to “challenge” our ethics by proposing or defending infanticide also happened to be an atheist.
Now, it’s important to recognize that I am NOT saying all atheists support or promote infanticide. What I am proposing instead is a hypothesis called the Atheist-Infanticide Connection (AIC):
If someone adovactes for infanticide, or attempts to support infanticide with argument, it is highly likely that advocate/supporter is an atheist.
This hypothesis was based on the observation that well-known supporters of infanticide were also atheists. For example, philosopher Peter Singer has supported infantide and is also an atheist. Philosopher Michael Tooley has supported infanticide and is also an atheist.
Then there is Professor John Harris:
One of British medicine’s most senior advisers on medical ethics has provoked outrage by claiming that infanticide is “justifiable”.
Professor John Harris, a member of the British Medical Association’s ethics committee, said that it was not “plausible to think that there is any moral change that occurs during the journey down the birth canal” – suggesting that there was no moral difference between aborting a foetus and killing a baby.
The professor’s comments were made during an unreported debate last week on sex selection, which was held as part of the Commons Science and Technology Committee’s consultation on human reproductive technologies.
Prof Harris, who is also a professor of bioethics at the University of Manchester, was asked what moral status he accorded an embryo and he endorsed infanticide in cases of a child carrying a genetic disorder that remained undetected during pregnancy.
He replied: “I don’t think infanticide is always unjustifiable. I don’t think it is plausible to think that there is any moral change that occurs during the journey down the birth canal.”
He declined to say up to what age he believed infanticide should be permissable.
“People who think there is a difference between infanticide and late abortion have to ask the question: what has happened to the foetus in the time it takes to pass down the birth canal and into the world which changes its moral status? I don’t think anything has happened in that time.
Is Harris an atheist? Yes.
So I decided to further test the IAC.
Because of limited time, I simply went to the wikipedia article on infanticide. I found a section entitled, Modern proposals that had the following short entry:
In a 2012 article in the Journal of Medical Ethics, a philosopher and a bioethicist jointly proposed that infanticide be legalized, calling it “after-birth abortion”, and claiming that both “the fetus and the newborn are potential persons”.
The article cited was:
Alberto Giubilini1,2, Francesca Minerva3. “After-birth abortion: why should the baby live? – Giubilini and Minerva – Journal of Medical Ethics”. Jme.bmj.com. Retrieved 2013-07-18.
I have never heard of Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva before, so here was a good chance for testing.
I googled their names along with the word “atheist” or “atheism” and did not find anything uesful (either way), although I only looked through the first two-three pages. But then it occurred to me that more and more academic activists like to tweet. And sure enough, both philosophers have twitter accounts.
Neither philosopher uses twitter to promote atheism or say anything explicit about atheism. However, the twitter accounts of both do indeed suggest both are atheists.
1. Both philosophers have a history of retweeting tweets from Richard Dawkins, Peter Singer, and Steven Pinker. None of these retweets promote atheism, but its clear the two philosophers follow the tweets of well-known atheists.
2. Alberto Giubilini takes it a step further and actually promotes a New Atheist blog with large font:
http://t.co/jA3GunoLPM Replacing religion with ethics
— Alberto Giubilini (@AlbertGiubilini) December 9, 2013
While the evidence is only suggestive and not conclusive, the IAC predicts further evidence would determine that both Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva are atheists.
Of course, there are others ways to test the IAC. For example, we are told that Western European nations are more secular and godless (a constant cause of celebration in the New Atheist community). The IAC would thus predict a higher degree of support or promotion of infanticide in these countries when compared to the more religious USA.
If there is an Infanticide-Atheist connection, then why are not more atheists supporters and promoters of infanticide? One possibility involves the fact that many atheists were raised in a religious household. For such individuals, they may retain an opposition to infanticide as a holdover from their religious upbringing. A comparison of views about infanticide from atheists who were and were not raised in a religious household could help test this hypothesis. Another possibility is that many atheists might simply not want to admit or acknowledge their support for infanticide since opposition is still strong. In other words, a “choose your battles” tactic could be in play. If this is the case, we would predict that as society becomes more secular and godless, more atheists would become more vocal about supporting and defending infanticide.
Lastly, you yourself can participate in this experiment. If you encounter someone who is promoting, supporting, or defending infanticide, then try to determine, through inquiry or google, if that person is also an atheist. If you get results, please post them in the comments section.