Atheism is Dark Places

In the past, I have heard atheist activists argue that atheism actually enhances the meaning and value of our lives.  How so?  Well, since this is the one and only life we shall ever have, that makes it all the more special.  The atheist thus cherishes and values life precisely because it has no eternal backing or support.

Of course, there is an alternative view:

Adherents view life not as a gift and a miracle, but a harm and an imposition. And their notion that having children may be a bad idea seems to be gaining mainstream popularity.

This nihilistic and pessimistic view is held by the anti-natalists, people who believe and argue because of all the suffering associated with life, it would better to have not been born.

Apparently, one of the intellectual leaders of the anti-natalists is South African philosopher David Benatar, who published a book in 2006 which is widely credited with introducing the term anti-natalism.

From this article on Big Think:

Welcome to anti-natalism, a small but lively corner of philosophy that, in our time of climate change, prospects of nuclear war, and divisive populist politics, has been growing of late. Though David Benatar, one of the chief modern architects of this philosophy, may or may not have coined the term “anti-natalism”—he’s done “intellectual archaeology” to figure it out, and his jury of one is still debating—his recent appearance on Sam Harris’s Waking Up podcast further solidified his stake in this long debated topic: Is life worth living? Benatar says no, at least for the unborn.

According to Benatar, head of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Cape Town and author of Better Never to Have Been, being born is “not always a harm, but always a very serious harm.” Summating his philosophy, he continues:

We ought not to bring new people into existence, but I think the view is broader, that we ought not to bring new sentient beings into existence. It’s not just the view that it’s harmful to come into existence, but a further view that it’s wrong to bring beings into existence.

The article then notes,

Harris finds a correlation with Buddhism. According to a translation of Buddhist texts by Sir Hari Singh Gour, Buddha claimed that men are ignorant of the suffering they unleash; existence is the cause of old age and death. If man would realize this harm he would immediately stop procreating.

Harris does try to push back against Benatar’s views, but, judging from this article, doesn’t come across as being all that successful.

The question that interests me is whether Benatar is an atheist.

This “better to not have ever existed” position is the nihilistic culmination of atheism.  It’s also where the Argument from Evil leads. A reality so evil that it supposedly negates the existence of God is a reality so evil it would be better if it had not existed.

To test my hunch that this anti-natalism is so nihilistic that only an atheist could propose and spend a lifetime advocating for it, I searched Google, but could not find any place where Benator either self-describes as an atheist or is described as an atheist.

But then I found this New Yorker article which explains how Benatar is immensely private (explaining my difficulty).  Yet during his interview, he let the cat out of the bag:

Some people argue that talk of pain and pleasure misses the point: even if life isn’t good, it’s meaningful. Benatar replies that, in fact, human life is cosmically meaningless: we exist in an indifferent universe, perhaps even a “multiverse,” and are subject to blind and purposeless natural forces. In the absence of cosmic meaning, only “terrestrial” meaning remains—and, he writes, there’s “something circular about arguing that the purpose of humanity’s existence is that individual humans should help one another.”

And there it is.  Humans as cosmically meaningless entities living in an indifferent universe subjected to blind and purposeless forces is the very perspective of atheism.

After all, it is the atheistic view of Richard Dawkins:

The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.

And, as icing on the cake, we can also note the analogy:

Like everyone else, Benatar finds his views disturbing; he has, therefore, ambivalent feelings about sharing them. He wouldn’t walk into a church, stride to the pulpit, and declare that God doesn’t exist. Similarly, he doesn’t relish the idea of becoming an ambassador for anti-natalism. Life, he says, is already unpleasant enough.

So the evidence does indicate Benator’s anti-natalism is ultimately rooted in atheism.  Which is probably why artist Samuel Abelow notes, “both Harris and Benatar are rational-materialists, objectivists and, of course, atheists.”

While Benatar may not relish the idea of becoming an ambassador for anti-natalism, that horse has left the barn  – he has already become one as a consequence of his own public writings and interviews.  What’s more interesting to me is his reluctance to make the public connection between his atheism and his anti-natalism.  Wonder why that is? 😉

It is also interesting to step back and take in the various moral perspectives of different expressions of atheism.  Whether it’s Singer’s advocacy for bestiality or infanticide, Dawkins’ advovcating for “mild pedophilia,” the determinists insistence that serial murderers and rapists are helpless victims, or Benator’s belief that it is immoral to have children, it is not uncommon to find atheism in dark places.

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53 Responses to Atheism is Dark Places

  1. Archon's Den says:

    Other than “Go forth and multiply,” outbreeding the Muslims, or filling church pews with tithing followers, what do you give as a reason to continue over-populating the overburdened planet? Even many intelligent Good Christians are choosing to go childless. 😕

  2. nsr says:

    If you’re not a nihilist, you’re not really an atheist. Most “atheists” say God doesn’t exist but then live as if he does.

  3. grodrigues says:

    “what do you give as a reason to continue over-populating the overburdened planet?”

    It is a commandment of God (1). This is actually not the only reason as there are perfectly good natural law reasons for it (for my purposes here, this should be read as reasons not invoking any sort of divine revelation).

    “Even many intelligent Good Christians are choosing to go childless.”

    They may be “intelligent” (whatever that is supposed to mean exactly) but they are certainly not “Good”, at least not “Good” in the sense of “faithful”. They have been infected with worldly philosophies, essentially anti-Christian, whether they know it or not.

    (1) I suppose there are Christians out there, probably even the majority for all I know, that would dispute this. So in the interests of self-disclosure I am a Catholic.

  4. Dhay says:

    > Harris finds a correlation with Buddhism. According to a translation of Buddhist texts by Sir Hari Singh Gour, Buddha claimed that men are ignorant of the suffering they unleash; existence is the cause of old age and death. If man would realize this harm he would immediately stop procreating.

    Good heavens! If enough people stop procreating the whole process of reincarnation leading to eventual Nirvana (after mostly many lives) will grind to a standstill; Buddhism’s reason for being will be abolished; Buddhism’s legs will be chopped from under it.

  5. Again it seems that Michael confuses atheists and expects them to be all anti-natalists. It’s just another variant of the theist claiming that all atheists have to be nihilists, insisting that atheists are only “honest” if they are nihilists. That is just a lie invented by theists because they are desperate to pretend that atheists are horrible people. One happy atheist destroys their belief that they and their god are needed. Atheism doesn’t say it is better to not have existed. It just says that there are not gods.

    I do find that having only one life does give it meaning, and that ignoring a god that needs fear and hate frees me up to enjoy life.

    There is a streak of commonality that I can point out between some theists and anti-natalists: they hate this life. Theists differ from anti-natalists by wanting to get on to their magical afterlife.

    For me, anti-natalism is ridiculous since these folks mostly don’t want to die, they just want to whine.

    It is nothing more than one more baseless clam that a reality that negates the existence of god is “evil”. Michael only finds it evil since it would show him not as special as he thinks he is.

    One more philosopher who wants to whine isn’t representative of atheists. Most atheists don’t believe that humans are cosmically meaningless entities. Nihilists think that. And Dawkins isn’t an nihilist, he is describing a world like we have. The universe doesn’t care about us; we have to care for ourselves. Benatar isn’t anything special or true.

    It is the usual theist false claim from Michael: “So the evidence does indicate Benator’s anti-natalism is ultimately rooted in atheism.” Intentionally lying about causation, when there is only correlation. Michael also doesn’t get it here “What’s more interesting to me is his reluctance to make the public connection between his atheism and his anti-natalism. Wonder why that is?” Why is that? Probably since they aren’t connected. Michael desperately wants that connection that isn’t there.

    Atheists don’t follow other atheists like Michael so hopes they do. Atheists aren’t all for “bestiality”, “infanticide”, “mild pedophilia”, or claim that murderers and raptists are “helpless victims”, or that it is immoral to have children. Atheists have all sorts of different kinds of worldviews. The only thing we agree on is that there are no gods.

    It’s a shame that Michael has only lies and attempts to generate fear as his religion.

    Now, hmmm, we have a god that has no problem with killing children and infants (see David’s son, the children of various tribes), and we have a god that says that killing people for no reason (see Uzzah) and rape (see Numbers 31) is fine. Should we worship such a god then?

  6. Jane Ravenswood says:

    still falsely trying to equate atheism with nihilism.

  7. pennywit says:

    What a load of codswallop all over the place. Seems to me that having children is, shall we say, an individual choice, and that neither theists nor anti-natalists ought to hector people for those choices.

  8. jbsptfn says:

    Nice whining by clubschadenfrude. That’s all I usually see from atheists.

  9. TFBW says:

    I agree with club. You don’t have to be a nihilist to qualify as an atheist: you can just as well be a philosophically incoherent, tribal chest-thumper who mindlessly attributes everything bad to religion. There’s nothing inherently self-contradictory about the combination of atheism and rational incoherence, since there’s nothing in the laws of physics which demand it. We should stop holding atheists to the demands of intellectual honesty unless they not only profess to believe in such standards, but also act in accordance with that professed belief. Anything else is simply presumptuous and unjustified.

  10. TFBW says:

    @pennywit: the entire environmental movement is predicated on hectoring people (“how dare you!”) for any and all individual choices which impact the environment in some way, which certainly includes the question of having offspring. I don’t know if your “mind your own business” attitude has a philosophical basis or whether it’s merely a personality trait, but you should recognise that a great many people have the exact opposite attitude, and whereas you are inclined to leave them alone, they are inclined to impose their will upon you.

  11. Ilíon says:

    nsr:If you’re not a nihilist, you’re not really an atheist. Most “atheists” say God doesn’t exist but then live as if he does.

    Exactly. There are precious few *actual* atheists in the world, which is one reason I put the words in quotes when referring to a purported ‘atheist’, or to a purported ‘agnostic’, and why I generally lump the two into the common terms “God-denier” or “God-hater”.

    ===========
    … it is not uncommon to find atheism in dark places.

    Atheism — God-denial: whether openly admitted, or fudged as “agnostic” — is the rejection of “the Ground of all Being”, it is the rejection of Being Himself. So, it’s not really unexpected that those who reject-and-hate that necessary Being Who participates/partakes in the being of all contingent beings will also come to reject-and-hate the lesser, contingent beings.

    Off-topic: This is why I suspect that the Satan doesn’t imagine that he can ascend to God’s throne, but rather seeks to end all being (including himself).

    That is, the “god” of the ‘atheists’ is insane, so of course they are going to be insane, too.

  12. Michael says:

    Again it seems that Michael confuses atheists and expects them to be all anti-natalists.

    Club/Jane is confused. No where do I expect all atheists to be anti-natalists.

    One more philosopher who wants to whine isn’t representative of atheists.

    As usual, Club/Jane lashes out against straw men. I never claimed Benatar is representative of all atheists.

    It is the usual theist false claim from Michael: “So the evidence does indicate Benator’s anti-natalism is ultimately rooted in atheism.” Intentionally lying about causation, when there is only correlation.

    It is the usual ad hominem attack from Club/Jane. I was not “intentionally lying” when I tested my hunch; that’s her personal attack. As many know, when someone happens to disagree with Jane, her “go to” argument is to shriek about that person telling “lies.” Given Jane’s history of telling lies, it is rather amusing to watch her project her approach on others.

    Look, when it comes to the correlation, as I see it, there are four possible explanations:

    A. Atheism and anti-natalism are correlated by coincidence.
    B. A third factor has brought atheism and anti-natalism into existence.
    C. Atheism brings anti-natalism into existence.
    D. Ant-natalism brings atheism into existence.

    I favor hypothesis C and used it to formulate a testable hypothesis. Jane? Who knows what hypothesis she favors. She’s too busy smearing others as “liars.”

    Michael also doesn’t get it here “What’s more interesting to me is his reluctance to make the public connection between his atheism and his anti-natalism. Wonder why that is?” Why is that? Probably since they aren’t connected. Michael desperately wants that connection that isn’t there.

    So now Jane has switched from calling me a liar for not providing a cause to denying a mere connection even exists. So is she thus arguing that Benatar’s atheism and anti-natalism co-exist merely by coincidence? Anyway, since Jane denies a connection, I’ll keep an eye out for more connections for future postings.

    Atheists aren’t all for “bestiality”, “infanticide”, “mild pedophilia”, or claim that murderers and raptists are “helpless victims”, or that it is immoral to have children. Atheists have all sorts of different kinds of worldviews. The only thing we agree on is that there are no gods.

    More straw men. I know that not all atheists are for “bestiality”, “infanticide”, “mild pedophilia”, or claim that murderers and raptists are “helpless victims”, or that it is immoral to have children. What I would argue is that among the people who do argue for “bestiality”, “infanticide”, “mild pedophilia”, or claim that murderers and raptists are “helpless victims”, or that it is immoral to have children, there is a disproportionate number of atheists. Do you even understand the difference?

    It’s a shame that Michael has only lies and attempts to generate fear as his religion.

    Another ad hominem attack. Perhaps generated by Christophobia? Look, trying to skip around my point and frame things such that I have “only lies” is itself the lie. That’s sad.

    Now, hmmm, we have a god that has no problem with killing children and infants (see David’s son, the children of various tribes), and we have a god that says that killing people for no reason (see Uzzah) and rape (see Numbers 31) is fine. Should we worship such a god then?

    LOL. And the atheist desperately tries to change the topic. Of course.

  13. Michael says:

    Other than “Go forth and multiply,” outbreeding the Muslims, or filling church pews with tithing followers, what do you give as a reason to continue over-populating the overburdened planet?

    That’s a good question that deserves a new blog posting.

  14. grodrigues says:

    “Seems to me that having children is, shall we say, an individual choice, and that neither theists nor anti-natalists ought to hector people for those choices.”

    Who ever disputed that having children is an “individual choice”? Do you think that individual choices are made in a vacuum independent of the personal views on life, death, God, universal judgment and after-death (or their absence)? Is David Benatar, in making his philosophical case for anti-natalism, “hectoring people”? Are you this obtuse or was it an individual choice as well?

  15. grodrigues says:

    “I do find that having only one life does give it meaning, and that ignoring a god that needs fear and hate frees me up to enjoy life.”

    This sentence sums up the shallow ignorance of many atheists very nicely. From emoting instead of reasoning (“I do find”) to obscenely stupid strawmaning of their opponent’s views (“ignoring a god that needs fear and hate”) to complete non-sequiturs (“frees me up to enjoy life”) that are not even well-defined (“enjoy life”?).

    Oh wait, TBFW already summed it up nicely.

  16. pennywit says:

    I don’t know if your “mind your own business” attitude has a philosophical basis or whether it’s merely a personality trait

    It’s a little bit of both — I’m generally not interested in imposing my will on others, or having them impose their will on me. There’s also an element of Candide (“Tend your own garden”) and a general libertarian attitude.

    you should recognise that a great many people have the exact opposite attitude, and whereas you are inclined to leave them alone, they are inclined to impose their will upon you.

    They can try.

    Also:

    Who ever disputed that having children is an “individual choice”? Do you think that individual choices are made in a vacuum independent of the personal views on life, death, God, universal judgment and after-death (or their absence)? Is David Benatar, in making his philosophical case for anti-natalism, “hectoring people”? Are you this obtuse or was it an individual choice as well?

    Practically any person who wanders around telling people they should or shouldn’t have kids because of the environment, divine commandments, or anyone else. And stick your ad hominems where the sun doesn’t shine, you sanctimonious twat.

  17. “This sentence sums up the shallow ignorance of many atheists very nicely. From emoting instead of reasoning (“I do find”) to obscenely stupid strawmaning of their opponent’s views (“ignoring a god that needs fear and hate”) to complete non-sequiturs (“frees me up to enjoy life”) that are not even well-defined (“enjoy life”?).”

    so now we have someone who has no idea what non-sequitor means, and tries rather vainly to use it as an attack. And finding something has little if anything to do with emotion, grodrigues.

    as for your god needing fear and hate. This god requires its followers to literally hate families and leave everything behind to follow it/its son. WE also have that this god uses threats of harm to engender fear to get obedience. You may want to read your bible.

  18. and ilion is making up stuff wholesale “Atheism — God-denial: whether openly admitted, or fudged as “agnostic” — is the rejection of “the Ground of all Being”, it is the rejection of Being Himself. So, it’s not really unexpected that those who reject-and-hate that necessary Being Who participates/partakes in the being of all contingent beings will also come to reject-and-hate the lesser, contingent beings.

    Off-topic: This is why I suspect that the Satan doesn’t imagine that he can ascend to God’s throne, but rather seeks to end all being (including himself).”

    there is nothing contingent about your god. That was invented to have an excuse for your god. We see nothing necessary about it.

  19. grodrigues says:

    “Practically any person who wanders around telling people they should or shouldn’t have kids because of the environment, divine commandments, or anyone else.”

    I do not know what question this is supposed to be the answer. No one ever disputed that having children is a personal choice — not in this thread, and certainly not David Benatar, What he disputes is the morality of it. Unless you are equating disputing the morality of some action with “hectoring”, which come to think of it, and given how obtuse you have shown yourself to be, it is not that surprising.

    “And stick your ad hominems where the sun doesn’t shine, you sanctimonious twat.”

    Ad hominem is a fallacy of relevance where instead of addressing the argument one addresses the man, something I have not done. Is this your feeble attempt at hectoring me?

  20. I do like watching Michael in denial. He does a great job in trying to claim that he never directly said that Benetar was representative but we do get this at the end which does show he meant exactly that: “It is also interesting to step back and take in the various moral perspectives of different expressions of atheism. Whether it’s Singer’s advocacy for bestiality or infanticide, Dawkins’ advovcating for “mild pedophilia,” the determinists insistence that serial murderers and rapists are helpless victims, or Benator’s belief that it is immoral to have children, it is not uncommon to find atheism in dark places.”
    The title “Atheism in Dark Places” is another tell. I have to wonder about someone so afraid of what he thinks that he has to deny responsibility for it.
    Michael also can’t figure out what an ad hominem argument is. It isn’t pointing out that Michael is trying to conflate causation with correlation. He’s done this before and its been pointed out to him. His “hunch” is no more than trying to conflate nihilism with atheism, something he feels he needs to do repeatedly.
    Those “explanations” are quite great. I think the best is “correlated by coincidence” which seems to be Michael trying to again say “isn’t it strange that atheist are always “x”, when they aren’t always that at all.
    What third factor would somehow bring atheism *and* anti-natalism into existence? Again, we see the need for trying to conflate them.
    Michael can’t show that atheism brought anti-natalism into existence, but he sure want to claim that happened.
    And he can’t show that the opposite occurred. He of course favors C since he needs atheist to be nihilists. If his claim was a testable hypothesis, then atheists would all be nihilist and anti-natalists. They aren’t. My mere existence makes his hypothesis false so he has to go back to the drawing board. He will of course say that I’m not a true atheist since Michael has declared that only his definition is true.
    Michael again tries to deny what he believes and tries again. His claim that there are supposed “disproportionate” numbers of atheist who are for beastiality, infanticide, mild pedophilia, and think that murders and rapists are helpless victims is yet one more false claim intended only to cast aspersions on atheism. When Michael says this “It is also interesting to step back and take in the various moral perspectives of different expressions of atheism. Whether it’s Singer’s advocacy for bestiality or infanticide, Dawkins’ advovcating for “mild pedophilia,” the determinists insistence that serial murderers and rapists are helpless victims, or Benator’s belief that it is immoral to have children, it is not uncommon to find atheism in dark places.”
    It is no surprise that he never mentions the various moral positions that atheists have other than the ones he needs them to have. Ad hominem attacks are those introduced that aren’t on point. That you lie is very on point.
    Michael wants to claim that it is horrible that some atheists may believe in somethings. But when it is pointed out that his god supports infanticide, etc. he claims this is off-topic. He doesn’t deny it is true.

  21. grodrigues says:

    Since there is no edit button (or I cannot find it):

    “fallacy of relevance where instead of addressing the argument one addresses the man”

    This came out wrong. It is a fallacy of relevance; addressing the man, or its purported deficiencies whatever they may be, is irrelevant to the argument being made.

  22. pennywit says:

    Yesz, preaching morality or immorality of an action at someone is hectoring that person. And proclaiming that people are moral or immoral for choosing to have children, or not is an invidious form of classification.

    And you, sirrah, devolved into flinging insult. Not very productive, is it?

  23. grodrigues says:

    “And you, sirrah, devolved into flinging insult. Not very productive, is it?”

    As opposed to opening with “What a load of codswallop all over the place”, and then go on pretending that the OP, or David Benatar for that matter, is trying to impose anything whatsoever? No, arguing that an action is immoral is not hectoring, that is just part and parcel of what constitutes moral reasoning and argument. And if moral reasoning is an “invidious form of classification” then “invidious” must be a grand thing. You being obtuse, deliberately at this point, does not change that.

  24. Ilíon says:

    The typical ‘atheist’ — like the typical leftist — is a master of “projection”. Just keep in mind that they *always* accuse-and-condemn (generally falsely, at that) their opponents of doing exactly what they themselves are doing.

  25. pennywit says:

    If you want to get right down to it, I find the anti-natalist natterings, yes, a load of codswallop. They fly in the face of individual autonomy — a person’s right to conduct his life in a manner he (or she) chooses, free of interference from others. Start meddling with this notion that having children, or not having children, is immoral, and you invite the notion of how one should enforce that morality. This, in turn, would lead to a coercive state. We have a model for such a state already, in fact — China, with its one-child policy.

    That’s why I consider the notion morally offensive. It carries with it the stench of social interference in an intensely intimate decision, and that is not something I am willing to entertain.

  26. Archon's Den says:

    It certainly deserves some thought and consideration. 😳

  27. grodrigues says:

    “Start meddling with this notion that having children, or not having children, is immoral, and you invite the notion of how one should enforce that morality. This, in turn, would lead to a coercive state. We have a model for such a state already, in fact — China, with its one-child policy.”

    It does not follow that judging some action immoral that legal restrictions on it should be imposed and the coercive power of the state be brought down on it. No one in this thread advocated that; David Benatar does not advocate that — and for the record I also find his position ludicrous, just not for the flimsy reasons you advance. Since I am an unreconstructed Thomist, I can cite the famous example of St. Thomas that, quite obviously due to his Christian allegiances reckons prostitution immoral and yet explicitly argues against outlawing it. And while the powers that be have throughout history, up until today as in the example you cited, coerced and enforced *not* having children (or killing them), there is no parallel historical case for the enforcement of having children, and not just for quite obvious logistical reasons. Authoritarians loathe big, large families, since they are the first (and sometimes last) barrier against tyranny. Your complaint is spurious.

    In order for actions to fall under the moral umbrella they at least must be connected to the common good. We are not amoebas reproducing asexually; maybe future technology will change it, but it still takes two, male and female. And since reproduction is concerned with bringing into existence new beings and the continuation of the species, it certainly is relevant to the common good and therefore is to be judged morally, just as theft, murder, etc. Sexuality, marriage, family, etc. have always been perennial topics of moral studies in general and moral theology in particular.

    In fact your position, insofar as you have one, is itself a piece of moral reasoning, specifically, on the boundaries and limits of moral injunctions. It is eerily similar to an abortionist that, on the grounds that private moralities should not be imposed on others because somehow somewhere tyranny will ensue, goes on to impose his own moral views. On others. Advocating a specific understanding of morality is fine and dandy when you do it — you even use moral vocabulary like “morally offensive” — and hectoring when others do it. Go figure. As far as “social interference” goes, there is no society without some form of interference since it would crumble, the only question is what are its limits. That you find this or that unpallatable is all fine and good but, absent cogent arguments, it is nothing but emoting. Anyway, thine own tender nostrils notwithstanding, it is also quite irrelevant to the thrust of the OP.

  28. Ilíon says:

    grodrigues:It does not follow that judging some action immoral that legal restrictions on it should be imposed and the coercive power of the state be brought down on it.

    You’re considering the question as a Christian — we understand that not all immoral acts ought to be illegal acts; we understand that there are situations in which directing state violence against a moral affront produces an injustice greater than the original offence.

    Or, to put it another way, secularists, and especially anti-Christians, imagine that (im)morality and (il)legality are synonymous. This is why they *must* increasingly persecute us as they redefine that-which-is-immoral as being moral-after-all.

  29. grodrigues says:

    @clubschadenfreude:

    “so now we have someone who has no idea what non-sequitor means, and tries rather vainly to use it as an attack. And finding something has little if anything to do with emotion, grodrigues.”

    Before accusing someone of not knowing what a non-sequitur is, you might want to check your spelling. “I do find” is not an argument, it is nothing more than emoting; neither can there be such an argument because purpose is not magically conferred on life just because it is finite in duration and there is only one of it — thus the non-sequitur. That you think it does speaks volumes about your mental confusion.

    “as for your god needing fear and hate. This god requires its followers to literally hate families and leave everything behind to follow it/its son. WE also have that this god uses threats of harm to engender fear to get obedience. You may want to read your bible.”

    And here we have another atheist under the delusion that he knows the Bible better than Christians. Yes, Jesus explicitly says that one must hate his family. And to leave everything behind to follow him. Has any Christian understood the first passage to mean that one has to literally hate his family? No. Has any Christian understood the second passage to mean that everyone everywhere has for single vocation to leave all worldly matters behind and to consecrate himself totally to the Lord? Again no. There is not a single example that you can cite. Yes, you interpret the passages in the most ham-fisted heavy-handed literal way, in contradistinction to every Christian throughout history. You are worse than the most fundamentalist of fundamentalist YEC’s — color me impressed. The Bible is not a children’s book. Whatever else it may be, God’s word or not, it is the central piece of the western literary canon, unsurpassed in aesthetic force (probably only Shakespeare comes close); my suggestion is to stick to books with few to no words and lots of big images as more suitable to your age and intelligence.

  30. Isaac says:

    Clubschadenfreude is unique. I have never before seen so much combative arguing combined with so little reading comprehension. It makes actual dialogue impossible.

    NO ONE here said that atheists are all nihilists. Nihilism, however, is the logical conclusion of atheism, so there is a solid connection, and that connection shows up frequently in the real world, and will do so more often as people become less religious. As I pointed out irrefutably, the most common philosophy of mass shooters is nihilism, mostly in combination with atheism (and sometimes in combination with either ironic or non-ironic Satanism or vague New Age belief. But usually atheism.)

  31. Michael says:

    I do like watching Michael in denial. He does a great job in trying to claim that he never directly said that Benetar was representative but we do get this at the end which does show he meant exactly that: “It is also interesting to step back and take in the various moral perspectives of different expressions of atheism. Whether it’s Singer’s advocacy for bestiality or infanticide, Dawkins’ advovcating for “mild pedophilia,” the determinists insistence that serial murderers and rapists are helpless victims, or Benator’s belief that it is immoral to have children, it is not uncommon to find atheism in dark places.”

    No, the claim “it is not uncommon to find atheism is dark places” does not mean Benatar is representative of all atheists. Or do you disagree? Do you think the two claims are equivalent? If so, then for you, all I would have to do is show that atheism is not uncommon in dark places to establish people like Benatar are indeed representative of all atheists, right?

    I have to wonder about someone so afraid of what he thinks that he has to deny responsibility for it.

    Why would I take responsibility for your twisted version of what I think?

    Michael also can’t figure out what an ad hominem argument is. It isn’t pointing out that Michael is trying to conflate causation with correlation.

    You claimed I was “Intentionally lying about causation.” Rather than assert I was mistaken about causation, or wrong about causation, you chose to frame me as “Intentionally lying about causation.” That is the ad hominem. It’s a sneaky way to insert a sneaky personal attack into your criticism that is so corrosive it functions as an ad hominem by getting the reader to take focus off the arguments and put it on the accused.

    He’s done this before and its been pointed out to him.

    This is not true.

    Those “explanations” are quite great. I think the best is “correlated by coincidence”

    Of course you would. But do you have any evidence it is the best explanation?

    which seems to be Michael trying to again say “isn’t it strange that atheist are always “x”, when they aren’t always that at all.

    More misrepresentation. Notice that you don’t quote me and instead rely on what you privately think I am trying to say (as if you think you can read my mind).

    What third factor would somehow bring atheism *and* anti-natalism into existence? Again, we see the need for trying to conflate them.

    No, that’s called scientific thinking. When a correlation exists, you try to consider all possible explanations for that correlation. You sound as if you are emotionally troubled by the possibility that atheism might give rise to anti-natalism.

    Michael can’t show that atheism brought anti-natalism into existence, but he sure want to claim that happened.

    I can’t “show” that because I can’t run experiments on that due to limited time and resources and abilities. But, as I mentioned, I do favor that hypothesis because the logic of atheism comfortably extrapolates to anti-natalism. So I use that to predict the leading intellectual advocate for anti-natalism would be an atheist, test that with google, and uncover some strong evidence that is the case.

    And he can’t show that the opposite occurred. He of course favors C since he needs atheist to be nihilists. If his claim was a testable hypothesis, then atheists would all be nihilist and anti-natalists.

    Wrong. If C is true, is does not mean all atheists would be anti-natalists. No where do I claim atheism is a sufficient cause for anti-natalism. Atheism is merely a causal factor that might predispose certain personality types among the atheists to embrace anti-natalism. And I already told you what this predicts:

    I know that not all atheists are for “bestiality”, “infanticide”, “mild pedophilia”, or claim that murderers and rapists are “helpless victims”, or that it is immoral to have children. What I would argue is that among the people who do argue for “bestiality”, “infanticide”, “mild pedophilia”, or claim that murderers and raptists are “helpless victims”, or that it is immoral to have children, there is a disproportionate number of atheists. Do you even understand the difference?

    You insist that this is false, but that’s all it is – an empty insistence.

    Look, here’s another way to view it. Atheists make up about 4% of the population. What my hypothesis C predicts is that much more than 4% of the anti-natalists are atheists.

    I found more evidence for my hypothesis, so I’ll end it here and try to get the post written in the next few days.

  32. Arkenaten says:

    A disingenuous title.
    It would have been fine to have written atheists in dark places. It is unfortunate that, quite a number of Christians – notably in blogland – have a tendency to be dishonest in this manner. One has to wonder why they are so insecure that they feel the need to do this?
    Atheism is simply the lack of belief in gods … the Christian god and all the others, and nothing else.
    It has no worldview.
    What Dawkins, or any other atheist says or believes over and above what I stated in the first two sentences is entirely their own opinion.

  33. Arkenaten says:

    And why are all comments moderated?
    Is this another sign of insecurity or some sort of control issue?

  34. Ilíon says:

    Isaac:Clubschadenfreude is unique. I have never before seen so much combative arguing combined with so little reading comprehension.

    In my experience, Clubschadenfreude is a standard-issue internet ‘atheist’; that’s why I do my best to ignore any post by most ‘atheists’.

    Isaac:It makes actual dialogue impossible.

    Is your goal “dialog” or is it getting at the truth? If you goal is “dialog”, there may be some few ‘atheists’ with whom you can “dialog” … that percentage increases the more you are willing to wink at their intellectual dishonesty.

    If your is getting at the truth, there is not a single ‘atheist’ (or ‘agnostic’) in the world with whom you can “dialog” when the discussion gets close to exploring the reality that God is.

  35. Ilíon says:

    Isaac:That’s why actual “Christian extremists” look like Harriet Beecher Stowe, Fred Rogers, Norman Borlaug, William Booth or Corrie Ten Boom. Those are the “nuts” doing extreme, Jesus-like things while correctly quoting scripture and using the Bible as a guide. Can you imagine the awful dystopia we would live in if EVERYONE had that kind of devotion? We need more atheist to get book deals, if only to save us from such a fate.

    Exactly: from the point of view of most God-deniers, and all God-haters, it *would* be an awful dystopia we would live in if EVERYONE had that kind of devotion to becoming more Christ-like.

    This is *why* leftists/secularists/atheists are so copacetic with Islam — the Moslems only want to kill them; but *we* want to convert them. They’re living by a twisted version of Christ’s admonition: “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

  36. Michael says:

    And why are all comments moderated?
    Is this another sign of insecurity or some sort of control issue?

    I had to go check. It turns out I banned you back in 2015 for coming across as a troll. Here is the relevant thread and here is my last comment to you.

    I approved your latest comments because I forgot I had banned you. As a courtesy, I posted all your comments from today concerning the mass shooting therad and this one (comments about 1 year old posts were not approved). But you don’t seem to have changed, so no more. If it makes you feel better to think it’s all about “insecurity” or “control,” then so be it.

  37. Michael says:

    A disingenuous title.
    It would have been fine to have written atheists in dark places. It is unfortunate that, quite a number of Christians – notably in blogland – have a tendency to be dishonest in this manner. One has to wonder why they are so insecure that they feel the need to do this?
    Atheism is simply the lack of belief in gods … the Christian god and all the others, and nothing else.
    It has no worldview.
    What Dawkins, or any other atheist says or believes over and above what I stated in the first two sentences is entirely their own opinion.

    Same talking points we got from Club. I think I hit a raw nerve. And indeed, if atheism “is simply the lack of belief in gods,” there should not be a disproportionate number of atheists among the anti-natalists. On the other hand, if atheism entails other implications about our reality, that would explain a disproportionate number of atheists among the anti-natalists. So we need only ask, are atheists overrepresented among the anti-natalists?

  38. Michael says:

    Club:Michael again tries to deny what he believes and tries again. His claim that there are supposed “disproportionate” numbers of atheist who are for beastiality, infanticide, mild pedophilia, and think that murders and rapists are helpless victims is yet one more false claim intended only to cast aspersions on atheism.

    It’s not me “casting aspersions.” It’s proposing a claim that is backed up by the evidence:
    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2019/11/22/atheism-and-antinatalism/

  39. Pingback: Atheism, the Problem of Suffering, and Antinatalism – Biblical Scholarship

  40. Arkenaten says:

    and indeed, if atheism “is simply the lack of belief in gods,” there should not be a disproportionate number of atheists among the anti-natalists.

    Atheism is solely the lack of belief in gods. However, just t be on the safe side, perhaps you should also check to see it there is a disproportionate number of Manchester United supporters or left- handed atheists?
    FTIW, I don’t give a damn if you have 20 kids or none only that, if you do have kids, It would be nice to believe that you didn’t indoctrinate them with religion.

  41. Kevin says:

    It would be nice to believe that you didn’t indoctrinate them with religion.

    You misspelled “educate”. Religion is a personal and social good.

  42. Ilíon says:

    an intellectually dishonest God-denier (but I repeat myself):Atheism is solely the lack of belief in gods.

    This assertion is not true, and everyone — including the i.d.g-d., knows that it isn’t true. No one, least of all these internet (and real life) trolls, cares about “the lack of belief in gods“; this is all about thumbing their noses at God in the only way they can think to do so: by being assholes toward non-atheists.

    =========
    Atheism is the *denial* that there is a Creator. Put another way: atheism is the active denial that there is a non-contingent Self/Agent who is the logically and ontologically prior cause of all else that is. But, that’s only the beginning of what atheism is.

    Atheism is the assertion that the existence of the world (or, as we say these-days, “the universe”) — whether it began to be or whether it “has always existed” (whatever that is supposed to mean) — is accidental. To assert that what I have just said is false, is to assert that the world is intended, that it is a Creation; that is, to deny what I have said is to assert the Creator-God is.

    Atheism is the assertion that there is no “way things ought to be”. Among other things, the claim that there is no “way things ought to be” is the claim that nothing is morally commanded nor morally forbidden; that is, that there is no such thing as morality, in the first place. To assert that atheism is *not* the assertion that there is no “way things ought to be”, or to assert that atheism is *not* the assertion that morality does not really exist, is to assert that the world is intended, that it is a Creation; that is, to deny what I have said is to assert that the Creator-God is.

    Atheism is the assertion that *all things* are mechanistically determined by prior states — this is true whether or not the particular flavor of atheism admits to the reality of the physical/material world. To assert that atheism is *not* the assertion that *all things* are mechanistically determined by prior states, is, once again, to assert that God is, for it is to assert that there is a non-contingent Self/Agent who is logically and ontologically “outside” any system of mechanistically determined cause-and-effect states.

    Atheism is the assertion that human beings (nor any other entity, for that matter) cannot reason and cannot know truth. To assert that what I have said is false is to assert that not all things are mechanistically determined by prior states; it is to assert that Selfhood/Agency exists logically and ontologically “outside” any system of mechanistically determined cause-and-effect states; and, it is, again, to assert that God is.

  43. Dhay says:

    Arkenaten > … just t be on the safe side, perhaps you should also check to see it there is a disproportionate number of … left- handed atheists?

    We don’t need to do that, it’s been done:

    https://www.google.com/search?&q=atheists+left+handed

    There is.

  44. Michael, it’s nice that you are trying so hard to deny what you have done, but it doesn’t work very well. You’ve attempted repeatedly to conflate atheism with evil acts. It does show that you seem to be embarrassed with being caught doing this when your claims aren’t true. You tried very hard to claim that since Benatar is an atheist, then he must believe in certain things because of his atheism. He doesn’t since not all atheists are anti-natalists.

    Atheism is no more common in your “dark places” than Christianity, but you don’t like when that is pointed out, insisting that those Christians really aren’t Christians.

    Michael, it’s no surprise that you don’t’ like to take responsibility for what you have claimed. Many Christians don’t like it revealed that they indulge in deceit when they make claims about atheism. That damages your story.

    You have intentionally lied about causation. I’ve shown it repeatedly and that is not an ad hominem argument. You just don’t like being shown for what you are, Michael. You still have no idea what an ad hominem fallacy is. There is nothing sneaky about calling you a liar which I have and which I have supported.

    That I’ve pointed out that you have repeatedly tried to intentionally lie about atheists is quite true, Michael. We can look back at other posts of yours where I’ve commented.

    It seems you’ve missed my laughter at your “correlated by coincidence”. It certainly is the best and funniest of your failures, Michael. It fails just like the other but this one has the added fun of being incoherent. I don’t need to quote you to show what you are trying to claim.

    You have yet to show a correlation, Michael, so you haven’t done any scientific thinking. Where is there any correlation of anti-natalism and atheism? We have one person who may be an atheist and is an anti-natalist. No others. We have plenty of atheists who aren’t anti-natalists. Where is the correlation you claim exists?

    No, Michael, you can’t run experiments since there is no correlation. Your hypothesis is based on one person saying one thing. Then we have the fact that many more atheists aren’t anti-natalists and likely don’t even know what that is. So, we have a hypothesis that is proven wrong as soon as more than one atheist says that they are not an anti-natalist. Since that has occurred, your hypothesis has failed, no matter how much you wish it hadn’t. Benatar isn’t a leading anything nor has he shown he is intellectual. That is a appeal to authority fallacy from you to try to resurrect your false claims. Atheism is a conclusion that there are no gods. No logic leads from that to anti-natalism. You need it to since you need atheists to be wrong. It’s just the same nonsense you’ve tried with nihilism. You just though you had a backdoor to that.

    Again, there is no evidence that atheism is a causal factor that might presdispose certain personality types to embrace anti-natalism. Just like there is no evidence that atheism is a causal factor that might predispose certain personality types to embrace pedophila, infanticide, bestiality, etc. You have yet to show that there is an “disproportionate number of atheists.” Where are your stats, Michael? Or are you just lying again?

    In that you’ve yet to show any evidence for your hypothesis, it will be thrilling to see what you’ve found that you claim is evidence to support your hypothesis.

  45. and yet again, nothing to support your claim. If you think counting people on a thread on reddit is research, you are sadly ignorant. But thanks again for showing how dishonest you are, Michael.

    It’s great to see that a thread on reddit about anti -natalists is having you use it for your claim here “So if roughly 8% of the population is atheist/agnostic, I am arguing that more than 8% of the people who argue for infanticide, pedophilia, antinatalism, etc. are atheists. In fact, much more than 8%. ”

    nice to see the dishonesty in such clear view.

  46. Michael says:

    Michael, it’s nice that you are trying so hard to deny what you have done, but it doesn’t work very well. You’ve attempted repeatedly to conflate atheism with evil acts. It does show that you seem to be embarrassed with being caught doing this when your claims aren’t true. You tried very hard to claim that since Benatar is an atheist, then he must believe in certain things because of his atheism. He doesn’t since not all atheists are anti-natalists.

    Club, you remain in your ever-confused state. You are the one whose claims turn out to be untrue. Not me. For example, take your claim – “. You tried very hard to claim that since Benatar is an atheist, then he must believe in certain things because of his atheism.”

    Not only do you lie about me insisting “he must believe in certain things because of his atheism,” you further lie about me “trying very hard to claim that.” None of this is rooted in reality.

    Atheism is no more common in your “dark places” than Christianity, but you don’t like when that is pointed out, insisting that those Christians really aren’t Christians.

    Wrong. If we look at a population of anti-natalists, for example, you are more likely to find atheists than Christians. And as we also saw, if you consider the population of mass shooters, they are more likely to be atheist than Christian. I understand such observations might make you feel so uncomfortable that you need to lash out at others and shout, “Lies!!,” but reality does not revolve around your feelings.

    Michael, it’s no surprise that you don’t’ like to take responsibility for what you have claimed. Many Christians don’t like it revealed that they indulge in deceit when they make claims about atheism.

    More projection. You are the one engaged in deceit, not me.

    You have intentionally lied about causation.

    That’s a lie.

    I’ve shown it repeatedly

    More lies.

    and that is not an ad hominem argument.

    Club, it’s no surprise that you don’t’ like to take responsibility for what you have claimed. Many atheists don’t like it revealed that they indulge in ad hominem attacks when they make claims about Christians.

    There is nothing sneaky about calling you a liar which I have and which I have supported.

    Yet more lies. You have failed to support your personal attacks against me. All you do is just pound the podium and insist you are right.

    That I’ve pointed out that you have repeatedly tried to intentionally lie about atheists is quite true, Michael. We can look back at other posts of yours where I’ve commented.

    In all cases where you have accused me of lying you have failed to support it. When I point out you fail to support your attack with an actual quote from me, you reach for some quote that you can twist and distort through layers of subjective, private interpretation. As a result, you accusations always end up rooted in misrepresentation.

    It seems you’ve missed my laughter at your “correlated by coincidence”. It certainly is the best and funniest of your failures, Michael. It fails just like the other but this one has the added fun of being incoherent. I don’t need to quote you to show what you are trying to claim.

    You have yet to show a correlation, Michael, so you haven’t done any scientific thinking. Where is there any correlation of anti-natalism and atheism? We have one person who may be an atheist and is an anti-natalist. No others.

    It looks like Club is trying to back pedal now. Club is the person who originally proposed a correlation:

    It is the usual theist false claim from Michael: “So the evidence does indicate Benator’s anti-natalism is ultimately rooted in atheism.” Intentionally lying about causation, when there is only correlation.

    So I went with it and wrote:

    Look, when it comes to the correlation, as I see it, there are four possible explanations:
    A. Atheism and anti-natalism are correlated by coincidence.
    B. A third factor has brought atheism and anti-natalism into existence.
    C. Atheism brings anti-natalism into existence.
    D. Ant-natalism brings atheism into existence.
    I favor hypothesis C and used it to formulate a testable hypothesis. Jane? Who knows what hypothesis she favors.

    Club responds:

    Michael is trying to conflate causation with correlation. He’s done this before and its been pointed out to him. His “hunch” is no more than trying to conflate nihilism with atheism, something he feels he needs to do repeatedly.
    Those “explanations” are quite great. I think the best is “correlated by coincidence”

    I see no evidence of any laughter.

    Okay, so what do we have? First Club argues I am confusing cause with correlation. When I respond along those lines, she then back pedals and begins to insist I have not shown a correlation.

    Then we get this: Benatar isn’t a leading anything nor has he shown he is intellectual.

    Benatar isn’t an intellectual?

    With all the misrepresentations and accusations of lies, coupled with the change in position on correlation and the dismissal of Benatar as a non-intellectual, I’m starting to get the feeling I am being trolled.

    So good bye Club. The time I used responding to your trolling could have been used to put up a new posting.

  47. Kevin says:

    I got the feeling with Club that it was simply low intelligence, rather than trolling, that produced such profoundly stupid posts so consistently.

  48. Ilíon says:

    ^ While I realize that profound stupidity is always a possibility, I always assume (until given evidence otherwise) that these village atheists with an ethernet cable are merely intellectually dishonest, rather than simply stupid. For, one can always repent of being (worse than) a liar, but stupidity is indelible, even before we consider hippocampuses.

  49. stcordova says:

    As a Christian, I’d say on some level there is a certain logic to the anti-natalist position if one assumes that life indeed is an imposition.

    That said, some scriptures that are relevant:
    “It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” Matt 26:24

    “But better than both is the one who has never been born, who has not seen the evil that is done under the sun.” Eccl 4:3

  50. Dhay says:

    clubschadenfreude > Benatar isn’t a leading anything nor has he shown he is intellectual.

    David Benatar is Professor of Philosophy at University of Cape Town, South Africa. I am in no doubt that someone in such a position counts as an intellectual.

    And Sam Harris treats him as an intellectual:

    https://samharris.org/podcasts/107-life-actually-worth-living/

  51. nsr says:

    Low-hanging-fruit atheism seems to me to be the result of emotional thinking (which produces a false sense of intellectual pride) trumping reason and logic.

  52. Dhay says:

    stcordova > As a Christian, I’d say on some level there is a certain logic to the anti-natalist position if one assumes that life indeed is an imposition.
    That said, some scriptures that are relevant:
    “It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” Matt 26:24
    “But better than both is the one who has never been born, who has not seen the evil that is done under the sun.” Eccl 4:3

    I hear what you are saying, but would point to Semitic Exaggeration as a reason to exercise caution in interpreting these verses. As I have pointed out a billion times already on S2L, there’s what’s called “Semitic exaggeration”, totally over-the-top exaggeration (or sometimes over-the-top minimising) in order to make a point more strongly; here’s Matthew 17:20, which uses both extreme minimising and extreme maximising:

    “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’, and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

    Or here’s Luke 19:8, with Zacchaeus promising to return not just what he swindled but much, much more:

    And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.”

    Kenneth Bailey comments that in the Bible Lands Semitic Exaggeration still is is so common, so normal, so routinely expected, that they recognise that had Zacchaeus merely promised to restore what he swindled his audience would have reckoned he didn’t intend to return anything.

    *

    Sorry to seem to be teaching granny to suck eggs. My aim is rather to address one of the difficulties I myself encountered when trying and failing to make sense of the Bible while still an atheist. To the uncomprehending, in the absence of mountains moving on command the Matthew passage looks like a reductio ad absurdum argument that nobody — nobody — has faith, not even the ‘mustard seed’ slightest, such that they come out with the likes of: “Either the Bible lies or there is not one true believer on the entire planet.”

  53. Michael says:

    Sorry to seem to be teaching granny to suck eggs. My aim is rather to address one of the difficulties I myself encountered when trying and failing to make sense of the Bible while still an atheist. To the uncomprehending, in the absence of mountains moving on command the Matthew passage looks like a reductio ad absurdum argument that nobody — nobody — has faith, not even the ‘mustard seed’ slightest, such that they come out with the likes of: “Either the Bible lies or there is not one true believer on the entire planet.”

    Indeed! And let’s not forget – “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee”

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