Friday, June 21, 2013

Atheists to blame for MURDER

I was poking around "Fundies Say The Dumbest Things" (, and my blood pressure quickly sky-rocketed. I have to wonder what percentage of these are actually trolls, but many of the ideas are quite common.

For instance, there's this meme:

Quote# 88153
By the way, atheists earnestly insist: no one has been killed "in the name of atheism". True enough. Atheism doesn't ask anyone to do anything. However atheism removes all barriers which would prevent murder; from that point, raw human nature takes over. This is similar to arguing that blowing up a dam would not be murder. The dam breaking does no harm. It's all that water behind the dam which is killing thousands of people and the bomber had nothing to do with that! Of course, such a ridiculous argument would not hold water in any courtroom.
First, let's look at this idea that removing a barrier is to blame for destruction/bad things.

Actually, the dam analogy is quite apt. After all, if it wasn't for the construction of the dam in the first place, it'd probably just be a normal stream/river that's relatively harmless. Likewise, religion/theism, being the single most divisive concept humanity has ever invented, frequently fosters an us-versus-them mentality, putting the "in group" at odds with the "others", building up tension to the point that holy wars break out, or we get things like the Crusades, Holocaust, Inquisitions, etc.

The problem with releasing the dam is that the water buildup shouldn't have been a problem in the first place, if only we didn't make the dam.

In regards to preventing crime, could one blame the fact that the United States isn't a 100% complete totalitarian police State, for the reason that we have domestic crimes? Most reasonable people may agree that, sure, that'd reduce one type of problem, but with a cost in another area. It'd just be silly to blame the fact we're not an absolute totalitarian police State on why we have domestic crimes.

We see the same problem with religion/theism.

Additionally, let's say that we're talking about a person who would otherwise not have been able to buy a gun, but since gun laws were lifted, could, and then went on a shooting spree. Why are we blaming the de-regulation of guns, instead of blaming the fact the person was mistreated by his/her parents/society/etc as the original cause for the violence?

In terms of being a "blame game", it's incredibly messy, and easily manipulated for whoever is doing the arguing.

Whatever happened to the Christian-Republican concept of "personal responsibility", anyway? (I say Christian-Republican, because they have their own interpretations... and the concept of Original Sin is the antithesis of personal responsibility.)

Secondly, and probably more importantly, let's examine this statement:
However atheism removes all barriers which would prevent murder; from that point, raw human nature takes over.
No. No it doesn't remove all barriers that prevent murder.

It's funny, because the horribly wrong statement actually contains the seeds of its own demise. "Raw human nature takes over", he says. That part is actually correct... it's just that the "Raw human nature" is empathy, sympathy, cooperation and mutual protection, with murder being an outlier phenomenon. Even among our primate cousins, this is normal.

Religion/theism came along, after the fact, plagiarized moral concepts from our natural development as a species, and has the audacity to claim they're the source of basic social-species concepts, such as "don't kill each other" - items that are in the "No shit, Sherlock" category of moral understandings.

If anything, society is improved by removing religious dogma (and dogma/totalitarianism in general). Removing those "barriers" also removes the barriers from us cooperating more openly, getting along, and understanding each other... meaning, less intra-fighting among our species.

We've actually done studies on this idea of religiosity versus the health of a society. When it comes to basic societal health - crime rates, teen pregnancy rates, abortion rates (mostly because they have good sex-ed and available contraception), etc - secular non-religious non-totalitarian societies tend to do better than their heavily religious counterparts.

Link to Published Study (PDF): Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health 
with Popular Religiosity and Secularism in the Prosperous Democracies

The author of this quote actually has it backwards. We'd be doing so much better without ancient mythology clouding our judgment. Our decisions are significantly improved when they're evidence-based.

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