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The new atheists continue their relentless assault on right and wrong

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just when we don’t need it.

Further to: If you want to rant against religion, get serious, and talk about specific beliefs, okay?,

I just read this interview between new atheist Sam Harris and celeb skeptic Michael Shermer:

Harris: You appear to believe, as I do, that morality can (and should) arise out of a concern for the well-being of conscious creatures. But this normative claim is distinct from an evolutionary account of how we came to have moral emotions and preferences in the first place. …

Shermer: The criterion I use—inspired by your starting point in The Moral Landscape of “the well-being of conscious creatures”—is “the survival and flourishing of sentient beings.” By survival I mean the instinct to live, and by flourishing I mean having adequate sustenance, safety, shelter, bonding, and social relations for physical and mental health. I am trying to make an evolutionary/biological case for starting here by arguing that any organism subject to natural selection—which includes all organisms on this planet and most likely on any other planet as well—will by necessity have this drive to survive and flourish. If it didn’t, it would not live long enough to reproduce and would therefore not be subject to natural selection.

“the survival and flourishing of sentient beings” on this and any other planet?

I am hearing this, but I cannot easily accept that a human mouth said it.

Lots of wild animals want free food. Hey, if that’s all these guys mean …

O’Leary for News used to live in Toronto and had a heck of a problem with wild animals terrorising each other (and sometimes people) around an apartment building garbage dumpster, with no cover.

They certainly had a drive to survive and flourish. What that possibly has to do with morality, I cannot imagine.

See also: The Science Fictions series at your fingertips (cosmology).

17 Replies to “The new atheists continue their relentless assault on right and wrong

  1. 1
    Axel says:

    They’re just a tad confused, Denyse. Thinking everything was created by nothing is a rational assumption, places a heavy burden on their subsequent reasoning, I’m afraid.

    A cretinous primordial assumption has consequences of natures that are as outlandish as they are inevitable.

  2. 2
    lpadron says:

    Shermer and Harris are hustlers. They *know* they’re spouting gibberish but writing and arguing for what they know is baseless and doomed to failure is so profitable they can’t help but grab the money and run.

    Tent show revivalist atheism, complete with it’s miracle healing of history and prophecies of a heavenly future is a hustle. These two idiots are but two of its wild eyed preachers.

  3. 3
    JDH says:

    What really blows my mind is that these are the same people who reject all the evidence for fine-tuning and other indications of ID.

    I could imagine myself making all kinds of odd assumptions in order to imagine a materialistic unguided evolution of morality, IF, and that’s a tremendously large IF, all the physical evidence pointed away from design.

    Since tons of physical evidence points toward design – I do not find it necessary to assume that by some miracle, unguided evolution produced morality.

    Instead, for numerous sound reasons I go with:

    1. The world appears designed because there is an Intelligent Designer.
    2. Humans have knowledge of a moral law because there is a Moral Law Giver.
    3. The world appears to have a purpose because the Intelligent Designer and Moral Law Giver has a Divine Purpose.

    JDH – Ph.D. in physics. ( Which I add, not as self aggrandizement, but to take arguments away from those who would consider me scientifically naive )

  4. 4
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Shermer: By survival I mean the instinct to live … any organism subject to natural selection—which includes all organisms on this planet and most likely on any other planet as well—will by necessity have this drive to survive and flourish. If it didn’t, it would not live long enough to reproduce and would therefore not be subject to natural selection.

    Where did this ‘instinct to live’ come from? Of course, from the abiogenic, chemical, unintelligent origin of life.

    Shermer explains (as I paraphrase): When chemicals combine to form life, they have a ‘drive to survive’ or an instinct to live. Where did chemicals get this instinct? That’s easy. If chemicals did not have this instinct to live, they would not live long enough to reproduce and would therefore not be subject to natural selection.

    But we see life-forms living and subject to natural selection, so obviously, chemicals have an instinct to live.

  5. 5

    JDH:

    What really blows my mind is that these are the same people who reject all the evidence for fine-tuning and other indications of ID.

    ……

    1. The world appears designed because there is an Intelligent Designer.
    2. Humans have knowledge of a moral law because there is a Moral Law Giver.
    3. The world appears to have a purpose because the Intelligent Designer and Moral Law Giver has a Divine Purpose.

    Those are all “arguments from ignorance”!

    Where the hell is your TESTABLE THEORY to explain how “INTELLIGENT CAUSE” works?

    Oh that’s right, it was all left up to me so that you and the rest can promote your religions at the expense of science and honest experienced scientists!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. 6
    mrchristo says:

    If somebody walked up to these atheists who have been arguing their moral subjectivism position of individuals deciding for themselves what is right and wrong had some stranger come up and punch them on the nose because they felt like it, You would quickly see their moral subjectivism go out the window.

  7. 7

    And News I’m still waiting for your reply to my question that deserves an answer!

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-545419

  8. 8
    AnimatedDust says:

    Hey GSG,

    If God doesn’t exist, why you so riled up? I bet you’re not riled at the flying spaghetti monster.

  9. 9
    Hangonasec says:

    mrchristo #7

    If somebody walked up to these atheists who have been arguing their moral subjectivism position of individuals deciding for themselves what is right and wrong

    That’s not actually what they argue. One does not ‘decide’ to find something distasteful or desirable.

    had some stranger come up and punch them on the nose because they felt like it, You would quickly see their moral subjectivism go out the window.

    Whereas if someone came up and punched me in the nose because they believed it an objective moral imperative, it would be OK?

  10. 10
    Mung says:

    Call an atheist an idiot and he’ll likely be offended and go off begging the moderators for action. But why?

    Why ought not everyone be an idiot?

  11. 11
    Cross says:

    Gary S. Gaulin @ 6

    “Where the hell is your TESTABLE THEORY to explain how “INTELLIGENT CAUSE” works?”

    Where is your TESTABLE THEORY to explain how “CHEMICAL ORIGIN OF LIFE” works?

    Or is it “evolution of the Gaps”?

  12. 12
    Mung says:

    : The new atheists continue their relentless assault on right and wrong

    They must think the belief in right and wrong is wrong.

    Go figure.

  13. 13
    Mung says:

    When the Church attempts to eradicate intellectual idiocy as a danger to humanity it’s a moral evil. When atheists attempt to eradicate intellectual idiocy as a danger to humanity it’s morally righteous.

    Go figure.

  14. 14

    AnimatedDust:

    Hey GSG,

    If God doesn’t exist, why you so riled up? I bet you’re not riled at the flying spaghetti monster.

    Just imagine having invested years and years to show that there is (within bounds of science) scientific merit to the premise of the Theory of Intelligent Design, by developing it for them. All the while those who were responsible for “Serving” you had you on their banned list and are too busy with their religious agendas and fundraising to care about their own theory. At least one should have by now offered to edit it for grammar and rearrange the sections however they think they should belong because I don’t know what others like best.

    Even though I hate to have to do this the only option I have left right now is to do my best to make it clear why for the sake of science I am forced to distance myself from the leadership of the ID movement then do my best to take over for all of them even though I’m financially drained, can’t afford a car anymore and with a full time job and dinosaur tracksite to keep going I have very little free time for all that responsibility too.

  15. 15
    Me_Think says:

    AnimatedDust @9,Cross @ 12,
    Gary S. Gaulin is an advocate of ID. Click on his name to go to his blog which has ID theory. He also has a vb6 program at Planetsourcecode website.

  16. 16

    Yes Me_Think, thanks for mentioning that I am indeed an advocate of ID. What I have to distance myself from is the total neglect of the “Theory of Intelligent Design” and self-defeating tactics that are ultimately destined to get the ID movement in even bigger legal trouble and regrettable unintended consequences that will make all in it the biggest laughing stock of science in all of science history.

    I’m along for the hide-speed ride, and know what will happen by not taking control from those who fell asleep at the wheel.

    As I said in another thread there is nothing wrong with using scientific theory for religious inspiration. For Darwinian theory that’s what BioLogos is for. UD can become the BioLogos for ID theory. But there FIRST has to be a testable scientific “Theory of Intelligent Design” to work from, otherwise the best that is possible is to create a self-styled religion that’s based on misinformation and sloppy science even US children can now see through and laugh at.

    I’m trying to prevent another major mishap that is way greater than the train-wreck that happened in Dover, PA. I want to see ID win in the science arena instead of tragically losing for good by having neglected the most important thing of all, which is a testable scientific theory.

  17. 17
    humbled says:

    “the biggest laughing stock of science”, come now GSG, that honour has and always will be awarded to The theory of evolution. You should know better.

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