In response to:
Atheism’s moral philosophy not consistent with Baylor’s mission
Oct. 17, 2007 by Roger Olson
What the heck is Baylor’s Mission? If this letter is anything to go by it’s not a very forgiving, objective or kind mission.
Being an atheist just means you don’t believe in any gods; it’s not a lifestyle, it’s not a society, it’s not a philosophy, and it’s not a way-of-life. There don’t seem to be many ‘atheist organisations’ because it’s pointless to say Company X is an atheist company, it’s just a company that doesn’t have any affiliations to any religious organisation.
If Roger bothered to do any research he would find there are many organisations that are not affiliated with any religion that do ‘good works’. The vast majority of these do not claim to be ‘an atheist organisation’ they are just an organisation which was founded and/or run by people who just happen to be non-religious.
There are many NPOs and NGOs which perform all sorts of charitable, humanitarian, caring works etc, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find a large number of these are ‘atheist’. For instance the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation ($60 Billion), the Howard Hughes Medical Institute ($15 Billion) and the British Wellcome Trust ($27 Billion); from what I can ascertain NONE of these are religious based organisations, ergo they are all atheist organisations, they just don’t specifically state that (and they don’t need to).
Roger needs to read all the current literature on Evolution and stop sprouting the ‘survival of the fittest’ nonsense. Nature is all there is, but there is more to it than survival of the fittest. Survival of the group is also very important and has been documented in primitive societies and primate groups.
Primates (monkeys, apes etc) weren’t ‘created in god’s image’ so how do you reconcile that certain primates help the less fit? I just read the other day a study that showed altruism (which is what we are talking about when we discuss ‘helping the less fit to survive’) amongst certain species of primates and even some rats!
“What if I figure out a way to be personally happy and fulfilled while oppressing other people?”
I couldn’t be bothered answering this tripe, but I do recommend that Roger go read some literature on the Inquisition, then come back and ask:
“What if RELIGION figures out a way to be personally happy and fulfilled while oppressing other people?”
I think he’d find an answer.
The ‘atheism’ ‘nihilism’ debate has been debunked so many times its ridiculous, but then we still see it from someone who is a professor and a Dr (I’m assuming here, a doctorate or PHD; jeez you must hand these out in cereal boxes in Texas!).
People can be nice, altruistic, dislike evil and unjustness, without any recourse to a god. Why is it that religious people just don’t seem to get that? Does it destroy your faith to believe that non-religious people can be just as nice as you ‘proclaim’ to be?
Only subjective choice either by an individual or a society. But that can change and it often does.
And? Sorry I don’t quite get what you are trying to say here. Let me guess:
Without god we have no way to decide what is right or wrong, there is no ‘absolute moral’.
Subjective choice by an individual or society is a GOOD thing (Roger seems to imply it’s somehow a bad thing?). Take slavery as an example, the church condoned and even promoted slavery, until one day several individuals and societies thought it wasn’t such a good idea after all. So they changed it and made slavery illegal (and by proxy, morally wrong). Change can be a good thing Roger, as we grow up we realise some things aren’t right so we change them.
Baylor and universities like it exist to promote objective values
Hmm, interesting, don’t see much objectivity in Roger’s letter at all.
Oh, and I hear on the grapevine that Baylor still refuses to allow an atheist student group? That sure is showing objectivity.
For them atheism is not benign, but the enemy — even if atheists themselves are not.
Hard to have atheism without atheists and visa versa, I would have thought.
Finally, let me repeat that I have nothing against atheists as persons and neither does Baylor University.
For someone who has nothing against atheists, Roger sure gives them a bad rap, including not really knowing what atheism is, apparently not knowing a whole lot about evolution, doing next to no research on atheist altruism etc. etc.
But in my opinion, they are people of character and virtue in spite of their philosophy of life — not because of it.
Finally he has got something right! It’s not because we are atheists that we are moral, good people, of sound character and virtue; it’s because we are human beings. However, unlike religious people, we don’t need a god to tell us to be virtuous, we just are.
Thanks to Friendly Atheist for the original link, you can see his comments here http://friendlyatheist.com/2007/10/17/atheism-has-no-redeeming-social-value/, his responses were fairly tame; however, I’m not so friendly, this time.
I’d also suggest Roger have a look at my FAQ he might find some useful research material, and then read all the books in the reading list, and perhaps some of the more eloquent blogs in the blogrolls.
Yes, I know some of my argument isn’t exactly clear and concise, and it’s a bit of a personal attack in places. I’m also not arguing that all atheists are good (or conversely that all religious people are bad), but Roger’s letter was so bad and misinformed that I just had to say something.
They haven’t printed my letter yet, but there are two other letters disputing his claims. Check the Letters to the Editor link