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The atheist horror file

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Since there exists plenty of evidence of religious people doing wrong, I thought I'd start the opposite with a collection of atheists making horrific errors.

Here is a wonderful example from Richard Dawkins, a self-appointed champion of atheism and of discarding of religion (even traditional and non-evangelical).

Dawkins, on his forum, was asked to clarify rumors of being a vegetarian on moral grounds, and of granting rights to animals. Here was a perfect opportunity to clear misconceptions and to declare to the world that, though an atheist, he upheld man's exalted stature and recognized his unique nature (since after all, biology is his profession).

Dawkins' response went quite the other way, however:

I am not, in the end, in favour of rigid lines. But if I were forced to think in terms of lines, I would try to divide animals into those that suffer from being eaten and those that don't. And I would imagine that there are three main classes of suffering.

1. Physical pain: It seems to me that it is immoral to inflict physical pain on animals just so we can eat them. [...]

2. Distress, which might fall short of physical agony, caused by the rearing process or the slaughtering process. Battery hens, intensively reared pigs, that kind of thing. I think causing distress of this kind is morally wrong, although it is difficult to measure. [...]

3. Fear of what is to come, or the grief of bereavement. [...] If cows and pigs knew they were about to be slaughtered, and feared it, I think that would be morally wrong.

Any of these three kinds of suffering could lead us to draw lines, and each of the three might have its line in a different place. For example, if might be only humans who suffer fear of class 3. But it could be that cockles can suffer physical agony just as much as we can.

However, I prefer not to draw hard and fast lines at all, but to think in terms of continua. For example, I doubt if there is a line such that all species on one side of it can experience fear, and all species on the other side can't. I suspect that there are sliding scales, rather than rigid lines, with respect to all three of my classes of suffering. Maybe all animals can suffer, but some species can suffer more than others. And it is extremely hard to measure, in any case, as Marian points out. Given that it is hard to measure, I think it is a moral choice to err on the side of giving the animals the benefit of the doubt.

http://www.richarddawkins.net/forum/viewto...234689#p1234689

If a leading "new atheist" can say that "If cows and pigs knew they were about to be slaughtered, and feared it, I think that would be morally wrong", it begs the question: how much does he even understand morality at all??

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Just goes to show that atheism is not a litmus test for rationality. But then, we already knew that. It's not what we don't believe that's important, it's what we do believe.

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But then how many non-objectivists recognizes the true origin of rights?

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Since there exists plenty of evidence of religious people doing wrong, I thought I'd start the opposite with a collection of atheists making horrific errors.

Here is a wonderful example from Richard Dawkins, a self-appointed champion of atheism and of discarding of religion (even traditional and non-evangelical).

Dawkins, on his forum, was asked to clarify rumors of being a vegetarian on moral grounds, and of granting rights to animals. Here was a perfect opportunity to clear misconceptions and to declare to the world that, though an atheist, he upheld man's exalted stature and recognized his unique nature (since after all, biology is his profession).

Dawkins' response went quite the other way, however:

I am not, in the end, in favour of rigid lines. But if I were forced to think in terms of lines, I would try to divide animals into those that suffer from being eaten and those that don't. And I would imagine that there are three main classes of suffering.

1. Physical pain: It seems to me that it is immoral to inflict physical pain on animals just so we can eat them. [...]

2. Distress, which might fall short of physical agony, caused by the rearing process or the slaughtering process. Battery hens, intensively reared pigs, that kind of thing. I think causing distress of this kind is morally wrong, although it is difficult to measure. [...]

3. Fear of what is to come, or the grief of bereavement. [...] If cows and pigs knew they were about to be slaughtered, and feared it, I think that would be morally wrong.

Any of these three kinds of suffering could lead us to draw lines, and each of the three might have its line in a different place. For example, if might be only humans who suffer fear of class 3. But it could be that cockles can suffer physical agony just as much as we can.

However, I prefer not to draw hard and fast lines at all, but to think in terms of continua. For example, I doubt if there is a line such that all species on one side of it can experience fear, and all species on the other side can't. I suspect that there are sliding scales, rather than rigid lines, with respect to all three of my classes of suffering. Maybe all animals can suffer, but some species can suffer more than others. And it is extremely hard to measure, in any case, as Marian points out. Given that it is hard to measure, I think it is a moral choice to err on the side of giving the animals the benefit of the doubt.

http://www.richarddawkins.net/forum/viewto...234689#p1234689

If a leading "new atheist" can say that "If cows and pigs knew they were about to be slaughtered, and feared it, I think that would be morally wrong", it begs the question: how much does he even understand morality at all??

Good point. He rightly doesn't accept the superstitious component of religion, but he's pretty much hooked by the wider christian philosophy. In one video I was watching he declared himself to be an "aetheist for Jesus" :huh:

Happily the world listens to him on evolutionary biology and aetheism, but not much else.

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