Thursday, April 11, 2013

PZ's atheist victory

PZ envisioned a "world without gods" to answer DJ Grothe's "What would winning look like?"

The list of things PZ came up with is as follows: [emphasis added]
  • You want a list?
  • Atheists could get elected to high office.
  • Piety wouldn’t be a qualification for high office.
  • Our kids wouldn’t be bullied because they don’t attend church.
  • Idiots wouldn’t be defining public policy by its conformity to the Bible.
  • Our schools wouldn’t be silent on “controversial” topics like evolution.
  • America wouldn’t be launching crusades against the foreign heathen.
  • Women could get abortions when they needed them.
  • There would be rational, evidence-based sex education in the schools, rather than religiously dictated abstinence only.
  • Nor did I say they would be. RT @DJGrothe: Wouldn’t be similar. Atheists not in a struggle for liberation equal to oppressed minorities
  • Huge chunks of every community’s tax base wouldn’t be stolen to support lies.
  • .@DJGrothe You asked what winning would look like for atheists. I’m telling you. I’m not saying it would be the same as gay rights.
  • My car wouldn’t be keyed if I had a darwin fish on the bumper.
  • Environmental policy wouldn’t be shaped by people who believe the world is going to end in their lifetimes.
  • Neither would foreign affairs or military policy.
  • Maybe the arts would be as well funded as religion.
  • I wouldn’t have public chimes installed down the street that blare hymns at me every 15 minutes.
  • And a city council that considers enforcing a noise ordinance sacrilegious.
  • The local high school would stop bringing in anti-gay, anti-drug, up-with-god groups for assemblies.
  • I agree it was false. You’ve said we can have different goals. I’m explaining them. RT @DJGrothe: I just pointed out the false equivalence
  • Women wouldn’t be forced to wear the burqa.
  • Women wouldn’t be executed for “immodesty”. Honor killings would end.
  • Condoms would be distributed in Africa. Everywhere, for that matter.
  • Victims of disease & accident would be seen as victims of chance, not stigmatized as sinners.
  • Churches would close. Not all of them, but enough to be replaced with *real* community services.
  • 46% of the American population wouldn’t believe the earth is less than 6000 years old.
  • No more war on Christmas! Secular holidays that prioritize families and people, not sterile rituals and dogma.
  • Institutions that shelter child rapists would be dismantled.
  • We could have death with dignity.
  • Puritans wouldn’t be dictating our sexual relationships.
  • A Baptist could marry a Lutheran or a Jew a Catholic, and their families wouldn’t freak out.
  • Children wouldn’t be labeled by their parent’s irrational beliefs. They wouldn’t be pigeonholed at birth.
  • The science section in your local bookstore might be as big as the faith and religion section.
  • I would stop getting email that contains litanies of my post-mortem torture.
  • Children wouldn’t die in agony because their parents believe in faith healing.
  • Scoundrels and charlatans would have a harder time fleecing their flocks without god’s imprimatur.
  • We’ll recognize that our fate is in our hands, not some invisible benign being’s.
  • We wouldn’t have to put up with football players claiming the Almighty Lord of the Universe helped them get that goal.
  • The Gideons would be handing out real literature rather than the same dumb book over and over. They’d promote literacy, not faith.
  • No more bible colleges. Liberty University would close. Young people would have to get real educations.
  • We’d see ourselves as one tiny fragile speck in a vast universe, rather than the privileged focus of all creation.
  • Humans would no longer see themselves as the only important organisms on the planet. We’d have to recognize our place in an ecosystem.
  • An end to god-soaked talk radio!
  • Imagine Republicans no longer able to swaddle themselves in God and Country…just Country.
  • We’d expand stem cell research — no more pretense that a blastocyst was a full human being…or had the same rights as a woman bearing it.
  • The God Particle would just be called the Higgs Boson.
  • Priests & other believers wouldn’t be haunting the sick & dying in our hospitals any more.
  • Theology would be as dead as alchemy. It would be replaced with history, anthropology, psychology, sociology…real disciplines.
  • We’d no longer pretend that memorizing the Bible was a fit qualification for counseling unhappy people.
  • Priests would finally be free of the need for pretense. They could be people again, and serve in secular ways.
  • Marriage wouldn’t be a prison, but a partnership that could be dissolved without guilt, or maintained by mutual respect and love.
  • We could question EVERYTHING. End religious shibboleths.
  • Religiosity would no longer be a shortcut to morality. People would actually have to BE good, to be regarded as good.
  • No more consoling the grieving by telling them lies. No more fear-mongering with stories of hell.
  • Donating money to a church would no longer be considered charity. How about donating to a real charity instead?
  • Mormons would have to wake up to the fact that their history is bullshit.
  • Goodbye, missionaries. Hello, secular aid.
  • Televangelists would be scorned as scoundrels.
  • All those poor sad priests would have their vows of celibacy lifted. And there will be rejoicing. By the priests, at least.
  • Pope: fired. Vatican: turned into a really great museum.
  • Islamists would stop killing apostates. Authors and comic artists could live free again.
  • Ultra-orthodox Jews would stop spitting on little girls. Liberal Jews would stop mutilating little boys’ penises (so would everyone else).
  • Religious butchers could stop torturing animals in the name of halal and kosher foods.
  • The ordination of women priests would become a moot point.
  • The ordination of gay priests would become a moot point.
  • The shortage of Catholic priests would no longer be of any concern.
  • We would at last recognize that Timothy Dolan has absolutely no qualifications to be consulted on matters of public policy.
  • Ditto, Rick Warren.
  • We could admire churches for their architecture, rather than deplore them as centers of oppression.
  • No more madrassas. No more replacing knowledge & understanding with rote memorization of dogma.
  • “Tradition” is no longer sufficient reason to keep doing stupid things.
  • No one sensible will try to claim the Ten Commandments are a fit foundation for jurisprudence.
  • Atheist organizations will shut down, their job done.
  • Writing lists of how good life would be without God will be as silly as writing lists of how good life would be without ghosts.

This is the end of PZ's list.

Much of this is reasonable - at least, average Joe Atheist is not going to disagree with much of it.

But what about the last 5% of bullet points? This is basically where things like "Atheism+" find life.

PZ assumes consensus on a lot of subjects, for example:
  • Abortion - there is no consensus among atheists regarding abortion laws.
  • Euthanasia - suicide will remain a tough subject.
  • Environment - one can simultaneously not believe in god and enjoy their car, iPad, and trips around the world.
  • Skepticism/Questioning Everything - tried questioning 'feminism' lately?
  • Marriage - where does someone get the idea that atheists can "dissolve marriage without guilt"?
  • Tradition - breaking from tradition will be tough, especially if the 'traditions' happened to gift us an atheist utopia.
It is a habit of the FreeThoughtBlogs and Atheism+ people to assume that all the atheists will happen to see the logic in their ways.

It would perhaps be surprising for these individuals to hear that their political opinions have often not been adequately subject to experiment, and their notion of ideal human behavior might not align exactly with other atheists.

Perhaps different people have different goals for themselves and others.

What a concept.


  1. Hi Uber, I wonder why you didn't link to PZ's post.

    Is it OK if I speculate?

    He did, after all, say this:

    "[...] a point I definitely strongly disagree with: no one gets to dictate what matters to someone else)"

    Which comes close to negating your point that PZ wants to tell everyone how to behave, doesn't it?

    The things PZ says at his actual link (will you post it?) are not assumptions. This is how PZ himself describes it:

    "So I buried poor DJ for about an hour, just riffing on how life would be different if religion weren’t so oppressively dominant."

    This has nothing to do with assumptions about what other people value. If we're talking about assumptions, I think you're the one making the wrong ones.

    1. > "[...] a point I definitely strongly disagree with: no one gets to dictate what matters to someone else)"

      > Which comes close to negating your point that PZ wants to tell everyone how to behave, doesn't it?

      No, it only shows what a hypocritical liar PZ Myers is. Remember the "Bigfoot Skeptics" shitstorm from not so long ago? Only one example of Myers spelling out in detail how others should behave.

  2. As a rule I tend to not link directly to PZ anymore because:

    1) I don't want to validate his behavior with traffic.

    2) I don't want my own visitors immediately visiting his site and attempting to comment on his posts - PZ will just ban them anyways. The more feedback that happens away from Pharyngula, the more feedback that will survive the banhammer.

    3) Referrer URLs from links mean that in the Pharyngula traffic stats this site would show up as referrer and PZ would immediately have an index of where people are being sent there from. PZ could use this data to say this site is pitiful, obsessed, or both and avoid arguing based on the topic at hand.

    That said, I think you've brought up good points, and this also happens to be a line of reasoning that Carrier follows a lot. So I promise to either update this post or address this in another post. :)