"Athiests Need to Just Shut Up", part II

Inspired by this thread, which so long ago turned into a fucking train wreck. I blame Anna Nicole Smith and her untimely dying for that.

So who saw Paula Zahn last night? There was a short interview with Richard Dawkins, then another panel show, this one a bit more balanced than the last Council of Morons.

Did anyone catch it? I did, but I was DVRing between that and 24. I thought Dawkins was good, but Jack kicked his ass.

I’m hoping this ends up YouTube, I missed it last night.


For my own opinion, I thought Dawkins was good, but he started out a bit strident and defensive.

“Why don’t you believe in God?”

“Why don’t you believe in Zeus or Thor or the Flying Spaghetti Monster?”

He got better soon enough.

The atheist woman on the panel was doing well until Reverend Butthead asked her where she got her morality from. She got caught with her pants down. Atheists really need a snappy answer to that complicated question.


Thank you.

Spelling error in original. Thank yew. :slight_smile:

The morality question should be a ground ball to anyone speaking on behalf of atheists. The fact that Ellen Johnson fumbled that question almost ruins any good that was done last night. Rachel Maddow actually did a better job defending atheists than Johnson did and I don’t even think Maddow is an atheist.

That preacher, Reverend Jessie something, was the worst kind of bigoted fundie moron. I was annoyed that Johnson let him score a cheap point by not shooting down that stupid morality question. I thought Chris Hitchens was supposed to be on. What happened to him? he would have drilled that question out of the park. So would Dawkins, for that matter.

Any interest in starting a new thread entitled “Atheists: where do you get your ethics from?”

I’m sure it’s been done to death, but I’d be glad to start one if there’s enough interest shown here.

Long, polite answer: The capacity for empathy and compassion is hardwired into our brains and is cultivated through the guidance of our parents and interactions with our peers. Were you aware of studies which show that chimps in captivity experience visible signs of distress when confronted with the mistreatment of other chimps with which they are familiar? This clearly demonstrates that even lower order primates are endowed with an innate capacity to empathise. They don’t need the Bible to tell them that murder is wrong and neither do I.

Short answer: Well, certainly not from the Bible, which explains why I don’t keep slaves, hate gays, or stone children to death for worshipping Gods other than Yahweh.

Correct answer: Fuck you, Godboy.

I just love that CNN decides to poison the well by deliberately asking a question that’s akin to ‘Why are christians pedophiles?’

As if we need more proof that there is bigotry and discrimination against atheists.


I really wanted her to respond with, “So, your belief in God is the only thing that stops you from murdering and raping everyone you see?”

Although I must admit I’m partial to George Kaplin’s answer.

I agree. I can think of one hundred other ways to phrase that question in order to make a point. “If Christians are so morally superior, then why are so many crimes committed by Christians? For instance: pedophilia in the Catholic church has been getting a lot of press lately. Any ideas about why that particular crime has been so prevalent within your ranks?”

Which one? :slight_smile:

I think my snappy comeback would be along the lines of “Same place you do, which is most likely NOT from the Bible.” It leaves the door open to followup questions.

That was exactly the direction that Ellen Johnson took, and I think it was exactly the wrong way to go. The lack of moral perfection in theists could be a fair supplementary point but it wasn’t an answer to the question she was asked about her own morality, and I think it made her sound evasive and unnecessarily hostile (a tendency that American Atheists really should work to eliminate) and made it look like the Reverend had stumped her for an answer. Even I’m getting tired of the “pedophile priests” refrain. It’s not a defense of atheism or atheistically derived morality, and it’s not a refutation of theism or theistic derived morality.

This should be one of those questions that any spokesperson for atheists should be able to answer automatically. They’re alleged “lack” of a moral system one of the most common attacks they receive. It’s a whack-a-mole question for guys like Dawkins and Harris. Johnson blew it.

http://www.booktv.org/feature/index.asp?segID=7890&schedID=474 Sam Harris and Reza Aslan had a debate on book TV. It was very good. If you can catch it do so. Aslan was very sharp and was well versed in Harris arguments . It had well thought out arguments and was entertaining.
Aslan should be your religious spokesman. he was impressive ,even though clearly wrong.

Aslan’s an atheist? Boy, did Lewis get that wrong then!

I don’t understand why this is a remotely difficult or interesting question. Atheists get their morality from the same places theists do: our hearts and our brains. A moral person has a generally benevolent attitude towards others and uses reason and common sense to figure out the right thing to do. 99% of moral behavior can be based on a few simple principles: Don’t do anything to anyone you wouldn’t want done to you, mind your own business, try to help people who need help if you can. Why is God necessary for any of this? In fact, I’d say atheists are more moral than theists, since they don’t need the threat of a punitive sky-father to force them to behave benevolently.

The history of religion is littered with appalling atrocities commited by people of every faith: The Aztec sacrifices, the Sack of Magdeburg,The Siege of Drogheda, the Salem witch trials, September 11th, I could go on all day. Certainly it’s obvious to the most casual observer that religion not only often fails to promote ethical behavior, it can actively promote horrible behavior.

I’m not saying no one has been inspired by their faith to be a better person, obviously some people have. I’m just saying that religion isn’t necessary to be a good person and that religion can also lead a good person to do horrible things.

I know this is just kind of pissing on this thread, or at least not quite on topic, but I just don’t see why atheists need to “score points” against theists, or the other way around.

Not that I don’t agree, generally, with most of the atheist perspectives expressed in the previous “atheists need to shut up” thread, but I just don’t have the energy to fight a malicious battle of mis-informed logic in order to somehow come out ‘on top.’

Why the hell does it matter where anyone’s morals come from, as long as they are generally good people?