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Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Friday, March 11, 2011

Why Should Atheists Care About Japan?

When I arrived at work this morning, I learned of the massive 8.9 earthquake that struck off the coast of Japan. The quake produced tsunamis which devastated most of the coastal areas. The video images are horrific. Not even a Roland Emmerich film could capture such terrifying disaster.

I saw some video footage shot from a helicopter as it flew over a gigantic wave sweeping across the rural countryside of Japan knocking down houses, barns, what looked to be chicken coops, and swirling them all together in a heaving wall of destruction. What was entirely bone chilling with this footage was that I could see cars, obviously with people in them, attempting to escape this onslaught of liquid debris. From the vantage point of the helicopter, one could see the tsunami rolling around them to block what appears to be the only escape route. The people in the cars don't see their way being blocked, and once they realize they can't go that way, they quickly turn down a road that I can see leads only to the dead end of a plowed field where the water is headed. The water eventually overtakes them and they get swept up in the supersurge. I am sure as the days unfold over the next week, we'll see even more, similar footage of this earthquake.

It is times like this, however, that cause me to reflect upon the meaning of life. Over the next few weeks, philosophical pundits, religious gurus, humanitarians, and a whole host of bloggers, will offer up their feelings and opinions as to what they think we should "feel" about the untold loss of life and property destruction. If Larry King was still doing a show, he'd have Deeppocks Chopra, some lesbian nun, Max Lucado, a rabbi, an iman, and Tommy Lee of Motley Crue, all come on and talk about where God was during the Japanese earthquake.

These certainly are the events that puts the mettle of our chosen philosophical worldview to the test. It makes me wonder: what do atheists think when massive, soul-shaking disaster reminds us how helpless and frail our lives truly are and how fast they can end? In fact, at the risk of sounding callus, why do atheist even really care?

Oh yes. I know they do. There is genuine emotion being expressed by atheists over the scenes of people being swept out to sea only to be lost forever. I don't discount that at all. In fact, I imagine there are atheist humanitarian groups, with red Darwin fishes on the sides of vans, mobilizing this moment, setting aside their vacation time to spend two weeks in Japan to help the citizens who have suffered such loss. But, why? Where is the "ought" in their worldview?

The pure, anti-supernatural, materialism that shapes their view of the world and the history of humanity offers no true reason to invest such time and energy. Except maybe doing so for their own, altruistic purposes. I reckon it makes them feel good, or something; or perhaps, they think their efforts benefits the future for humanity, or international, cultural relations at some point down the road.

But honestly, according to an atheistic worldview, an earthquake, an event that has happened millions of times over billions of years, created a tsunami that essentially killed off genetic producing biological meme machines. That's all. Should Richard Dawkins shed any tears over this? If anything, the radical environmentalists should be happy, because big natural disasters thin the herd as it were. A few thousand less mouths to feed, a few thousand less carbon producing, oil using polluters messing up the planet.

But...

The fact that atheists who are reading this are hating me right now and their anger will be expressed through the comments some of them may possibly leave under this post, demonstrates the profundity of the disconnect between what they preach and what they practice.

Atheists "preach" to me constantly from their blogs and their "science" websites, that mankind is merely the chance product of evolution. A genetic organism ran by the "software" of chemical reactions that have been acquired from traits passed along to sustain the survival of our species on a harsh planet throughout our long, brutal, bloody path to becoming homo sapiens.

Yet, atheists don't practice what they preach. In a manner of speaking, they are sort of hypocritical. In spite of this underlying philosophy about humanity, when major tragedy occurs, we are to ignore such beliefs, become grieved over the profound sense of human lives lost to the point we are moved to act in compassion. But why should I if this is just the history of evolution taking its course as it has done millions of times before and allegedly will do millions of times again until our sun burns out and the earth dies?

Such hypocrisy does two good things: Lives are at least saved and materialistic atheism is debunked as a legitimate way to live life.

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41 Comments:

Blogger Brian Westley said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:39 AM, March 11, 2011  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Brian writes,
Wrong. Atheists don't practice what you imagine. That's probably a good synopsys of atheism vs. theism, too.

Congrats for being the first one Brian.
Too bad I had to zap your comment because of the profanity. Yes. I realize you just used the dictionary word describing a female dog, but I need to keep myself consistent to the rules I have placed myself under moderating comments.

However, can you pull yourself away from your videogaming long enough to actually deal with what I have argued? And in a way, I do hold atheism in contempt. There is nothing praiseworthy with a philosophy for narcissistic blowhards.

11:12 AM, March 11, 2011  
Blogger Brian Westley said...

Intellectual coward.

11:34 AM, March 11, 2011  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Huh?

Brian, I am not the one dodging the questions raised. It's real simple: As an atheist, why ought we care about natural tragedy when it happens?

11:46 AM, March 11, 2011  
Blogger AK3Hiker said...

Good post and well said. Objectively, there is no reason an atheist should care. To quote Charlie Sheen: "What's that got to do with me?"

That being said, help from anyone and everyone in dealing with this disaster is much appreciated.

11:48 AM, March 11, 2011  
Blogger Brian Westley said...

Brian, I am not the one dodging the questions raised.

Of course you are; you dodged all the questions I raised in the part you deliberately edited out.

I also didn't dodge your questions, I answered them. You just didn't print them. That's not ME dodging anything.

You're an intellectual coward and a liar.

12:30 PM, March 11, 2011  
Blogger DJP said...

Oh now Fred, asking an atheist (A) to reason (B) without profanity! Cheater!

The answer to your question is that they can't but they must. The atheist have no values to bring that aren't stolen from Christ, with the sole exception of self-worship.

They can't admit this, though. The jig would be up.

But yep, if they were consistent, they'd all be holding up big EPIC WIN signs and conferring Darwin awards on each and every coastline victim.

Trouble is, they want to dance the dance without paying the bill.

1:33 PM, March 11, 2011  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Brian,
What questions did you ask in your original comment? The only comment of substance was the first sentence which I cut-and-pasted. The rest I "deleted" was merely rhetoric complaining that I was a hateful meanie.

If you had a genuine question, by all means, ask it again, but with out the needless cursing.

Fred

1:38 PM, March 11, 2011  
Blogger Brian Westley said...

It's pointless to attempt to argue with someone who simply removes my text. You could have removed one word and left the rest, but you didn't.

3:08 PM, March 11, 2011  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Brian, come on. Don't be lazy. You should know better than this.

Again. You didn't attempt to argue anything. You just made personal jabs at me and my alleged contempt of atheists. Your comment got zapped because you cursed.

Now. If you want to accuse me of some horrible dishonesty and walk away proud of yourself, so be it. You're deluding yourself, though. Scan the comments when I have engaged atheists, and you'll see I have treated them with the utmost respect and always left their comments intact. I couldn't edit them anyways if I wanted to.

Abide by the rules of decorum and you'll be fine. Atheists generally pride themselves for being logical and free thinkers, so let's see some of yours.

4:30 PM, March 11, 2011  
Blogger Ana said...

I think this post (in part) touches upon the is-ought issue, as faced by atheists. The Japanese are in a state of suffering right now and need assistance, but why ought atheists assist them?
Where does this moral ought come from, how does a purely naturalistic, material universe produce legitimate (as opposed to illusory) moral obligations?

But the disconnect you talk about, the disconnect between what atheists say and what atheists do, is a very curious phenomenon indeed. When it comes to discussions or debates, that involve discussing the place humans hold on this earth, atheists' attitude towards humans is very reductive. We are just evolutionary products within a universe that is indifferent towards our existence and individual lives. We are insignificant.

But when it comes to people in need, all of a sudden it's an attitude of humans are important, this is a big deal, we need to lend out helping hands.

So, our existence isn't a big deal, but our actions are?

If our existence isn't a big deal, then by corollary, neither would our non-existence! So, why does it matter whether humans work towards helping one another to surive, as opposed to say, intetional selfishness to drive us towards extinction?

7:59 PM, March 11, 2011  
Blogger thomas4881 said...

Atheist should care about Japan because they probably think Japan is helping people come into their next stage of evolutionary greatness.

9:44 PM, March 11, 2011  
Blogger Ash said...

Caring about the welfare of others is not a result of faith in the supernatural nor of cold, rational logic. It is a product of being social creatures. Caring about the Japanese people is a normal human response, regardless of religious belief.

It then follows that altruistic behavior will be a common consequence. One does not need a justification to help others in need. Many do good for the sake of being good. Why do you need more than that?

I understand you wrote this as a jab at atheists, which is an odd thing to do in the context of asking why many of us are feeling and acting compassionately towards others. It's ironic, if not hypocritical. But that aside, I'll simply end by saying you have some serious misunderstandings about science, evolution, and human nature. The good news is that you can always correct that with some curiosity and research.

11:12 PM, March 11, 2011  
Blogger Dave D. said...

As an atheist, I care about Japan because of empathy. I imagine how terrified I would be and feel sorry for anyone going through such a horrible experience.

My question is the opposite...why should Christians care about Japan? After all, if God exists, he must have been ok with this since he didn't stop it. And those people who were Christians get to be with God now, and those who weren't get to go the hell where there belong. What's the downside for a Christian?

Yes, I know, a Christian can answer the same way I did...we all feel empathy towards others at times like this regardless of religion or lack of it. Asking the original question is really just a demonstration of ignorance about the source of empathy and altruism.

1:01 PM, March 12, 2011  
Blogger Pierre Saikaley said...

ASH:

No, the good news is that amidst a fallen world, where sin and death prevade everything, that there is a God whose wrath is being shown, but also whose mercy has been shown in the substitutionary death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus for those who believe.

You speak of "good". And this is just the thing that atheisim per se cannot justifiy in it's materialistic philosophy of existence. Where does that "good" come from? What is "good" objectively speaking to an atheist?

Your notion of the social good is a common answer. But that doesn't solve your problem. It merely shifts the question to why this good applies to the collective.

Atheism cannot adequately account for it, whether individual or mass numbers. Besdies, what is conidered good socially has often changed.

Christians can say, God is good. Good comes from God, and we're made in his image so bear some good, though b/c of sin we are not always good. There is a moral law that transcends us, and is created within us. You don't have to be a Christian to help your neighbour, but it is a Christian teaching that objective "good", "altruisn", and all things only find their meaning objectively in the Creator-God.

4:53 PM, March 12, 2011  
Blogger Mike Westfall said...

It took Ash 3 paragraphs to beg the question.

Pastor Butler wasn't interested in why atheists do care, but why atheists ought to care.

8:18 PM, March 12, 2011  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Sorry folks. I was away from the house yesterday from 9 AM to 11 PM (before DLST). I'll throw Ash and Dave an answer sometime soon.

6:23 AM, March 13, 2011  
Blogger Anonyman said...

Believing that people are in fact evolved animals, and believing that people are sentient beings who should support and aid each other and collaborate to make a better and safer society, are not mutually exclusive ideas.

Christians do not have a monopoly on doing good things.

Should I point out that Japan has many atheists. I'd imagine they care about the earthquake because the victims are their families and neighbors.

3:46 PM, March 13, 2011  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Anoyman? You registered a name called "Anoyman?"

At any rate, I'll respond in more depth at a later time. Perhaps tomorrow. But all three atheists who have commented here are still missing the point and haven't even come close to answering the questions I raised.

Again. No one is saying atheists never do good things or feel empathy. The question, given the parameters of your chosen philosophy of life is, "Why ought we do good and feel empathy?

5:10 PM, March 13, 2011  
Blogger Tom said...

I find this blog incredibly ironic considering over 70% of the population in Japan is atheist.

8:00 PM, March 13, 2011  
Blogger Dave D. said...

"Why ought we do good and feel empathy?"

I don't get the point of that question. Are you looking for reasons NOT to feel empathy? Why? We all feel empathy, except maybe psychopaths or people with brain damage. If you want to know why biologically, research the evolution of altruism. If you're trying to find a difference between atheists and Christians, I assume a Christian would say they feel empathy because God wants them to, or designed them to?...a pretty poor reason given that, as I said before, if any Gods exist, they didn't stop this event. So obviously they don't have any empathy, so why "ought" we?

8:26 PM, March 13, 2011  
Blogger DJP said...

This meta demonstrates: if it weren't for laziness, dishonesty and stubbornness, there would be no atheism.

Compassion and empathy, without those transcendent values which atheists by definition deny, simply take their place with impulses to commit murder, theft and rape. There is no way to distinguish one from the other except descriptively.

That any atheist tries to make a "why should Christians care?" argument is more proof (if such is needed) that they tend not to understand the first thing about what they deny.

Which, I know -- "Breaking News."

6:30 AM, March 14, 2011  
Blogger Mike Westfall said...

Seems like our intellectual superiors have some trouble distinguishing between is and ought, and are completely unequipped to answer why people ought to care about other people. The best, it seems, they can do is attempt to explain why people care.

Or maybe they just don't have good reading comprehension.

7:48 AM, March 14, 2011  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Dave D (David?) writes,

As an atheist, I care about Japan because of empathy. I imagine how terrified I would be and feel sorry for anyone going through such a horrible experience.

Being frightened doesn’t explain empathy. Birds, deer, beavers, etc, are terrified running from a brush fire. It’s instinctive. They don’t feel compassion and help each other.

Continuing
My question is the opposite...why should Christians care about Japan? After all, if God exists, he must have been ok with this since he didn't stop it. And those people who were Christians get to be with God now, and those who weren't get to go the hell where there belong. What's the downside for a Christian?

Your question shows a severe ignorance of the Bible. This is the heart of health and wealth theology. It assumes that God owes only good things to sinful creatures who are in rebellion against Him and hate Him daily. It is by God’s grace that not all of Japan was wiped out. As Jesus told his audience in Luke 13 when he was told about a massacre of innocent people, unless you repent, you will likewise perish.

Of course, your complaint begs the question as to why you are upset at God for being pro-choice.

Continuing,
Asking the original question is really just a demonstration of ignorance about the source of empathy and altruism.

Really? But you haven’t shown us that you know anything about the source of altruism or why we, just evolved animals according to your view of life, should genuinely care about other evolved animals.

Continuing,
I don't get the point of that question. Are you looking for reasons NOT to feel empathy?

No. I am looking for you, the atheist, to provide justification for why any human, again just another evolved animal, should care about other evolved animals. Research in the evolution of altruism is just as vague and uncertain as your comments have been here. Many of the reasons I have read are irrational. Atheists brag about being rational and logical, yet in this instance, their whole philosophical construct derails.

8:21 AM, March 14, 2011  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Ash writes,
Caring about the welfare of others is not a result of faith in the supernatural nor of cold, rational logic. It is a product of being social creatures.

Really? Termites, ants, whales, parrots, are social creatures. When other termites, ants, whales, parrots, suffer some horrible fate, like having an anteater tear open their mounds or nests being burned in a forest fire, none of them care about the others. There is a profound difference between doing and “ought.”

Continuing,
Caring about the Japanese people is a normal human response, regardless of religious belief.

Says who? You? Why is it a normal human response in the light of evolutionary constructs of humanity, for one evolved animal to help another evolved animal? Both are a product of random mutation and chance, chance being such things as tsunamis altering environments. According to your worldview, this tsunami could be the means for another major milestone in the evolution of man.

Continuing,
One does not need a justification to help others in need. Many do good for the sake of being good. Why do you need more than that?

It’s quite simple. “Good” is a relative term. There are many in the radical environmental movement who believe all these deaths are a “good” thing, because it relieves the planet of more consumers. Moreover, evolution is driven by massive change, including death. Think comet bombardment. A tsunami that kills off an entire population of people directs the overall evolutionary process. What Dawkins calls, blind, pitiless chance.

Finally,
I'll simply end by saying you have some serious misunderstandings about science, evolution, and human nature. The good news is that you can always correct that with some curiosity and research.

Yes. Of course. I have serious misunderstandings about science, evolution, and human nature. An opinion from a guy who provides no examples and probably just stumbled across my blog for the first time and knows next to nothing about my education (at the hands of evolutionists, I might add).

8:24 AM, March 14, 2011  
Blogger Dave D. said...

@Fred
Being frightened doesn’t explain empathy. Birds, deer, beavers, etc, are terrified running from a brush fire. It’s instinctive. They don’t feel compassion and help each other.

Actually, there are examples among animals: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altruism_in_animals
Anyone with a dog knows that animals can show empathy.

Your question shows a severe ignorance of the Bible. This is the heart of health and wealth theology. It assumes that God owes only good things to sinful creatures who are in rebellion against Him and hate Him daily. It is by God’s grace that not all of Japan was wiped out. As Jesus told his audience in Luke 13 when he was told about a massacre of innocent people, unless you repent, you will likewise perish.

I certainly don't claim to be a bible expert. But your statement here just shows that the God you believe in doesn't have any empathy. I know that the typical Christian believes that because God created them, he can do whatever he likes and still somehow remain moral. Sorry, that may be true for creating inanimate objects, but if you create a self-aware being, then their opinions/feelings count. And, killing thousands with earthquakes and tsunamis is evil.

Of course, your complaint begs the question as to why you are upset at God for being pro-choice.

Huh? Is this humor or serious? If you're serious, you're equating killing thousands of conscious self-aware beings with killing a few un-aware cells. More biblical morals?

But you haven’t shown us that you know anything about the source of altruism or why we, just evolved animals according to your view of life, should genuinely care about other evolved animals...I am looking for you, the atheist, to provide justification for why any human, again just another evolved animal, should care about other evolved animals. Research in the evolution of altruism is just as vague and uncertain as your comments have been here. Many of the reasons I have read are irrational. Atheists brag about being rational and logical, yet in this instance, their whole philosophical construct derails.

I pointed you to the evolution of altruism. You're free to remain ignorant of that topic if you'd like. If you're looking for a simplistic explanation: we care about others because we want them to care about us. As far as being irrational, the most irrational thing I've seen in this thread is saying that massacring innocent people can be a moral act!

1:12 PM, March 14, 2011  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Dave D (David?) writes,
Actually, there are examples among animals:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altruism_in_animals
Anyone with a dog knows that animals can show empathy.


Allow me to note three significant problems:

Again, showing empathy and explaining they why of empathy are two different things. You are still missing the "ought" that defines your worldview. Why, given an purely, Darwinian worldview, should we show empathy?

The wiki article is also problematic. Under the examples listed at the end, the operative phrase is, "citation needed." Hence, what is described here as genuine altruistic behavior is hearsay by alleged observers.

These same animals also display extreme violent behaviors. For example, chimps eat their young, kill other chimp groups and cannibalize the dead, and rape females. Walruses also kill other young males that will compete with the dominate male's territory. Are those "bad" or "wicked" behaviors according to your perspective? As Dan noted above,

"Compassion and empathy, without those transcendent values which atheists by definition deny, simply take their place with impulses to commit murder, theft and rape. There is no way to distinguish one from the other except descriptively."

Appealing to animals as example of "why" we show empathy and describing it as "good" ignores the other behaviors we specifically outlaw in our society.

Continuing,
But your statement here just shows that the God you believe in doesn't have any empathy. I know that the typical Christian believes that because God created them, he can do whatever he likes and still somehow remain moral. Sorry, that may be true for creating inanimate objects, but if you create a self-aware being, then their opinions/feelings count. And, killing thousands with earthquakes and tsunamis is evil.

God's character is holy, which is an attribute you tend to overlook. Again, you're thinking like a health and wealth preacher. God, because of His holy nature, owes no one any good. He especially doesn't owe sinful creatures who hate Him anything for sure. The fact that the entire nation of Japan wasn't wiped out demonstrates God's goodness in light of man's rebellion and sin.

Additionally, you are using the term "evil," which is subjective in a world where there is no God.

Continuing,
Huh? Is this humor or serious? If you're serious, you're equating
killing thousands of conscious self-aware beings with killing a few un-aware cells. More biblical morals?


I am extremely serious. A baby in the womb is not unaware cells. By the 16th week, babies are extremely aware of the outside world and respond to stimuli. Again, conscious and self-aware are a matter of debate among many atheists and are subjective according to your worldview. Peter Singer, for example, would say a new born child isn't particular "self aware." Help us out and define what constitutes being self-aware and conscious.

Continuing
I pointed you to the evolution of altruism. You're free to remain
ignorant of that topic if you'd like. If you're looking for a
simplistic explanation: we care about others because we want them to care about us. As far as being irrational, the most irrational thing I've seen in this thread is saying that massacring innocent people can be a moral act!


Again, the information for the evolution of altruism is all over the map and highly subjective. It's based upon observation and is not grounded in anything meaningfully objective. Once again you use words like "innocent" which is subjective according to your worldview. What makes a person "innocent?" Biblically, there are no "innocent" people. All men are sinners before God. The fact that any of us continue to take our next breath shows forth the restraint of God's grace.

5:12 PM, March 14, 2011  
Blogger DJP said...

...killing a few un-aware cells

Better slow down before this becomes a rationale for exterminating atheists and Democrats.

Which Christians would oppose, btw.

6:52 PM, March 14, 2011  
Blogger Dave D. said...

Again, showing empathy and explaining they why of empathy are two different things. You are still missing the "ought" that defines your worldview. Why, given an purely, Darwinian worldview, should we show empathy?

Maybe I am missing something, because this seems obvious to me...maybe if I actually use the word "ought"?: "We OUGHT to care about others because we want them to care about us." There's lots of variations of what you might call the golden rule. It's just logical to treat others the way you want to be treated (so we OUGHT to).

The wiki article is also problematic...
These same animals also display extreme violent behaviors...
Appealing to animals as example of "why" we show empathy and describing it as "good" ignores the other behaviors we specifically outlaw in our society.

Again, maybe I'm missing your point. The animal examples were purely because you claimed they didn't show empathy. If you don't like that article feel free to research it further...having owned a dog, I'm convinced already. I didn't claim animals always show compassion and empathy. Neither do humans who exhibit all of the violent behaviors you listed.

"Compassion and empathy, without those transcendent values which atheists by definition deny, simply take their place with impulses to commit murder, theft and rape. There is no way to distinguish one from the other except descriptively."
This is meaningless assertion.

God's character is holy, which is an attribute you tend to overlook. Again, you're thinking like a health and wealth preacher. God, because of His holy nature, owes no one any good. He especially doesn't owe sinful creatures who hate Him anything for sure. The fact that the entire nation of Japan wasn't wiped out demonstrates God's goodness in light of man's rebellion and sin.
If you seriously believe this I doubt we have much more to discuss. That's no different than saying that since Jeffrey Dahmer could have eaten more people, but didn't, it proves how good he was. Oh, sorry, I forgot the most important part...Jeffrey Dahmer was "holy".

Additionally, you are using the term "evil," which is subjective in a world where there is no God.
Ok

By the 16th week, babies are extremely aware of the outside world and respond to stimuli...
Which is why I'm against abortion once the fetus can feel pain, and I have no issue at all prior to that. The point is purposely causing unnecessary pain is wrong, regardless of whether it's done by a human or some supreme being. And killing some cells that don't feel pain and aren't conscious or self-aware isn't.

Help us out and define what constitutes being self-aware and conscious.
No thanks

Once again you use words like "innocent" which is subjective according to your worldview. What makes a person "innocent?" Biblically, there are no "innocent" people. All men are sinners before God. The fact that any of us continue to take our next breath shows forth the restraint of God's grace.
Who cares if it's subjective. You know perfectly well what's meant my "massacring innocent people". And claiming that God gets to do it because he's God is pure rationalization if I ever heard it. It's always amazed me how religious people can claim you need God to be good, and in the next breath say that God can do the most unspeakably evil thing and its good because God did it. Talk about moral relativism!

7:01 PM, March 14, 2011  
Blogger Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"I am looking for you, the atheist, to provide justification for why any human, again just another evolved animal, should care about other evolved animals. Research in the evolution of altruism is just as vague and uncertain as your comments have been here. Many of the reasons I have read are irrational. Atheists brag about being rational and logical, yet in this instance, their whole philosophical construct derails."

The atheist who doesn't care all that much about what happens to other evolved animals looks to me like he or she is being intellectually coherent and consistent. Of course, I think most of them do care, but perhaps they don't want to feel the social shame and stigma of appearing as if they don't care, so then they feign caring.

5:00 PM, March 15, 2011  
Blogger Anonyman said...

Fred, what you're trying to do is convince us atheists that we aren't saddened or disturbed by this tragedy. However we are. So what you're trying to do is convince us that we aren't thinking what we know we're thinking. That's pretty much impossible, especially via internet blurbs.

I might wonder why a Christian cares about the suffering in japan. I could say stuff like "why do you care about suffering that is insignificant compared to the suffering of those in hell" or some other such disjointed argument. But I would only annoy you because I would be trying to convince you that you aren't thinking what you're thinking.

The only people who don't care about Japan are nihilists. I suppose nihilists are a type of atheist, but very few atheists are nihilists. And nihilists don't get out much anyways.

7:16 PM, March 15, 2011  
OpenID sonofthunder7 said...

Fred, what you're trying to do is convince us atheists that we aren't saddened or disturbed by this tragedy. However we are. So what you're trying to do is convince us that we aren't thinking what we know we're thinking. That's pretty much impossible, especially via internet blurbs.

Actually what I think he's getting at(I apologize if I'm wrong, Fred) is that we all feel empathy and compassion as a result of being made in the image of the God. If we're truly mere animals, there's no reason for us to feel such emotions at all.

6:45 AM, March 16, 2011  
Blogger Sir Aaron said...

Atheists just aren't self-aware. As I've shared before, I grew up in a Christian household and said I had accepted Christ when I was a youth. As college student, I quickly started moving farther away from Christian morals...they interfered with what I wanted to do. But I always had some moral boundary...a bright line that I wouldn't cross. Naturally, I kept moving that line and then one day I had an epiphany. Why the heck did I have any line? Either (A) there was a God who gave rules that I better follow or (B) there was no God and therefore, any boundaries were strictly self-imposed moral values that I could change as I pleased to benefit myself. Additionally, I realized that if there was no God, I should stop thinking of right and wrong but in terms of beneficial and non-beneficial.

Frankly, some great philosophers came to the same conclusion and said so. Thanks be to God that he elected to show me A was the truth.

1:48 PM, March 16, 2011  
Blogger Anonyman said...

@Fred Butler
@sonofthunder

Atheists are saddened by tragedy because most of them have normal human morals.

Christians are saddened by tragedy because most of them have normal human morals.

Christians claim these morals come from god. Atheists have a range of explanations for these morals involved society, evolution, empathy, philosophy, etc.

So people are basically stuck with some degree of morals unless they happen to be a sociopath. People can try and usually fail to break away from normal human morals. People have used various rationalizations for doing this in the past. Most atheists have no reason/desire/impulses to break away from morality, any more than Christians do.

When I say morals, I speak mostly of golden-rule type morals, such as don't kill people, don't ignore the suffering of people right in front of you, etc.

What I'm trying to say is that atheists feel similarly to christians about Japan.

2:21 PM, March 16, 2011  
Blogger Gerri said...

I am an atheist and I do not care about Japan. I feel nothing when I see the videos or look at the pictures. The only thing I keep thinking is "who doesn't think maybe we should move after the last earthquake 15 years ago"

And now the radiation is poetry in motion. All the victimization we had to hear about after WWII and it turns out Japan just nuked themselves.

Japan is on a fault line, it's inevitably environmentally screwed. Yet, we keep throwing resources at it as if we can magically change the way the earth works to save some human life.

You are right, I am thrilled when a natural disaster hits because it knocks out some of our overpopulation problem that no one else seems to notice or take seriously as we fight for health insurance for all!!!

I get upset with things like an oil spill that mess with our natural ecosystems, but an earthquake is essential to earth processes... it's a fact of living on earth but let's just get mad that the United States didn't step in to save the Japanese.

11:09 AM, March 18, 2011  
Blogger Anonyman said...

I disagree with Gerri's thesis and dislike the cavalier tone in light of the disaster.

Gerri seems to have no understanding of economics or civilization in general, and the attitude towards the environment is a naive and childish one at best.

We can't change the way the earth works, not much anyways, but we can protect against earthquakes. Gerri seems to not notice that Japan's losses were much, much less than Haiti's or Sumatra's.

The part about overpopulation, aside from snuffing out reasonable discourse about population dynamics, shows utter ignorance of Japan's population trends.

The part about the radiation disaster being "poetry in motion" is just... tasteless...

Mr Butler I hope this shows you that atheists are far from monolithic...

7:09 PM, March 20, 2011  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Anonyman,
I never said anything about atheists being monolithic. My argument is directed at justifying your altruism according to an atheist worldview.

This Gerri person is merely advocating the logical conclusion to his worldview. He (or she) is being consistent. However, you are bothered by his (or her) opinion on the events and find it tasteless. But your still missing the reason for the why you don't like it except to say it bothers "YOU."

9:46 AM, March 21, 2011  
Blogger Anonyman said...

It bothers me because I have optimistic visions for the future, and compassion for other human beings, and the destruction in Japan conflicts both of these, as does Gerri's worldview in many ways. My dreams for the future of society and the human condition are probably more optimistic than reality will allow, but that's just dreams in a nutshell right there.

Humans are virtually incapable of having a set of beliefs that is entirely rational. You could say I have an irrational belief in rationality, whereas I might say you have an irrational belief in irrationality.

Mr. Butler the pragmatic thing to do would be to accept that some atheists want to support Japan as much as you do, and then not try to undermine this support.

3:45 PM, March 21, 2011  
Blogger Ryan said...

It's funny to use religion as a basis for helping people, when there are countless stories in the Bible, for example, that depict the massacres of entire villages simply because of what that village's inhabitants believed.

Atheists think that life is more sacred, since there is no afterlife, no cake promised us when we kick the bucket.

My notion is that Atheists should care, because that's in their nature as a good deal of them are humanitarians. They also form their own morals, and judge these morals themselves instead of lifting them from a 2,000 year old book. Theists judge their own morals too, some of the time, they just cling to religion to seem more righteous in the eyes of others. The real question is: why should any theists care? They're not losing anything by watching people drown or lose their homes to floods; their chances of reaching heaven are not shaken by any of this.

I, for one, had several of my idols living and working in Japan when this disaster happened. I'd personally like to work in Japan in the future, and take part in their culture. I love their history and culture and fascination with folklore and symbolism, their art and innovation. Atheists love a lot of things; these things just aren't tied to religion, a stark contrast to the image painted by many a close-minded theist of the Atheist as a "live for yourself" delinquent who would kick anyone under a bus for a nickel and operates only for their own gain.

I'm surprised to see some knocks against video gamers in previous comments as well, being that video gamers and manga enthusiasts, regardless of religion, were two of the biggest supporting communities collecting donations for Japan's relief efforts.

2:34 PM, February 05, 2012  
Blogger Mike Westfall said...

> ...countless stories in the Bible,
> ... that depict the massacres of
> entire villages simply because of
> what that village's inhabitants
> believed

Perhaps you could point out one specific example. I have a feeling, though, that you've confused belief with practice.

> Atheists should care, because
> that's in their nature as a good
> deal of them are humanitarians.

You've explained why they care. But yet to be answered is why they should care. Would you care to tackle that one?

6:35 PM, February 05, 2012  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Ryan,
Mike is correct. You may indignantly claim you do care, but you haven't explained, given your atheist worldview WHY you should care. Go back through what I wrote and interact with what I noted. I'd like to see you specifically respond to my main points.

7:11 AM, February 06, 2012  

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