Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Quote-mine This Post For Teh Win!

For the first time in like, forever, I've finally got access to a decent Internet connection that's up most of the time. And I don't have a nosy boss or corporate IT gestapo watching what I use it for.
"Close those 36 RedTube tabs and step away from the cubicle."

I've also got weird working hours now, which means I have a fair amount of free time on my hands when everyone else is at work. So, that means I've been able to watch all the YouTube videos. If the 'YouTube Suggests' list is full of ones I've already watched, that means I've seen all the videos, right? I'm pretty sure it does.

In all of that watching, something surprised me: although I dealt with many of the basic implications of atheism years ago and moved onto more interesting intellectual pursuits, apparently not everyone on the Internet has moved on yet.

Specifically, I saw a surprising number of YouTube atheists having to respond to the ridiculous theist claim that "Without God, there can be no morality. Atheists just want to sin. If I didn't believe in God, I'd probably be in jail right now."

Really? We're still on that one?

It occurs to me that I don't think I've ever really addressed that point on this blog (because it's dumb), but I figured I may as well put my thoughts down in case the other people who've watched all the YouTubes are also looking for something to do.

So now that I'm an atheist, what's to stop me from going around eating babies, raping children and killing kittens? Well, nothing.

I mean most of those things are illegal, so I could get in trouble if I did them. But that wouldn't stop me from doing them either, it would just make it unpleasant afterwards.

As Penn Jillette likes to say, I eat all the babies, rape all the children and kill all the kittens I want to. It just so happens that the number of babies I want to eat, children I want to rape and kittens I want to kill is the same: zero.

In fact, by the standards of most religious people, I live a rather exceptionally moral life. I don't drink, smoke or do drugs and I'm fiercely monogamous in my relationships. I'm perfectly free to drink, smoke, shoot up or sleep around if I want to, I just don't want to.
The right combo of dijon and brie could change my mind tho.

Unlike most theists, I actually don't consider those moral issues. To me they're more aesthetic than anything else, with the exception of the monogamy thing. I don't consider that moral either, but that's a more visceral, and less aesthetic thing. A story for another post, perhaps.

I don't pretend to be a saint, but I like to think of myself as being a generally okay guy. I was this way when I believed in YHWH, and I'm still like that. My morality (or whatever it is) obviously never came from Jesus, it came from my own brain.
Guess which part!

If the only thing holding you back from eating babies or raping children is your fear of eternal damnation, perhaps I'm not the one with the morality problem.

The real problem with justifying your faith with Pascal's Wager ("If you believe and you're wrong, you lose nothing, but if you don't believe and you're wrong, you go to Hell") is it's a trap. Even if you believe in a god, how do you know you believe in the right one? Until one of the many different religions provides some actual objective evidence that their story is the right one, there's no point assuming that any of them are.

And the cost of belief isn't zero either... it used to cost me my Sunday mornings and Friday evenings to go to church, back in the day. But there are far more interesting things to do at those times (At DeeTwenty Geeking Venue!). Pascal's Wager is like any gambling: the odds favour the house, so your best option is to not play the game.