I am an atheist/ agnostic but after careful thinking, I've decided that perhaps virulently promoting atheism (as this community is doing) isn't really good for society. Please don't get offended, just read my arguments below calmly and rationally. If you can argue that I am wrong, I will listen to those arguments and change my opinion.
Note 1: I am using science in all my arguments, not religion.Not all my links point to scientific studies, but I'm sure you could find relevant evolutionary psychology papers if you googled for it.
Note 2: Please don't take offense, I'm not a sexist or a misogynist. I am trying hard to be as unemotional as possible in my arguments.
Argument 1: Polygamy is bad for society
What percentage of our (pre-civilizational/ barbaric) ancestors are males? The answer is not 50%. As evolutionary psychology points out, 80% of our female ancestors managed to reproduce but only 40% of our male ancestors did so. (Link: http://www.psy.fsu.edu/~baumeistertice/goodaboutmen.htm). Simply put, in barbaric societies, males were the high-risk high-reward sex whereas females were the low-risk low-reward sex.
Males are genetically polygynous (interested in sex with as many women as possible - this makes sense as men can produce millions of sperm every day and have a low reproductive cost)
Females are naturally hypergamous (interested in only one man but the best; the top 'alpha' man - this makes sense as a female produces one egg per month and has a high reproductive cost due to pregnancy and child birth).
When sexuality is uncontrolled, the combination of male polygyny and female hypergamy results in polygamy a.k.a harems (one man having sex & children with multiple women).
The ones who suffer are the beta males - the ones who have been sexually selected out. They typically become violent and don't contribute to society. There is an argument to be made that the Taliban practices polygamy and this is the source of violent behavior of terrorists from that part of the world. (Link: http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200706/ten-politically-inco...)
When promiscuity is controlled through strictly enforced monogamy, every man gets a wife. This reduces violent behavior and unlocks the productive capacity in males. I don't have the link available but a man who is already married or believes that he will marry in the future will be 4x productive as an unmarried man who does not believe that he will ever marry (e.g.) Japanese grass-eaters ostracized by an increasingly promiscuous Japan (Link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/dec/27/japan-grass-eaters-sala...)
Alpha men don't significantly contribute to society - they are not scientific geniuses or hard workers. They are typically physically aggressive men. Contrary to feminist dogma, physically dominant men (even dominant to the point of abusive) are attractive to women because they exhibit alpha tendencies - The Dark Triad of Narcissism, Machiavellianism and Psychopathy.
Alpha men understand their higher attractiveness (compared to betas) and adopt a pump-and-dump sexual attitude. They have many sexual partners but don't bother helping with raising their young; some of their young will die due to lack of resources but they make up for it in numbers.
Betas adopt a nourish-and-protect sexual attitude. They have only one sexual partner, whom they win by proving their love and commitment. Then they have children with only this partner, but provide resources and protection to ensure their children grow up successfully.
Monogamy is the cornerstone of civilization. See the Moralia versus Libertalia argument (Link: http://www.hookingupsmart.com/2011/10/14/relationshipstrategies/how...). In a monogamous society, with greater male economic participation and lesser violence, prosperity, rule of law and art flourish.
Argument 2: Promiscuity naturally leads to beta ostracism and harms society
Promiscuity - Defn: Any form of sex outside of monogamous marriage (including exclusive relationships)
Non-exclusive relationships (polyamorous relationships) are almost always polygamous (one alpha man with many women). This results in many beta men losing out.
Exclusive relationships also result in beta men losing out - Why? If enough alpha men are not available, hypergamous females would rather not enter into any relationship at all rather than be with beta men - "The Where have all the good men gone?" tirade from many women in modern promiscuous culture.
Promiscuity is the leading cause of single motherhood. Many women will rather have children with alpha men (who will later abandon them) rather than with good beta providers (whom they find dull and boring).
The social effects of unleashed promiscuity are enormous - 40% out of wedlock births, single motherhood and increased Govt debt/ taxation to support single motherhood by the State which steps in to replace the father.
Single motherhood produces children 2 to 10 times more likely to suffer from:
Argument 3: Atheism promotes promiscuity (Edit: by being silent about it)
I am not saying that atheism caused promiscuity (that happened in the 60s due to a variety of other reasons including feminism) but atheism has played a role in the rise of moral relativism, especially with respect to promiscuity.
The Golden Rule is perhaps the first tenet of religious morality but it is not the only one. The second most important tenet of religious morality is monogamy.
I have seen many arguments about how atheists are equally moral (if not more so) than religious people. In all these arguments, people assume that morality = Golden Rule.
Based on my personal experiences, many atheists seem to think that:
Morality = the Golden Rule
Promiscuity = personal freedom (i.e.) promiscuity is acceptable behavior that the Church restricts because the Church is old and stupid. Many atheists don't seem to realize the far reaching social effects of promiscuity.
This moral relativism on promiscuity is obvious even in this site. For example http://www.thinkatheist.com/forum/topics/atheists-are-not-moral-peo... does not deal with promiscuity at all. http://www.thinkatheist.com/forum/topics/what-is-your-stance-on-mar... has answers from many atheists clearly exhibiting moral relativism on the subject of promiscuity.
[Edit: The majority of your arguments were against this. I can understand why this may look like a strawman argument. Let me clarify:
There is a strong correlation between divorce risk and low IQ. There is also a strong correlation between high IQ and atheism (giving you folks a compliment, take it :) ).
Atheism as a movement, originated primarily amongst high IQ society. But it has now gone mainstream and is growing fast, scarily fast almost. As Uncle Ben put it, "with great power comes great responsibility". But Atheism does not seem to be taking up that responsibility from the Church. Yes, the Church is broken and old and corrupt and its practitioners are bigots and hypocrites. But, it is still the only thing out there taking a stand against promiscuity. Atheists seem to walk away from the responsibility of condemning promiscuity and most Atheists promote sexual freedom.
Morality naturally comes to Atheists because they are high-IQ individuals who are better able to visualize the impact of their life choices in the future. But, as atheism goes mainstream and the Church dies out, what happens to all the voices condemning promiscuous behavior?
We are not more evolved now in anyway than we were in the past. We are, still at our core, apes struggling to build great civilizations. We all (especially low IQ individuals) need moral guidance to help us in this struggle, to make better life choices.
Can you point links to me about prominent Atheists condemning promiscuity? Is the Atheist movement willing to take up the mantle of promoting social morality from the Church after slaying it? ]
[Edit 2: I am not a troll, I've just been super busy last few days, I will have more time this weekend to reply to some comments below. The essential thing I am trying to say is that religion is not pure evil, and we should not look at it in terms of black and white.
There are definitely good things about religion. There is a very interesting theory that religions also evolve over time and the most popular religions are the most useful ones to society, and they became popular precisely because they were an advantage to societies that adopted them. For example, societies with religions that promoted monogamy were almost always more successful in combat over societies that had religions that did not emphasize monogamy. The reason is because in societies that practiced monogamy, soldiers had a genetic stake in survival of that society (they had their own children to protect). Rome fell because of polygamy - the top politicians had harems and orgies and monopolized the women, resulting in loss of morale amongst troops who did not get the chance to be fathers. Rome was increasingly forced to rely on mercenaries rather than patriotic troops to protect her. After the treasury ran out, Rome collapsed because disenfranchised beta males, who had no genetic stake in Rome, simply walked off and allowed the barbarians to invade.
My point of view has always been "What is best for society?", and not "What is true?". Atheism is the correct working hypothesis because there is no proof for God and we have to use Occam's razor at all times. I don't see any downside consequences of high IQ people discovering/ discussing Atheism. But, we have a moral obligation (as the high IQ elites in our society) to do what's best for society. Imagine a ghetto filled with the poorest, uneducated people in our society. We have to make the decisions that will benefit them.
I don't really have a problem with Atheism, but I have significant issues with the Atheist Movement. For instance, take the advertisement "There is no God, Relax". This advertisement is targeted at people who have made bad choices in their life and have been sexually irresponsible. They are probably feeling guilty about these choices and the Atheist Movement is offering them an easy way out. It tells them "There is no Hell or Heaven, so relax and continue making bad choices". In reality, there is no hell or heaven, but there are societal consequences of your choices. In reality, guilt is often a very useful biological mechanism for correcting bad behavior, but Atheism is offering them a way to rationalize away their guilt so that they can continue making bad choices. I am speaking about this from personal experience, I have known people who commit adultery and rationalize their guilt because they think that the concept of 'sin' is meaningless as there is no God.
Also, to all people accusing me of being a sexist and having double standards, I am not asking for double standards from men and women; I am demanding high standards of expected social morality from both sexes. How is that sexist in any way?]
I am going to judge the merit of a social construct on the basis of its usefulness, not on the basis of its truthfulness. I will only promote an idea to society only if I am convinced it will help society.
If the Traditional Conservative Church (not the Modern version that tolerates no-fault divorce) is useful to society as an institution that encourages monogamy, I would rather have that than Atheism.
@Arcus - for a deeper insight into what humans are doing to their ancestral cousins, read Woman in the Mists, by Farley Mowat, the biography of Dian Fossey - she would have been SO proud of those little guys' accomplishments.
Evolution doesn't work on "better" (a subjective or qualitative judgment) it works on "more successful" (an empirical or quantitative fact).
exactly!! better does not equate to more successful...
Is making money a worthy measure of 'success', or just some local obsession?
it is merely a local obsession.. you can live without it and many millions do, we call them 'poor' but our money driven living is destroying relationships and causing social modifications that promote consumption as the highest form of life on the planet.. i offer to you that unless we refocus humanity on what is 'real', we will consume ourselves off this planet.. that can not be a good thing... success is living a life pursuing well-being as Sam Harris puts it... do you NEED a large house and 3 cars to be well? i don't think so...
If you're talking in evolutionary terms, gaining power and wealth is the standard of success used throughout nature, as far as . Which lion has the largest harem, which squirrel has stored the most nuts. If you want to attract the best formed, healthiest, most fecund females, being rich and powerful is what you want to be. Like anything else, it doesn't always work, but as an overall plan it will work more often than any other one.
You say that you are an atheist/agnostic. Either you are lying or you are clueless about atheism.
Also, only religious are so obsessed with sex as you seem to be.
Here are some ideas that invalidate your repetitive, verbose, and baseless claims.
1. The U.S. population is about 20% atheist/agnostic. The prison population is less than 1% atheist/agnostic.
2. Religious belief and intelligence are inversely related.
3. The greatest minds are overwhelmingly atheist/agnostic.
4. Wars are often started by the religious for religious reasons.
5. No atheist/agnostic has ever flown a plane into a skyscraper because of atheist/agnostic beliefs.
6. Serial killers often cite religious reasons for their deeds e.g. god told me to do it. I'm doing gods work, etc.
7. No serial killer has ever said that his/her atheist/agnostic beliefs made him/her do it.
Seems like you're making points based on Shankar saying basically that atheists are bad and cause bad things. Most, if not all, your points are true, but I think only one has a real tie to the article. Thus, I suggest reevaluating the article, and your response, and try to be a bit more relevant.
These are very interesting 'generalizations'.
Watching my 'share' of crime shows, there seems to be some belief in the culture that major crimes are commited by rather smart people. During recent documentaries concerning our present economic fiasco, there is a rather strong indication that very smart people pulled it off. Sadly, I have not heard any statistics mentioned about any atheist or theist commitment concerning this. Having known my share of smart people, it seems that the majority are/were non-theist, but maybe I have just surrounded myself with like minded folks, mostly.
Some of the smartest people I have known were theist! I think mostly that their families were rather conservative, and they could use their rather good minds, IMHO, for nefarious purposes. I expect a few, due to the desire to get ahead in the world, fained a theist belief, because such can have utility in this culture, depending on the venue. One friend of mine in school, knowing 5 languages and a member of our campus atheist group, told me of this deep concern of his, and latter, after a letter to him, wrote back suggesting that 'I am not the same person I was..'
Several times in my life, I have noticed that a theist 'belief' could have utility. My rather soft spoken, non-theist commitment, comes out in personal conversations, and dialogues involving power relationships. Advancement, conditioned upon a theist 'appearannce', has more than once become obvious during my work history. Posing as a theist, while repulsive to me, and I expect others, could be useful, but it is doubtful that that double think could survive long under the constant probing attempts of theists or the the social expectations, such as a prayer breakfast. The adage, 'be careful what you pretend to be, for you might become that!'
The folks I have known that have been involved with polyamory, most seemed of mixed theist/atheist/humanist commitment. The philosophical/ethical desire to have more love in their lives, places them in a theist conflict. I can not speek for them, but it seems that personal values, colliding with theist ideology might generate a forced decision point, with 'atheist' as the provisional state of mind.
In short, personal values, experience, and intelligence might determine the end point of metaphysical commitment. Theist or atheist, mostly comes after the playing out of the transformational/developemental process concerning the basic components of personality. Blaming 'atheism', seems a little thin.
It seems to me that a large percentage of the responses to this article are a knee-jerk reaction and full of rage. I'd suggest this discussion take a more constructive turn. I'd say if your are going to comment, read the article, if you think it is invalid or offensive, take a deep breath, reread the several parts in the article where Shankar specifically says he's not trying to cause hate and discontent, then try to respond in a relevant constructive manner. The man is trying to help society and all the masses can do is pick apart his idea one ragepost at a time! I was thinking this was a place of critical thinking and tolerance. This discussion is quite different.
Eric, it comes off as that a lot of the time, because people are in different places in their atheism. I think the behavior is just people needing a direction to vent. Any group of people that sees themselves as underprivileged will tend to be knee jerk. It is the nature of feeling that underprivilege.
There really is no safe place for ideas to flow and people to practice mutual respect. But there are individuals like Kris and I who noticed what the guy was saying and pointed it out early. But a lot of the non-critical thinking here, the excessive repeat posts saying the same thing over and over is more about people needing to vent their frustration somewhere.
There can be some good conversations though here. Just look around and see who you find who seems to share your ideology about the sharing of ideas. You will find people like that here.
Yeah, I know there are some cultures that are more direct than others like France. I think though, when most people do act like that it is because of an irrational level of overconfidence. I have found if you do not know the precise vantage point of a new idea it is too easy to dismiss something that is actually true. Sometimes there is a really powerful unrealized variable. Combine that with confirmation bias, and you have a mess.