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.
Here here! Well said!
I have occasional moments of lucidity --
BINGO!! CORRELATION DOES NOT EQUAL CAUSATION!!! KUDOS!!!
WTF?! I just frantically dug out my copy of the “Humanist Manifesto,” to look up wherein it says that I, as an atheist, should consider promiscuity as a viable lifestyle. Guess what? It’s not there. There’s a lot of stuff about honesty, integrity, kindness, alrtruism, responsibility, etc. But nowhere is there the slightest suggestion that promiscuity/polygamy are atheistic values, directly or indirectly.
I am an atheist, and I have had only one wife, from whom I would NEVER stray.
I will concede that this is a well-constructed and well-argued polemic about the relative effects of polygamy/promiscuity vis a vis monogamy. But it fails utterly in attempting to link it to atheism. As a matter of fact, polygamy is explictly approved in the Abrahamic texts. The ancient kings and holy men had dozens - hundreds - of wives and concubines. Abraham, himself, was a fornicating whore-monger.
There are clues embedded in this screed, though, that seem suspiciously like the rantings of right wing bigots like Rush Limbaugh. One of the clues is the reference to “moral relativism.” That is boilerplate, right wing claptrap that theists are fond of attaching to atheists and Democrats. Methinks that this bloke is not the atheist he claims to be, and probably never was.
Atheists are people who don’t believe in a magic man in the sky - nothing more, nothing less. The attempt to link us with moral depravity is specious at best, and reprehensible at worst.
Dale. I agree that atheism doesn't mean anything by definition other than a lack of belief in gods. But I think we use this far too much as a rhetorical escape. There still are implications of not believing in gods and there really are belief tendencies of those who don't believe in gods.
There aren't a lot of atheists who believe in absolute morality. There are some, myself included, but not many. That term exists outside of right-wing circles too. But if you don't believe in absolute morality, then you're a moral relativist, because it's one or the other in the case of absolutes.
But, if you say that there is an absolute (standard for) morality, it would mean that this standard is made by an entity, wouldn't that "absolute" morality be therefor relative to that entity his/her/it's mind?
Since morality is dependent on a mind, wouldn't that mean that morality is always relative?
I could be completely wrong here, but please feel free to explain, because the whole subject of "absolute" morality seems very odd to me.
Rob, I just think the way things are makes there be absolutes. I contend that when we chose to value one thing over another, it is a result of us already having measured the value of everything we experienced to that point, and then measuring the new thing accordingly. But the big idea is that we need to realize it is just measurement. If we are measuring, it means we trick ourselves when we think having options matters us if the goal of every choice is to measure right. What actually matters is getting the right or closest to right measurement. But for every circumstance, there is an absolute best decision if everything is measured out right. This is basically how I think it works as a measurement process:
-Finite beings need to act
-The need to act is faced with the inability to identify the best course of action
-All creatures possess a natural drive to measure in order to determine the best perceived course of action
-This drive can be called valuation and the results of any valuation measurement is called value.
-Value is determined through a composite measurement of the identifiable properties of something being measured.
-Previous values are applied to determine the relationship between previous measurements and new ones.
If you can establish it as measurement, then it means that the interest of value is accuracy. After that, a best course of action may still be impossible to figure out. But there has to be one, because if everything got measured perfectly, that would be it. It doesn't mean we can get to it, but we sure as heck can keep on believing that there are best things to do. And we can figure out extremes, as I hear Harris says.
Thanks for your reply, although if I'm honest it's not a lot more clear to me.
Our bodies are different, our brains are different, and therefor the operating instructions of our brains and minds are also different. Our empathy however is shared with all humans, and this inspires us to act in a moral fashion. So, we as humans definitely act as if morality is subjective, I think we can all agree on that, right?
Harris talks about how we could possibly measure suffering and use that as a measuring stick for morality, yet suffering is also highly subjective and as such you would need to weigh, for lack of a better word, one person's suffering to that of another. Wouldn't that also happen on a subjective basis?
"But there has to be one, because if everything got measured perfectly, that would be it."
But what would we measure, is it an objective value that suffering should be measured, for instance? And how would this be measured? The main reason why morality does seem to me to be subjective is because we don't seem to be able agree on the measuring stick.
You seem to claim that because measuring sticks exists, there should be a perfect measurement. But what are we really measuring? And more importantly, doesn't "perfectly measured" already imply an absolute standard?
I really don't get it, apparently, as my post contains more questions than a 5 year old asks on a trip to the zoo.
No, my point is that you are already doing it. You say "how would we measure" and I am saying it is just what I contend we already do, not what we "should do"
I argue that we need to figure out what we are doing first, in order to figure out how to do it better.
But all those differences you are talking about, that assumes that you can justify prioritizing self over others. I don't think it is logical to preference self. I think that is emotional.
Different vantage points are just different scales. But once you don't prioritize self, the value of everything loses subjectivity.
Of course we measure morality, as you said we do that by filtering events through a process that involves our past experiences. We all do it differently and yet we all draw from the same basic emotions.
I really don't see how you get to an "objective" morality.
Different vantage points are just different scales. But once you don't prioritize self, the value of everything loses subjectivity.
Again, you are saying that because we have ways to measure morality there must be an objective morality. Yet where is the proof? You just use a lot of words to show what you belief, I fail to see any argument in your post.
Everything measurable has finite properties and boundaries and by that nature it must have an accurate measurement.
I don't see why that needs to be proven, because it is undeniable.
Are you getting confused about how concepts are subjective, and everyone has different ones? That is because they didn't interpret the data accurately in the first place forming those concepts. Concepts don't just pop out of nowhere. They are formed from observations about reality. There is a best way to form a concept. Humans are just information processing machines. Since everything is finite, there is a best way for everything, not just moral decisions, but all decisions.
But since decisions are made with measurement it means that behind all decisions is the drive to see things with precision and accuracy. There is no other reason to measure than to be accurate. Who measures in order to be inaccurate?
Not sure if I got through there. I see you understand that morality is measured, but you don't realize it is not just morality that you measure. All the properties of everything out there for basic decision making, including morality, but also just plain old decisions like picking blue over red, are made from a measuring drive.
You just don't think of your personal values and ideas as all being measurements made from measurements. But that is all they are. How right your values and idea are, matters by how accurately you formed them.
That is what I mean when I say "there is a best way for everything, not just moral decisions, but all decisions."
I really hope you can at least understand the argument, I really don't care if you agree or not. At this point I simply want people to understand it.
The problem that keeps people from understanding this is that they are tricked by their minds into thinking that choice matters and that there is free will. Neither is true.