Pyongyang's Holy War (and the Misdeeds of Atheistic Tyrants)

This was in the news yesterday:  


Pyongyang’s ‘Holy War’ will certainly be lumped in with Pol Pot, Stalin, et al, and capitalized upon by apologists as evidence for why atheism is evil. 


I came up with a metaphor this morning to help the religious better understand the atheist’s perspective on this. I was thinking about it in the context of Taner Edis’ application of rational choice theory to Christianity, which helps atheists empathize w/ why some people would choose it (i.e. Christianity IS a “rational” choice, but more in the sense of a good consumer product [e.g. to opt for your family's value system, as well as one that has answers to the hard questions, charitable infrastructure, etc]. Edis is an accommodationist from the old days- you can hear him on old Point of Inquiry episodes). Anyway, here is what I was thinking:


Atheism is different from Christianity/monotheism in that it does not, by default, have an inclusive moral system. The term ‘atheism’ only applies to the nonexistence (ontological) aspect of a god philosophically. The ethical system is philosophically separate. Think of it like monotheism being a 2-in-1 shampoo w/ conditioner, while atheism is just the shampoo. That doesn't mean that atheists can’t acquire a separate conditioner (e.g. secular humanism)- in fact, when they are not already combined, atheists are free to choose the best quality shampoo and conditioner and use as much of each accordingly. The point is that some atheists use conditioner while others don’t:



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Comment by Andrew Viceroy on December 25, 2010 at 4:01pm

My friend Justin said, "Regarding the shampoo/conditioner metaphor, would atheism in itself really be a shampoo...not, say, just some plain water? If the two elements are theism and morality, atheism inherently has neither. You could have a theism without morals (maybe the earliest proto-religions), and a morality without theism (say, the Stoics), or you could just have plain-water atheism (no belief, or disavowal of, gods, without any proscriptions for conduct either)"


HAHA- maybe you're right about the water. Metaphors are never perfect correlations. Don't even start getting into the ancillary hair products! Perhaps it would be better to say that they are all 2-in-1 products and it comes down to the efficacy and quality (e.g. how natural is it?) of both! Kim Jong Il may use the same shampoo part of the 2-in-1 shampoo plus conditioner as other atheists, but his brand has a conditioner part that is made up of... did you ever see Something About Mary? We could say the same for theism really, as no two theists agree either.  The point was really distinguishing between the two functions of the products and that still stands.


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