Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Atheists - in their own words

Jeffrey Dahmer, serial killer, discusses his beliefs

If a person doesn’t think there is a God to be accountable to, then—then what’s the point of trying to modify your behavior to keep it within acceptable ranges? That’s how I thought anyway. I always believed the theory of evolution as truth, that we all just came from the slime. When we, when we died, you know, that was it, there is nothing…

Jeffrey Dahmer, in an interview with Stone Phillips, Dateline NBC, February, 1994.

Aldous Huxley, author

I had motive for not wanting the world to have a meaning; consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics, he is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do, or why his friends should not seize political power and govern in the way that they find most advantageous to themselves. … For myself, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation, sexual and political.

Aldous Huxley, Ends and Means, pp. 270 ff.


Anonymous said...

If moral were only to be found with religious people, there would be no breira Chofshit any more.

There are outwardly religious people who are perfectly immoral (religious school throws out a teacher because she is pregnant and not married) and atheists who are perfectly moral.

Anyway, the thing about religion is that you do it "for yourself", because you want a relationship with G-d.

Religion is not about forcing other people to do what you think g-d wants from them.

Unfortunately, this happens way to often. It's easier to be g-ds policeman that to behave properly oneself.

jewish philosopher said...

I think that it's very obvious that on the average Orhtodox Jews are far superior to atheists.

Anonymous said...

You have to think so. If you were to admit the truth then the entire delusional framework you choose to guide your life would crash.

jewish philosopher said...

Sure, the truth, that Stalin and Mao or for that matter Jeff Dahmer were really nice guys, just a little misunderstood.

Anonymous said...

I am in no way supporting any of these men you speak about but isnt there something to be said for the person who does right because he/she feels its what they should behave vs. doing right only because they have a fear of G_d or because G-d says so? I am an athiest with strong moral convictions. Not possible you say? Meet me - I strive to be good because I want to. Not because I have to.

jewish philosopher said...

I'll bet your parents or at least grandparents believed in the Bible, am I not right? Therefore you were taught as a child that "a good person does this and that" and you believed it. But what will your grandchildren look like?

Also, you may not have too many temptations. However what happens if you have an unwanted pregnancy - will you selfishly abort it? What if you have a perfect chance to push an abusive spouse or neighbor off a cliff, would you do it?

Anonymous said...

Forgive the length of this response but as I know so much about you, I feel it's fair for you to know abotu me. I am the only child from a marriage where my parents were divorced when I was 6 months old. I grew up being shuttled back and forth between my father - who may just be one of those horrible athiests you speak of (selfish, cruel, out for personal satisfaction) and my mother who was not religious an active seeker of "belonging" through various religions (but never managed to find her "home") I spent several years as part of the Mormon faith when I was a child because that's where my mother went. My mothers parents were non-religious & horribly disfunctional and abusive. My fathers father died before I knew him and his mother remarried a Jewish man. Greenfield. However, I had very little interaction with them, as my Father was disconnected from his family. I spent the next several years of my youth seeking a religion to belong to from Christianity, Buddhism, Paganism. The only thing I ever got out of organized religion was that most of the people were biggots, racists, hypocrites, etc. The I found Taoism. I finally found theories best communicated what I felt in my heart was the way to live. Not so much a "religion" with G_d or Gods (i choose to omit the letter out of respect for your blog) but with a base set of values that represent a way of living. I didn't learn this through anyone elses influence. It is something I saught & learned on my own. So, many years passed - life gets to me (loosing loved ones, much tragedy) and I lost my spiritual path and become agnostic, eventually transforming into athiest. Last year, I met someone Jewish (non-religious) and wanted to understand more about where they came from and started reading about Judaism. Immediately, a spark formed in me and grew into an intense desire to know more. Which leads me to where I am today.
As to not having much temptation, I would say that's untrue. I left home at 15, lived on the streets, did drugs, had premarital sex, was indifferent to the suffering of others..all of that. But as I grew, I had an innate desire to want to be better. So, I became better. Not through G_d's involvement but from my own desire. To answer your questions, I have never had an unwanted preganancy thanks to my dilligent self protection but have often thought of what I would do if I did. While I am an intense supporter of a womans right to choose what happens with her body, I do not know that I personally could make that choice for myself. Especially now that I am in my 30's. I do not condemn that choice for others but I do know that it is not for me. As far as pushing someone off a cliff? Absolutely not. Knowing that I would be responsible for taking someone elses life would destroy me even if I left justified in doing so. I believe that even in a case of self defense where I was actively defending my life & killed someone, it still may crush me completely. Do I fit into your mold of the typical athiest? Am I selfish, immoral, and a murderer waiting to happen? Can you not see me sitting beside you in shul, being a part of your community, wanting to study & be a better person, or would you condemn me for my doubt and send me back out on to the street?

jewish philosopher said...

"Am I selfish, immoral, and a murderer waiting to happen?"

You are probably at a much higher risk of being that than you would if you would be an Orthodox Jew. Let's say someone uses cocaine but says "Look, I'm still a perfectly health person and a family man so what's wrong?" Well, maybe, but it's risky.

"Can you not see me sitting beside you in shul, being a part of your community, wanting to study & be a better person"

Being a Jew is not for everyone. It's like becoming a priest or joining the Marines or something like that. It depends on how motivated you are. I can tell you from experience, probably 80% of converts regret it a decade later.

Judaism is probably the most difficult and burdensome religion in the world.

Anonymous said...

Ha! Risk, schmisk...I am not an Oothodox Jew, NOR am I a "selfish, immoral, murderer waiting to happen." I must be some sort of anomoly...a rare breed. Or am I??

Im thinking you should think about broadening your idea of acceptance to include good people of all sorts not just OJ's.

Besides - isn't there such a thing as a Righteous Gentile as defined by the Yad Vashem Law, who, althought not bound to the same rules as you, would still receive the benefit of experiencing paradise in the afterlife?

jewish philosopher said...

Righteous gentiles fear God and observe the Noahide laws. They aren't atheists.

I think that what happens is that atheists who live in more or less Christian countries usually don't commit terrible crimes because the do not want to be punished. They just live quiet, selfish, debauched lives and don't have children. Atheists who have their own governments however invariably behave with extreme brutality. Take North Korea, for example.