Tuesday, July 16, 2013


"Our atheists are pious people. If in the so-called feudal times we held everything as a fief from God, in the liberal period the same feudal relation exists with man." - Max Stirner, "The Ego and its Own," 1844

     "'Good' without God." This is the present moralistic battlecry of the new wave of amateur-scientist, pseudo-intellectual atheists. Prominently described as "atheistkult" by detractors -- both religious and otherwise -- such individuals are fueled by an addiction to YouTube videos with poor production values, a library of atheist+ rhetoric masquerading as haphazard philosophy by Dawkins and Hitchens. These same individuals are known to parrot Nietzsche's most infamous saying that "God is dead." They readily, and perhaps even rightly, openly mock the idea that one need a deity to preserve some sort of moral code. However, paradoxically, they still play the game of the theists -- of the religious. Some even go as far as to claim moral superiority based solely on their more "intellectual" morality.

    Such individuals find themselves stuck playing the theists' game -- and losing. God is not dead to them -- God has only dropped its false skin mask. Its persona is gone, but the concept remains. A metaphysical dictation. A "right" or "wrong" that is objective. This is, of course, not a new thing. Objectivists for years have proposed an atheistic objective morality in the sense of a rationalization that will always rise to a "moral" act, done in one's "rational self-interest." 

     Of course, even amongst Objectivists there is never much agreement in supposed life-boat situations where a single outcome is the inherently moral one. Act as they might that they have found a perfect ethical system, the schisms within Ayn Rand's circles and the vitriol spat back and forth between newsletters of Objectivist-influenced thinkers should demonstrate that the system is every bit as subjective as any other system of morality. 

      Scientific attempts at hammering down morality are even less convincing than the logically rigged debates of metaethical philosophers. Lawrence Kohlberg's stages of moral development, based on the work of developmental psychologist Piaget, offer only a window into one possible framework of reasoning. The inherent criticism is that Kohlberb gave justification for such reasoning after the fact; it is only "good" because he said it was. This criticism so too applies to the circular argumentation of moral universalists. No matter how rigged the game or invocations are based on boolean logic, "good" and "bad" are eternally subjective without an outside, prototypical force.

    It stands to say that this metaphysical, prototypical force is represented by some as God, by others as axiomatic ways of thinking. It does not, of course, take someone with a doctoral degree in philosophy to see that, if examined critically, the axiom is no more -- perhaps even less! -- convincing than the deity. It is an inherently losing game, then, to act as a moralist atheist -- or moralist, for that matter. A "moral" does not exist in a tangible, material fashion -- it is an idea, based on the subjective norms of the society and the values of the individual. What is "good" is what is pleasing, what is "evil" is what is not. This is an independent statement of what may or may not be harmful for society as a whole. To claim otherwise is to be as faithful as their Jehova-worshiping kin.

"Good" is a misnomer.