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Tuesday, December 20, 2005 - 7:46amSanction this postReply
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I subscribe to the quarterly American Atheist magazine.  The Summer 2005 issue has a story on the "Fifth World Atheist Conference on Atheism and Social Progress."  The very words "social progress" tripped my statism radar, and a sidebar within the article corroborated it.  That sidebar articulated the Fifth World Atheist Conference Declaration.  I will not recite the entire document here, but I do want to share some key passages:

In the spirit of human solidarity, we call upon all governments, organizations, and institutions to join hands in our common endeavor to build a New World.
 
The new century must try to establish greater economic equality and social justice and help the flourishing of human freedoms in accordance with democracy and Universal Human Rights.
 
We demand that schools be used for the transmission of civilized values and the nurturing of positive attitudes among young minds.
 
We demand that ... those who promote hatred in society be dealt with by the full force of the law ...
 
We call upon legislators to assist in [social work] through enabling legislation.
 
We ... appreciate the power, value, and relevance of the Atheist and Humanist life stance as a true alternative to ... oppressive social structures that have for centuries victimized humanity.

This offers quite a mixed bag of good and bad.  On the good side, their wholesale rejection of mysticism in favor of reason resonates with Objectivism.  On the bad side, the nebulous delegation of great power to governments for good-sounding but poorly-defined goals smacks of the worst seductions of statism.  My experience with organized freethought groups has shown me an overwhelming faith in government that most of their members possess.

I need to visit this in a full article regarding Objectivist clubs and activism, especially when considering whether to affiliate with other organizations.  Ayn Rand warned readers about enabling evil in this manner.  I would like any RoR members here to share their own reasoning about this issue.

Did anyone else read this article?


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Tuesday, December 20, 2005 - 4:29pmSanction this postReply
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I haven't read the article, but I've talked with many atheists.

The ideas of "rational selfishness" and "harmony of interest" are very new, few have heard of them or really thought through them. Many of them still accept the idea that money and material are inherently evil. And when it comes to socialism and communism, many people don't think far enough to realize these systems are a form of slavery.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2005 - 11:05pmSanction this postReply
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It is nearly inevitable that in a predominantly Christian country, even those who reject the Christian foundations of altruism still hold on to altruism as the only morality they know of, and assume selfish=immoral. It is similarly inevitable that in predominantly Moslem countries, even those who reject the Islamic foundations of tribal collectivism still hold on to collectivism as the only morality they know, and assume individualist=immoral. But in my experience, once you point out that these false moralities have no natural foundation, and point out that one can derive a completely secular-natural philosophy to take their place, at least the Atheists will listen - while the religious will try to save their supernatural souls from eternal damnation by blanking out. You always need a ladder, even for the lowest-hanging fruit...

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Post 3

Friday, December 23, 2005 - 3:18pmSanction this postReply
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Bah, most all non-objectivist athiests I come accross are hopeless statists. Yes we should target them to get the message out but if you want to working with anyone now to change policy, there are plenty of people out there who aren't athiest whose views are a lot closer to our own then most athiests.

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Saturday, December 24, 2005 - 8:01pmSanction this postReply
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I think Clerance has it.  Adam was saying that religious individuals hold tight to collectivism and ar unopen to reason, but in my experience that holds even more true of non-objectivist athiests... they keep literally nothing of mainstream values BUT collectivism.

---Landon


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Post 5

Tuesday, December 27, 2005 - 12:49amSanction this postReply
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Luke Setzer listed some precepts from the Fifth World Atheist Conference Declaration, which I would like to comment on briefly: viz.:
In the spirit of human solidarity, we call upon all governments, organizations, and institutions to join hands in our common endeavor to build a New World.
This sounds, for all the world, like a world government. So they've rejected God, and now they want the state to take his place. They want to supplant faith with force, obedience to God with obedience to Government, divine commandments with social edicts. They haven't rejected authoritarian omnipotence; they've simply secularized it.
The new century must try to establish greater economic equality and social justice and help the flourishing of human freedoms in accordance with democracy and Universal Human Rights.
Why? Why must we establish greater economic equality and "social justice," if doing so will make people less well off, which it will? Moreover, on what basis can human freedoms flourish, if they are held hostage to a democratic majority? And how is any of this compatible with Universal Human Rights, which if they mean anything at all, mean a respect for the rights of life, liberty, pursuit of happiness and property?
We demand that schools be used for the transmission of civilized values and the nurturing of positive attitudes among young minds.
And how is this accomplished if not by allowing parents the freedom to send their children to the schools which they believe best reflect those values?
We demand that ... those who promote hatred in society be dealt with by the full force of the law ...
Those who "promote hatred"! So now the standard of a rights violation is something so subjective as "the promotion of hatred"--which means a strong dislike for a person or an idea--any strong dislike, regardless of its object or its rationale. So much for freedom of speech and the First Amendment.
We call upon legislators to assist in [social work] through enabling legislation.
In other words, we call upon legislators to assist in parasitism.
We ... appreciate the power, value, and relevance of the Atheist and Humanist life stance as a true alternative to ... oppressive social structures that have for centuries victimized humanity.
The very oppressive social structures that these Atheists and Humanists are now supporting! And this is hailed as an alternative to religious oppression?! I don't think so!


- Bill
(Edited by William Dwyer
on 12/27, 12:52am)


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Thursday, December 29, 2005 - 2:31pmSanction this postReply
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Bill, I basically agree with your assessment.

The question remains: What to do?

Forego them altogether?  Create our own institutions?  Cooperate only where we agree?  Infiltrate and mutate their institutions?


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Thursday, December 29, 2005 - 8:41pmSanction this postReply
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Good questions Luke. And honestly I donít think there is no single answer to that because we have to treat these people on an individual basis.

Personally, and in general, I say no. And my reasoning is very simple; this Atheist Conference has many goals but the one that everyone sees and is most prominent is to promote atheism. The question you have to ask yourself is ďwhat is atheism?Ē and more importantly what does it lead to. As objectivists, our answer is naturally very different then theirs, and like I said earlier that just because weíre all atheists doesnít put us in the same camp. Hell Muslims and Christians are both theists and we all know how well they get along.

So what do we have in common with them (something to build from). I canít think of a single thing. I donít know about yíall but Iíd rather people convert to Christianity then their version of atheism. Sean Hannity doesnít want to take away my gun or use the government to steal from me. I can think of a dozen places where I agree with conservatives but none with these wackos.

For the most part, I donít think their worth our time except on an individual basis and Iím not going to waste my time trying to convert a bunch of tree-hugging statists. Another thing to consider is will working with them give them more credibility for their other causes, that bothers me a great deal. Thatís one of the reasons I stay away from organizations like Planned Parenthood and the ACLU (actually I have a bunch of reasons to hate the ACLU but you can see my replies to Adam Reed to learn that). Theyíre socialists pure and simple and it would take a disproportionate amount of effort to work with them for little gain. And Iím a lazy man.


Post 8

Friday, December 30, 2005 - 6:18amSanction this postReply
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Yes, Clarence, it is interesting how many atheists quickly slide into social subjectivism and statism.  I think our best bet is to create our own institutions and build from there outward.  There are organizations like Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the Alliance for Separation of School and State that cross religious boundaries and favor limited government.

(Edited by Luke Setzer on 12/30, 6:19am)


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