Friday, December 25, 2009

Indiana Governor displays his total ignorance on atheism

Oh, Mitch Daniels. I generally don't have many good things to say about you, but now you've made it particularly difficult for me. Take it away, Mitch:
People who reject the idea of a God -who think that we're just accidental protoplasm- have always been with us. What bothers me is the implications -which not all such folks have thought through- because really, if we are just accidental, if this life is all there is, if there is no eternal standard of right and wrong, then all that matters is power.

And atheism leads to brutality. All the horrific crimes of the last century were committed by atheists -Stalin and Hitler and Mao and so forth- because it flows very naturally from an idea that there is no judgment and there is nothing other than the brief time we spend on this Earth.

certainly entitled in our country to equal treatment regardless of their opinion. But yes, I think that folks who believe they've come to that opinion ought to think very carefully, first of all, about how different it is from the American tradition; how it leads to a very different set of outcomes in the real world.
You know what? It's late and I'm exhausted from today's festivities, so let's play a game. Instead of me going through and refuting everything he said, I'm leaving if up to you guys. How many misconceptions, stereotypes, blatant lies, and logical fallacies can you find?

At quick glance I see 11. Can you find all the ones I did? Can you find more? Good luck, boys and girls!

(Via Freethought Fort Wayne)


  1. Oh, I'll start! Calling Hitler an atheist fits into the "blatant lies" category quite nicely.

  2. I was at a function one time a few years ago where Mitch spoke and he said that our nation was founded on faith and that all governments that were not founded on faith spawned monsters.

  3. Leaving your underlings to do the dirty work for you. As House would say, “you’re learning”. ;-)

    Hmm, let’s see …

    » « People who reject the idea of a God -who think that we're just accidental protoplasm […] »
    [1] No, atheists don’t think that. Because that is stupid. Very stupid. [2] We are far, far, FAR (did I say “far” yet?) more than “accidental protoplasm”. We are beautiful, almost “magical” (as in wondrous, not inexplicable) living creatures, the result of hundreds of millions of years – billions, in fact – of slow and progressive development. And, [3] none of it is “random” per se. Mutations may be, but the fact that better organisms survive more than lesser ones is not randomness. It is Natural Selection.

    » « […] because really, if we are just accidental, if this life is all there is, if there is no eternal standard of right and wrong, then all that matters is power. »
    Right. Except that: [4] we are not accidental, but the inevitable result of causality and natural laws; [5] the fact that there are no “eternal standards” does not mean that there are no standards, or that morality disappears just because God doesn’t dictate what’s right and wrong; and [6] to think that, in light of evolution, “all that matters is power”, is profoundly idiotic and simplistic, and is the result of a total incomprehension of both morality and evolution. Amongst other things.

    » « And atheism leads to brutality. »
    [7] No, it doesn’t. Rejecting the notion of gods does not turn one into a bloodthirsty savage. (In fact, the reverse is true: religion leads to violence far demonstrably more than does godlessness. Read a history book. Or two.)

    » « All the horrific crimes of the last century were committed by atheists -Stalin and Hitler and Mao and so forth- because it flows very naturally from an idea that there is no judgment and there is nothing other than the brief time we spend on this Earth.
    … Not sure if I can answer that, as my innards are too busy shriveling up and crying. But:
    [8] 99% of all crimes in history were committed by theists and religionists;
    [9] the ratio of crimes committed by atheists compared to crimes committed by theists/religionists is still much lower even today (see prison population demographics, for example);
    [10] Neither Hitler, Stalin nor Mao were atheists (Hitler believed in a “Creator”, this disavowing atheism; Stalin disliked religion and religious symbols, yet never gave any indication to being an atheist or even an agnostic; same for Mao);
    [11] There certainly is judgment, just not in the afterlife (the way society sees and treats you does qualify as judgment, you know).

    » « But yes, I think that folks who believe they've come to that opinion ought to think very carefully, first of all, about how different it is from the American tradition […] »
    [12] What does the “American tradition” have to do with anything, here? It is entirely irrelevant to one’s metaphysical and/or supernatural beliefs. Sheesh. And, the fact that people believe in different things than they did “traditionally” is not even an argument; it’s just … pitiful whining.

    » « […] how it leads to a very different set of outcomes in the real world. »
    [13] Yeah, it does. Outcomes such as reason, rationality and evidence-based truths and facts. Horrible things to people like Daniels, apparently.

    *jumps up and down* How did I do? How did I do? I found … [counts] … 13. Yay, I beat the Blag Hag! =P Can I haz cookee nao, plz?

  4. you are great!
    Following you from Belgium.

  5. 1. Atheists do not think we are "accidental protoplasm".

    2. A god is not needed for a universal standard of right and wrong.

    3. A universe standard of right and wrong is not needed for a functional society; in fact, trying to apply one to every decision only leads to failure.

    4. The whole "power" thing is wrong.

    5. There is no serious evidence that atheism leads to brutality.

    6. Hitler was not an atheist.

    7. The atheism of Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot has nothing to do with atheism's validity.

    8. Atheism is about rational thought: using the scientific methods to make a decision. The vast majority of "thinking" atheists are rational thinkers first, and atheists second.

    I've always thought that calling an atheist an atheist is like calling a scientist a "gravitist". Atheism is simply one rational, scientific conclusion that skeptical, rational thinkers have reached using the scientific method.

    We are rationalists first, and atheists second. Stalin, Pol Pot, and Hitler were NOT rational thinkers. The vast majority of their life decisions were not made using the scientific method, but rather using a skewed religious thought process. Most of their religious ideas idolized the state, themselves, or some twisted future; they believed in Ideologies, and ALL belief is unscientific, *in the same way a theist believes in a God*.

    It is important to remember that atheists aren't fighting a belief in God, but rather the entire IDEA of belief. It was belief that drove Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot to form irrational, religious* decisions, and the consequences are horrible.

    The consequences of a religious action are almost always negative, and when they are positive, it was simply chance; Application of the religious thought process amounts to little besides a guess, and thus any rational conclusions reached through it were accidental.

    *Note that I use the word "religious" to apply to any thought process OTHER than the scientific method, here.

    In conclusion? Stalin, Pol Pot, and Hitler are not examples of atheism leading to evil, but rather certainly examples of BELIEF leading to evil.

    Honestly, there is no difference between the Racist and the Theist. Both have reached extremely unscientific conclusions through belief. Hell, at least the early racists tried to rationalize their position. Both irrational conclusions have killed millions over the years.

  6. Sounds like this guy needs a lesson about anti-atheist bigotry. Can you imagine the fallout if he had made this statement about almost any other minority group?

  7. God has nothing to do with morality. Just because god says something is bad, and will send you to hell if you do it, doesn't make it actually bad. The way I see it, either morality is absolute, and god couldn't change it the same way he couldn't make 2+2=5. Or, morality is relative, in which case humans can define morality just as well as god.

    Of course, since god doesn't exist all that is moot.

  8. I counted 7. But they are nothing special that extremists on each side don't accuse the other of.

  9. I'm ashamed to share a first name with this man. But that's beside the point...

    What I don't understand - and probably never will - is why these people continue to trot out the "without objective (external) standards of right and wrong, there can be no morality" canard. Have they ever heard of Euthyphro's Dilemma? I've yet to hear a convincing reply to it...

    Essentially, here's the problem. If these "external moral standards" are merely the dictates of some sort of more powerful being, then they're in essence arbitrary and there's nothing objective about them. All they are are the whims of a dictator. If we need an external justification for our morality, then so would this dictator and we're stuck with the same problem. If the more powerful being is also using some other standard for determining 'morality', then we too can use that other standard and the source of morality is not god.

    I've always found it funny that these sorts of people say that atheism implies "power is all that matters" when that is PRECISELY what the theists are saying. Many theists are very open about that - they say that god has to be obeyed/worshiped/what have you because might makes right. Well, bugger that. Even if there were reason to believe such a god existed, I wouldn't worship it; I would oppose it in any and every way that I possibly could, no matter the cost.

  10. He also ignores the fact that the consequences of a statement have absolutely no bearing on that statements truth value.

  11. Please remember that Hitler was doing God's work by exterminating all the Jesus killers and the Catholic Chrurch in Rome knew about and went along with the slaughter of Jews.
    Stalin was in the semenary as a youth and certainly believed in God. It was probably religion that caused him to be so ruthless. The Bible has such fine examples of how God delt with his enemies. Kill them, kill them all sayeth the lord.
    Mao, I cant speak for him.
    The fact that 98% of all federal prison inmates claim to be religious puts in a cocked hat the idea it is atheists that are the problem with the world.

  12. I've heard murderers claiming they were doing God's will. There is this guy that killed a doctor who used to run a family planning clinic, for example. Or 9/11 terrorists.

    Has anybody ever heard a murderer saying "since I'm an atheist, I think I can kill people because nobody is going to tell me off after I die, so why not"?

  13. Mitch Daniels and those of his ilk are the ones who haven’t given “careful thought” to the issue. Religion is philosophy for the mindless. Swarms of non-thinking persons substitute this instant - just add water - drivel for actual thought. Those who profess a religious allegiance, assuming the fact that they believe in something rather than nothing is a badge of intellectual achievement, then feel unjustifiably superior to those who reject such pabulum. That their "something" is better than their neighbor's "something" (or "nothing" for that matter) is assumed to be true without reliance on argumentation. If there must be a "first cause,” then surely that first cause is as defined by the mythology upon which their particular religion's narrative relies. Of course, "solving" the problem of infinite regress is not accomplished by inserting a magical power, which is eternal, omniscient, and omnipotent into the gap. Simply imagining a figure to fit the shape and size of the gap one "needs" to fill, does not demonstrate that figure's existence; it is a mere ad hoc hypothesis. Religion is characterized by the following thinking: "Since, we aren't sure, we'll guess. That guess will then be established as inviolable truth, despite the fact that one religious guess can claim no more certainty than another." Then, those who see the folly of confidence in such unfounded speculation are attacked for opposing the popular delusion. It is Plato’s cave once again. Religious sentiment is then mere speculation and projection onto the darkness - the echo of one's own desires and imagination.

  14. Ugh, are you /serious/? They are still dragging this tired old horse around?

    Don't these people ever update their schtick? C'mon Fundie Marketing Engine, you can do better than "Hitler Stalin Mao", can't ya?

    It's like they're not even trying anymore! :(

  15. @Gary Arthur Douglas II: I imagine that they're still doing it because it still *works*
    Not on us perhaps, but I have personally heard it in face-to-face conversations a few times, by people who seemed to genuinely believe it.

    If it works, why abandon it? Because it's intellectually dishonest? Pull the other one :P

  16. "if there is no eternal standard of right and wrong, then all that matters is power"

    Except that if there is an eternal standard of right and wrong it is still about power. Quite apart from the whole issue of whether this standard exists because God says so, or whether God says so because this standard exists independently of him, there's still the question of why we should follow this standard anyway.

    The evangelical answer tends to be because otherwise an almighty being will send you to eternal fiery torment. If that's not "might makes right" (i.e. all about power) I don't know what is!

  17. What bothers me is the implications - which not all such folks have thought through...

    This is my favourite part! How could we possibly have not thought through it when every Tom, Dick, and George keeps putting in forward as though it settled the question of the existence of God?

    Seriously, I hear this line of argument at least once a day, usually more often. Forget his belief in the supernatural - can he really be so deluded as to think that I haven't heard this particular argument before? Really?

  18. Can you give me a reference to the actual source of this comment?

  19. What an f-ing moron. People actually voted for this guy? What does that say about the rest of the state?

  20. I've read the interview you linked.

    "The whole idea of equality of men and women and of the races springs from the notion that we're all children of a just God"

    WAT?! We're talking about the same guys who allied with my autochtonous fascist dictator Franco, right? (and of course fascism totally enforces equality.) The same guys who used the bible to support slavery in the United States? The ones who are trying so desperately to embitter gays' existence all over the world? The ones who say "yeah, I'm very humble, my religion is based on humility, so I AM RIGHT, and if you don't agree, you'll burn"?

    Gawd he can't be THAT dishonest, can he?

    How about "Hey, we are all equal because you haven't been chosen by god and neither do we"?

  21. I am officially embarrassed for voting for him during the last election. I really should have known better since he was a Bush appointee at one point.

  22. Thanks for reminding me why I always hated living in the Midwest, sadly the stupidity is everywhere. Just less of it

  23. Daniels really only made one important logical gaffe in this statement: the assumption that any of his arguments actually prove there is a god of any kind. (The other 11 or 13 falacies simply act to magnify his stultifying ignorance and bigotry).

    Daniels could be absolutly correct on all of these counts and yet, after all that, the only thing he has said is that there has to be a god because, doggone it, things would be just awful if there wasn't.

    So all that is really, really left in this statement is vitriolic contempt: an a priori assumption that there has to be a god and a rallying call to discriminate against those who don't believe in him.

    Of course one could cynically deduce that what Daniels finds crucial to the survival of society as we know it is not the existence of a god, but rather the existence of a god concept to control people's actions. I'll let you decide which is more contemptable.


  24. All I can say is... atheist =/= dark lord of the Sith.


  25. ^^Aww...Rachael, you just crushed my dreams of one day becoming a dark lord of the Sith! You could have been my young apprentice!

    Love anyways,

    the atheists formally known as Darth Fritzy

  26. Wow I really do feel sorry for people living in certain parts of the US. I'm glad I live in a country which treats people like this clown (we do have a few but they never get into power) as the mindless freaks they are.

  27. Daniels is a good governor. His personal beliefs may be a bit wacky and unfounded, but good thing they don't transcend into any sphere of power he has as the governor.

  28. @Anonymous December 27, 2009 5:22PM:

    I tend to agree with you. While Mitch is not the *ideal* candidate for the governorship of Indiana, he has done a fairly good job running the state; much better than many other governors around the nation. Sure, he's *very* misguided on the atheism issue, but that doesn't mean he can't possibly be doing a good job.

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