Pure Atheist?

Is there such a thing as a pure atheist? One who lives as a wild animal would with no compassion or empathy.

Posted: April 9th 2011

Reed Braden www

No. All atheists are human beings, so they all evolved in the same social constructs and, disregarding the occasional genetic mutation (equal in atheism and theism alike) of sociopathy, they all share the same instinct of altruism and empathy.

Your question seems to imply that those who don’t follow the violent religion of your choice, based off of a violent text of dubious ancient origin, can’t possibly be as compassionate or empathetic as you. This is so ridiculous I don’t know where to begin laughing at your beliefs… so I’m just going to ignore you and write you off as a bigot. Get used to that reaction, you’ll get it a lot if this is your idea of a fair question.

Posted: April 18th 2011

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Tauriq Moosa www

You are asking a loaded question. This means you make a number of unsound assumptions, as if they were obvious by definition. You equate “pure” atheist with a “wild animal”; and, I think more insultingly, equate a “wild animal” with having “no compassion or empathy”.

We must work backwards. Firstly, what do you mean by “wild animal”? Do you mean a non-human animal that lives “in the wild”? I urge you to reconsider the assumption that our fellow creatures do not have a sense of compassion or understanding of the plight of others.

For example, look at the beautifully written books by primatologist Frans de Waal, like Good Natured and Primates and Philosophers, which detail an extensive analysis of moral behaviour in animals (in de Waal’s case, primates).

Let’s not forget that amongst our species we have entities commonly known as “marginal” humans who do not, for example, have intellectual capacities to engage in ethical behaviour. Infants and the severely mentally-disabled are less capable of ethical action than, say, an adult chimpanzee. So it’s not by definition that humans are moral or ethical beings. Indeed, cases like Josef Fritzl often tell us otherwise.

So it is too quick to equate non-human animals with lacking compassion or empathy, since there is much literature to the contrary. After all, they would not exist if they didn’t care for one another, since a species that did not have moral behaviour would quickly die out. This, I think, is where our morality “comes from”.

Second, you then equate a “pure atheist” with a “wild animal”. We’ve already dismissed the claim that non-human animals lack moral engagement. Even this, then, is meaningless since even if you do maintain this strange statement it only indicates that atheists, too, are capable of moral engagement! But let us discuss what you probably meant by your statement of wild animal by saying, instead, a being who lacks compasion or empathy. Your new statement would look like this: “Is there such as a thing as pure atheist [which is a being with] no compassion or sympathy”.

I can’t understand your use of the term “pure”. You make it seem like there is some “ideal” atheist to which all atheists are aspiring to be or are mere faint representations of. Atheism, by definition, tells you little to nothing about whether the person is moral or not. Atheism purely concerns whether one believes or disbelieves in the purported deities of contemporary religions. It is the projection of consistency as applied to what every believer thinks of all other deities except theirs. Consider: Does your disbelief in Thor alter your views on being a compassionate person?

Purity is a strange application to the term atheist. Whether or not someone is compassionate or empathic has little or nothing to do with his or her atheism; therefore, pure atheism, whatever that is, won’t be associated with that either.

Posted: April 17th 2011

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George Locke

I’m one. I ate my parents and caused 9/11. Jews have horns, too. Sometimes we get together to eat Christian babies.

Also, I hate America.

Posted: April 17th 2011

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Blaise www

All atheists are by definition pure, as it’s a binary state. You either believe in a god, or you don’t. If you don’t, you are an atheist. You can’t disbelieve more or less.

The second sentence of this question is the completely incoherent and offensive part. First, animals have been shown scientifically to exhibit both compassion and empathy, so you are simultaneously incorrect and offensive to animals. Next, the idea you present, that an atheist is somehow like a wild animal, is ignorant, seems intentionally insulting, and is a completely unfounded assumption.

Posted: April 14th 2011

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Dave Hitt www

Is there such a thing as a Pure Christian who adheres to the bible perfectly? One who stones homosexuals, practices genocide, justifies incest, has slaves, murders, rapes, pillages, kills children who taunt them, and does all the other lovely things The Bible praises?

Posted: April 14th 2011

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What you are wondering about is psychopathy: the consensus among researchers in this area is that psychopathy stems from a specific neurological disorder which is biological in origin and present from birth, not atheism. We know that this lack of empathy is found in human animals. I do not know if psychopathy is also found in non-human animals (who exhibit compassion and empathy like us).

I know personally hundreds of atheists, that is, people who lack god belief, and not a single one of them is psychopathic. One of the most compassionate societies that I have ever experienced, the French one, is a highly irreligious secular society brimming over with atheists who are REALLY atheists, that is, they have no god belief.

Posted: April 14th 2011

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brian thomson www

How about a newborn baby? A human being who does nothing but eat, cry and poop. We can argue about “nature vs. nurture”, but once the baby starts growing up, it learns from its parents and teachers. The things a child learns can be grounded in reason, or in fiction, but it’s in the evolutionary nature of a child to accept what it’s told, without reservation. (Not just when it comes to religion, either e.g. look up Prussian Blue, a couple of beautiful blond-haired, blue-eyed twin girls, who were home-schooled and singing songs about white supremacy and Holocaust denial at the age of 8.)

Then the child grows up, becomes a teenager, and (if permitted) starts questioning what its parents tell it. In a very real sense, letting go of imaginary friends and fairy stories is an essential part of growing up – even if those imaginary friends and fairy stories are dignified under the heading “religion”. But there is nothing primitive about adult atheism: quite the opposite, I would say. It’s simple, but it’s not simplistic.

Posted: April 14th 2011

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Paula Kirby www

Religious people never seem to understand that the claim that morals come from God is just another RELIGIOUS claim, something they take on faith. Unless it can be shown to be true, it has no weight. And if you look around the world, you will see that the vast majority of people – of all religions and of none – exhibit both compassion AND empathy, and that the religious claim is therefore shown to be false. Indeed, the very act of declaring that someone must lack compassion or empathy in order to be a true atheist is itself rather lacking in compassion and empathy, wouldn’t you say? Isn’t it rather a hateful thing to suggest? And this is one of the main problems with religious dogma: it so often IS hateful towards those who don’t share it. But this doesn’t stop it from having the gall to claim that it’s the source of all things good! So we can add dishonesty to the hatefulness. It’s not looking good, is it?

Posted: April 14th 2011

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Mike the Infidel www

Atheism is just about the god question, nothing else.

Also … Apparently no wild animals display compassion or empathy. Weird.

Posted: April 14th 2011

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SmartLX www

You assume that all compassion and empathy come from some kind of faith or religion, when that isn’t the case. Just being human endows you with some.

Posted: April 13th 2011

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bitbutter www

Atheism says nothing about whether a person is compassionate or capable of empathy. A 'pure’ atheist is a person who doesn’t believe that gods exist, that’s all.

Posted: April 13th 2011

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