An Open Letter to Amanda Marcotte -Towards rising above our own pettiness in the debate on Truth.

The ascent of the happy human [© 2015 Atani Studios]

The ascent of the happy human                                                                          [© 2015 Atani Studios]

 An old acquaintance of mine, a close friend in fact of one of my oldest friends, and someone I still have occasion to converse with in the digisphere, posted a preformatted piece of propaganda on the social media from fellow blogger Amanda Marcotte.

Atheists are routinely asked how people will know not to rape and murder without religion telling them not to do it … When you use this argument, you terrify atheists. We hear you saying that the only thing standing between you and Ted Bundy is a flimsy belief in a supernatural being made up by pre-literated people trying to figure out where the rain came from. This is not very reassuring if you’re trying to argue from a position of moral superiority.” ~ Amanda Marcotte

I’m not going to tell you what I think of Ms. Marcotte, lest you think I am resorting to an ad hominem attack on her but I will tell you what I think of what she wrote.

Dear Amanda,

Every time an atheist constructs this straw man argument, they deny the fact that what atheist call ethics were hacked out of the noosphere by the religious through the felt presence of the experience of the divine and articulated into morality ages ago. The atheist has arrived late on the scene with these concepts already fully formed and eloquently articulated.

There is, without dispute a lot of nonsense out there as well – don’t become part of it.

The 20th century taught us, if nothing else, that anything can be rationalized – anything. The problem lies where people lose the felt presence of immediate experience that grounds their reason in something outside of their own egos. Ok, Amanda, you’ve deified your own ego. Congratulations. Some people call the all pervasive and mysterious ur-source that attracts the human psyche toward the good: God. Others are a little more sly and know that God is just a label for an ineffable mystery – the finger-pointing-moon. Still others think they are God.

Amanda, the fact that your value system is supported only by the sort mental activity that literally goes to sleep eight hours a day is hardly reassuring the the deist, nor is past or present treatment of people of faith by atheists.  After all, it is possible to have a set of experiences that will melt your ego bound identity, and you will still somehow be you in the light of that ur-source. If you have this experience you will be completely convinced that you exist beyond your own mind – or at the very least have what you used to call ‘my mind’ completely reframed – and you will find all of your wonderful ethics there fully formed as concrescence of your actions, your interior life and your intellect – your soul in other words.

The fact that you seem to want your ego-bound intellect to be the sole and final arbiter of your ethical reality doesn’t really make you seem much safer to someone who has had the above set of experiences. You could change your mind at any time, your could *lose* your mind at any time – you will lose your mind eventually. How do I know you won’t decide to remand me to the National Razor if this happens? – this has happened before.
Can’t we all agree that being, and remaining, good, and just, and compassionate, is the most supremely difficult task in the face of the world around us?  Shouldn’t the correct attitude then be to promote goodness, justice, and compassion where ever we find it?  befriend and make allies of all those who support those aims?  By all means point out hypocrisy and hate where ever you find it, but a good place to start is in the mirror.
Best wishes,


Note: this is a repost of an earlier, identical post is an attempt to solve a formatting problem that I could not correct any other way.

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