Welcome to The Bertrand Russell Society Online Forum

The Bertrand Russell Society Online Forum

Author Topic: Pit Bulls And Secular Humanists  (Read 339 times)

June 10, 2018, 03:33:13 PM
  • Russellian
  • *
  • Posts: 8
    • View Profile
Many or most dogs are trustworthy, yet none are God-fearing. In fact, on 11/21/17, I read a FB post by Rare America that pointed out that pit bulls are good pets for families with young children. These young families obviously trust their pit bulls.--Just think how easy it would be for one of these tough (but mostly cute, friendly and peaceful) dogs to take out the baby sitter, kill the baby, and then run away. *

For the same or similar reasons, most (principled) atheists/agnostics/secular humanists are trustworthy. It's reasonable to mistrust a person if the only thing one knows about his or her moral/religious views is that s/he is an atheist. (Of course, I wouldn't trust someone if the only thing I knew about his/her views is that s/he believes in God.) However, the world is full of examples where people, including atheists/agnostics, exhibit compassion/empathy in a way that is verifiable by others. Here are some examples: 
1. On the Monday after the Sandy Hook Massacre, Heather Ford, a disk-jockey on WZLX in Boston, stated that she cried all weekend because of this crime-against-humanity. 
2.Homicide detectives often take the homicides they investigate personally. For instance, Roadie Sanchez delayed his retirement in order to solve a couple of murder cases. (See The Killing Fields documentary series. ID Channel.) In one of them, a woman was murdered and dumped in a swamp.  This really bothered Sanchez and his fellow detectives. 
3. On an episode of The View, Joy Behar stated that she woke up in a rage in the early morning after the Fall 2017 TX Church Massacre. 
4. Shortly after the Boston Marathon attack, David Ortiz made an angry speech in Fenway Park, saying something like "this is our f*cking city." 
5. I had to fight off tears-of-happiness at the end of movies such as Apollo 13 and The Shawshank Redemption. Also, I've witnessed people crying in movie theaters during tear-jerk movies. 
6. I've read plenty of accounts of Allied soldiers becoming enraged/extremely troubled upon encountering scenes of Nazi mass-murder. 
I could go on and on. It's almost certain that none of these people had a personal stake in the plight of the (real or fictitious) victims of these tragedies/distressful scenarios! Also, they could have very easily gotten away without making these strong expressions of empathy. As far as I know, nothing in the Bible requires that people exhibit intense feelings of compassion.   

A strong concern for the welfare of others (including total strangers) is apparently ingrained in human nature. "I feel your X" (to paraphrase Pres. Bill Clinton) is a way to understand why this is so: It is in everyone's interest to know where other people including enemies are coming from and feeling their feelings of all sorts is an excellent way to acquire this knowledge. Therefore "feeling other people's pain" (as well as happiness) is natural.

Of course, it is at least theoretically possible for a psychopath to fake these expressions of empathy/compassion, but it is also possible for such a bad actor to fake devout religious faith. Also, if a person merely has sincere faith in a God who administers harsh divine justice, s/he will likely give up or alter such faith if it severely clashes with his or her self-interest. On the other hand, we should all believe in God anyway if there is solid proof of his existence.

The lesson from all of this is that we shouldn’t trust a person merely because s/he expresses support for some principles of ethics/justice.—We need to verify that this person has a strong motive to behave well. However, such a motive doesn’t need to consist of a fear of Divine punishment for wrongdoing.

-Tim St Vincent

* There is a reality show on The Animal Planet cable channel entitled Pit bulls And Parolees that stands up for both groups of living beings.