Monday, 30 May 2011

Atheism And Morality

Over at Pharyngula, PZ Myers received an email from a conservative atheist about whether one can be an atheist without being a progressive. From the email:
Can one be a conservative and atheist at the same time? It seems to me that atheism goes hand in hand with progressivism, which is not my thing...

And PZ's response:
It is entirely true that one can be an atheist, in the very narrowest sense of the word as someone who does not believe in gods, and a conservative.

I do wonder how statements like "in the very narrowest sense" can be justified. Aren't the metaphysical questions separate from the political and social questions that conservatism addresses? Surely the arguments against the existence of gods are something that can be understood and embraced by any person irrespective of their ideology.

It does, however, make me wonder just how such beliefs could be justified sans religious beliefs. While it may or may not be bad theology, there are those who push such views justified by their religious beliefs. I have no stake in the theological argument, nor do I think the theological argument should get a free pass, but I would be hard-pressed to think on what grounds one could hold the views that the conservative atheist put forward.

My personal opinion is that while these metaphysical positions surely do impact on and resonate with our political leanings, to claim ownership of political views into that metaphysics is making an unjustified step. The worst thing that could happen is if we tightly couple moral views to metaphysical ones.

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