Is Atheism a chiefly liberal or conservative philosophy?

I know this may seem like a bit of an odd question but I’ve been wondering about it for the past few days and for some reason I can’t escape the feeling that it (atheism) would be a rather ‘conservative’ point of view (that is, at least in title), and yet I’m constantly being called a liberal because of my social and political leanings. I'm just wondering what your views are on this.


PS: I’ll be gone for a few days but I will catch up with this thread when I return.

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I'd be of the double opinion that 1. there are atheists of both sort and neither can lay claim to be the "right" type of atheist, and 2. most atheists I know are bright enough to be of the liberal variety. Sorry to insult any of the conservatives out there (not really), but it does seem as if there is quite a bit of contradiction in being an atheist and yet still wanting to defend the rich white Christians on the right.


What could make you feel that atheism "would be a rather 'conservative' point of view"?

I’m only saying that definition wise the word "conservative" would seem rather apt as in a reference to having a very sparse, minimalistic or non-existent spiritual point of view. I’m not using the word Conservative in regards to political ideology. Although at the time I initially thought of the question I did wonder if Atheism was embraced by one political ideology or another.

Well John, I certainly wasn’t trying to start a fight, although I guess I should have known better that throwing around anything remotely similar to the “P” word (politics) lately is just as bad as throwing around the “A” word in Bible Belt America. :D

1. John D, you say "if someone tells you they are an atheist you will not automatically know how they stand on political issues." Oops! Almost missed the "not" qualifier. True enough then! 

2. Humanists are generally on the left, and you are right that there is also a branch of libertarian atheists on the right. These are usually of the Ayn Rand type. They are fierce individualists who either don't want to see themselves as part of a larger group of people or are not able to see the difficulties with prescribing individualism to people who have been marginalized by society and thus rely on others to help them achieve what would otherwise be accessible to only the rich segment of society. The first type are probably asocial because they reject religious society (which is a false generalization), and the second type are simply miseducated.


3. Capitalism may be efficient to a high degree, but there are many problems therein. It may for one be too efficient, in that it dehumanizes people and cares only for the exploitation of resources (human or not), largely for the benefit of the rich. But even on this most generous understanding, capitalism without government interference may be poorly suited for achieving truly human ends, which should be more inclusive and supportive of those that a purer, Ayn Randish, laissez-faire brand of capitalism systematically leaves behind.

Indeed, I had no intention on attempting to fixate a label on atheism, I’m just merely trying to suss out what the general view of atheism on a broader level. For some reason (instinctually I suppose) I always thought atheism was more of a liberal ideology but I wanted to know what other people thought so as to prevent making any false assumptions.
Atheism is believing there is no God, nothing more, nothing less. Dividing atheists into the American political Left and Right is philosophically arbitrary. They are both just groups of different special interest groups made up of people vying for power in a corrupt government. There is very little philosophy involved in modern politics, imo. I think if you are talking about atheist politics, I would ask who believes morality is concerned with the group and who with the individual. Personally, I am am egoist and therefore a libertarian. Of the Ayn Rand type. I am OK with people having to take care of themselves, even if it means some people are not as fit as others. It will be that way no matter what and, imo, worse with wealth redistribution and extensive government intervention. I think that would put me, by Wanderer's judgement, in the mis-educated group of capitalists. I think the totality of historical evidence shows that increasing forced taxation and government intervention is bad for culture and personal happiness. But if your goal is to grow the poor and lower classes at the expense if the rich, then wealth redistribution is right on. Imo, it is wrong to blame the rich for the poor's difficulty.

I think that would put me, by Wanderer's judgement, in the mis-educated group of capitalists.


Sorry to say so, yes. I could go in about a hundred different directions at this point, but this really isn't what the question is about and anyway I don't much like arguing with people. But I will say one or two things. The thing about capitalism is that it isn't the talented or intelligent that rise to the top, its the people who were rich before (or whose parents were rich) who continue to get richer. There are exceptions of course, but you should learn about how how much harder things are getting not just for the poor but really for everyone excepting the super-rich. Did you know that the top one percent of earners make more than the bottom 50%? Does this sound like a fair distribution of wealth to you, earned on the basis of talent, where over half the population is clearly less talented than a select few? Another term you might be interested in investigating is "institutionalized poverty".


There is a great deal of philosophy involved in modern politics, even though the politicians themselves (particularly the ones on the right) may not be too aware of the philosophical nature of their positions. Morality is concerned with both the individual and the group, and political philosophy very quickly becomes very sophisticated and intricate. Reducing it to "growing the poor and lower classes at the expense of the rich" or "blaming the rich for the poor's difficulty" is a fantastic simplification. And so is reducing it to the simple dichotomy of individuals vs. the group, or little government intervention vs. "extensive". There is a whole range of middle ground where some redistribution of wealth is absolutely essential, as is some government intervention, unless you like the idea of private police forces, private fire departments, elimination of public schools and libraries, and on and on.


Libertarianism is a fringe philosophy. Its as near as the right come to anarchy, just as communism is as near as the left come to anarchy. I would love to see a libertarian society try to make a go of it. I say, let there be two cities, one run by libertarians and one by non-radical leftists, and see which one succeeds over the long term. But I guess that's just not gonna happen anytime soon.

I don't consider differences in salary or birth parents valid criteria for fairness. Is it fair that some people are smarter or harder working than others? Why is it my responsibility to make other people's lives better? I understand why I might want to help those in need, but to force someone to help is immoral. It is slavery to demand the products of labor against one's will for someone else. Welfare institutionalizes poverty, not corporations or successful individuals. I make no false dichotomies. Brains and decision making are singular in nature and therefore what is moral pertains to the individual. If one is to be happy they must do x, y and z and avoid j,k and l. Groups don't think. The individuals within them do. The only proper function of government is the monopolization of retaliatory force for protection of freedom. Not freedom from having to make your own way in the world, but freedom from other people taking your shit, even if they try and take it by mob rule (democracy). Democracy should only involve the vote for who will protect us, by running the police military and law courts, not who will take from us and give to others we do not wish to give to. Government, or the entity of monopolized force, has no business in the classroom, hospital or economy.

We are growing the poor and lower classes at the expense of the rich and many people blame the rich for the poor's difficulty.

-Simple? I agree. True, yes. Normatively disgusting, irrational and immoral, also, yes.

We are all selfish, even when that entails being kind to and providing for those we care about. I, too, feel good when I help those I wish. I have no problem with charity and philanthropy. It is altruism, the supposed sacrifice of the individual that I find appalling. There is no essential aspect of selfishness that entails being mean, or a prick, to others. It only means serving one's self, which is what even bleeding heart liberals are doing when they vote other people's money away from them to give to other people. All human decisions are checked with the self as the final arbiter. They are all self-interested, even when they are philanthropic. You say people need rewards for hard work, yet you are willing to force others to pay them for their need instead of their accomplishment. Strange.
You define good as it relates to the group. I do not. Therefore I do not agree that Germany is doing better than the US is. I will agree that people think that it is. I do not consider my lifespan dependent on the average. I do not consider my well-being dependent on other's. I think a flat tax is just wrong, but forcing those who make more to pay a higher percentage is flat out evil. Voluntary taxation, paid citizenship, fee for service or some other arrangement would work even better than immoral force. And even if it didn't, only for argument's sake, any aspect of wealth redistribution or even forced taxation is, first and foremost, an attack on the autonomy of the individual and the rights/ownership an individual has to their own life. And educational professionals should provide education. Health care professionals should provide health care. Infrastructure professionals should build the infrastructure. And government should provide the monopolization of force. I am not suggesting that government shouldn't create and enact laws that protect people from direct harm, only that that is all it should do.
Forcing others to do anything is evil. It may also be childish. But calling denying people the means of their own life and the products of their work evil is a description of reality, not a childish remark. Evil as in the opposite of good. Not something satan causes, that's childish. You must perpetrate evil for your socialistic "fairness". It is immoral from the outset.

I agree.  As Lincoln said, "when I do good I feel good, when I do bad I feel bad - that is my religion".  The simple idea held by some that the rich deserve what they have because they worked hard for it and the poor are poor because they are lazy and undeserving have never worked a day doing stoop labor in a bean field.
My cousin and I worked one day chopping weeds (actually we only made 6 hours out the 10 the regular workers put in) and it was the most miserable day I've ever worked – I would have rather been beat with a 2 by 4.
The only political conservative Atheist I've ever met was a next door neighbor that made Karl Rove look like a commie. Every other Atheist I know is either a liberal or politically apathetic.


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