How can we as atheists present our view as worthy and valuable in public debates and forums?

I've been watching a few You Tubes of debates between Christopher Hitchens and others of mainly religious persuasion.

Hitchens comes across as being negative.

I totally agree with Hitchens but I'm trying to work out what it is that causes him to seem this way.

I totally understand his disinterest, boredom and frustration at debating with these people - but clearly he believes that doing so is useful.

The religious people come across as confident, self assured and definite in their arguments and statements.

I think that it's because Hitchens is taking a position against their arguments - to counter their arguments. I suppose this is a natural position when self-identifying as an atheist and put into a debate with a theist. But it would be nice to up our profile a bit - come across as strong in ourselves with the same confident, self assured and definite approach that they have with their world views.

I think we need a "culture" to promote - a culture of reason, science and pragmatism. A way of approaching life and life's challenges and dilemmas - one that can be talked about in a positive way - it doesn't need to include personal opinions, but it can include the way that we reach those private opinions - such as in a reasonable way that is based in scientific method for good moral values.

I notice also that they keep getting into a preaching sort of track where they start going on about Jesus or such like and really it would be the equivalent as Hitchens using fairy stories to illustrate his point. Perhaps he should. Perhaps people might relate better to him if he did use fairy stories to illustrate his points. Then he might come across as confident as they do.

I think that another important point is that religion has changed according to society. Things have changed as time has passed. But I suppose on things like human rights are lacking - such as gay marriage - and these are the points that we need to keep arguing with our "culture" of reason, rational and science based, morally good values.

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Wow John, do you mean what I perceive you to mean?

You have just told me, someone you don't know, that I think altruism is 'at best superfluous'. I'm struggling not to be pretty insulted by that. I was hoping our little exchange would end in us agreeing to disagree.
You sticking with the advice that atheists should push away any egotistic impulse, for the good of our image, me saying I don't think we need to, we are generally good people anyway. We are also individuals.

And you think I think altruism is superfluous 'at best'!!!!
I have lost my job,and half my family in the last 3 years. One died from Motor Neurone disease (called Lou Gehrig's disease in the US) which has marshalled my frustration and anger over the pussyfooting of atheists to put pressure on our governments to begin work on stem cell research IMMEDIATELY. People/children are suffering NOW. And without religion we would have cured these illnesses decades ago.

I have no income, a slowly dwindling inheritance, and over many years of up and down financial vicissitudes I have never cancelled my 4 standing orders to charity, and have regularly done charity/voluntary work and my friends describe me as "a true friend".

I explained to you that the problem with Humanism is it's becoming somewhat anachronistic in it's campaigning, It has played a part in the past in helping people 'own up' to atheism and giving them the shelter of another community to get support.

The original meaning was that humans should simply trust in other humans and not gods. It wasn't meant to convey a sort of godless 'priestliness'. Calling oneself a humanist as opposed to simple atheist, or in fact, as Sam Harris advocates, and I agree with him, nothing at all, is all the same thing.

Lack of belief in the supernatural should be the default position. The believers can have their labels and their suggestions and admonitions for good or bad behaviour. Atheists don't have a book of rules. The evidence for crime and warlike behaviour by the religious suggests we don't need one. Or for the most part.

And as I tried to explain, we have the emergency of Sharia Law being seriously considered in this country, creating a two tier legal system. The victims of this will be Muslim women - on the whole - and at a recent rally I went to this was made very clear. It's an emergency. Meanwhile the Humanist Association are still shilly-shallying over having separate muslim schools. This is tacitly supporting the terrifying inroads the sinister Brotherhood of Islam are making in many western countries. This was demonstrated in a documentary last year with secret cameras in a muslim school.

My hands are still shaking at the end of this post, with anger and upset. I'm embarrassed at mentioning the (puny) amounts I give to charity, just to make a point. I'm not sure you're even reading what I put.
I'm suggesting there are bigger emergencies to deal with in the land of belief than worrying about whether we can make people like us (tho' it has it's uses). My point is, the clock is ticking while people suffer.

And I have restrained myself from saying hurtful things to you, so I will just say - how dare you.
I hope you truly are altruistic but if you are, your position against Humanism is very hard to understand. You seem to simply be a critic of it.

I am a Humanist because my altruism demands it. Of course there are some things it has done that are inappropriate but that does not justify throwing the baby out with the bath water.

I simply cannot reconcile your claiming to be altruistic while not advocating Humanism. To me, by definition, anybody who is altruistic is Humanistic.

I'm glad you are altruistic. Maybe I will understand you better some day.
We are all fully caused to be the way we are....
Quote/"I hope you truly are altruistic but if you are, your position against Humanism is very hard to understand. You seem to simply be a critic of it."/

I am copying and pasting because there is no 'reply' button beneath your post.

I'm sorry, am I in the dock here?? You hope I am truly altruistic? Do you now?
Well I certainly hope you are too. But how do I know?
You seem to be converging the terms 'Humanism' with either 'humane' or 'humanitarian'. Every time you've mentioned it, the latter two seem to be your meaning, within the given context.

The Humanist Association (of which I'm still a member-it has a high profile which means the number of members goes some way to having a public profile for atheists, which I think should be in the public domain), for which I've done voluntary work in the past, is simply a campaigning group, throughout many countries, for atheists.

Not every atheist is a member and not every member does charity work. I don't get the importance you put on this.
And many charities have conflict and flaws. Is this group sacrosanct? We're not at church now. It's an ordinary group of humans, which, because of it's public profile, right now, may be causing some harm to the efforts to keep Islamic totalitarianism, which causes much suffering, from our doors.
Am I humane? Of course I am. Or I do my best.

But, you know what? You are not my moral superior and I don't need your benediction thanks. You who holds humility and lack of egoism in such high esteem.

Quote/"I am a Humanist because my altruism demands it. Of course there are some things it has done that are inappropriate but that does not justify throwing the baby out with the bath water."/

Well, for this we'd have to define altruism. Pure altruism, like real humility, are pretty rare. But I'll take your word for it if you say you do them, have them. Or aspire to them. But I've explained why that creates hypocrisy.

So to empathise and do good for others you have to be a member of the Humanist Association? Because your 'altruism demands it'?

Why? I do think you're confusing meanings. You simply mean pro-human don't you? I'd say most people are pro-human unless they're sociopaths or psychopaths. And many of the loveliest people are good at making themselves happy and having decent self esteem, and maybe they enjoy being themselves. Monotheistic religion regards vanity, pleasure, enjoyment and self-fullfilment as anathema, and the senses as doorways to sin. We should know that is an unhealthy way to view our selves and our lives.

Quote/"I simply cannot reconcile your claiming to be altruistic while not advocating Humanism. To me, by definition, anybody who is altruistic is Humanistic."/

Oh you can't? Again, who are you to judge? And I refer to my words above. I think you're confusing meanings. I'm having trouble with your 'altruism' here.


"I'm glad you are altruistic. Maybe I will understand you better some day."/

Never mind if you don't.
Quote: "I am copying and pasting because there is no 'reply' button beneath your post."

I am doing the same.

I defined what I meant by Humanism in at least two posts that you are supposed to have read. I said it was golden rule morality without deities.

What I see in your posts is that you are claiming the trait of altruism while being critical of what I can only assume is the definition of Humanism that I twice presented and icing the posture with an endearment of egotism and narcissism. As such, I understand your position to be oxymoronic.

My stance is that by definition an altruistic Atheist is a Humanistic one (by my definition) that rejects egotism and narcissism.

If you are making sense it is not registering with me. You have said that if I don't understand you by now I should not mind to further try. I have no problem with that solution but I must mention that, in not knowing you very well, I cannot be your character witness.
Quote/:They are petrified by it because there is a stigma associated with it to the effect that Atheists are amoral or immoral and many are. Too many Atheists are Atheists not for any good reason but only because they see religion as an obstacle to being amoral or immoral and, unfortunately, their voices have tended to give Atheism without qualification a bad name. The onus is on us to have Atheism understood as a positive thing./

Still no reply tag. And I'm quoting from your earlier post.

I'm going back to this quote from you because it mystifies me. "TOO MANY ATHEISTS are atheists because they see religion as an obstacle to immoral and amoral behaviour? - and many are"!! Furthermore.. "The onus is on us"! No it is not!! We are an ordinary cross section of society who, according to all the statistics and graphs and studies of prison populations do far LESS than the average quota of social damage.

Where are all these nasty atheists running around giving us this bad name? These people who rejected religion so they could commit hurtful acts? This is what religionists think. That atheism gives permission to harm. You have absorbed this prejudice.

As Christopher Hitchens regularly asks, "Name a moral act or statement done or said by religion which cannot also be done or said by an atheist. Now think of an immoral act that can only be committed by a believer. You've already thought of several".

But YOU have come across a large constituency of atheists who have rejected religion, not because it's irrational, but because they felt it got in the way of some cruel behaviour they wanted to indulge in?
So, we could assume they once believed in god, heaven and hell but thought declaring themselves an atheist bought them a ticket OUT of hell? Or maybe they thought if they announce themselves as atheist they can rollick around and everyone will just say, "See that's what a lack of a proper moral code does, but hey, s/he's an atheist so they can do that" Sorry??
Whereas, I would be here all day if I was asked to list the people who announce themselves as religious as a cloak for their thoughtless indulgences. Personally that would be MY way of wangling A/my ticket to heaven (I can repent at the end), and B/my social cover and maybe my psychological justification.
It doesn't make any logical sense the first way round!! What payoff is there for this position? And why do you have such a low opinion of atheists? We can share a low opinion of bad behaviour, but I've never heard it justified or covered up with the proclamation of their atheism. I really don't know what you're talking about.

As Hitchens has said,

"Depending on my mood, I sometimes but not always refrain from pointing out what a breathtakingly insulting and patronizing question this is. (It is on a par with the equally subtle inquiry: Since you don't believe in our god, what stops you from stealing and lying and raping and killing to your heart's content?) Just as the answer to the latter question is: self-respect and the desire for the respect of others—while in the meantime it is precisely
those who think they have divine permission who are truly capable of any atrocity.

Here is the point about myself and my co-thinkers. Our belief is not a belief. Our principles are not a faith.
We do not hold our convictions dogmatically. We believe with certainty that an ethical life can be lived without religion. And we know for a fact that the corollary holds true - that religion has caused innumerate people not just to conduct themselves no better than others, but to award themselves permission to behave in ways that would make a brothel-keeper or an ethnic cleanser raise an eyebrow."

You strike me as someone with a religious hangover. You very arbitrarily conflate altruism with being a humanist. I've asked you if you mean humanitarian but you haven't clarified. Many good people don't call themselves humanists. Are you judging them to be bad? It's simply the name of an atheist charity. I actually think you have a problem with me. And I think it lies outside of this thread.

I've no idea why you are fixated on altruism - a concept of human behaviour which is unlikely to exist in a pure form. The golden rule is good enough for me. It fulfils our need to support our community, whether that be family and neighbourhood or the wider world. Which is ultimately tied in to our personal need to survive and be happy. I make no grand or vain claims to be such a thing. I just do as I would be done by. Best I can.

And by the way, I find your pride and arrogance shocking when you say, "unless you know me better you cannot be my character witness"! The sanctimony! I don't need you to vouch for me! I know me. You DO NOT test me on my 'altruism' thank-you. I have my view of you too remember.

I've no idea what an 'endearment of egotism and narcissism' is meant to mean. Or what these have to do with 'the golden rule'? One is a naturally endowed state of mind that ebbs and flows depending on our or others needs, and often our age. The second is a mental condition that is often springs from inner pain. I don't trust anyone who proclaims not to have an ego.

The Shakers and the Amish are very good at the 'no vanity, no pride in self' stuff. This is what I mean by your religious hangover.

Atheists know that this is our one life and to live well, to live free, and to seek pleasure and enjoyment, gives others the gift of ourselves in full bloom. A fulfilled person has lots to give. A self deprived individual is one who tries to live by puritanical and self-sacrificing prescripts but creates a tortured inner self of sanctimonious hypocrisy. Read Mother Theresa's diaries.

I imagine you don't like my reference to pleasure, even though I quoted in another post "As long as there is one unhappy person in the world, I can't be completely happy". That includes you and me. And there is only one point to life and that is happiness and pleasure.

One of my favourite quotes:
"The great end is pleasure, which unlike power is truly an end, an experience that is not simply a step to a further end. It includes all the values we presently entertain; it excludes nothing. While there are parts of human experience we would like to exclude - cruelty, death - we cannot accomplish this. To pretend we can, to create symbols that suggest some people live forever, is to implant in human experience a falsehood so profound as to distort it utterly. Life carries sorrows for all it's creatures; sorrow and deprivation are not escapable. But it is possible to live with an eye to delight rather than domination. And this is the feminist morality".
Quote: "You strike me as someone with a religious hangover. You very arbitrarily conflate altruism with being a humanist. I've asked you if you mean humanitarian but you haven't clarified."

(Still no reply tag ergo the quote.)

Please be fair. In three of my posts that I know you have read I defined Secular Humanism as golden rule morality without deities. I don't think the discussion can be meaningful if you start with a misrepresentation of me and then found a lot of criticism in it.

Altruism according to Webster is the unselfish regard for the welfare of others. I feel that you are trying to depict it as requiring self-sacrifice. I would certainly kill somebody in self-defense if it were necessary and this would not be inconsistent with altruism because the alternative of allowing him to kill me would be less good for him than the losing of his own life.

According to what I feel you are depicting altruism to be altruistic parents would not unhypocritically be able to discipline their own children. The definition of altruism then is completely consistent with my definition of Secular Humanism.

I hope you are not assigning your own definitions to words, intentionally misrepresenting me or confusing my positions in order to make yourself sound right.

In complete context my posts assert my opinion that Atheism has fallen victim to theism in being able to win the masses because it has the stigma of being thought of as for amoral or immoral people whereas theism is thought of as being for good people. Accordingly, I have advocated that for the good of Atheism (not to mention people in general) it should more vigorously take the direction of Secular Humanism (and for the 4th time I mean according to my definition of SH). Necessarily, taking this direction more vigorously would involve a more vigorous rejection of egotism and narcissism.

I hope you see that in essence I am talking about are three things: altruism, egotism and narcissism. Very simply I am advocating that Atheists defend altruism while rejecting egotism and narcissism.

I feel that you have understood this all along but have reacted as you have simply because you disagree with it. That is, I think you in fact endear egotism and narcissism at least to some extent and in this are no more than lukewarm toward Secular Humanism (and for the 5th time I mean according to my definition of it).

Perhaps we should end this discussion simply on the grounds that we do not understand each other.

Quote/Altruism according to Webster is the unselfish regard for the welfare of others. I feel that you are trying to depict it as requiring self-sacrifice. I would certainly kill somebody in self-defense if it were necessary and this would not be inconsistent with altruism because the alternative of allowing him to kill me would be less good for him than the losing of his own life./

Unless you have made some typing errors this is stunningly arrogant! You would kill in self defence because it would be better for your attacker to be dead than alive...how the hell would you know!! Are you omniscient?! Why can't you just admit that you'd do it out of self-defence? Which, yes, would be self interest. We have developed to survive, like all animals.

Please, I beg you, allow yourself ordinary humanity, not this aspiration to what you believe to be your self-elevating 'altruism', which doesn't really exist. (I would agree that altruism can seem to exist and may exist from parents to children. But we could easily see that as biologically hard-wired into our responses for the sake of the survival of the species. But it's still a wonderful and life affirming necessity).

You're thinking seems hair-shirt and convoluted and leads you down a very worrying alley.

There is a very slight change of tone from you in your last post. You have addressed me all along with this sweeping moral judgement of my character, without knowing me at all. Also a tone of a complete right to do so. I feel you would not have addressed a man this way. And I think this is tied into your idea that egotism and narcissism must be suppressed.

I suspect you of seeing women as a representative of the above characteristics, more than men, and of feeling rather superior to anyone with a smidgeon of such. You didn't bother answering my charge that you have a problem with me, outside of our disagreement here. Otherwise why would you address me in such a lofty and sanctimonious way from the start?

A real debate could have been had. You still don't bother to answer my genuine curiousity and puzzlement over some of your views. You make lazy statements back at me. As though.."That is that. I have spoken and you are wasting my time."

I have felt quite nastily misunderstood by you. But altruism is your watchword apparently. Yet your main observation is that I am peskily disagreeing to fake 'sounding right'.

I have taken a long time writing these posts to you, and re-read and checked them before posting. You continue to dismiss my deeply thought out rebuttals as now no more than me being a deliberate nuisance as here QUOTE "I hope you are not assigning your own definitions to words, (example??) intentionally misrepresenting me or confusing my positions in order to make yourself sound right."

And when I expressed my shock and hurt at your casual insults to my whole character you showed no sympathy or apology. I wasn't worth it it seems. And now I need swatting away as the superfluous creature you see me as. Not agreeing with you for very good reasons is not an option for the likes of me. I suspect you of misogyny.

QUOTE/"I feel that you have understood this all along but have reacted as you have simply because you disagree with it. That is, I think you in fact endear egotism and narcissism at least to some extent and in this are no more than lukewarm toward Secular Humanism"/

Have you understood anything I've said? My arguments for secularism? I understand very well what you're saying. "Endearing egotism and narcissism" seem to be serious transgressions in your eyes, oddly. There are so many bad things a human being can do yet I am truly baffled about your worries over "egotism" and "narcissism". No I don't mind them, except as I said, narcissism is really a mental disorder. Everyone has an ego - your's comes over very strongly - and even with 'extra ego' I fail to see why you think atheists should work on 'suppressing' this. In most religions there are many constant admonitions against vanity, enjoyment, following your own desires and yes, egotism. This is manifest in all the ways women are trained within religion to cover themselves, to not assert, not embellish and 'good girls' don't pile on the make-up, the sexy clothes, the swagger.

We are atheists, there is no need for that. Wanting to be attractive, to adorn, to live life playfully and to express oneself in any way one wishes - including men - is allowed. You can have your odd ideas about atheists 'should' be more this, and 'should' be less that, but why on earth pick these things that are impossible to suppress (unless you are forcing and faking suppression for appearance's sake, leading to unconscious hypocrisy ), why not concern yourself with the whole of humanity and the seriously damaging things human can do? Why have an austere opinion about atheists appearing more selfless than the rest of the population? We already appear to behave better anyway.

I also try to follow the golden rule, as do so many, and I think the push for stronger secularism in all countries is almost an emergency. I simple don't need to attach the name of a charity (even tho' I am a member) to both those things to get behind them. But, mystifyingly, you believe without that word, you say I can't think what I've told you I think. Many people in the world haven't heard of humanism but follow and support those precepts. 

I think atheists ought not to set limits or lay out rules for each other. That's religion. If theists misunderstand us it won't be addressed by us knocking ourselves out to 'appear' more 'pure and selfless' than them. Those things deform the religious mind. They don't allow for ordinary humanity, and the lovableness of most of us, even with our egos, which help us survive. Even you John. 

QUOTE/My stance is that by definition an altruistic Atheist is a Humanistic one (by my definition) that rejects egotism and narcissism./

Apologies, I don't really want to drag this out much longer either. I was looking up some definitions and came across this ATHEISTIC WEBSITE which explains my view very well and seems to be an essay in a conflicting response to someone very like the one we have been having. Well, I'm not sure you had any desire to debate. Just to loftily shoo me away. From the site :

 

"Altruism, like the doctrine of free will, is a sheer delusion. Men are motivated in their behavior, whether good or bad, by the inexorable demands of self-interest. The kindest, the noblest act in the world, as well as the basest, springs from a desire for self-satisfaction. Why bedrape the fact with tinsel trappings about "our love of others"? Even our "self-sacrifices'' and "selt-denials" give us satisfaction.

I write for realists, not for those who crave sugary pap. My statement --"awful'' to Mr. Nicholas -- that I do things because they give me satisfaction, and not through altruistic motives, will be understood by everyone who appreciates the motivating factors that underlie behavior. Everything that gives me satisfaction is determined by my likes and dislikes; these, in turn, are determined by my whole conditioning. If writing for a Fundamentalist paper gave me greater satisfaction than writing for The Truth Seeker, I would probably be writing for the religious press. As it does not, and since I despise religion, I am doing what is natural in the case: writing for The Truth Seeker "as a matter of habit". And isn't Mr. Nicholas advocating his opinions as "a matter of habit"? Isn't his own conditioning responsible for everything he does?

 

Mr. Nicholas states that he too, dislikes "the sentimental claptrap" and boasting of pseudo-altruists". He should. Their effusions are nauseating. They are, in fact, the chief cause of my criticism of the Humanist movement, which is constantly prating of its "love of mankind". Those who talk in this way talk like politicians on the eve of an election. Give me the men who never use these honeyed phrases and nine times out of ten they are doing more substantial good in the world than those who boast of their "altruistic" service.

I subscribe to the Hobbes school of thought rather than to that of Auguste Comte and the English Positivists, who formulated "altruism" "as a convenient antithesis to egoism", This "convenient antithesis" is a pure perversion of the facts that underlie behavior -- and I dislike perversions whether they are "convenient" or otherwise.

Altruism, therefore, is a false and pernicious doctrine: false because it ignores the basic facts that determine conduct; pernicious because it would have us love all mankind. This, by the nature of things, is impossible. He who says he loves all mankind is either soft in the head or a liar.

Ethically considered, altruism is a corroding and demoralizing doctrine. No one can love all mankind, or all men. We cannot love the child-beater, the swindler who defrauds his victims, the cruel Inquisitor, the Gestapo agent. We cannot love the hordes of human jackals that have reddened the pages of history or the billions of persons who have lived on the misery of others. Neither can we love those who pollute the world with tyranny and oppression. To say we do, is sheer hypocrisy.

Love is that feeling of tenderness and devotion which we bestow on those who are nearest and dearest to us and who give us our greatest satisfaction. It is an exalted gratification. As such, it is a limited and restricted emotion. To love all mankind is an impossibility. To claim to do so, is to act the hypocrite."

 

 

Quote: "Please, I beg you, allow yourself ordinary humanity, not this aspiration to what you believe to be your self-elevating 'altruism', which doesn't really exist."

 

(No tag again ergo the quote.)

 

I started reading the response you wrote containing the above quote and it became so ridiculous to me that I couldn't finish it nor stomach looking at the one you posted under it.

 

Don't tell me that I am not altruistic and am attempting to appear to be for self-elevating reasons when I know my motives. Moreover, don't tell me that I do not know what is good for people in a golden rule sense when in literally every civilized society in the world people who don't know this are considered to be insane.

 

Very respectfully if you think the world doesn't have a handle on golden rule morality or that nobody subscribes to it I suggest that you get psychological help.

 

I'm sorry you couldn't relate to me without resorting to profanity. I respect you but do not find you to be very entertaining in this regard. Neither was I entertained by your remark that my interacting with you as I have had something to do with your being female.  I have made multiple posts in multiple discussions over a long period of time in AN that might change your mind (if it exists in good faith) if you care to research them. 

 

Very respectfully, despite you responses I am not at all convinced that you find anything wrong with my positions but rather that you have been throwing up a lot of flack simply because you freely care very little to be a Secular Humanist in the mode that I have advocated.

 

I have presented my positions very clearly on several occasions and in this do not see the need to present them again.

 

Very respectfully, I would like for this discussion to end now. If you have further comments to make I hope you afford me the grace of making them civilly but in any case I do not expect to respond.

John,

I am speaking calmly here. You feel I misrepresented you and willfully and deliberately so. For what? I don't know. I hate hurting people. But you did that to me. I do understand what you have said.

I never did get an apology from you for a remark that actually had me struggling not to cry - big baby as I no doubt am. (And you're a bit of a baby yourself if you think I used 'profanities' for goodness sake!). Although I disagreed with the use of the word altruism, I knew you were almost flippantly trying to describe me as a thoughtless and selfish person.

I felt so hurt and casually misunderstood. As I said, my hands were shaking all through my first response to you, so at odds with my fundamental motivations and ideals was your slur. But you haven't made an effort to try and follow what I'm questioning. Which is not your motivation to do good but the continual definition of 'good' as 'altruism'. This is a philosophical disagreement.

Quote/"Very respectfully if you think the world doesn't have a handle on golden rule morality or that nobody subscribes to it I suggest that you get psychological help"./

And here you do it again. You insist I am some type of immoral person - I have said over and over, this is also MY foundation stone of a moral code. Where on earth have I said "nobody subscibes to it"! And even with my affirmation of this several times you insist I don't hold by it and "need psychological help".

Put simply, I am saying that real altruism probably doesn't exist. The mutual support we give others, although at a cost to ourselves in the short term is part of our mental wiring to ensure the survival of our communities. If we were all truly altruistic I'm sure we'd have died out long ago.

The same with our egos. We need an ego to survive. Without these things we'd just offer ourselves up for medical research right now. But then everyone else would too, so we wouldn't need medical research. And so on. This is not a trivial point, but one that we should understand in order to feel for our fellow humans and not judge them harshly. Especially not for so small a thing as vanity. That's my view.

Please do not extrapolate from that that I don't care a damn for anyone. I'm not sure why you keep doing that. No matter what I say, you interpret me as saying I don't support 'golden rule morality'. When I keep saying the opposite. I know that is your view too. I am merely questioning, whether real altruism exists and whether it's a good idea to imply that unless you live in a pure altruistic way, then you are a morally bankrupt person.

When something may be impossible, if not dangerous to our survival, I suggest we bring the bar down. Do as you would be done by. Be happy. I think those simple precepts are as good as we need.

I took such offence at your first post to me because, even though I didn't agree that altruism was possible (or desirable in survivalist terms, as I've tried so hard to explain), I could tell that for you the word stood in for "doing good for others" and you were telling me, someone you didn't know at all, that I considered this to be "at best superfluous".

No-one I have ever known has ever had reason to describe me this way. Yet you keep doing it. I won't have it. You are mistaken and very obviously not reading what I put or reading but not thinking.

I suggest most people try to do good. We are hard wired to do so. We empathise, unlike many animals. Again, because we need each other to survive.

I support secularism - strongly - and I've given some clear reasons why. And I try to treat people as I would wish to be treated. Is this clear? Or do you think I'm lying? I really don't know.

I assure you I understand you. I don't see you as bad. Why would I? I am debating the words and terms you use and their possible unhelpfulness in terms of atheistic philosophy.

The post you didn't read is simply a copy and paste from another website from a blogger obviously having a similar discussion with someone else. He makes some different points. Perhaps better than me.

Since you "can't stomach" my words and thoughts anymore, so unpalatable am I, it may be easier to read than you think.

Cheryl:

 

Let's agree to disagree.

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