Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I Don't Understand Atheistic Humanitarianism

I love satire. Even if what's being ridiculed is something I hold dear I still appreciate it. Everyone and everything needs to be put into a fresh perspective once in a while, and anything of worth should hold up under scrutiny.

I recently stumbledupon the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

If you are unfamiliar with The Flying Spaghetti Monster or Pastafarians enlighten yourself, or the short story is that this "Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster" was started as a way to poke fun at the idea of Intelligent Design when there was a move to teach it alongside the theory of Evolution.

While I disagree with the views held by Pastafarians, I appreciate people believing in something enough to take action. In fact it would seem that something positive has come out of this satirical movement (RAmen?). The believers and followers of the Flying Spaghetti Monster have not only formed their own Kiva group , but have donated nearly$100,000.

If you don't know what Kiva is, it's a microloan organization putting those who have money to loan in touch with people in developing areas who need small business loans.

While I greatly appreciate what Pastafarians are doing for business owners in impoverished areas, I am a bit confused by their motives, which seem to me a contradiction in beliefs. What confuses me is the fact that a group that supports the theory of evolution would begin their own Kiva group.

I think I should mention that I'm making somewhat of a dangerous leap here and am assuming that most people who would call themselves to be follwers of the Flying Spaghetti Monster are in fact Atheists. Maybe this is an unsafe assumption, but it would seem that the belief in evolution typically goes hand in hand with Atheism. I apologize if these assumptions are unfounded and wrong, if there are individuals that fall outside of this generalization, or if you genuinely worship the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

At the core of the theory of evolution lies the key principle of natural selection or "survival of the fittest". I don't understand how someone who would hold this as truth would consider financing a microloan to someone in the developing world.

If I whole heartedly subscribed to the idea of evolution I certainly wouldn't want to give a competing member of my species an advantage at the limited resources of our planet. With overpopulation looming on the horizon what good would it do me to support those people? Even if you bring up the point of developed nations having lower birthrates, you are still supplying a competing member of your species. Clearly if you are in the position where you have money to give you have made it to the top of the food chain and should only be worrying about perpetuating your own victorious genes. I would be interested to know if there are any other species of animal that gives up its resources in order to support other nonlocal members of its species.

The only reason I can imagine for doing this is some sort of moralityor human decency which seem to me to have no place in the theory of evolution.

Why would a group of people dedicated to satirizing theists end up behaving in the very way perscribed by the major branches of theism to act? Isn't that alone worth investigating the possibility of ID? After all, human behavior is much more tangible and quantifiable than evolutionary biology.

Again I appreciate the sentiment behind this satirical movement, not to mention the fact that I love whole heartedly each individual who subscribes to it, but I think the contradiction of ideas shines light on true reality.

For some reason we care about each other, not to mention that we have the need to belong and feel important. It's hard for me to believe that the impulses I feel to help people would be something that I gained from natural selection.

3 comments:

Kyle said...

Hey man! I made some comments. Also, we should go to the bar soon.

“I am a bit confused by their motives, which seem to me a contradiction in beliefs”
Later:
“At the core of the theory of evolution lies the key principle of natural selection or "survival of the fittest". I don't understand how someone who would hold this as truth would consider financing a microloan to someone in the developing world.”

The theory of evolution is a scientific theory, not a doctrine, not a way of life, but merely the idea that natural selection is real, and has been going on for a LONG time.


“Why would a group of people dedicated to satirizing theists end up behaving in the very way perscribed by the major branches of theism to act?”

Religions don’t have the patent on charity and goodwill. Many atheists are charitable people, and are very proud of it. There is something good to be said about a person who donates large portions of their short life to charities without the expectation of eternal happiness (all charities are good -- I’m not trying to imply atheists are more honorable for their charities). The purpose of the FSM fundraiser is to demonstrate that being a good and caring human is independent of any religion.


“With overpopulation looming on the horizon what good would it do me to support those people?”

There is a difference between primal instincts and logical reasoning. For example, my primal instincts urge me to impregnate ever voluptuous beauty I pass on the street, but logic tells me to keep my wanker in my pants or I’ll die from an STD or from my girlfriends wrath. Likewise, if our primal instincts urge us to help other “pack” members in our world community to increase our chance or survival; we’d be urged to help them regardless of the logic.


“It's hard for me to believe that the impulses I feel to help people would be something that I gained from natural selection.”

I understand your logic, but I disagree. Many groups of animals need packs to survive, thus it would only seem fitting that our initial primal response would be to help someone in need. For example dogs among hundreds of other species need to hunt in packs to survive - linked is a video of a dog saving another dogs life. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgjyhKN_35g



“After all, human behavior is much more tangible and quantifiable than evolutionary biology.”

I don’t think either science is truly that quantifiable. Also, I don’t know if human behavior is proof of ID.

anthony timlin said...

Thanks so much for the comments, I made some back. We definitely should go to the bar ASAP, or we could go to Bells sometime if you want.

"The theory of evolution is a scientific theory, not a doctrine, not a way of life, but merely the idea that natural selection is real, and has been going on for a LONG time."

Yeah, I think this uncovers the biggest flaw in my argument. I'm making the assumption that the belief in evolution typically leads to Atheism. This is quite possibly an unfounded conclusion, but after reading many blogs written by Atheists I have to assume there is at least some validity to the generalization. If you didn't catch it I apologized in the post for anyone that I may have stereotyped that didn't fall under this assumption.

"Religions don’t have the patent on charity and goodwill. Many atheists are charitable people, and are very proud of it."

Agreed, but I don't understand why. I also have strong urges to help people but I attribute that to the fact that I believe I was made that way. I just don't understand what a good explanation would be for why I feel sympathetic towards the poor or the oppressed if I didn't believe they had some intrinsic value. According to natural selection those people should be exactly where they are, correct? The successful members of a given species should be furthering their genes while the less successful members should be dying off.

"Many groups of animals need packs to survive, thus it would only seem fitting that our initial primal response would be to help someone in need."

Agreed and I had thought about this, but even packs of dogs have to compete with other packs of dogs for scared resources. It is easy to be generous especially for those living in the developed world, but imagine if resources weren't so abundant, would not someone who understands evolution to be the truth who had access to resources be inclined to keep those for themself or the people immediately around them (their pack)?

As time goes on and resources become more and more scarce natural selection will clearly choose those who keep them for themselves. Clearly there have been times in history where resources were scarce and people had to choose themselves over others, but over time I would imagine that people from that gene pool if given the chance would still be generous.

Alright, I feel like I'm getting off topic I'll leave it at that.

Steve said...

I like this dialog...sorry I don't have the time to contribute...if I get a free hour or so I would love to. But with my limited time (and terrible internet here in South Africa) I just wanted to send a word of encouragement...I always enjoy your perspective, thoughts and insight...