With No Superior Moral
Dictator, Why Not Kill?
I came across some interesting (and, atheist that I am, nonetheless surprising) information at your site. Specifically:
I'm not the hottest of researchers, and didn't manage to turn up any good corroborating statistics at the US Department of Justice site, but then again, I didn't manage to turn up any statistics at all, so good and bad are a bit irrelevant.
In any event, I was wondering if you had contact information for the originator of that particular piece such that I could start tracking down citations for original source materials myself.
The source of this curiosity is that a couple Christian friends (a Catholic and an -- I don't know) asked me why I choose not to kill when I feel myself to be free from a superior moral dictator. (Considering they are two of my closest friends and I visibly don't go around killing, I know that the question is asked in the interest of mutual understanding, and not meant as an attack.)
While on the one hand I intend to write up as cogent a reply for them as I can, I do also want to see their response to those statistics, but I don't feel comfortable presenting the numbers without having a bit more evidence for their veracity myself.
It's one of those truth things, you know?
Common sense is the layer of
prejudices laid down in the mind
prior to the age of eighteen.
-- Albert Einstein
"I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. ...
"Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast..."
From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <email@example.com>
To: "Bryant Adams"
Subject: Re: Info check
Date: Friday, February 16, 2001 7:48 PM
Why you choose not to kill is a philosophical question, not a statistical one. Why they would ask could be simple curiosity, but an almost unseen and unspoken bigotry underlies their question.
I like to turn it around and throw it back at them: What does the Christian religion have that is not obtainable from other sources? Since you are an atheist, the discussion must be in terms that both sides agree are valid, so no fair for them to invoke concepts such as "the Holy Ghost" or anything else magical -- unless they're ready to examine some facts, including biblical teachings (tribal totem exclusivism, for one; blind obedience, for another) and including a comparison between work done in the name of promoting Christianity versus the scientific method (what is left after "faith" is removed from the picture). Also no fair defining morality as loyalty (obedience) to God regardless of the good or bad one does apart from religious edicts (you might want to bring up the slaughters and genocide commanded in the Hebrew Scriptures or the exclusivism commanded in the New Testament or the subjugation of women mentioned throughout).
At this point, you might wish to pick up Douglas E. Krueger's very short and very abbreviated 1999 book, What Is Atheism? A Short Introduction.
Another book that is pretty thorough and that fills in many of the gaps is George H. Smith's Why Atheism?
If you have any specific questions, send them my way and I'll try to tackle them. However, I not only don't know anything more than what's posted in the article you mention, but would like to see this study done again -- with many more safeguards placed into it than a simple questionnaire sent to prisoners. I will shortly post a piece that goes into more detail, and have attached the files so you can read it in lieu of my having posted it.
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