atheism, naturalism

Cruel Logic: “Ideas have Consequences”

No Apologies Allowed” put a post up with a link to a YouTube video called “Cruel Logic.” In it, a serial killer debates a college professor about ethics and determinism in a materialistic universe. Check out the original post and discussion here. I recommend his site because it has tons of thought-provoking imagery and links to videos.


What do you think? Are these the implications of materialism? Are we merely matter, determined in motion and emotion?

About J.W. Wartick

J.W. Wartick is a Lutheran, feminist, Christ-follower. A Science Fiction snob, Bonhoeffer fan, Paleontology fanboy and RPG nerd.


9 thoughts on “Cruel Logic: “Ideas have Consequences”

  1. Haha, well yes one implication of materialism is indeed that we are ‘merely matter.’

    I love a good psycho movie ;). I know this is about morality without free will but if I could there’s an undertone here I want to comment on first.

    The whole motif of the skeptic egg head who never appreciated the vividness of life being reduced to a blubbering mass beseeching heaven for mercy is an old theme indeed (‘there are no atheists in foxholes,’ etc). I find this more than a little ugly aside from being completely and totally false, but I don’t think anyone meant to imply anything with it so I’ll leave it alone.

    Nevertheless, to answer his question: why be good to people if there’s no free will and you don’t expect to be caught? Well, why be good to people if there is free will? I don’t see how the presence or absence of free will would affect our decision making about how we treat each other. In either case, I think the realization that each of us is just one among many, and that the next person’s suffering is just as real and vivid and true as your own leads naturally to the golden rule. If you take the psychopaths route and just decide you don’t care about the suffering of other people, you’re ignoring part of the world. You’re failing to recognize the suffering of other people as identical in every way to your own suffering. So by all means, do unto others as you’d be done by.

    Posted by JWW | April 26, 2011, 7:12 PM
    • Why should anyone accept the golden rule on materialism?

      Also, I think the central issue isn’t so much free will as it is the status of humans. If all we are is matter, than free will or not, we don’t matter. There must be some reason to value us in order for there to be a real aspect of morality as opposed to simple subjectivism.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | April 26, 2011, 10:44 PM
      • So this is not about the causal role of genetics but about God providing the standard that we are all valuable?

        Are you asking for a selfish motivation to be good (i.e. that he’ll get his comeuppance if he behaves badly) that would convince the above psychopath to let the guy go or an epistemic justification for saying we should be good? I think those are two slightly different questions. I think I’ve already answered the second, and I don’t think the above psychopath is in the mood to be talked out of his plans by either theists or atheists.

        Posted by JWW | April 27, 2011, 8:14 AM
      • I was extrapolating onto a new topic, my apologies. As far as the case in point goes, I think you’re right in that it wouldn’t matter whether there was free will or not if his argument works. What would matter is that, on a theistic account, there would be an obligation to not act in the manner in which he was acting, which is what the debate was about. On materialism, there is no such obligation.

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | April 27, 2011, 9:44 PM
      • What does that even mean “we don’t matter”? Admitting that we don’t matter cosmically – in other words, with respect to the fate of the universe – is not at all the same thing as saying we don’t matter now with regard to the world around us and the other beings we share it with. Have you read any argument by any secular ethicist ever?

        Posted by Zed | April 27, 2011, 8:13 PM
      • My argument throughout is that there is no grounding for saying “we matter now” on materialism.

        Posted by J.W. Wartick | April 27, 2011, 9:43 PM
  2. For some reason, my atheist friends on facebook don’t like to comment on this video… Hmm…

    Posted by Mark Thomas | May 1, 2011, 4:38 AM
    • We should start a club called my friends don’t care about my crazy religion posts. My christian friends don’t seem to comment on atheist videos I post either (that are from debates between real theists and atheists rather than atheistic skits). Instead they just like fb pages called ‘I believe in God’ and quote scripture in their status updates.

      Posted by JWW | May 17, 2011, 6:28 PM

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