“Meaningless Pieces Of Meat”

An atheist must be immoral–why quarrel?
Both logic and evidence show I am right!
Their claim to their “moral” conclusions? Illusions!
With no god to guide them, what’s “wrong” in their sight?
Imagine a fervent believer–his fever
For ultimate justice gives glory to God;
An atheist view of what matters just shatters–
No bedrock to build on, just fragile facade.

An altruist Christian has learning, concerning
His real motivation–the state of the soul!
The ignorant atheist doesn’t–he wasn’t
Informed of the true, supernatural goal.
The soul is the crux of the issue, not tissue;
The corpse is mere husk–that’s the common conceit–
The Christian world-view states it clearly (or nearly):
“Our bodies are meaningless pieces of meat”.

My aggregator threw a discussion at me–what are the tangible ways a non-believer can’t help as much as a believer? In particular, a commenter is accused of a failure of imagination if he can’t see that he is mischaracterizing atheists. He responds, in part:

Not really , i have a great imagination and I tried to imagine any way possible for why an atheist would want to give to charity to support a meaningless piece of meat (that evolved by blind chance and chemical interaction ). In a world without ultimate meaning, purpose or hope I can’t logically see why it would have any meaning at all.

Terrific imagination, but apparently is unable to imagine the world he actually lives in, the atheists that actually surround him (or, perhaps, avoid him).

But… I get it, now. I finally get it. See, he also explains his own view:

Rationally and logically speaking, the state of someone’s soul is much more important then anything in this finite realm. That’s not an emotional statement , that’s a statement that just makes common sense .

And it makes perfect sense. Both he and I would say that my family, friends, and loved ones (and by extension, theirs, and theirs, and theirs, and so on through the whole world) are important because of who they are in my life, because I love them, because they are so important that culture has contrived whole religious systems to enforce their importance. But he puts that importance in their souls, and my own worldview rejects the prescientific concept of an animating soul (or any other sort) as not needed to explain any observations of our lives. And in my rejection of the soul, this guy sees rejection of meaning, of importance, of love.

But the thing is, it is him who sees the body as a “meaningless piece of meat.” From his view, without the soul, that’s what it is. It is as if he thinks that, without a soul, our babies would not giggle, our toddlers would not laugh, our young teens would not get their hearts broken, our whole lives would be zombie-like shuffling. Either he thinks we are blind to the wonders of life, or (much more kindly) he simply thinks we are wrong on the whole “soul” thing. Which the biologists and psychologists would be a bit surprised at.

But since he has a wonderful imagination, it must be that atheists are blind.


  1. doublereed says

    One of the passages from the Sermon on the Mount which always disturbed me was the following line:

    Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

    This is a very different idea than something like “My body is my temple,” which I’d say is a much more positive way to view the world.

    Denigration of the physical is extremely unsettling. We should be very concerned for our health and well-being, and this very much raises the question of why Christians are at all concerned for the health or well-being of others or themselves. Why would Christians feed others, or clothe others, or heal others? Why would this be considered such a noble thing if we are just meat?

    The commenter asks this of atheists, but it applies much more strongly to him. He’s the one supporting useless pieces of meat. It sounds to me like he would never support a charity to feed, clothe, or heal others.

  2. Cuttlefish says

    But he claims he does, doublereed, and claims the atheists are the hypocrites for not all being nihilists bemoaning our mortality.

  3. doublereed says

    He may be referring to charity to religious organizations that proselytize. Because then he would be helping people’s souls, not their bodies.

    But under his worldview, nobody, neither atheist nor christian, should ever give charity for food, clothing, health, etc.

  4. mithrandir says

    It strikes me as arrogant to believe that one’s existence must have cosmic or transcendent meaning, that one must matter in the universal scheme of things – that it isn’t enough to be meaningful to one’s friends, family, employers/employees, community, nation, or even species or biosphere.

    Though I suppose Douglas Adams suspected we all had a bit of such arrogance when he conceived the notion of the Total Perspective Vortex, a psychic torture that consisted of no more or less than forcibly disabusing the subject of that delusion.

  5. Ellenna Mcghie says

    Did it ever cross your mind that the type of person who says something like this may have really fucking awful familial relationships and friendships?

    I mean, I don’t even know vicars who would say shit like this. My first thought has to be that this person is either an autist, like me, so they view relationships different to the rest or they actually don’t like the people they feel obliged to love. Probably for good reasons.

    Like most things, I don’t see this as something inherent in a person who has particular religious views, or doesn’t have any religious views at all. I just see it as a person who has been tainted by poor experiences.

  6. grumpyoldfart says

    Christians often boast about their “crisis of faith”. They reach a point where they realize that some of the things they believe are completely absurd – but they have invested so much effort in their religion they eventually decide to put their doubts aside and continue to accept that which they suspect is untrue.

    And then they see an atheist who has none of those absurd beliefs yet seems to be getting along quite well without them – and that’s when the Christian realizes it is possible to toss religion aside and still live a normal and successful life.

    But rather than admit they don’t have the courage to leave their religion, they prefer, instead, to demonize the atheist. They convince themselves that atheists are so cold, so hard, so devoid of emotion, that they can regard another human being as nothing more than “a meaningless piece of meat.” Then, having reached that conclusion, the Christian has no trouble deciding that the atheistic journey is not worth taking and that believers are superior to unbelievers.

  7. Cuttlefish says

    But under his worldview, nobody, neither atheist nor christian, should ever give charity for food, clothing, health, etc

    He gets called on that over there, doublereed. It’s an interesting mirror, when each side has “my reading of your side tells me you should not care about X”, and of course neither side actually does not care. It’s almost like we’re all… human.

  8. says

    “Is not the body more than food, and life more than clothing?”

    This is why scripture supports anything you want it to. Here’s that woman-hating closet-case Paul, on charity to the poor:

    “…15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.…”

    No matter what you want, you can find scripture to support it. Maybe we should just dispense with scripture, on the grounds that it really doesn’t mean much.

  9. fusilier says

    @12 georgewiman

    Your quote is actually from James, not Paul.

    Somebody once quipped that Christianity is the triumph of Paul over James, while Protestantism is the triumph of Paul over Jesus.

    James 2:24

  10. doublereed says


    Yea but none of the Christians actually responded to the rebuttal as far as I could see.

    And obviously he doesn’t actually believe that. He just hasn’t thought it through and is relying on stereotypes he’s learned.

  11. rietpluim says

    Counter question: if man is more than a meaningless piece of meat, and indeed has a soul and a purpose bestowed on him by a divine creator, why would that be a reason to give to charity to support him?

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