reasonable and humanistic

I find it hard to imagine something I’d want to do less than listening to a conversation between David Smalley and David Silverman, two awful people associated with the dying atheist movement. So I didn’t. Chris Johnson did, though, and came away with some of the choice wisdom of Silverman, who is considering voting for Trump because because of his position on race.

I don’t get upset when felons get the shit kicked out of them by cops
George Floyd was human garbage. It’s not such a terrible thing that he’s dead
My point was that all people are not of equal worth, and I care a Lot less if a felon dies in the act of committing a crime than an innocent or child. That is reasonable and humanistic.
Denying this is not humanism because it protects felons.

I was paired with David Silverman in a session at Oxford of a humanist conference, and I witnessed the reaction of the audience to his tirade. Let me just say — David Silverman is no humanist, and doesn’t have the slightest understanding of the philosophy of humanism. To say that humanism puts the value of human life on a variable scale in which you get to judge whether someone is allowed to live or die is not humanism. Furthermore, describing the actions of leftists in protesting racial inequity and police criminality to be “race-baiting” to a degree that you’ll vote for Donald Jackoff Trump does not make you a humanist — it makes you a racist, plain and simple. Those are not synonyms.

I wasted a decade of my life on this terrible gang of atheist assholes, why do they keep oozing up out of the muck to remind me? I have this dread that I’m either going to get killed by COVID or by the Republican lackwits that surround me here in Red Minnesota soon enough, and that’s what I’ll be thinking of as I go down. It’s depressing to be mired in regret at being both an atheist and an American, neither of which I can change.


  1. bcwebb says

    I get a feeling with the racist atheists that the reason they reject a god isn’t logic but the concept of anything more important than themselves. Of course religion then screws up by picking an imaginary thing to elevate.

  2. cartomancer says

    Well, technically you can change being an American. In terms of nationality and place of residence at least. I’m sure the Scandinavians would welcome you back as a long-lost member of their diaspora.

  3. sc_e7cb37166b0ed7e2545034076d87e16c says

    Indeed what Silverman proclaims is the very antithesis of Humanism.
    Per AHA:
    “Humanism is a nontheistic worldview with ethical values informed by scientific knowledge and driven by a desire to meet the needs of people in the here and now. At the foundation of those values is an affirmation of the dignity of EVERY HUMAN BEING.”
    [my emphasis]
    I spend more time than I should have to as a local AHA chapter officer telling members they may be good enough atheist activists re: church/state separation, etc, but they are bad at humanism.

  4. Artor says

    I am forced to agree with Silverman that all people are not of equal worth. Silverman, for example, is a worthless piece of rancid dog shit.

  5. dstatton says

    I was surprised when I heard that Sam Harris had interviewed Charles Murray about the Bell Curve without challenging him. He’s a neuroscientist! Then I heard that he appears on the Joe (“I’m voting for Trump”) Rogan show. Now I know better.

  6. says

    not to defend Silverman here but it’s true not every human life is worth equally to people.
    There is no such thing as objective value, so the only thing we can talk is how people value life of others and all the “trolley problems” memes and ethical concerns with autonomous vehicles show that there are some trends. 10 year old over 90 year old, innocent bystander over gang member killed during shoot out, careful driver over the risk ignoring asshole going 100 mph in the middle of the city, innocent person over criminal killed while fighting police during arrest.
    However in case of George Floyd, he deserved arrest, but not the execution and failing to notice that requires bad will or racism or just being an arsehole.

  7. unclefrogy says

    when I was a kid the thing I noticed about kids like silverman that I would come across was that they were conceited first and foremost
    they think they are better then everyone else and spend all of there time trying to convince everyone that its true. Some people are easily convinced by their bull shit it seems.
    uncle frogy

  8. says

    not to defend Silverman here but it’s true not every human life is worth equally to people.

    Oh, hello eugenics.
    You know, we re just having a situation where people are putting a value on human beings, because, perhaps you noticed, we’re in the middle of a pandemic where medical shortages forced doctors to make decisions they never wanted to make and that are breaking them. And whenever and wherever authorities decided to make the decision the results are necessarily horrible, with the lives of disabled people being deemed to be intrinsically worth less than the lives of able people.
    It’s also telling how you think that somebody should get to shoot people because they believe those people to be gang members (and we all know what that means).

  9. vucodlak says

    @ Gorzki, #7

    not to defend Silverman here but it’s true not every human life is worth equally to people.

    And who gets to make that determination? How do you weigh the worth of one life against another?

    10 year old over 90 year old, innocent bystander over gang member killed during shoot out, careful driver over the risk ignoring asshole going 100 mph in the middle of the city, innocent person over criminal killed while fighting police during arrest.

    What if the 10 year old gets their kicks by torturing small animals and other children, while the 90 year old has dedicated their entire life to the service and aid of others?

    What if the “innocent bystander” beats and rapes children? What if the gang member is one of those children, and only joined the gang for protection and a sense of family?

    What if the “risk ignoring asshole” is an innocent person trying to get away from that large, heavily-armed, and murderous gang known as the police?

    What if the only “crime” the criminal has committed is being afraid that the police will murder them?

    You set up these simplistic dichotomies and then judge others based on your conceptions of “value,” and it’s clear you aren’t the least bit qualified to judge the worth of one human over another. No one is, but that’s especially true in the case of the police, prosecutors, and “tough on crime” politicians.

    However in case of George Floyd, he deserved arrest,

    For what?! For maybe, possibly, and almost certainly unknowingly passing a counterfeit $20 bill? For talking back to the cops? For being afraid of the cops?

    Turns out he had a real good reason for that last, given that they tortured him to death on the street.

  10. PaulBC says

    Just about every person is worth a lot more to themselves than they are worth to anyone else, and this is one simple reason I am able to avoid lengthy utilitarian rationalizations that inevitably lead to the conclusion I started with.

    The Nazis promoted the principle of “lives not worth living” and yet they were the ones making this choice for others. I was a “mental defective” with a gun and a kindly Nazi doctor wanted to bring my life to a mercifully end in the interest of societal hygiene, I would have little trouble concluding that my life was worth a hell of a lot more than theirs and take appropriate action. Likewise, it is understandable if a criminal in the act of committing a crime will still consider their own survival of prime concern.

    This is probably not the humanist rationale, by the way, but it works well enough for me.

  11. ORigel says

    Silverman still does not deserve to be MURDERED, but if he happened to, I don’t know, die in a car accident I would not mourn him.

  12. lotharloo says

    You should be very careful with how you deal with trolley problems, they are very complicated and nuanced. And I don’t think they prove what you think they prove which is “not every human life is worth equally to people.” The way people see trolley problems can change drastically depending on how you set them up, so even if people generally save the 10 YO instead of a 90 YO in a trolley problem, doesn’t mean that the life of the “90 YO is less valuable” because well, to claim that you will have to first define what “value” is.

  13. Frederic Bourgault-Christie says

    At the start of all of this Trumpian nonsense, I argued that this could be a good thing. The society is broken in deep ways. Being forced to see that was a good thing. And whenever someone like Silverman is outed as someone who openly doesn’t care about human life and will try to defend his stupid garbage in public with verbiage, I am glad that we got an illusion broken.

    But it’s starting to feel like this national puking up of our Id isn’t helping as much and saying the quiet part out loud is the biggest consequence.

    Of course, I guess if I was right is up to us, since we now live in a world where Trump can say the garbage he does all the time and still be taken seriously, so apparently one can say anything and get a group going. Hopefully that can be the good stuff.

  14. nomdeplume says

    Hmm, Dr Silverman. What if a policeman mistakenly thought you were committing a crime and killed you? What about someone stealing a flower from a garden – shoot to kill? How about Wall Street bankers stealing from the poor – a bomb in their office perhaps?

    Does he really not understand that you can’t allow police to decide to kill someone, anyone, because that is the opposite of justice? A child can understand that.

  15. Anton Mates says

    I care a Lot less if a felon dies in the act of committing a crime than an innocent or child.

    Right, because the convicted felons in this country are never innocent or children themselves.

  16. chrislawson says

    Anyone who is thinking of voting for Trump is not only not a humanist, they’re an anti-humanist.
    And if they’re thinking of voting for Trump on the basis of race politics, then they’re pro-apartheid/Jim Crow.
    Even if they don’t have the self-honesty to acknowledge it.

  17. chrislawson says

    “Denying this is not humanism because it protects felons.”

    What a lying piece of garbage. The idea that humanism should not protect felons is like saying police should not protect citizens…

  18. wzrd1 says

    Pseudohumanists reveal their inner fascist.
    Embracing summary executions on our city streets.
    Lessons learned, get into an early debate on general crimes and summary execution, to solidify to readers their desire for lynching, which it actually is, despite color of office, no due process summary execution, but I repeat myself, is lynching.
    Then, suddenly narrow it enough that their earlier admitted double parking gets them summarily executed.
    Check and mate.

    Because, I’ll protect a million felons before I’d protect one of those monsters.
    And to be brutally honest, I don’t have a problem allowing a small piece of my inner monster to rear its eyeball enough above the surface to destroy their argument, then slam the door on that one.
    Convincing them, might as well try convincing flat earthers, antivaxxers, simple fascists. Ain’t gonna happen, but you can fuck up their recruitment effort.
    Fire triangle is the simplest version, choke off the supply of fuel, the fire dies. Failing that, choke off the supply of oxygen, which works on nastier fires like magnesium fires or neonazi fires.

  19. says

    Also, the fact that I would probably choose to save my own kid over 5 others doesn’t mean my kid is “more valuable”. I mean, most people who are running around with two kidneys would probably donate one to their own kid or spouse or other beloved person. That doesn’t mean the institutions that make guidelines for organ transplants award you 10 points for being loved very much by mummy and daddy.

  20. says

    Another thing that bothers me in some of these discussions. How does a cop know if someone is drunk or on drugs, or if they are having an diabetic hypoglycemic reaction?