Requiem for Pat Tilman

|

The SF Chronicle's Gwen Knapp has a touching account of Pat Tilman's memorial service.

Tillman's youngest brother, Rich, wore a rumpled white T-shirt, no jacket, no tie, no collar, and immediately swore into the microphone. He hadn't written anything, he said, and with the starkest honesty, he asked mourners to hold their spiritual bromides.

"Pat isn't with God," he said. "He's f—ing dead. He wasn't religious. So thank you for your thoughts, but he's f—ing dead."

What? This didn't happen for God, as well as country? A professional athlete turned soldier, and we're supposed to believe that he'd have no use for piety? Robbed of a cliche, where does that leave us?…

By the time the ceremony ended, after his brother and brother-in-law sipped the Guinness that Garwood poured in Tillman's honor, the funny, thinking, wild, crazy man had come to life. The family's loss, the loss of every soldier's family, seemed more real.

Tillman wasn't an icon anymore. He was a man you wanted to know, to spend time with, to lift a Guinness alongside. But that had become impossible, the price of war, because his brother was right. Pat is dead. He's f—ing dead.

Whole thing here.

It contrasts sharply with Ted Rall's notorious cartoon about Tilman, pulled from the MSNBC site on May 3 but still online here. I think Tilman's decision (and death) are proper subjects of discussion–even caustic satire–but Rall's cartoon is characteristically unfunny and uninformed.

NEXT: On the Road

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Steve,

    We all define correct behavior, with or without a belief in God. After all, God’s words have to be interpreted (beyond the issue of determining what God’s words even are).

  2. I just don’t understand all this uncertainty about religion. I talked to God last night and He said there wasn’t one.

    Pat Tillman gets all this copy because he was somebody. Hundreds of less famous are just as dead. Also, the distinction between dying in Iraq and dying in Afghanistan is one of chance. I doubt enlistees get to choose their theatre of operation.

  3. I think I’ll avoid her columns in the future. Too challenging, man.

  4. dumpendebat: i’ve never bothered with joseph smith’s masterwork but i happen to think the koran is a far sight more interesting than the old testament, and about on par with the NT. you have to get into the cadence of the language though. reading it out loud always helped me.

    and finnegan’s wake is hot! HOT HOT HOT!

  5. An atheist can indeed be moral – he just has no basis beyond his own preferences for being so.

    Neither does a theist. Would you worship a god who told you to murder children? If not, why not?

  6. Phil,

    Right. And I neither would I admire, much less worship the Enlightenment philosophers (godlets?) who told me that reason would lead me to ?correct? (i.e, their way of) thinking. Why should I?

    So welcome to nihilism…

    Steve

  7. Yep. If there is no God, all values are meaningless artifacts.

    What a shallow, meaningless life you lead. The only thing that gives your life purpose is belief in a fantasy? No wonder you’re religious. I would be, too, if that was the only way I had to give meaning to an existance I felt was otherwise pointless.

    You have my pity, but certainly not my respect.

  8. The steve’s of the world get up my nose. Of course one can extract a moral philosophy from the experience of human civilization and the physical laws of the universe. One doesn’t need a putatative “author of the universe” to figure that out. If one thinks that one can’t, then I could see how one could feel the need to depend on special revelation for a moral code, but you will still have to use your supposedly “god-given” brain to decide which of the multiple versions of insanity is “the Word of (the) God(s).”

    By all accounts Tillman read the great works of world religion, compared them, but did not identify with any particular creed. According to his brother, he wasn’t a believer. There is nothing strange about an atheist or agnostic reading those texts as a way of learning about the world’s cultures, for their poetry, or to see if one or another has some insight on human experience. Contrast that to some religions’ attitudes about studying other than their approved books, and which behavior is more intellectually courageous?

    Nihilism may suggest atheism, but atheism does not require nihilism. As some upthread have suggested, a morality that does not depend on a vengeful skyfather is superior. It doesn’t rely on threats or rewards, but is based on answering the question “how may I best live my life?” There’s no underlying assumption that altruism is a high value, either. One can adopt an ethics that disdains predation on one’s fellows, without accepting a duty to put others’ interests above one’s own. Even saying that doesn’t preclude one from benevolent action, if one takes enjoyment from it, or one sees it as promoting the type of world one wants to live in. When someone I don’t even know acts in some way to make my life better, I’m sure as hell going to say “thank you”, especially because I don’t think he was under any moral obligation to help me.

    So, thank you, Pat Tillman, if you still exist in some form or another, however unlikely I find that possibility.

    Kevin

  9. Dan,

    You should be indifferent to what gives my life purpose. Pity and respect are meaningless too. And how is my life more meaningless than yours? Yours and mine, they are both are completely and absolutely so. You choose to build an illusory and arbitrary construct of values to make sense of your life – well then so do I. And mine are no more or less valid than yours.

    I’m not saying that atheism is wrong. I just wonder why atheists do not extend their thinking to its logical conclusion.

    Steve

  10. probably for the same reasons christians do not commit suicide en masse to be joined with god.

    your logical conclusion misses out on several important ideas, humans being social animals, with emotional needs, capable of both consensus and compromise, etc etc etc.

    like, duh.

    i mean, we could all be fucked because the taoists are right and everything really is just an interplay and we suffer punishment not because of a personal god’s choice but because we’re fucking with nature’s glue, which is moral because it is natural. and is the natural order because it is the natural order, so there. and so on.

    tardbunny rex mundi

  11. dhex,

    What a phantasmagoria of inanity…

    Steve

    P.S. Moral ain’t necessarily natural.

  12. Steve-
    Atheist or secular humanist values are not necessarily as abstract as you’d think. SENSIBLE morality derives not from belief in God, but from necessity.

    For example, you don’t need to believe in God to recognize that murder is wrong; you just need enough sense to realize that a society cannot function if its members are allowed to kill each other whenever they feel like it. Likewise, “Thou shalt not steal” not because a fairy-tale man said so, but because a civilization with no respect for property rights will soon descend into might-makes-right chaos.

    If you really want to see pointless moral values, try reading a religious book such as the Bible. Why should people be killed for refusing to worship God? Why should a woman be segregated from others during and seven days after her menstrual period? Why should I turn over ten percent of my income to a man who talks to invisible people? Why should many delicious and edible animals be off-limits as food sources, especially in pre-industrial times when food was scarce enough already?

    Say what you will against atheist morality, but it’s based on something far more substantial than “Because a bunch of desert nomads claim their God said so.”

  13. Dopes.
    Brother Rich is the hero.

  14. “Moral ain’t necessarily natural.”

    well, not to you. nor to me either. but for a taoist it damn sure is. hence why we’d both be fucked.

    it’s pretty simple to understand.

  15. Jennifer,

    In a valueless (i.e., godless) context, murder is not “wrong” it is merely socially inefficient. There may be social constraints to murder but no moral ones. The Romans were ruthlessly efficient in their oppression. Were they immoral? From their relative, societal context, absolutely not.

    I am not arguing for god, I?m just saying that without god, morality has no warrant. As an atheist, you can argue for a social code that proscribes murder or theft because it disrupts the social order. You can do the same for playing loud music in your apartment. There is no morality in either case from an atheistic context. Both restrictions are amoral elements of a social contract. That?s it. No more, no less. No need to explain or argue morality, pragmatism is enough.

    BTW, chimpanzees are cannibalistic. Is that immoral? We are animals like chimps. Aren?t we? So how are our violent behaviors any more incongruous? Why should an illusory attachment to a godless morality somehow limit our behavior but not the chimpanzee?

    Steve

  16. does the golden rule require god?

  17. dhex,

    Re: does the golden rule require god?

    No. But without god the iron fist is just as amorally legitimate.

    Steve

  18. You should be indifferent to what gives my life purpose.

    What gives your life purpose affects me and those I care for, since you are alive and living among us.

    Pity and respect are meaningless too.

    What a sad little man you are.

    And how is my life more meaningless than yours?

    Because you derive meaning solely from the voices whispering to you in your head. I derive meaning from the joy of life, the love of my friends and family, and the wonder of the complex world we live in.

    I’m not saying that atheism is wrong. I just wonder why atheists do not extend their thinking to its logical conclusion

    I’m uninterested in hearing a lecture on logic from a man with an invisible playmate.

  19. Dan,

    No lecture. Suppose that I too am an atheist. Why do you adhere to norms and values that were created in a social construct based upon belief? You carry the residue of religous influence than you should be able to comfortably consign to the trash heap.

    I invite you to do so.

    Steve

  20. Once again a discussion of the life and death of Pat Tilman degenerates into a theological debate.

    All newborn babes are atheists. The fortunate ones succeed against all odds in preserving their grip on reality. Mr. Tillman appears to have been one of them. Everybody wants to claim a piece of him. But maybe, just maybe, he was his own man.
    That’s worth celebrating.

  21. Only Ed,

    No he didn’t. As an atheist, Pat lost his grip. There is no nobility in dying early. You expend everybody else first. Pat sacrificed himself too soon.

    Steve

  22. Steve-
    Where did you get the idea that atheists are not capable of self-sacrifice for what they consider a good cause? Despite the old saying, there are indeed atheists to be found in foxholes.

  23. Jennifer,

    Maybe. But they are stupidly misinformed. Is not it better to let the believers die first based on their irrational connection to a bogus transcendence and a pathetic hope for an afterlife? If we non-believers are not directly threatened, why not take the low road and only do what we absolutely must when we must?

    Is there any reason why that should not be so?

    Steve

  24. If Pat Tillman?s brother Rich is right, then Rall was correct. Pat was a dope. Detoured to death by a romantic patriotism that has no fundamental value or foundation. From his perspective, better that Tillman had fully transitioned into the comfortable nihilism that would have kept him safe and secure throughout a meaningless but somewhat longer existence.

  25. Rall also got pulled from the New York Times online cartoon section. Looks like Rall’s anti-Bush venom finally got the better of him.

  26. Steve, your comments, from a logical POV, make no sense. Consider your latest:

    “Is not it better to let the believers die first based on their irrational connection to a bogus transcendence and a pathetic hope for an afterlife?”

    Now, you have several times mentioned that no absolute moral value system makes sense for an atheist (stupid in itself, but follow me). Since Pat Tillman’s values are opaque to you, and borne out of his own experience and tought process (since we are assuming they are not divineely inspird, stupid in itself too, but follow me), then information theory says that we laack information required to reach a conclusion regarding the opistion of your alternatives in his schema of values.

    In other words, fuck do you know. If it’s in his head, it’s not in yours and you can’t guess.

    On the other hand, the idea that the only appropiate cause for moral values is irrationality is stupid. But follow me.

  27. ugh. Position, not opistion. And all those doubled vowels 😛

  28. Roberto,

    Appreciate the insight (I think). But I need a translator.

    Steve

  29. OK, if Pat had gone to Iraq, I could see how someone might call his sacrifice “wasted.” But he went to Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda were/are. That’s pretty f–ing relevant (to continue the language of the piece) to 9/11.

    I agree that Iraq was an unnecessary distraction, but Afghanistan? You must be consuming some of Afghanistan’s most famous product (hint to Ted Rall: there’s no oil there).

    Seriously, every “critic” of Pat Tillman that I’ve read seems to have George W. Bush-level geographic knowledge. Iraq and Afghanistan are two different countries and two different issues.

    Go look at a map and read some frigging books besides Al Franken and Michael Moore and then come back and opine about it.

    Even Howard Dean supported the war in Afghanistan, and he was anti-Iraq war before it was cool.

    Sheesh.

  30. If Pat Tillman?s brother Rich is right, then Rall was correct. Pat was a dope. Detoured to death by a romantic patriotism that has no fundamental value or foundation. From his perspective, better that Tillman had fully transitioned into the comfortable nihilism that would have kept him safe and secure throughout a meaningless but somewhat longer existence.

    I have no idea what Steve’s religion is, but hell’s bells. If you tell a religious person you don’t believe in God, he tells you “Why don’t you just kill yourself then, if life has no meaning?” Now an atheist loses his life for his country, and gets his grave pissed on because his life was so meaningless he should have gone on living it. It’s a great catch-22 the God people have worked out.

  31. Steve,

    are you saying that if Tillman was an atheist, he shouldn’t have sacrificed his life?

    whether Tillman did it for God or country or for his own (atheistic) reasons, it is still a noble thing that he did. I would consider him a hero.

    I have not heard anyone piss on his grave yet, like Cavanaugh says (except cretins like Rall and the DU folks). We don’t even know if Tillman is an atheist – his brother didn’t say he was one. I don’t see any reason why his religion should come into play here.

  32. Zorel,

    Re: are you saying that if Tillman was an atheist, he shouldn’t have sacrificed his life?

    Yep. If there is no God, all values are meaningless artifacts. There is no nobility. There is only a not well understood Darwinian imperative that causes us to make what are often opaque decisions regarding our survival.

    Godless Pat made the wrong one.

  33. >Yep. If there is no God, all values are
    > meaningless artifacts.

    I don’t accept your premises, but just for the sake of arguement:

    If all values come from God then either

    1) they arbitrary orders from a higher authority. i.e. they value just because God says they are values.

    Or

    2) God has declared these things values because there is some rational or logical reason why they are values. i.e. they are good for human life and flourishing, or some similar reason.

    If (1), then God-based values are just as arbitrary as you think atheist values are.

    If (2), then we atheists, at least in theory, can come to conclusions about values with reason and logic.

  34. Just when I was about to write in and ask what this article was going to do to the religious folks’ view of Tillman, Steve has answered my question with what is, I presume, a caricature of Pat Buchanan’s opinion.

    Steve, you know that whole “God and country” thing? Darwin didn’t account for nationality, either.

    In the increasingly “family friendly” and weirdly religious culture of American service academies, students with secular belief systems are becoming more and more marginalized. Some of my students will really appreciate this link. I certainly did.

  35. steve: there are many nuanced arguments to be made against the idea that worth comes from outside rather than within.

    but those take time, so i’ll just call you a tardbunny and get on with it. 🙂

  36. jason: do you really think so? i see things as much easier than when i was but a wee unbeliever.

  37. Steve, You make no sense. The following propositions are true:

    There is no god.
    People value things.
    People’s values are meaningful to them.

    Now, you may think that if there is no god, then people OUGHT NOT to value things, or that their values OUGHT NOT have meaning for them. Why you would think this, God only knows. But suppose you do. It doesn’t follow that people don’t in fact value things and find it meaningful. Take you for instance, Steve. There is no god. But you believe that there is, which is cute, and you value your conception of god and derive meaning from it. Even though god does not exist. Good going, Steve! And Pat Tillman valued his country, and found meaning in defending it. Good for him!

    Give up on the the grandly transcendental value vs. nihilist meaninglessess all-or-nothingness, Steve. It is not the sort of thing appropriate for a mature intellect. At the very least, one should not reveal such vulgar opinions in public.

  38. Eric,

    Re: …then we atheists, at least in theory, can come to conclusions about values with reason and logic.

    Sure you can. It’s just that there is nothing inherently altruistic using reason and logic to derive values. Reason and logic based conclusions may lead tribalism, violence and genocide as much as liberty, fraternity and brotherhood.

  39. When I was Tillman’s age, I definitely became non-religious and sort of patriotic. Over time, I didn’t become any less non-religious, but I certainly understood more fully what “false gods” meant.

  40. One could just as easily argue that atheists are MORE moral than those with religious values. After all, when I do good it’s not because I expect to be rewarded in Heaven, or am trying to earn enough brownie points to stay out of Hell.

  41. “But they are stupidly misinformed”

    No, Steve, it is you that is stupidly misinformed.

    Your (many!) posts show someone who is convinced that atheists have no reason or motivation for altruistic behaviour. This is such an incredible claim that the burden of proof is all on you. Best luck.

    Pray tell, what religion do you believe in that informs your morality to such a degree?

  42. Will,

    Because my “opinions”, i.e., values, are different than yours, they are “vulgar”.

    Now why is that?

    Steve

  43. Sandy,
    UNOCAL (under the directorship of Condi Rice) tried to negotiate with the Taliban to build an oil pieline from the former Soviet ‘stans’ (HUGH oil reserves) through Afghanistan, but determined that Taliban were too unstable to work with. That would have to wait for a more reliable government to take over. I think construction has started now. When I was sent to Afghanistan with 101 ABN, I lived at a place called ‘firebase Exxon’. That being said, I’m glad we went.
    Iraq, on the other hand is a massive criminal enterprise.

  44. ‘Reason and logic based conclusions may lead tribalism, violence and genocide as much as liberty, fraternity and brotherhood.’

    Can’t you say the same thing about a belief system built upon a religion?

  45. Will,

    Because my “opinions”, i.e., values, are different than yours, they are “vulgar”?

    Now why is that?

    Steve

  46. dhex: Do I see things as easier for the irrelgious? In society as a whole, definitely. As a fairly wee unbeliever myself, I’m grateful for that. In the armed services as a whole, I wouldn’t venture to speak with any confidence, though I suspect the answer is yes.

    In the federal installation where I get my daily bread from your tax dollars, no. Rampant Jesus-freakery may be the result of a loud but small minority around here, but they have had and continue to have a chilling effect on the culture.

  47. Y’know, I was reading Wil’s last post and nodding my head all along until he got to the part about calling Steve’s opnion “vulgar” and telling him to keep it to himself, which of course was crass, rude and uncalled for.

    So what one part of Wil’s entire post does Steve address? See Wil, delving into that crap just gives an out to someone who can’t argue with your valid points!

  48. It’s just that there is nothing inherently altruistic using reason and logic to derive values.

    Well, it certainly can’t compare with the altruism that comes from trying to earn you way into a comfy afterlife, or from trying to please an invisible man who lives in the sky.

  49. Steve,

    if God gives values to people, then he gives good and bad values since people have both.

    if he gave Tillman the (good) value to fight for freedom or whatever, and he also gave the (bad) value to Osama to kill civilians in New York, then your God must be one mean dude! how can you reconcile that with what religious people generally believe about good and bad?

    if you are trolling, you have been successful; if you are serious, I hope you are not representative of the religious people in general.

  50. jason: i’ve found that running around in black yelling “ave satanas” works really well with those folks. 🙂

    the hard part is finding the right accessories.

    seriously though, i guess i’d think people would be a bit more fearful of lawsuits for harassment and stuff like that, seeing as americans are so litigationally minded or whatever the term is. or is it more like a cabal of creepy people in the breakroom?

    i only really had these problems in high school (public) and mostly from teachers. it took years for me to realize i could have complained – i just took it as a matter of course from having a different opinion from everyone else on religious matters. now you have openly wiccan students winning lawsuits and shit. it’s weird.

  51. Zorel has a point. If “God” is the source of all values, whose God? Which values?

    Assuming that Steve is talking about the judeo-christian “God” which faith or denomination? Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, Reformed Jewish, Eastern Orthodox, Sunni, United Chruch of Christ, ad infinitum? Since the word of god has to be the absolute authority in the universe, whose notion of god has to have the monopoly on “values.”

    (In Steve’s case: Why do I get the feeling it’s whatever religion he practices?)

    Secularism leads to “tribalism, violence, and genocide?” Riiiiight.

  52. Steve,

    >Reason and logic based conclusions may lead
    > tribalism, violence and genocide as much as
    > liberty, fraternity and brotherhood.

    so, you are saying that tribalism, violence, and genocide are bad right?

    Ok, so reason says we need to check our logic if we come to a conclusion that leads to tribalism, violence, and genocide.

    Oh, and I think most tribalism is based more on appeals to emotion, tradition, and, yes, religion than on reason.

    besides, your critique is equally applicable to religion-based values. Here, I’ll just change two words in your statement:

    “Religion and faith based conclusions may lead
    tribalism, violence and genocide as much as
    liberty, fraternity and brotherhood.”

  53. God doesn’t hand out values like a giant chicken hands out coupons. God gave us a book full of stories that we each can use to develop our own values. There are of course many other influences that help mold our values. And of course two people can read that book and develop different values. We have the freedom to choose what we value.

  54. God doesn’t hand out values like a giant chicken hands out coupons. God gave us a book full of stories that we each can use to develop our own values. There are of course many other influences that help mold our values. And of course two people can read that book and develop different values. We have the freedom to choose what we value.

  55. All,

    My religious sensibilities are of no matter. My only point is that without god (God?) there is no good, bad, indifferent, cruel, kind, whatever. There just ?is.? Behaviors can be described, but not morally classified. Because who?s to say what is moral?

    Steve

    P.S. That said,I suppose I can safely classify Will as an abject idiot without making a moral determination regarding his confusion.

  56. Bill O’Reilly to Ted Rall last night: “So you think you’re smarter than all those guys?”, over and over. Bill O’Reilly said that! Isn’t that rich? I had to change the channel.

    Steve, atheists generally believe that there are good and bad things in the world in some kind of objective sense – perhaps we have faith. You imply that that kind of faith is implausible, and faith in an omnipotent ruler of the universe is necessary. Consider the converse.

  57. ahh…but this assumes that god is telling the truth, and not just playing a big old version of Populous (big ups to my EGA peoples!) on y’all. or fucking with you for some sort of inscrutably eternal reason.

    or that there aren’t a conflagration of gods all fighting and vying for attention and fucking shit up along the way? (massive multiplayer populous?) which would require active participation in combatting other sects.

    this argument, of course, leaves buddhism shit out of luck, lacking both gods but being chock full of moral laws and rules.

    perhaps the futility felt to be inherent in a non-god (or ungoded?) worldview is a common human fear of death and dying and impermanence and constant change, etc.

    all of which would be quite simple were god (or several of them) to actually show up somewhere to more than a handful of people at a time, in non-dream places, like the garden state plaza this saturday, at 8:30, outside of the rave girl store. ice cream will be served.

  58. Eric,

    I’m not saying that tribalism, violence and genocide are bad. In a Darwinian context they may be “good”, i.e., promote the survival of the fittest.

    That religion may lead to the same things is true. But one could argue that that is a misapprehension of a God who is hidden. Reason and logic have no moral basis so the same can not be said about those who use the them to reach conclusions that may be anti-social. They are amoral not immoral. Which is how it should be. The logic and reason that result in oppression and death may be impeccable and entirely irrefutable if they advance the Darwinian imperative.

    Steve

  59. Interesting how many of these strings end up down the religion rathole.

    So… in an attempt to bring it back to Tilman, it is a shame his death has been seized as a political tool by the politicos. They position him as a patriot, a dupe… whatever suits their agenda.

    Based on the little I’ve read, the guy was someone I could respect. He knew himself, knew what he valued, prioritized it and lived accordingly. Doesn’t sound like a sacrifice to me. Sounds like someone leading a carefully considered life, risks and all.

    Even better, he did this without apparent concern for what others thought and it does not seem like he tried to foist his beliefs and priorities on them.

    For me, that is what makes the U.S. special in the world. An individual can decide how they want to live and cannot be stopped by others as long as they do not interfere with the ability of others to do the same.

  60. >without god (God?) there is no good, bad,
    > indifferent, cruel, kind, whatever. There
    > just ?is.? Behaviors can be described, but not
    > morally classified. Because who?s to say what
    > is moral?

    No, that’s just not true.

    Morals are guides to correct behavior.
    Judging what is and isn’t correct behavior does not in any way require an omnipotent creator of the universe.

    We don’t need God to tell us “Yes, you have a correct moral theory there.” anymore than we would need God to look over a scientist’s shoulder and say “Yep, you got the first 100 elements of the Periodic Table correct.”

    I suppose in the end, it depends on what you expect from values.
    If you want a system of belief which will help you and your fellow human beings live together without too much strife and have a better chance at a long and full life, that’s what I’m looking for too.
    If you want something that just gets you the “Stamp of Approval” from the Big Guy in the sky, that’s a totally different goal.
    If “God’s Will” is the only standard you’ll accept for labeling something moral, without reference to whether it’s right and good for human life, then I’m sorry, we’re just speaking different languages….

  61. The Chronicle article says: “According to the speakers, [Tillman] had read the Bible, the Koran, [and] the Book of Mormon.” I do not believe any human being is capable of slogging through the amount of sheer tedium to be found in any one of those three books, let alone ALL THREE OF THEM. Let’s face it, the Book of Mormon makes Finnegans Wake seem like a real pageturner. And my hat is off to anyone who could get past the second surah of the Koran.

  62. Eric,

    Man-o-man. There is no “correct” behavior. Who defines it – you?, me?, Stalin?, Mother Thesea?

    I may want to actively engage in strife with my fellow human beings if I think that it is in my self interest. Those may be my values and they are just as legitimate as yours.

    An atheist can indeed be moral – he just has no basis beyond his own preferences for being so.

    Steve

  63. Everybody: Keep hammering at Steve. The more time he spends on-line “responding,” the less he’ll be out in society where he could actually do some damage.

    (Tweak, tweak, tweak)

  64. actually, now that i think of it, part of steve’s argument has a long theological history in buddhism…many pages and devoted to arguing about whether or not altruism is real. there’s actually a good case to be made that it doesn’t exist because even the satisfaction of helping others at a cost to yourself is still a boon to yourself, which is a selfish concern, and therefore not altruistic.

    i guess my real confusion with his position is that i think my opinions and likes and dislikes carry the same amount of weight as real or imagined gods.

  65. I have four speculations about Steve’s philosophical identity:

    1) He is a theist who believes that atheism leads to nihilism.

    2) He is an atheist with nihilistic tendencies trying to convince his fellow atheists that nilihism is the only acceptable position a “real” non-believer can take.

    3) He’s playing “devil’s advocate” trying to see if the atheists are on their toes by stirring up this discussion.

    4) He’s a troll, who could care less about philosophy, trying to stir up a flame war.

  66. Oh, slow on the reply here. Steve, your view is vulgar intellectually. You reason invalidly from false premises to false conclusion in apparent ignorance of the rich tradition of secular moral thought. Your intransigence in the face of a deluge of decisively contrary reasoning is not unlike that of an advocate of the aesthetic genius of Jessica Simpson faced down by a musicologist.

    But intellectual philistinism really isn’t the point, and it is distracting, so I do apologize.

    The point is that “if no God, then nihilism” has nothing of merit to be said for it. We certainly understand your willngness to ASSERT it, and do not doubt the depth of your conviction. But this is different from your offering us with a reason to believe that meaning or value, ideas that we can and do grasp and act upon independently of a conception of God, have anything whatsoever to do with God. Many of us take ourselves to have sound reason to believe that God is a character in a fictional, albeit widely believed, story. Yet we have no reason to doubt that we value things, or that our lives have meaning, because we experience these first hand with vivacity and intensity, as did Pat Tillman. So we have no reason to doubt that Pat Tillman did in fact value his freedom, and his country, and thought and felt that it would be good and meaningful to put his considerable talents to use in their defense. The fact that he did not believe in God (as well as the fact that he did not believe in the second gunman, etc.) is entirely irrelevant to the rationality of Tillman’s motivations, or the value and nobility of his service and sacrifice.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.