• Divorce

    This post will ramble, I can already tell.

    I have two best friends, Ernie and Sara. We have all known one another since junior high school, so something like 30 years. They were dating in high school and got married in 1996 or so. Maybe 1997.

    In any case, they seem on the path to divorce. She’s successful in her career, she looks great and wants to have fun. He’s struggled since losing his job maybe five years ago. He’s also had some health issues. Back in the day, he was a star athlete with model good looks. He still looks good, and he’s a dedicated husband and father, but he’s no longer a hot shit. They have diverged, then.

    One painful element of the divorce lies in realizing that although he wants the marriage, she doesn’t. She wants out. I’m oversimplifying the complexities and nuances of their total relationship, and even I don’t know everything that goes on between them. Neither do I mean to blame or judge either of them. They stand in different places, with different views on what their marriage means.

    I want to make a larger point, however, that any of us can blow up a relationship very easily. What’s easier than to break up or dissolve a marriage? Any one of us has ample reason to get out of the situations we have put ourselves in. I have said it many times in the context of my own marriage: if I want to make her religiosity or my atheism a problem between us, I can do it instantly. If I get sick of her depression, or if I want to plunge myself into my job, or if I want to criticize–well, it would take just a moment to drive in a wedge between us.

    Marriages, and peace generally, come down to will and values. To encapsulate both will and values in one expression: Being happily married makes up our highest value. Nothing comes above it, not her religion or my atheism or anything else. Everything, in other words, must give way to our happy marriage. This seems reasonable and right to me, not least because I imagine being terribly unhappy apart from my wife and our home.

    Yet we all know people who bash atheists and love to tell what an atheist’s moral and behavioral commitments must be. You know the argument they use: “To be consistent with your worldview, you atheists should be committed only to whatever makes you personally happy. If you’re married and want to commit adultery, you should feel no compunction whatsoever about doing it.” And so forth.

    These people forget–always, conveniently–(a) that morality can arise through other means than religion/theism, and (b) that pursuit of pleasure does not necessarily follow from atheism. Allow me not to lay out whole, full cases now, but reasoning and tradition can generate fine moral guidance without recourse to a paternalistic god. And for the second point, we atheists realize that the best path to happiness includes both the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain. I don’t go out drinking and dancing every night because whatever pleasure it might give me would also cost both me and my body. Since the time of Epicurus, materialists have embraced the way of moderation. Thoughtful atheists do, too.

    I wish atheists could all be one big happy family. In fact, I wish this for the entire world. Conflict, even bitter conflict, doesn’t necessarily undercut happiness or family ties–but it certainly can. My opinion, for the little it’s worth, is that those who have brought forth the allegations against other atheists of sexual intimidation or misconduct tend to be on the right side of the issue. I think the moral courage goes to that side, and I think the long-term welfare of the atheist/skeptical communities (their attainment of pleasure for all and their avoidance of pain for all) benefits by current events. We are not communities going through divorce but rather going through the work to strengthen our will and our values.

    Category: Home LifeWhat's Happening

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    Article by: Larry Tanner

    • Brive1987

      The crux of the substantive here was “My opinion, for the little it’s worth, is that those who have brought forth the allegations against other atheists of sexual intimidation or misconduct tend to be on the right side of the issue.”

      It would be interesting to read more about your opinion, the way FtB have operated tactically and a reconciliation to your statement that ….. “any of us can blow up a relationship very easily …. it would take just a moment to drive in a wedge between us”

      There is an apparent internal dissidence in your article that I just don’t understand.

      btw Courage doe not equal right.

      • lartanner

        I am not sure what more you want to know, and I don’t see the dissonance that you do.

        I think I see where and why you believe there’s dissonance, but I disagree. Sometimes a relationship should be blown up.

        Finally, courage may not equal right, but typical usage has rightness of some sort involved in courage. Otherwise, it’s foolishness or wickedess.

        • Brive1987

          Ha! Just replied to myself….. At least I will get no argument.

          Pls see above. 😉

      • Brive1987

        The article wanders on, a happy discussion that the greater good needs to be kept in focus so tactical fire bombs don’t explode relationships. I nod sagely thinking of the toxic environments and cruel ‘otherings’ I have seen in certain ideologically driven “skeptical” communities.

        The article then muses on the atheistic view of morality – feel good but also don’t inflict pain. Seems trite but reasonable.

        Then bang:

        “those who have brought forth the allegations against other atheists of sexual intimidation or misconduct tend to be on the right side of the issue”

        “I think the moral courage goes to that side”

        Article ends.

        My opinion, for what it’s worth, is to be underwhelmed. There is zero tie-in between the paras. Happy to have it explained, if you can be bothered.

        If the author is trying to contribute usefully to the Krauss / Shermer / Radford debate
        then they need to be a bit more assertive and engaged than this missive. The issues and ideas are too big to be simply toyed with.

        🙂

        • lartanner

          Brive,

          The article does wander on, as I said it would from the beginning.

          The reminder I give on atheistic morality is hardly trite. First of all, it’s “avoid pain,” not “don’t inflict pain.” Second, it’s a rather ancient view and not something I have made up. Third, the reason I mention it is people tend to go straight to “everything is permitted” as a tag-line for atheistic morality. I am simply reminding people that pursuit of pleasure is not at all the sum of atheistic morality. It’s terrific that you get this; not everyone does.

          Finally, I am not “trying to contribute usefully to the Krauss / Shermer / Radford debate.” What I was trying to do was support the point made just before, specifically this: “Conflict, even bitter conflict, doesn’t
          necessarily undercut happiness or family ties–but it certainly can.”

          This specific point ties in with everything else that’s been said — the post is about breaking up and staying together. If the atheist/skeptic movements want to break apart over recent public allegations of sexual harassment, that’s certainly one way to go. It doesn’t have to be the way to go, but people need to decide whether the movements are bigger than the individuals, or the other way around.

          So, I don’t believe I am toying with any issue. I want to declare where I stand, and that’s what I have done. But my main points have to do with whether people want to maintain, change, or blow up the relationships they know.

          Perhaps you have an opinion on this topic, rather than a book review of my post?

          • Brive1987

            Ta, and apologies if you read personal offence in my post. I do have a simple opinion. The FtB and A+ etc elements of the movement have packed up, moved out of the family home and setup shop in the inner city where they are now bagging suburban life over a latte.

            Once you define the world in a pragmatic fashion using ideological constructs like patriarchy and privilege you have self administered a divorce from the skeptic movement. A point that Myers at least had the insight and honesty to acknowledge.

    • Why is this posted? It’s babble.