Lightweight atheists and pop culture

14 12 2009

The Living End, an average band I have never particularly liked (but I generally hate pop music so that doesn’t mean anything) have a song out that I heard by chance on the radio while on holiday.  The song was called “raise the alarm”.  I don’t have anything against the Living End personally and I’ve actually seen them live a few times at festivals years ago when I was younger (they just happened to be playing).  To me, they’re just an old fashioned rock band with a little punk and rockabilly influence comprised of average musicians who play typically boring pop music.  Just another band that’s going to bore me to tears. 

What I found interesting however were the lyrics for the song “raise the alarm”.  I think these lyrics are a great example of a typical atheist in our society.  ie: An atheist who might as well still be a Christian.

“I may not believe in Jesus
But I believe in sacrifice”

To hold up “sacrifice” as a worthy belief is to promote altruism.  ie: Religious ethics, including the ethics of Christianity. 

Here’s another line from the same song:

“I’d rather risk my fate
Than lose my faith”

I don’t even know what this line really means (if fate does exist how can you “risk” it?) but clearly the Living End value “faith” – something that I think is bad epistemology.  Incidentally, although many song writers think it’s cool to have deliberately ambiguous lyrics so that more peole can supposedly enjoy them, personally I think that idea is both false and spineless NB/ I’m not sure if the Living End are trying to be ambiguous or not, they have simply written something that doesn’t really make sense – not uncommon in pop music lyrics. 

Typically atheists in our society effectively adopt an ethical code that largely derives from Christianity and tradition.  Pragmatist epistemology (Dewey, James and others) with it’s Kantian roots dominates our culture.  In terms of ethics, pragmatists by default end up accepting an ethical code of the masses deriving from tradition.   

There are quite a lot of atheists in a country like Australia, but in terms of ethics and epistemology, they really aren’t that different to Christians.  That is probably quite a comforting thought to them, but not to an Objectivist such as myself that sees both faith and altruism as destructive to human life.




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