So here I am writing all these rants lamenting what a jerk Richard Dawkins is when this falls in my lap. It took me less than half an hour to see the light: I am a Realist! Halelujah!
Seriously, I think this guy has a much better approach to spreading the Word than Dawkins does. Joining the Church of Realism also comes with fringe benefits.
Holy crap, this guy is prolific. And some of his writings are real eye-openers. I'm gonna be up half the night.
His criticism of atheism is pretty weak. As an atheist, I am prepared to assert that the Christian deity (along with many other described deities) cannot possibly exist. But my identity is not limited to being an atheist. I'm also a humanist, a son, a brother, a husband, a neighbor, a friend, a coworker, an entrepreneur, etc. To examine the nature of existence, knowledge, and morality, I'm a philosopher interested in metaphysics, epistemology, and metaethics. To complain that atheism doesn't provide any of the rest of someone's identity is just as useful as complaining that being able to see doesn't provide you with the ability to cook.
Being an atheist is an attribute of my identity. Not a central feature of who I am. This guy seems to want to provide an organization for atheists who still want to attend a club.
Finally, he's a little confused about the definition of an atheist. An atheist is not someone who pays dues to the American Atheists club. By the most reasonable definition, an atheist is someone who lacks a belief in a deity. That's it. All children start off atheists and learn about God from the people around them. Atheism does not exclude agnosticism (I don't currently believe, but there is a chance...). Atheism is a simple statement (which may or may not involve an assertion) on exactly one topic. I strongly suggest that anyone who disputes that statement to read the Wikipedia article on atheist .
By that definition, further, all Realists are Atheists (though the converse is not true).
From the Evangelizing page: If there is no God then does morality go away?
This is what happens when simple minded people continue to accept the assertions of others instead of thinking through the issue themselves. You don't need to join a club to understand that right and wrong exist outside of any religion. A quick check that right and wrong didn't appear 2000 years ago should suffice for that.
To directly answer to the question: ethics and morality come from making human social communities work. They are an evolutionarily refined aspect of human nature. They didn't appear because someone started writing down rules on tablets, and they don't go away if an invisible friend in the sky is one day forgotten.
With all of that said, I do agree that this guy is much more reasonable than Dawkins's brand of condescending rhetoric.
I do happen to get a little annoyed when people try to pigeonhole atheists. There's a lot of variety in that category, although a lot more discussion needs to happen before the larger world understands that.
Also, I'm just not much of a joiner, but that's my issue and nobody else's.
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