A Tribute To Stefan Molyneux

I have been listening to the podcasts of Stefan Molyneux at https://freedomainradio.com/ for some time now, which are available without charge or subscription.

Stefan does a regular call in show more than once a week, in which people call in to discuss various subjects, ranging from their personal issues in relationships to politics and philosophical questions. To my mind he has a very good understanding of human psychology, and really seems to give good advice to his callers. One of his most central themes is peaceful parenting, and he advises people to never hit their children.

He has also produced a series of books available in podcast or readable form, which set out his philosophical ideas. One of the main themes of his work is anarchism. He believes we would be better off in a stateless world, arguing that states are fundamentally immoral. I am not at all sure how a stateless society could work, to my mind we need to belong to a state for law and order and defence at the minimum. However I find his arguments interesting and in my own view states are becoming increasingly unwieldy, especially in the “West”, there does actually seem to be a trend towards greater governments’ mismanagement of their states. The question is, is this trend reversible through the current political system or are we heading towards some sort of crisis and upheaval? I will be exploring this question further in future blog posts.

Another interesting aspect of his work is what he terms “Universally Preferable Behaviour”. This is a sort of universal moral framework as I understand it. He speaks from an atheist perspective. If we are to wean ourselves away from backward and dangerous religious beliefs we need to be coming up with something like this to fill the void left by the loss of the more beneficial aspects of moral guidance from the church.

Possibly his other ideas such as peaceful parenting might encourage a more peaceful world to develop, in which there might certainly be eventually less need for a state, especially for defence and law and order. Even if the goal of a stateless society is utopian or not achievable in fact, I can see only good coming from philosophical thinking that encourages more peaceful behaviour and the resolution of conflicts in our personal lives. Less harmful behaviour by governments might even eventually emerge if this is successful.

Wherever you stand on these issues I believe Stefan Molyneux, and other internet commentators like him, deserve a great deal of credit for breaking down taboos around what subjects can be discussed in our era that is otherwise so heavily suffocated by political correctness.

I strongly recommend readers try listening to his podcasts, even if you disagree with the idea of a stateless society. I almost invariably find the call in shows fascinating. Please contribute a donation to the show if you can, as he relies on listener donations.

Atheism And Morality

I often come across the view expressed by followers of the Abrahamic religions that there can be no morality without religion, and that therefore atheists are necessarily immoral.  However human beings are social animals, the urge to help others is quite a natural one.  Atheists also like to form friendships, and therefore they benefit from peer approval, which is more often a force for compassion than cruelty and callousness.  The idea that people are immoral unless you instill into them the fear of terrible punishments in the “afterlife” is therefore not sound.

Another weakness in the argument that only the followers of Abrahamic religions are moral is that these religions all encourage beliefs that are irrational.  Should we believe in things for which our senses see no evidence?  Surely the avoidance of truth should be considered immoral?

The simple fact that prominent atheists risk their lives by publicly criticizing religions is itself evidence of morality in atheists.  What else could be their motivation in risking their lives but a desire to serve the greater good?

Followers of the Abrahamic religions also tend to associate the declining birth rates in the West with the decline in religious observance.  However this ignores the fact that countries that continue to have higher degrees of religious observance are also seeing declining birth rates.  The pope may urge his followers not to use contraception, but the majority of Catholics take very little notice of this.  Declining birth rates are undoubtedly a serious problem for Western civilization, but religion has largely failed to provide an antidote.  Some groups such as the Amish and Mormon communities may be maintaining higher birth rates but their religious beliefs may be problematic in other ways.

We must look elsewhere for a solution to this problem, to reason.  In future articles I will be putting forward rational arguments for, and suggesting ways to achieve, higher birth rates in Western countries.