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Posted by on Jan 28, 2013 in Culture, Ethics | 32 comments

Greta Christina on puritan atheists

This article by Greta Christina resonates with me. Is some of it exaggerated? Probably. I’m not sure that atheists as such are as puritanical as she suggests – for example, I don’t see this sort of sexual puritanism among friends with whom I hang out with real life, and who happen to be atheists.

I also wonder about the very last line. I’m not sure how old you have to be to be a fuddy-duddy, but plenty of people who are older these days grew up in the 1970s when there was actually a lot more forthright, public pro-sex culture than I see now. I see a distinct regression into sexual puritanism across the culture as whole since, say, 35 years ago (though there is also a lot of demeaning sexual imagery that I don’t like and often comment on). So I’m not sure that what Christina is talking about is necessarily going to attract young people in particular. Many baby boomers, like me (and her) are quite comfortable with freely-expressed sexuality.

All that said, a lot of her article expresses things I’ve often thought or felt myself. So often, I see advocates of atheism buying into much of the miserable morality that typifies the wider culture and is so entangled with religion. Atheist advocates so often devalue the body and its beauty, go along with miserable attitudes to sexual pleasure, and so on.

Christina says:  “When believers accuse us of the dreaded crime of enjoying our bodies, we vehemently defend ourselves against the accusation rather than questioning the very premise behind it.” I wish she’d provided links at this point, because I can’t think of some killer examples myself. But I’ve also noticed this from at least some atheists, and I applaud Greta Christina for raising the issue.