Of everything Richard Spencer said, the one thing that still bugs the shit out of me, a week later, was his point on morality. I just couldn't believe he said that Atheists have no moral values, simply because we don't have the Bible to spell it out for us. That is the dumbest oversimplification I've heard for quite a while, with second and third easily coming from that same lecture.
Atheists are moral. Hell, even chimps are moral. What's less bluntly obvious to religious folk is our definition of morality, so I give upon you my definition of morality:
Σ[(Mcommunity-Msubject)/σ] < Threshold Function
The magnitude of the quantity [perceived average of one's community's moral values minus morality of subject divided by the standard deviation] is less that a threshold function.
- Sigma: It goes almost without saying that morality is a multidimensional issue. To say that it can be reduced to a single number would be a gross over-simplification. One's view on murder could have very little to do with their view on abortion, or animal rights, or their views on energy consumption. This allows someone who is generally inline with the community seem to be a generally a good person, except when carbon footprints come up in conversation and he looks like a jerk. The mathematics for this is left as an exercise for the reader/philosopher. Many things will be on a [0, 1] analogue scale (Vegetarianism), while other metrics might very well be on a single (How many people can you murder before it's uncalled for?) or multidimensional plane (resource usage - gas, electric, space, etc). Hell, you could start coming up with metrics that require complex geometry, depending on how hard you work at it.
- Mcommunity: The perceived average moral values of the community. Contrary to what has been said about Atheists, I can say that what Hitler did was wrong. I will go even farther, and point out that there was a large number of people who didn't think what he did was wrong. My definition still holds. His community's collective moral value happened to be skewed towards it's-ok-to-kill-Jews-because-it's-all-their-fault (ΔM is small, so they think its ok). My community's Mcommunity happens to lie closer to not thinking it's ok to kill people (ΔM is large, so we think Hitler is evil), but who can say what's right?
- Msubject: The perceived moral value of the person being examined. Most axes of this point should understandably undefined. When you first meet someone, the first thing you start to do is (hopefully) rarely start grilling them on abstract moral dilemma. Only for close family members, significant others, and maybe your best friend would you have a good general idea where they really lie in this multidimensional morality space. For most everyone else, almost arbitrary values are used, based on Mcommunity, Mpersonal, and even apparent correlations between separate axes (ie gay marriage vs interracial marriage, animal rights vs vegetarianism, etc)
- The standard deviation: The deviation of a community is going to give a good indication as to how open minded the group is. A community of only evangelicals is going to be less accepting of a homosexual than a vast array of people with one or two evangelicals mixed in, who might still condemn them, or might not, since they don't feel that have as much to stand on for support in the community on the issue.
- The threshold function: I would imagine the threshold would be something quite like the sigmoid function. The exact coefficients would of course be personally defined, and could easily be influenced by the community as much as the perceived σ. This allows for smaller deviations in less important matters to not classify someone as a character-lacking jerk than deviations among seemingly more important matters, which can easily classify someone as such. And notice that the sigmoid isn't a step function, so the result of the entire equation is going to be more statistical than binary, which means that you can think Hitler is truly evil down to his core, but that guy who talks shit about Sally behind her back is just a jerk.