Happiness as a Basis of Evaluation

[cw: very conservative Christian rhetoric, quoted anti-atheist talk, incidental gross url, + some kink ethics debate metatalk]

[edit: well, I got Poe’d, so most of this is irrelevant now, but feel free to read it anyway.]

This is from a MMO, right?  Tell me this is from a MMO.

Man, there’s so much going on here.

“What should you do if you find an Atheist?” sounds like something out of a pokedex or something.

The phrasing of this is just so surreal, even aside from the grossness, because I grew up just expecting everyone I met to be an atheist — so to me you might as well have asked, “What should you do if you find a person with hair?”

If you find an Atheist in your neighborhood, tell a parent or pastor right away!

The heck?  You can’t be bothering your parents about it every time you run across someone who expresses atheist sentiments.  It’s just a normal person, not a rabid dog or a wasp nest or a bomb or something.  If this is a “conversion strategy” to have the children of your neighborhood act as McCarthyesque little theism scouts, it’s only a coherent one if you don’t live in a place where atheists are the majority.  And why the urgency?  Like yeah some atheists can be evangelistic, especially if you pester them about it, but most of them have better things to do.  It doesn’t require this much immediacy.

Seriously who could live like this?  I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

But the real rhetorical highlight here, in my opinion, is “Atheists such as crotchety old Mr. Gruff think they’ve got it all figured out… …but then why are they always so sad?”

Good grief.

Obviously atheists aren’t all “always so sad” (also, like, way to not account for depression at all/moralize the concept of mental health) but the bigger issue here is that this rhetoric constructs happiness as proof of correctness.  Happiness as proof of correctness.

How very Platonic.  And so absurd I don’t even know how to expand on how it’s wrong because I think it speaks for itself.

I’ve seen a similar thing happen between radfems and conservative kinksters, too, where the latter will respond to the former’s statements with “you must have a really boring sex life” and then the radfems will get all “you must be really miserable if you have to do XYZ just to experience a glimmer of pleasure” and honestly?  By that point you’re not even discussing ethics anymore.  You’re just declaring other people unhappy.  And then treating it as enthymemic that the unhappiest person in the argument is the wrong one.

And circling back to Christians vs. atheists — I’ve seen the reverse, too, with atheists insisting Christians would be happier and more “free” if they didn’t have to follow all these boring RULES and gosh wouldn’t you enjoy yourself more if you abandoned that relationship and framework of conceptualization!  Then you’d actually get to have FUN with your life!

Honestly?  Fun isn’t the point.  Fun isn’t a moral substance.  Fun is not the cheat code to unravel all life’s questions.  Happiness is great, it’s just not proof of anything beyond itself.

And if you want me to believe otherwise, you at least need to roll up your sleeves and do some convincing instead of just expecting all your readers to be on board.

4 responses to “Happiness as a Basis of Evaluation

  • Siggy

    Oh, I recognize Mr. Gruff, the atheist goat. I think he’s some sort of parody? It’s worth looking up. I think he reflects (and exaggerates) how atheists see themselves being seen by others, if that makes sense.

    • Coyote

      Well, that’s a relief. Poe’s Law and everything. The happiness-evaluation thing still gets used in earnest though.

      • Siggy

        In my interpretation, Mr. Gruff is a celebration of cynicism, grumpiness, and coffee. This is informed/biased by how I see Mr. Gruff typically used. He’s sometimes adopted as an icon or avatar. There’s another image of Mr. Gruff, with the line “Mr. Gruff: the atheist goat who loves coffee instead of God.”

        I’m not criticizing what you wrote, because I think it stands independent of the thing you reacted to. Also, authorial intent shouldn’t constrain interpretation, etc. etc.

  • Midori Skies

    Yes to the depression thing. I’m an atheist with clinical depression. My mother and brother are Christians with clinical depression. Gosh, maybe our depression has more to do with genetics than our religious inclinations. Shocking concept, I know.

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