Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Smoking Pol Pot

I had some interesting comments to my last post on Spartacus. From The Atheist Jew:

How far would you go to escape death? What if you were told to have sex with a child or animal to prevent getting shot in the head? What if it was to be a nightly event to please the ones with the gun? Would you murder a family member to save yourself if that was your only choice?
Now we're getting at some important issues. How far do we go as atheists or even just humans, to protect our own way of life? I don't want to keep harking on about 1984, but it's a good example. There is all manner of abuse in 1984. Abuse of children by adults. Abuse of adults by children. Abuse of the poor by the powerful. My existence must be the most important thing to me, because as soon as I die, that is the end of my existence. After I am gone, I will not know anything more of what happens. I won't feel better knowing that my family exists still. I will be dead.

Other people are just degrees of genetic relatedness. We are all related. We are all family. We were just never intended to live in such big groups. We were too good as a species (and since evolution isn't directed, it was unintentional). So, since I don't want to have to be forced to do things I don't want to do (which I do in this world already), we atheists should try and ensure that the really bad things do not happen to us. I am often reminded of the atrocities committed by Pol Pot. From Wikipedia:
Out of a population of approximately 8 million, Pol Pot's regime exterminated one quarter, or almost 2 million people. The Khmer Rouge targeted Buddhist monks, Western-educated intellectuals, educated people in general, people who had contact with Western countries, people who appeared to be intelligent (for example, individuals with glasses), the crippled and lame, and ethnic minorities like ethnic Chinese, Laotians and Vietnamese. Some were thrown into the infamous S-21 camp for interrogation involving torture in cases where a confession was useful to the government. Many others were subject to summary execution.
You see we could be living under a regime that kills people just for wearing glasses. This is akin to 1984. Where intelligence and free-thought are feared and restricted by those in power (because it is a way of maintaining power). I added a random thought last night: There is a reason we don't let children set the agenda.

My position then is simple. Science and atheism are based on reality. The intelligent must be the people who are best placed to make the correct decisions (and there is potential for those who do not understand, to intervene in our lives and maybe even extinguish them altogether). Death will come soon enough for all of us. Atheist and theist alike. But perhaps we should ensure that Pol Pot, Big Brother or any person who thinks that they know better (but don't) do not have the power to destroy my one and only life. The Cambodian glasses wearers didn't even get a choice.