"It's dead, that's what's wrong with it."... and so on, with the shopkeeper repeatedly saying something that everyone can see is plainly false. The parrot isn't alive, it's dead! Deceased!
"No, no, it's resting!"
"I know a dead parrot when I see one and I'm looking at one right now!"
"No, no, it's not dead, it's resting."
It's like that when debating morals with a theist. They constantly harp back to their only argument, that without God there can be no morality. A case in point is Gary Hardaway's essay, CAN ATHEISTS BE GOOD CITIZENS? Hardaway starts with a few irrelevant quotes from the most religious of America's founding leaders such as James Madison in order to lend credibility to his case. But then he gets to the old dead-parrot argument:
The fatal, disqualifying flaw arises when the atheist encounters the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights and that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The atheist cannot agree with the Founders. In honesty he has to say, “Men do not have a Creator. Their unalienable rights do not come from a Creator. They come from another source.”So far, so good: Hardaway is actually correct. Unalienable rights do not come from a creator! There is no God, just an idea of God that humans created. Human rights are unalienable because we have become a civilized species capable of rational thought. Using the same Rationalist reasoning that was created by the ancient Greeks and refined for two thousand years, we've figured out that human happiness and dignity are the foundation of all morals and ethics.
So we're good, right? Alas, no. Hardaway goes on:
What might this other source [of human rights] be? Government? But government can take away what it has bestowed. ... Atheists have an insoluble problem. If God doesn’t exist, human beings can have no special value.Ah, there it is. The old dead-parrot claim. It's nothing more than "proof by repeated assertion." If you say something often and loudly, then it must be true!
Sorry, Mr. Hardaway. Atheists don't have an insoluble problem. God doesn't exist, and the universe doesn't give a damn about humans. If we manage to detonate all of our nuclear weapons and turn this planet into a sterile rock, that rock will keep orbiting the sun for another few billion years. The Earth won't care, the sun won't care, the universe won't care.
Human rights only matter to humans. Atheists and humanists know this. It makes human life even more precious. It's why atheist morality is fundamentally better than religious morality.
It is the theists, the Christians, Muslims and Jews who have the real problem. Their morals come from their confusing and contradictory holy scriptures, and were written thousands of years ago by politicians and rabbis who were educated by a pre-industrial society. They claim all morals come from God, but then they start wars and fatwas because they can't seem to agree on just exactly what those morals are. Or maybe it was just that Satan wrote the Bible – that actually would explain the problem!
As long as humans think morals come from God we will continue to have problems and wars. To have a truly moral world, one in which we can all get along and live in peace, we must abandon ancient superstitions. We need to get over the idea that someone has handed us answers on a plate. We have to use our heads. We have to think. We have to work together as a society and devise laws to govern our behavior and morals to each our children, based on humanist, naturalist principles.
Theists need to stop the old, tired dead-parrot argument about absolute morality. Atheist morality is real morality. Their old "proof by repeated assertion" is getting tired.