Saturday, April 16, 2011

What's With Atheist’s Disdain for Liberal Christians?

I’ve noticed in atheist blogs and fb pages that there is often greater hostility directed toward liberal Christians than toward the fundamentalist whackos. I find this both confusing and disturbing.

A creationist - Young Earth - evangelizing fundie will be challenged with scientific theory and evidence, their tired old apologetics and fake science soundly discredited with a preponderance of evidence, and all with a level of respect one would afford a person who is actually in full possession of their faculties.

But, a liberal Xtian, who accepts evolution, rejects as parable the Noah’s ark fable, perceives Revelation as a horror story unworthy of belief, the Rapture as laughable, and who doesn’t feel compelled to proselytize everyone in the group is treated with less respect, not just by their Fundie brethren but by atheists as well. I understand the fundies’ reasoning, they despise those who are apostates from the strict “company line” because they bastardize, thus weaken the faith. But the attitude of some hardcore-activist atheists toward liberal Christians disturbs me.

Yes, as liberal Christians they pick and chose what they want to believe from the Bible; and yes, they have modified their Christianity into a hybrid of 21st century scientific reality and 2nd century credulity. True, they can't fully break free of the warm fuzzy “loving God” concept while they readily accept proofs of scientific fact; understand homosexuality to be a fact of nature and accept it as such; and even go along with women’s right to choose. And often they recognize that the Biblical authors had an agenda, and that the Bible is likely not the word of God. But instead of condemning and belittling them for their straddling-the-fence mentality, shouldn’t we welcome and encourage their small step forward into the world of reality?

Some atheists protest that it is the liberalized Christians that allow religion to continue; that those who modify the hard core basic Christian dogma and doctrine are simply prolonging religion’s s continuation / preventing its rapid demise by making it more palatable to be only partially deluded. Without the liberal hybridization of religion it would die off faster. I reject that.

Not everyone who is raised theist can easily dump it all at once and be “born again” into secular reality. Isn’t it beneficial to society if theists / Christians undergo a gradual transformation ... an evolution if you will … to modern thinking, skepticism and acceptance of reality? Shouldn’t we be encouraging those Liberal /Semi-thinking Christians instead of treating them like the proverbial red headed stepchild?

Yes, today’s liberal Christians maybe accommodationists but they are very likely the parents or grandparents of tomorrow’s freethinking children. I’ll happily settle for that over Jesus Camp supporting, “fag” hating, crusade-for-Christ-war-mongering, Christian Nation promoting, and global warming denying fanatical parents any day.

Tell me I’m wrong.

33 comments:

Hittman said...

I haven't seen much of that myself, outside of a few obnoxious people in forums.

I think religious belief should be exactly as important as someone's favorite sports team or preferred ice cream flavor. And as long as believers can treat it with the same level of importance I just shrug it off as inconsequential. What matters is if they're good people, or interesting people. And if they're both, that's a bonus.

NewEnglandBob said...

I don't care if someone's religion worships dead muskrats, as long as they keep it private, refrain from proselytizing, keep their 'morality' out of all levels of government and stop jamming it down the throats of children. They can pray or worship or do whatever dogmatic nonsense they desire in private. Otherwise they deserve scorn heaped upon them.

Cephus said...

I have a disdain for *ANY* religious thought, no matter how liberal. Wrong thinking is wrong thinking, even if it isn't as absurdly wrong as the guy down the road. When they do away with their irrational beliefs entirely, then we'll talk. Until then, they're still on the incorrect side of the issue.

Atemis Ward said...

I believe that problem solving should look at cause and effect. Religion is the problem because, at its very core, it is wrong because gods are myths, and scriptures are the mythical works of ancient humans. If your god is real, welcome to the table of rationality, let's talk. If not, no matter how liberal or conservative you are, we can't talk because you've forsaken humanity's defining feature, our reason and logic, to instead believe--entirely without evidence--in an magical, invisible, silent, powerless, mythical god.

When a god shows up to prove he is real, the entire picture will change. Until then, if we give people who believe in myths a seat at the table, we lose the battle.

If President Obama gets up and asks us all to join him in prayer to Santa Claus, we would rightfully laugh him off the podium. And such laughter would prevent all others from doing the same: belittling our human intelligence in the name of a mythical entity. There is only one difference between Santa and God, the spelling of their names. Both are equally non-existant myths. Yet President Obama can stand at the podium asking us to join him in prayer to a god, and have our respect, and actually have the vast majority of people join him.

I see no hope for the atheist cause until all who believe in a mythical god, and actually tout that belief proudly by stating they are people of faith, are laughed off the podium when they state that. It must be unacceptable to believe in a myth. It must be a defining feature of humanity to be rational--there can be no shades of gray regarding reason vs. non-reason. As long as we accept any who are irrational to the discussion, just because they're only mildly irrational, we lose.

Dromedary Hump said...

There will always be irrational people. It would be irrational to think otherwise.

But to the extent mythical beliefs become so diluted with reason and reality that its ability to influence secular thought and action is blunted / made impotent, that's good enough for me.

If a relgionist accepts gays marriage, keeps hands off women's reproductiverights, doesn't invoke a diety as justification for war, doesn't want to see ID or creationism taught in schools along side evolution, rejects the notion of a Christian nation, etc., etc, then whether they believe in Thor, Vishnu, Jesus, or Batman as god "neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."

To dispise them for an inert stupid belief is a waste of time, energy and priority.

Joyce said...

Thanks for this, Bart. As your 'favorite Christian', this view is appreciated. Our theists views differ completely but our respect for each other does not. For me to condemn you or other atheists for your unbelief or to condemn others who do have beliefs that differ from mine gives me no right or reason to act in a way that is kind of the equivalent of the Salem witch burnings. Totally wrong and, for people who pride themselves on reason, it's also an unreasonable response as well.

Although I am considered by many as a 'liberal' Christian, all it really barrels down to is knowing that I don't have all the answers, that I'm willing to question and doubt, I don't believe that science and my beliefs are in conflict (no, I'm not a young earther; there's far too much scientific proof to prove that this world is eons of years older than 6000+), I believe in evolution in many aspects but not all, I pray and believe but never cross or disrespect anyone's boundaries (and I believe all people should respect every individual's personal boundaries with the exception of the extremists that Bart often rightly refers to).

I will answer questions that are posed to me but will not come to you and push my beliefs on others who are not interested in hearing them, just as I'm sure that you guys wouldn't approach me and try to convert me to your beliefs and way of life. I'll even admit to praying for others but I don't have to do that in front of a person that it offends and I certainly don't need to lay my hands on you to do it. LOL

Does that make my Christian beliefs hypocritical? No, not at all. I'm not sure about all that is literal and all that is figurative in the Bible. Frankly, I'm probably just not smart enough to understand it all (but I do know that my breasts are not "as two fawns, Twins of a roe, that are feeding among lilies." Song of Songs 4:5) and so on.

I've stopped calling "Christian" under most circumstances because the "Christians" that speak the loudest, cruelest, and stupidly are people I don't want to be connected to (these are generally the far right-wing fundies, of which I am not). I am not of the belief that America is a Christian nature. I mean, c'mon, didn't people come here so that they could enjoy the freedom of (or from) religion and enjoy the freedom that brings?

I don't know if I'd say that I'm 'picking and choosing' what I believe, maybe it's just the way I understand -- or misunderstand it -- that confuses some. Oftentimes that someone is me.

I am (mostly) pro-life but I was pro-life long before I was a Christfollower. I say 'mostly' because I still struggle almost daily with my views on the death penalty. I do think that there should be exceptions to abortion, however, and I definitely don't think that being prolife is a make-or-break situation when it comes to my voting practices. I also don't believe that making abortion illegal is the answer. I think proper education is where it needs to start so the issue becomes a non-issue eventually. I don't think that the majority of people who call themselves pro-life don't have the right to use that term if they are also pro-death penalty and pro-war. Call yourself what you really are -- you're anti-abortion.

There are certainly things in the Constitution that I don't support but as an American, I honor and respect it. Just because I can get an abortion doesn't mean I will.

Joyce said...

Continued ... (my entire post was too long to be accepted):

I don't believe that marriage should even be a government issue. I believe (which may be differt than what you believe) that marriage is a sacred covenant that should be taken care of by the Church. However, I believe that all people should have the same rights that are covered under the Constitution and that would include civil unions where the same American Constitutional rights should be given to all people.

I posed this question several times to people at my church and asked, "If you see two heterosexual people that you know are living together and having sex outside of marriage but come to church, show appropriate public displays of affection such as holding hands, putting their arms around each other, or giving each other a kiss, how would you respond?" I then posed the question the same way but substituted homosexual instead of heterosexual. I was amazed at the vast difference in the attitudes and judgement (well, maybe not so surprised. I kind of expected it, but at least I think that I got people thinking).

I don't have all the answers in this world. Neither do you. The best we can do is exactly that -- the best we can do. Hopefully, that means that we have hearts of justice. That simple belief crosses no boundaries.

I'm a little saddened by a couple of the replies that state there is disdain for me simply because of the fact that I am a Christfollower. That's no more reasonable than me having disdain for you because you aren't. If we are ever to meet on equal ground, that attitude has to end on both sides of the spectrum. Let's not forget that the Civil Rights for blacks happened in our own lifetime and that woman have experienced the same sort of prejudice. We will solve nothing nor will it serve any of us any purpose if we can't meet on our common ground. Nothing will ever change if both sides don't work together for tolerance, acceptance, and helping our neighbors. To think otherwise puts us back many years ... pretty close to the dark ages.

Thanks for letting me have my say and thanks for your post, Bart.

Dromedary Hump said...

your welcome, Joyce.. and thanks.

And that is why I'll never speak against liberal Christians.

longhorn believer said...

Joyce, I appreciate your comments. I don't personally know any xians as rational as you, or who come anywhere close to your political positions. So, thanks for the insight. As far as I'm concerned, it was a breath of fresh air.

Hump, how progressive of you. Just kidding! Seriously, I'm in total agreement. I think it's down right silly and a little fascist to expect everyone to think the same way atheists do. We should be careful not to cross over into behaving as intolerantly as fundie religionists themselves. Yes, I hope the day comes when religion and state are as firmly divorced as Donald and Yvanka Trump, and religion does not hold sway over public policy making or party politics. And when that day comes, are we going to go around policing people's thoughts to make sure they are all rational and non-theist? 

Atemis Ward said "It must be a defining feature of humanity to be rational--there can be no shades of gray regarding reason vs. non-reason."

Humanity wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for a lot of irrational risk taking. Was it rational for Galileo to stand up to the Catholic church? Was it rational for Columbus to sail to the new world? Their are plenty of irrational things people do that we actually applaud, like climbing Mt. Everest or riding thousands of pounds of rocket fuel into space. And their are some irrational things people do that we give each other a pass on, like smoking cigarettes or buying something we can't afford. People do these things for the same basic reason they choose to believe in a god. It gives them pleasure or provides emotional comfort. I think taking comfort in some form of belief that takes some of the fear out of death is actually quite rational. Having a religion does not automatically disqualify someone from a rational debate. Joyce is right. What we need is mutual respect and common ground. If our goals are protecting Constitutional rights, what difference does it make whether we pray or don't pray in the privacy of our homes? As long as it remains private and doesn't cross over into the public sphere, then any further action to force people to abandon religion would be unconstitutional, and a pretty scary place to live IMHO.

Lisa in California said...

One thing I don't see mentioned here is the issue of money. I have a friend who is a very liberal catholic. She is in favor of gay marriage, supports a woman's right to choose, etc. However, she still attends her local catholic church (it's a comfort thing, I think), and gives money to the congregation. Money, some of which, DOES go to support a church which works against all of those issues. How does one deal with THAT conflict?

Joe said...

This is a tough one for me. While I certainly don't have any more disdain for the liberal Christians than I do for the fundies, I do firmly believe that they, the liberals, "provide cover" for the fundies (to paraphrase Sam Harris). And what I mean by that, again to paraphrase Sam Harris, is that we are unable to have an "honest conversation" about religion because it seems more often than not (to me at least) that it is the liberal Christians who are out front saying "hands off - you cannot talk about my religion because it offends me".

As you allude, the liberal Christians cherry-pick their faith and the bible to death; if I get ten liberal Christians together, it's almost impossible to find one issue they all agree on and, thus, we can't have a conversation about *any* of their beliefs. Because, one will hold their hand up and say "Well, I don't believe in that particular aspect of Christianity".

Case in point - a close relative of mine calls himself a Catholic. However, he has no problem with sex before marriage, no problem with sex for other reasons than procreation, and is pro-choice (among a multitude of several other non-Catholic positions). But, he is staunchly opposed to marriage equality and claims that homosexuals are trying to force their lifestyle on hi. Why? Well, of course, because god says so! The end result of this is that I can't have a conversation with him about the craziness of the Catholic Church because he just says "well, I guess I am a liberal Catholic".

With all that being said, I do agree with your statement that the freethinkers of tomorrow will come from liberal theists' households. But, it will take that much longer for the world to reach a state where folks use logic and reason to deal with reality because, again, in my mind, the liberal theists do provide cover for the fundies.

Just my 2-cents worth . . .

Joe said...

@ Lisa in California

Very good point! And, again, I know it's tough for many folks to make that break but what we should do is to let your folks like your friend know what they are financing and supporting.

Dromedary Hump said...

Longhorn...Well said.

Lisa... i imagine they see it like paying taxes. You may not support all the gov't does with your money, but you make the payments anyway out of obligation. That the catholic church won't put you in jail for tithe non-payment, the compelling issue is one of conscience to the believer, and the hope that their contribution will go toward something they support.

Joe.. yes, i understand the position of Sam Harris and yourself. I aluded to it in the post as it prolonging the life of religiosity. And indeed it may well do that. But it can no more be shut down, stopped, truncated or wished into non-existence than could Australiopithicus, or Neanderthal man, or any of the pre-Human hominids. They were stages that led to modern Human development...so too is liberalism in theists.

To dispise them for it, when they are the least of the problems we face compared to the fundamentalist mentality..either Xtian, Muslim or Jew... is to mis direct our ire and efforts.

Dromedary Hump said...

[[[[Posted on behalf of "Antipasta" via email 4/18/11)


"I personally don't care what people believe in so long as they don't go out and kill people whom they perceive to not be living their lives to the specifications of their own belief system which is most always based on rumors and lies. This especially includes driving teenagers to jump off bridges or hang themselves by encourageing bullys to harrass and antagonize them at school because they are perceived to be gay.

Religions can set the tone either for peace and universal tolerance or they set the tone for hatred and destruction. History proves me out that this has always been true but mostly religions set the tone for death and destruction because fanatical religionists close their minds off from all modern scientific evidence or modern sociological truths that contradicts their 6,000 to 10,000 year old doctrine.

I am especially put off by religionist fence stradlers because this is just an excuse to never express their opinion even when it is clear the religious undertones are leading society in the wrong direction to catastrophic consequences for humanity and for their country."

antipasta

Atemis Ward said...

Joyce,
You said you answer questions, so I have a couple related to what I find are impossible for me to believe aspects of Christianity, and I wonder if you ever consider such ideas.

The real God killer to me is the Bible itself. I try to imagine myself as a perfect and all-powerful god who knows everything deciding that farming out the writing of my only book to iron-age humans is the ideal way to get my message out. It would certainly require nothing more than the snap of my fingers to write it myself so that it is flawless. No need for over 30,000 Christian denominations trying to figure out my message. Nor for liberal or conservative Christians either. And, just to put to death the need for faith--another God killer to me--I could write it on indestructible paper, and maybe do periodic updates to keep up with evolving humans.

Or, option two, I could just use my mental telepathy to constantly keep humans apprised of my wishes in real time. Once again, keeping my message current as humans evolve and need up-to-date ideas on dealing with modern issues.

Regarding faith, it is a common factor in all religions: the need to believe without any evidence for that belief. Now you and I both know that all the other religions use of faith is because their gods are myths. If they were real, they could do something to prove it, then they'd get our attention. But I'm supposed to believe that the Christian gods are different. They are the true gods out of all the gods and religions humans have ever created. That when the Bible's gods were more than willing to prove their godly abilities in both Bible books. The Bible's characters refused to be suckered in and demanded evidence. Isn't that right? If you are a weakling, I can cut you some slack, but tell me you can do anything and the slack is gone.

I picture my neighbor coming over and telling me he can bowl a 300 game every time he bowls. I say, "Show me," and he says, "Trust me, just have faith because I can do it." You would certainly call me a sucker if I believed this guy. But change the word "neighbor" to "God" and I'm no longer a sucker, I've become an honored person of faith. Doesn't that feel like someone is pulling the wool over your eyes?

I won't detail my other biblical God killers, but just list them briefly. First is the timing of the creation relative to the timing of Jesus' arrival on the scene. Then the idea that one savior was all that was needed to reach the entire planet's population, or the salvation idea that required human-to-human contact, thus precluding salvation from all those born before Jesus or in locations where they couldn't be reached for centuries after Jesus' arrived. The placement of the savior in one little geographical location on planet earth. The pure madness of a salvation message that says that belief in an invisible deity is better than living your life according to the Golden Rule--which would avoid all the flaws of timing, location, etc., I listed above. When you really think about the Bible's concepts in this manner, I don't see how you can possibly not devise a better system than God did. If so, that is the ultimate God killer.

Thanks for your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Loved your article, with reservations. Liberal Christians are fine except they use a bronze-age desert tribes 'Holy' book. Whilst the modern liberal Christian ignores most of the fables and even most of the direct commands found in the Bible, adapting to modern ways. However whilst the cruel, barbaric stuff remains in its pages, It just sits and waits for the loons to take over with fear mongering and everyone of those barbaric things can be re-instated. Just like Islam is experiencing at the moment. How can the moderates re-assure us that that will never happen? Graham

Dromedary Hump said...

Graham...
I don't see how we can expect moderates to guarentee the actions of their fundamentalist brethren. It's not their role to do so, it's an unreal expectation.

You may as well ask how today's atheists can guarantee the actions of N. Korea's atheist regime.

Joyce said...

Atemis,

I'm replying way after my bedtime and may not answer your questions as clearly as you wish but I'll do my best with what I've got at the moment.

Certainly faith is a huge part of my belief. But I think more than that is the literal change I've seen in my own life and in the lives of those around me. Our company or habits didn't change -- our hearts did. I don't know how. I only know they did. One day I was shooting dope for over a decade, the next day I was filled with peace and no desire to continue with that lifestyle.

I think though, when it comes to historical beliefs, it would be the 40 days after Jesus rose from the dead and were recorded that are the most convincing to me. Even the books that were recently found in the past century (such as the Gospel of Thomas) speak of the death, resurrection, and acension of Christ.

I don't believe that God has to "prove" Himself to anyone, anymore than I have to prove to anyone that I am a female.

All I know is that I have seen and experienced things that are of such a supernatural experience that I can't argue them away.

NewEnglandBob said...

There is no evidence at all that Jesus existed. There were scribes at the time who recorded everything and there is nothing to indicate he existed. The first reports were 80 years later and those reports are dubious due to other things reported that are proven to be fiction. All other reports were fabricated 120 to 200 years after his alleged death.

Joyce said...

One more thing ...

that you need science to answer all of your questions.

I think that there are many more important questions that science can not answer. In fact, I think that the questions science can't answer are far more important than the ones it can.

Such as ... how do I know how to treat my neighbor? Why do I feel that one thing is just and another is not? How and why do I love? What is this thing called morality and why do I have these feelings?

What is the purpose of life?

Answer me, science.

Dromedary Hump said...

AQctually, Joyce..science can, does or will answer those questions. I know religionists like to think that moral questions are unanswerable by reason, but that's because they've never bothered to investigate beyond the essoteric.

Morality evolves. What was right for the ancient Egyptians and Hebrews is wrong now in many cases. I.e. Slavery and animal sacrifice. But they also had laws against theft, and murder, etc. So did the earliest civilizations in the Asian subcontinent, and Far East. So did the Eskimos. While the Aztecs had human sacrifice, they were also an advanced civilization that could not have evolved without morality/ethics that ensured continuity of the race.

Killing someone wantonly, or taking what is not ones own and having no penalty for it is the fastest way for a civilization to dissolve. The development of ethics is as basic as the divison of labor in an agrarian society.

As for the meaning of life... science will tell you, and reason confirms, that life's meaning is to procreate... promote the continuation of the species. Its as true for the orchid, as it is for the earthworm, baboon, field mouse, lemur, and the "higher" life forms. the fact that religionists WANT there to be a better, greater, more mystical reason is simply an affectation born of the inability to see Man as "just another life form," which is all we are.

As for love, brain chemestry is at play...not some magical spell. Pheremones have always played a role in establishing attractions between sexes within a species. Animals even demonstrate the instinct to sacrifice their own lives in order to save a mate or offspring.

Again, perpetuation of the species drives coupling...while cultural preferences determine the societal norms for sexualrelationships (i.e. polygamy, open sexual exchange, monogamy, et al). BTW, none of those are more or less moral/ethical than another... except in the eyes of other cultures.

Why do we "love" puppies but almost universally recoil from baby spiders, snakes, or centipedes? Must the supernatural be invoked to explain those feeling of "love" and disgust?

What makes baby ducks and lambs "touch" us with their cuteness yet we eagerly gobble up deep fried adult chickens and delight in leg of lamb with mint jelly?

No, there is no boundry for science and what it can and does or will eventually explain. Establishing some special mystical role for superstitionist delusion because some people are too lazy to research the science involved, or prefer to keep supernaturalism as the answer, or simply want reliigon to be the avenue to answers is to close their eyes, ears and minds to reality.

NewEnglandBob said...

Why should science answer those, Joyce? It does not claim to answer those.

Religion does claim to answer those questions but religion is spectacularly unequipped to answer any of those and can anwer almost no questions. The ones it tries It gets wrong.

Joyce said...

Ok. So what was right in one culture is no longer right now. So ... who teaches what is acceptable or unacceptable? And why do we buy into it? Fear? Self-preservation? What makes you give to the poor at the food bank? Why do you care? They are strangers who will never see you, thank you, or love you. What's the compulsion? Can you explain that to me?


What makes one 'good' and one 'bad'? What about those, like myself, whose life apparently has no purpose because I have not/will not/can not/do not procreate?

If my purpose was to procreate, I am not living up to my purpose.

Joyce said...

Also, what proof do you have that science will eventually answer all questions?

Dromedary Hump said...

you're parents, and society, it's driven by the prevailing cultural mores ... thats what teaches whats right and wrong. There are no absolutes in morality. What is perfectly acceptable and moral to us in western civilization may not be so to other cultures.

Altruism, charitable work, satisfies a need. It makes one feel good to help others less fortunate, plus it strengthens society. Ever watch a band of Chimps share food, or groom eachother, picking nits out of eachother's fur? Why would they do that...god made them do it? Or does it simply make sense as a bonding expression which solidifys the unit?

One doesn't need a boogie man to estabish good works. If you prefer to credit a god with making human's altruistic why not crediit your god with making people selfish, greedy and mass murderers.

As for how do I know science will answer these questions tht we have not answered yet? Past is prologue. Look back at history and thre development f science and what it has anserwed. We know hundreds of thousands of times more about every aspect of our universe than we did just 300 years ago.

On the otherhand, what you know about your fictional god hasnt changed in 2000 years; and what your bible incrrectly told you about the universe hasn't changed in 3500 years.

Dromedary Hump said...

PS: It's the same "proof:" I have that the sun will rise in the east tomorrow, and that the phases of the moon will be constant... historical observation allows us to project future occurances.

Can I "prove" the sun will rise in the east tomorrow..actually, NO... but i'd bet my life on it based on what we seem to "have down to a science."
;)

Joyce said...

I'm with you that sun tomorrow.

As for the rest of the eventualies, I'll believe it when I see it. ;)

Dromedary Hump said...

well..I imagine that in 1711 if someone told you we'd some day know the exact chemical composition of the clouds on venus; or that someday we'd know how to put new organs into humans and do it routinely; or that we'd beable to split the atom... you'd have said the same thing.

Fact is, not much further back, you theist types credited god for the lightnig strike on the opposing church across the street. Theists are sort of resistant to thinking beyond that..some more than others.

Joyce said...

I don't disagree.

However, I still don't believe that science will ever be able to explain the answers to all questions and I believe that many of the question my heart poses are far more meaningful.

If I'm wrong, I'll find out. If you are, so will you. ;)

Dromedary Hump said...

there's the problem, Joyce..you think with the wrong organ.

Joyce said...

LOL

Bobby said...

"As for the meaning of life... science will tell you, and reason confirms, that life's meaning is to procreate... "

Is the statement above accurate? I was just discussing this with my son this week :) Science doesn't offer any 'meaning' to life, i.e. evolution does not have a 'purpose'. The environment in which we live simply favours certain adaptations, that doesn't imply any 'direction' or 'purpose'.

Dromedary Hump said...

Bobby,
you are exactly correct..in fact your very words are in my book.

For the purpose of my discussion with Joyce, I was making a distintion between the "purposeful meaning" that theists perceive, and the "meaning" or instinctive drive that science recognizes as being common to all species. Call it instinct, or call it simple natural innate drive, whatever.
Yes, my use of the word "meaning" was not the best term.

we are in full agreement.
Thanks.