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-   -   Atheist View of Polyamory (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1414)

Quath 11-26-2009 02:43 AM

Atheist View of Polyamory
One of the atheist blogs I follow is Daylight Atheism. For the most part, the articles are very well written and I tend to agree a lot with the maintainer, Adam (a.k.a Ebon Musings). However, he recently wrote about the morality of polyamory.

In this case, I disagree with some of his assertions and conclusions. Basically, he heavily ties in polygamy with polyamory. He also is just focused on the morality issue of people deciding to legalize polygamy. He tries to make the case that it is different from gay marriage. Also, polygamy is associated with religious subjugation of women. He does say that the libertarian in him says that it should be ok. However, he thinks that it adds so much complexity that it should not be allowed.

So I left a few comments on it. A few other polyamory people found the article and left some comments as well.

Quath 12-19-2009 03:48 AM

There was a follow up to this article at Daylight Atheism. This one is pretty interesting because it addresses some misconceptions on polyamory. The 3 misconceptions are "Polyamory? That's okay, as long as <insert horrible things here> isn't going on.", "Those relationships are always about drama/don't last/are dysfunctional.", and "Telling people that you're polyamorous is over-sharing it's like telling them about your sex life."

The article is pretty good. The comments are very interesting. Here is a sampling:

Penn: I don't have any problem with polyamorous relationships. I certainly do not think they are inherently immoral. But, I would be against giving legal marriage status to multiple partners. Just one example of problems arising is employer benefits. Should employers have to provide benefits for an indefinite

Sharmin: This is a great post, JulietEcho. I think I read something similar you wrote for Friendly Atheist. The way that you describe polyamorous people being treated reminds me of the attituide towards LGBT people, with people who are prejudiced using every bad example to make judgements on the whole group. I hope that the future will be better.

Cello: I personally don't care for polyamorous relationships because there is a selfish component in it IMO. An unwillingness to sacrifice a personal desire.

Yahzi: There are two traditional reasons for enforcing monogamy. 1) Protecting men. In societies without monogamy, rich old men have multiple wives, and young poor men remain single. Not only is this bad for the men, but it's bad for society. Bored young men make a lot of mischief - like wars (to gain wives) or crime. 2) Protecting women. Men traditionally have most of the power in relationships. Allowing them to have multiple wives decreases the power of each individual wife. It is assumed men need sex; by removing the monopoly the wife has on providing sex you reduce her bargaining position. Since she is often economically dependent on the man (or at least her children are), this creates an even worse power imbalance.

JulietEcho: People find different things that make them happy. I don't think this is selfish - I think it's a natural part of everything that comes with love and sexual relationships. People who think the benefits of monogamy outweigh the desire they may or may not have for more partners will choose monogamy, and more power to them. Those who choose to be poly aren't more selfish though - they just want different things.

There are many others. I thought overall that it was a very good discussion.

GroundedSpirit 12-21-2009 03:51 PM

Good post
Hey Quath,

Yes - that was an interesting read.
Personally, I feel all the various legal protections etc are all very workable things and probably need to be reworked anyway.
And the primary debate - the one revolving around health care - was one that needed serious addressing anyway outside any poly debate. Hopefully we are getting one step closer to that. If basic health care for every INDIVIDUAL was addressed completely outside any relationship arrangement then I believe the rest of the challenges could relatively easily be addressed contractually by consenting, informed adults. I've always viewed "marriage" as primarily a legal contract anyway - only that the contract was drawn up without any input from the "contractees". It was a contract devised by various bureaucracies with their own best interest at heart (read insurance lobby, IRS, religion etc) and not the signees of the contract.
We could all work out our own contracts based on needs & fairness & love. Legally binding but agreed upon.


DrunkenPorcupine 12-21-2009 08:56 PM


We could all work out our own contracts based on needs & fairness & love. Legally binding but agreed upon.
I agree with this entirely, though... I think the SAME thing, voluntary contract, would handle the healthcare thing just fine.


It was a contract devised by various bureaucracies with their own best interest at heart (read insurance lobby, IRS, religion etc) and not the signees of the contract.
I'm gonna key in on the world "devised" and note the origin. It wasn't for corporate protectionism (whcih I agree is far too rampant...). The actual historical reason is rooted deeply in racism. Marriage "licenses" and state-sanctioning (and later, state monopolization) were designed to prevent "undesireables" from marrying. Blacks and whites, for instance.

I sorta chuckle at things like this article in general. I find it amusing how everyone needs to define and analyize, categorize and pass judgement on my lifestyle when I'm just fine with it. :P

Quath 12-22-2009 05:42 AM

Yeah, I found it very interesting. Partly because there tends to be common stances that many (but not all) atheists tend to take. One example is gay rights. At first glance, they have nothing to do with atheism. However, the main reason people are against gay rights tend to be from religious beliefs. So atheists tend to favor gay rights because there is no reason not to.

So I was interested to see what they would think of polyamory. Unfortunately, polyamory is seen as tied to polygamy or more specifically religious polygyny. But at the same time, there are not a lot of reasons to be against it in a secular sense. So I think this is part of the debate that goes on withing the group that helps define how it sees an issue. I have a feeling that it will be seen as equivalent to gay rights as the discussion continues. But who knows? Maybe I am too optimistic?

MonoVCPHG 12-22-2009 05:51 AM


Originally Posted by Quath (Post 16580)

So I was interested to see what they would think of polyamory. Unfortunately, polyamory is seen as tied to polygamy or more specifically religious polygyny.

Although not an atheist, I was visiting a good traditional mono friend of mine tonight and she expressed exactly this. She also found googling the word very confusing. She told me to come up with a different word LOL!!

GroundedSpirit 12-23-2009 03:55 PM

Spirituality etc
I find it interesting how people's spiritual beliefs are shifting (from what I see). Maybe it's just because of who I am, circle I revolve in, etc.
But to me there seems to be larger and larger numbers of people who are adopting various snippets of different religious and wisdom traditions into their life and therefore don't (and shouldn't) have a particular label. I think I have seen the public try to hang labels such as 'New Age" etc on these people but even that I think is a misnomer.
But net/net it seems to be becoming very individualized. I even think this is true within the Humanist adherents.
So I think even the label "atheist" is in the process of some evolution as I have a feeling that there are a number of people who would claim "atheism" and yet profound spiritual instincts telling them that we're all part of something larger but that the term "god" no longer fits the bill as some way to define that.
The thing that concerns me most is the upswell of people flocking to some form of classic "religion" that maybe for years had pretty much abandoned any particular faith. This happens in time of turmoil when people become fearful. They naturally search for explanations of what seems to be happening around them that's causing alarm. But especially today - in our fast paced world of instant solutions and instant gratification, I'm fearful that too many are willing to grasp at anything. As opposed to taking the necessary time to put serious thought & study into making wise choices. Just give me a "pill" mentality. So you can have a christian pill, a muslim pill, a pagan pill, an atheist pill etc - and it's all done. NOT !
On the other hand as I mentioned at first, there are many that are taking the other route. Digging deeper. Being patient & observant.
I guess we'll see..................


Quath 12-24-2009 02:30 AM

From what I have seen, it seem that countries that prosper tend to have people who branch out in religious beliefs and become less fundamental. Poorer and repressed societies seem to become more fundamental and dogmatic.

GroundedSpirit 12-25-2009 07:19 PM

Hey Quath,

Define "prosper" ? For example, is the USA "prosperous" in comparison to the Austrailian aboriginals for example ? <wink>

Quath 12-26-2009 05:39 AM

Heh. I gues I would define it materialistically. I think a big difference happens in a society's viewpoints when we have medicine and sufficient wealth to expect comfort. I think societies have different viewpoints when suffering and lack of resources are all too common.

But I don't want to give the impression that I think other societies are worse than us because they have less material goods. I think a lot can be learned from them.

The places I most worry about are places like Taliban controlled areas where they punish women for minor crimes like listening to music or not wearing socks or attempting to go to school.

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