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The Big Picture

'Have you ever heard of Plato, Aristotle, Socrates? Morons.' -- Vizzini from "The Princess Bride"

Friday, September 01, 2006

The Possibility of Atheism (part 3 of 3)

Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here. Original article is here.

We are now at the final part of the essay by Craig, as presented by Walton, at the ever-so-prestigous blog, Atheismsucks (godless link here). Today we discover why atheists have no purpose, and anyone that believes in some mythical sky god (but only in the right mythical god), has ample purpose.

Purpose of Life
Finally, let’s look at the problem of purpose in life. The only way most people who deny purpose in life live happily is either by making up some purpose, which amounts to self-delusion as we saw with Sartre, or by not carrying their view to its logical conclusions.

He uses death as an example of how we atheists secretly sneak God into our views. The problem with his example, is that if one changed it from death to the lottery it still makes as much sense, that is to say it is useless as proof. Sure, one can hope to win the lottery, but reality is that you will not win the lottery. Just like the Christian can hope there is an afterlife, but the reality is there is none. Atheists accept the reality, Christians accept the fantasy. If some atheist "hopes" there really is an afterlife, it is the same as hoping to win the lottery, then reality sets back in. So what is the reality? There is a great fear of death, as the result of the uniquely human condition of realizing there is a "self" (i.e. sentience). Because of this, there lies an innate hope that death is not the end, that there will be more, because the "self" does not want to cease to exist.. This hope has transformed into a belief in gods over the millenia, and then into organized religions, and finally into monotheistic religions, of which Christianity is only one. I trust that it is not necessary to explain why hope and reality are not the same thing.

We often find the same inconsistency among those who say that man and the universe came to exist for no reason or purpose, but just by chance. Unable to live in an impersonal universe in which everything is the product of blind chance, these persons begin to ascribe personality and motives to the physical processes themselves.
Though all these men profess not to believe in God, they smuggle in a God-substitute through the back door because they cannot bear to live in a universe in which everything is the chance result of impersonal forces.

Here he guesses as to what the inner thoughts of these particular atheists are, and then uses that guess as proof of his argument. To show how mistaken that is, allow me to do the same to Craig. Because he is so afraid of dying, he is willing invent a mythical being who will wisk him away from death and keep him alive forever. In order for him to complete this fantasy, he must convince others he is right, thus propagating the lie. Since Craig actually does not believe God is real, then I have proven there is no God! Se how that works? He really has no way of knowing what Sagan or anyone else is really thinking, but he imagines he knows, then he takes that guess and shows it as proof. It is nothing but transposing one's own incredulous belief onto another person as if they must possess it is well. And that fails as an argument.

Let us further analyze this statement, "these persons begin to ascribe personality and motives to the physical processes themselves." Does that sound familiar? It should. It is what was done with/to gods for millenia. In fact, the Bible does that exact same thing, consider this passage from Genesis 1:27: "So God created man in His own image" Clearly we have a god made up in the Bible to possess human characteristics. When I read Craig, I get the strong sense of his projecting his own fears and unbelief onto those who reject his superstition outright based on solid evidence (or the sore lack of evidence of a god.) Finally, do not Christians do this very same thing all the time as well? It would eliminate the entiure argument of the Discovery Institute if it became impossible for Christians to argue the personification of design and human characteristics in otherwise inanimate objects.

You can’t change the truth because you don’t like what it leads to. But people cannot live consistently and happily in a world where other persons are devalued. Yet if God does not exist, then nobody has any value. Only if God exists can a person consistently support women’s rights. For if God does not exist, then natural selection dictates that the male of the species is the dominant and aggressive one. Women would no more have rights than a female goat or chicken have rights. In nature whatever is, is right. But who can live with such a view?
If Skinner’s theories are right, then there can be no objection to treating people like the rats in Skinner’s rat-box as they run through their mazes, coaxed on by food and electric shocks. But again, who can live with such a dehumanizing view?
If God does not exist, there can be no objection to using people as human guinea pigs.

Why? If Craig's posit is correct then there can be no way for people to see anything wrong with torturing animals. Furthermore, there can be no "war on Islamofascism" if those very same "Islamofascists" are fully human and equally valued. It becomes trivially easy to see that there is no big picture worldview when it comes to Christianity, just a bunch of little contradictory pieces that when put together become utterly absurd. The worldview of atheism, is much better at valuing humanity, and all of life on this planet for that matter, simply because when all life is common and connected, it becomes equally valued by default. The whole pseudo-evolutionary (creationist mischaracterization) idea of mankind being at the "top" of the evolutionary tree is false (evolution is about survivability and not superiority), and more importantly, applicable to the biblical version of creation.

What Craig neglects to realize is that humans have emotions, feelings, thoughts, and most importantly, the ability to communicate them. The simple statement, "stop, you're hurting me" and the fact everyone knows what it means, completely negates the rationale for his argument.

[some dreadful schlock about a 'Noble Lie" and Modern Man]

In order to survive, he must live in self-deception. For one cannot live happily and
consistently on an atheistic world view. Like a placebo, a Noble Lie works only on those who believe it is the truth. Once we have seen through the fiction, then the Lie has lost its power over us. Thus, ironically, the Noble Lie cannot solve the human predicament for anyone who has come to see that predicament.

Talk about irony.. I would identify the noble lie as Christianity. When viewed as such, this paragraph makes much more sense. When a worldview is based not just on what we can know via experience, but what every human can know equally, via the same experiences, then the atheistic worldview becomes the clear frontrunner on truth. This is provable through the simple fact that everyone can equally experience the material world, and no two people "experience" the supernatural world in the same way -- thus the huge variation in supernatural experiences throughout the world and throughout history.

The Noble Lie option therefore leads at best to a society in which an elitist group of illuminati deceive the masses for their own good by perpetuating the Noble Lie. If one answers, “for the sake of social coherence,” one may legitimately ask why I should sacrifice my self-interest for the sake of social coherence?

...And the answer would be survivability. No person who lives in a society is an island unto themself. We, as a species, depend on others for our food, the safety of our food, for shelter, protection, knowledge, etc. Take those things away, and the individual dies. We, as a species must trust those around us, for just those very reasons. This need for trust, brings with it an obligation of honesty and good faith (not the religious faith). Without trust, honesty, and good faith, society could not operate, and we would sink into anarchy and many, if not most, would die off. In that situation, we would witness the raw power of the Darwinian definition of "survival of the fittest."

[B]ut the problem with this answer is that self-interest and the interest of the herd do not always coincide.
Rue’s dilemma is that he obviously values deeply both social coherence and personal wholeness for their own sakes; in other words, they are objective values, which according to his philosophy do not exist. The Noble Lie option thus affirms what it denies and so refutes itself.

True, group interests and self-interests do not always coincide. This is the source of criminals, and the justice system. More noble humans try to mesh as best as possible the social good with the personal good. They try to mesh family good with self good. There are compromises involved, and those are dealt with via our intellect. To deny that, is to deny that humans are in fact, intelligent. And since Christianity has persisted for so long, maybe I am, after all, willing to agree with Mr. Craig, maybe humans aren't so smart after all.

posted by Frank Walton @ 12:39 AM

A few closing remarks. As we have seen, the individual arguments are all flawed, either logically or through bad assumptions. There was another problem with this essay overall; many, if not all, the quotes used were either misrepresented or misquoted. The quotes used were all either part of the argument made itself or examples used in place of an argument. This is an improper manner of defending one's argument.


Bertrand Russell, for example, wrote that we must build our lives upon “the firm foundation of unyielding despair.”15 Only by recognizing that the world really is a terrible place can we successfully come to terms with life.
Is this an accurate representation of Bertrand Russell? No. The Reference is to "15. Bertrand Russell, “A Free Man’s Worship,” in Why I Am Not a Christian, ed. P. Edwards (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1957), p. 107." I found more information online here. Read this, and you will quickly see how misleading and deceitful Craig really is. Just in case you're interested, here is a list of some other Russell writings online.

As always, what we find is that the only way Christian apologists can make their case for Christ/God, is by lying, misrepresentation, sowing distrust, and ignarance. Are those really the primary values of Christianity? The defenders of Christianity certainly seem to think so. But then again, they have a good excuse to lie to their believers to convince them of their certainty... For Paul, the Apostle of Christ, told his followers in Romans 3:7, "For if the truth of God has increased through my lie to His glory, why am I also still judged as a sinner?" Clearly, anyone who thinks it is acceptable to lie to further their cause/belief, will not be self-limited to do so.

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At November 05, 2006 7:10 PM, Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

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