Fantastic Existence, Caner, and Apologists (Christians Who Claim to be Rational)
I was thinking of a new argument for atheism that I will dub the: "FANTASTIC EXISTENCE ARGUMENT". Theism is an extremely desirable belief. Human Souls. Everlasting Life. Angels. Easy answers to the toughest questions of life. All of us WANT a fantastic existence, but it is merely FANTASY. A fantastic existence is something everyone wants, but atheists want the truth. (Consider that by fantastic existence, I am implying fantasy, not a synonym for “great” or “exceptional”.)
Thus, my argument is this: No one would purposely delude themselves to disbelieve a fantastic existence, but many people WOULD delude themselves to believe in a fantastic existence. Beliefs that are less fantastic are more likely to be true than ones that are fantastic. (This is a contextual application of Occum’s Razor).
This is in stark contrast to a theist argument that goes something like this:
Religious martyrs would not die for something that they did not believe, hence the tenets of beliefs for religious martyrs must be true. (This is fallacious for so many reasons, I don’t even know where to begin).
On the other hand, since we all want to believe that there is life after death, it would seem rational to assume that someone who shirks the comfortable belief must have VERY good reasons to disbelieve in life after death. Moreover, the disbelief in life after death can be VERY disconcerting for some people. Hence, we believe in things that make us feel good. EVEN when theists say that they are rational in their beliefs for such things as an afterlife, it would appear that they are not providing rational arguments for their beliefs, but RATIONALIZATIONS. Rationalizations and rational arguments are two very different things. Rationalizations are attempts to make untenable beliefs SEEM rational for the sake of preventing psychological dissonance or uncomfortable mental states. Rational arguments are unbiased and disconnected from anything except good evidence and logic.
This is not to say that we should become solipsists and believe that we are the only things that exist in the world. This is not to say that the most grim view of the world must be true because it is the most uncomfortable.
Rather; it is to say that we must be courageous in accepting the hard truths of the world. If our comfortable beliefs are proven wrong through reason and evidence, we are impartial and we do not cling to our beliefs.
Stoicism and Buddhism maintain the belief that passive indifference to many of our attachments is a way to prevent suffering and depression when those things that we are attached to are taken from us.
While this may be an undesirable philosophy of life for many people, it is ABSOLUTELY the way we must treat beliefs. We must be completely indifferent to our beliefs so that disproof of them does not result in psychological damage. Preventing the rigid maintenance of dogma is the best way to ensure that we believe things that are TRUE, not merely FANTASTIC WISHES.
The failure of theism is that it cultivates the idea that we should be attached to our beliefs, defend them to the death, and that we should embrace beliefs that make us feel happy or euphoric.
Atheism denies this attachment to beliefs and rejects the idea that we should attach any emotional value to any beliefs.
For these reasons, atheism and theism are diametrically opposed in their philosophy of WHY we believe what we believe. Theism says that we should find beliefs that make us feel good, and RATIONALIZE them. By this I mean that we should use reasonable arguments to make these fantastic beliefs appear true. We should find some seemingly “rational” arguments that satiate some of the base needs for us to have a belief. We need to have justified beliefs. We need to have good reasons for what we believe. So theists manufacture these reasons, but do so poorly. Often times, they will create elaborate arguments that seem consistent, but when boiled down to their basic premises, we find that the foundations are fundamentally flawed. And even more commonly, they create STANDARDS for determining the truth of their claims that leave NO room for disproof. ANY possible “supernatural” phenomena or biblical passage will be interpreted as being consistent with Christianity because the standard is really not a standard at all!!! Christian standards for determining truth are really just elaborate systems of rationalizing and bringing EVERYTHING back within God’s hands.
Consider further that the Christian standards for Biblical interpretation ASSUME consistency. They assume that we MUST interpret the bible in such a way that it is consistent -- and that we rationalize everything so that it fits together as a cohesive whole.
I was listening to Ergun Caner the other day, and he brought “hermeneutics” into the discussion. This is how one interprets the bible. I think he said that it’s system several prongs. Looking on wikipedia, the infallibly true and most reliable resource on the internet (sarcasm), Caner seems to use the “special literary method” of hermeneutics. “Of the genres found in Scripture, there are: narratives, histories, prophecies, apocalyptic writings, poetry, psalms and letters. In these, there are differing levels of allegory, figurative language, metaphors, similes and literal language.”
So here is what I find disturbing. Based on that “method” of interpreting the bible, there is such a broad room for interpretation, I can interpret the bible to say ANYTHING I want it to say. Ever wonder why Christianity is split into 1000s of denominations? It’s because the rational tools to rescue Christianity from atheistic destruction are tools that lead to its demise. If Christians are able to rationalize all of their beliefs according to whatever they want the Bible to say, then you’re obviously going to have discrepancies and schisms all over the place. All you need is one asshole to come forward and say that a certain passage was more figurative than literal or vice versa, and presto, you have a schism.
For these reasons, the greatest supposed strength of religion (flexible interpretation to prevent refutation) is also its greatest weakness (flexible interpretation promotes schisms).
In conclusion: We want satisfying answers to life’s difficult questions. We create religious myths in order to answer these questions. Our answers are both comforting and entertaining. After we create these myths, we must have good reasons for believing what we believe, and we must defend against doubt. In order to do this, we rationalize our beliefs with faulty reasoning; and we are often unable to accept the truth on the basis that when one rationalization is shattered, we rise up another in its place, always motivated by this desire for comfort.
The best way to truth is indifference for the changing of our beliefs and the welcoming of change when presented with evidence or good logical arguments. This is the fundamental tenet of rationalism. Any Christian who claims to be rational MUST, MUST, MUST agree to this indifference, and he must agree to change his position when presented with alternative evidence that is stronger.
I know few if any Christians who have EVER responded affirmatively to my questions about willingness to change their beliefs.
A Christian claims to be rational and then states that they will not change their beliefs when presented with the evidence has committed the greatest contradiction possible: I am rational, but I reject reason. Contained within the definition of reason should be a clause about willingness to change.
REDUCTIO AD ABSURDUM.