One of the funniest things that I have found about the modern unbelieving movement is 1) their constant claim that we should have evidence before we believe anything, or 2) their often-heard pronouncement that sound arguments are needed to warrant holding a particular belief, or 3) their repeated sermons about following reason wherever it leads, or 4) their endless refrains about the fact that we have a duty to seek the truth no matter what the consequences of the truth may be, and so on and so forth, and yet the reason that I find all these claims and assertions humorous is not because I deny their value and worth as ideas–in fact, I wholeheartedly endorse them–but I find them humorous when coming from unbelievers and atheists precisely because they are coming from unbelievers and atheists themselves, and the reason that this fact is humorous is because in an ultimately purposeless and meaningless universe, as it would be on atheism, and at least when speaking objectively and in absolute terms, we have no “duty” or requirement to believe things on evidence, or on arguments, nor must we or “should” we, in some objective sense, endorse reason or seek the truth, for, on atheism, there is no purpose in this universe that makes us do so, and note that even if a consequentialist-type argument is made to try to convince us to endorse these things in a purposeless atheistic universe, that argument will only work if we care about the consequences in question, which is not always the case, and so, when the atheist and unbeliever is telling us that we should do all these things, he is, in essence, doing no more than subjectively emoting, and in a purposeless universe, his claim that we should believe true things rather than false things, or that we should follow the evidence rather than not, is about as convincing, and about as valuable, as him telling us that he likes chocolate ice cream over vanilla, and that we should like chocolate over vanilla too (and this, needless to say, is not a convincing argument); and perhaps the greatest irony of this whole issue is that it is only on something like the Christian worldview that believing truth, and following evidence, and using reason, ultimately and truly and objectively matters, for if God, who is Truth itself, exists and wants / requires all people to come to know of His existence and nature through the things that have been made, and also forbids us to lie–all of which is the case on Christian theism– then all these things mean that on something like Christian theism, we should follow the evidence of our senses, and we should believe true things over false things, and we should use our reason to discover God’s nature through the natural order, and so on, and thus it is the Christian who can objectively claim that we indeed have a duty and should follow the evidence where it leads, and seek and believe the truth, and have reasons for our beliefs, whereas all the atheist can do is advise us of his subjective preferences about these matters, and yet these subjective preferences can be as easily ignored as the atheist’s subjective preferences about ice cream, cars, and Barbie dolls.
As an immaterialist, one of the funniest things that I hear is when atheistic-materialists and atheistic-naturalists claim that supernaturalism and theism are “woo woo” style beliefs (or just plain “woo” belief)–and note that “woo” is a term which the Skeptic’s Dictionary claims refers to “…ideas considered irrational or based on extremely flimsy evidence or that appeal to mysterious occult forces or powers” and it is generally used in a pejorative manner by materialists and naturalists in order to describe belief in such things as PSI, the soul, God, an afterlife, etc.–and now the reason that it is so humorous to hear materialists and naturalists use this “woo” term against their opponents is because it is actually materialist and naturalists themselves who, at the foundational level, hold to a belief that is as “woo” as any supernaturalist belief is, and is arguably even more “woo”, and this belief is the belief that matter actually exists, for while we in the West have all been conditioned to believe that belief in matter is the height of rationality, the fact is that the belief that matter exists is, upon reflection, obviously a woo-type belief, and we can see that this is the case in a number of different ways, with the first being the fact that even famous philosopher John Locke, for example, called matter a “thing which I know not what”, which meant that Locke was literally admitting that he had no idea what matter was, which makes matter the prime example of some mysterious thing that has strange occult like powers, and the fact is that progress today is just as bad, with modern philosophers and other thinkers not only unable to define what matter actually is in a comprehensive sense (see Hempel’s Dilemma for one such problem), but they have also changed what they mean by matter over the past few generations, and yet the problems of materialist “woo” do not end there, for belief in matter’s existence is also a woo-belief given that there is literally no non-question-begging evidence for the existence of matter, and no good reason to believe in matter given immaterialism’s explanatory scope and power, and there are actually good reasons, such as an appeal to simplicity–which is an appeal that materialists and naturalists, in other contexts, love to use–to deny the existence of matter, and so, as stated, not only is matter some mysterious thing with occult-like powers but belief in its existence is based on flimsy and easily-rebutted evidence; now, the point of mentioning this fact is not to necessarily support immaterialism–although a weakening of materialism will, practically-speaking, indeed provide some tacit support for immaterialism–but the point is rather to show that the materialist and naturalist has little warrant to condescendingly call supernaturalist beliefs “woo” when a woo-style belief is at the very heart of his materialist and naturalist worldview, and so as far as woo-beliefs are considered, the materialist and naturalist fair absolutely no better than the supernaturalist does.
Although there are, admittedly, a number of different ideas and definitions of what a “humanist” is, one particular definition which caught my eye recently comes from the British Humanist Association, which states that…
Roughly speaking, the word humanist has come to mean someone who:
- trusts to the scientific method when it comes to understanding how the universe works and rejects the idea of the supernatural (and is therefore an atheist or agnostic)
- makes their ethical decisions based on reason, empathy, and a concern for human beings and other sentient animals
- believes that, in the absence of an afterlife and any discernible purpose to the universe, human beings can act to give their own lives meaning by seeking happiness in this life and helping others to do the same. (https://humanism.org.uk/humanism/; Accessed 2016 04 15)
…and the reason that this definition was so interesting to me was not only due to its combination of relative brevity with comprehensiveness (for a website definition, that is), but also because it vividly shows the rational tension and almost incoherence that lies at the heart of secular humanism, and the way to see this is to realize that if, as the humanist says, there is no “…discernible purpose to the universe”, then this fact, in and of itself, serves to quite literally undermine everything else that the humanist claims to value, for if there is no purpose to the universe–such as, say, the purpose of seeking and believing that which is true, or the purpose of being moral, or the purpose of making one’s self happy–then 1) there is quite literally no reason to bother trusting the scientific method about reality instead of, say, the ravings of a lunatic, and 2) there is no reason to reject belief in the supernatural, regardless of its truth value, if belief in it is what you want to believe in, and 3) there is no reason for making ethical decisions based on reason if you don’t want to, and 4) there is no reason to show empathy if you do not desire to, and 5) there is no reason to have a concern for other human beings or other animals if it is not your wish to do so, and so on and so forth, and so the very fact that the humanist claims there is no purpose to the universe completely undermines his other claims, and thus the best that the humanist can do is to arbitrarily claim that if you “want” to value these things, then you should, but the humanist, in absence of any purpose to the universe, cannot give us any cogent or convincing reason that we should do so; and lest the humanist wishes to claim that we should do so for consequentialist reasons–namely, that society runs better if we adopt these rules and ideas–then this still not serve as a convincing reason for someone who does not care about the good running of society to embrace these ideas, and so, once again, we see that humanism essentially negates itself, for it is only valuable if accepted, but by its own admission, it can only be accepted based not on science or reason, but for the arbitrary reason that someone simply wants to accept it rather than something else, and such arbitrary reasoning process seems to oppose the very idea of making decisions based on reason and science, which is what the humanist allegedly values, and so the humanist is a walking contradiction, for his acceptance of humanism is based on, ultimately, little more than the personal and arbitrary and subjective whim to want to be a humanist, but he is preaching the idea that people should not base their decisions on arbitrary and subjective whims but rather on science and reason, which is precisely what he did not do when choosing to be a humanist rather than something else, and so hence, as stated, the humanist is essentially engaged in a type of performative contradiction simply by the act of being a humanist, which is not, I must say, a very cogent position to hold.
I have, in the past, written about the multiverse–the idea, usually offered in answer to the fine-tuning of this universe, that there exist trillions upon trillions of different universes, if not, in fact, an infinite amount of such different universes, all with different physical laws and constants–and I have also written about how certain atheists often appeal to the multiverse as a “get anything you want or need naturalistically” card, and though I have also shown that atheistic appeals to the multiverse might not be as beneficial as atheists believe them to be, I will, in this thought, also note that another funny point about atheistic appeals to the multiverse is that although atheists often rail against creationism and chant that accepting creationism is utterly irrational and “anti-science”, it actually is the case that if the multiverse does exist, then, the fact is, it is highly likely that many “creationist-style” universes exist given that, in a multiverse, such created universes could easily be made by some kind of hyper-advanced being–in fact, if an infinite number of universes exist, then there are arguably a massive plethora, or even an infinite number of such creationist-styles universes that exist; and what this means is that if the atheist wishes to push the multiverse card as a means to account for the fine-tuning of this universe, then, by extension, such an atheist should arguably become silent about creationist-style ideas, for the fact is that in a multiverse, there is no way of knowing whether or not we are presently in a creationist-style universe–essentially, a universe which was intelligently designed and which appears old (based on our current science) but which is, in reality, actually only a few thousand years old–and so, in appealing to the multiverse, atheists give serious legitimacy and weight to creationism in general, for indeed, though such an idea might not necessarily support orthodox Christian creationism per se, atheistic endorsements of the multiverse without doubt make general creationism (and even a creationism very closely resembling Christian Creationism) eminently rational to believe in, which is a particularly humorous result given the general antipathy that most atheists feel towards creationism of any form…and perhaps the funniest issue is that in seeking to avoid the fine-tuning problem by appealing to the multiverse, atheists actually completely support the idea of the intelligently designed fine-tuning of this universe, for a creationism universe is an intelligently designed one, and thus atheistic attempts to defeat the problem of fine-tuning actually make fine-tuning that much easier to believe in.
Inspired by KIA…thank you, KIA!
Certain unbelievers like to claim that skepticism is the antithesis and opposite of faith, and thus the implication is that to have skepticism is not to have faith, but the problem is that not only is such a point of view philosophically uninformed, it is also, ultimately, backwards, for while it is true that a limited or selective skepticism might seem to remove “faith” from one’s beliefs, the fact is that real and unvarnished and genuine and universal and un-selective skepticism not only does not remove faith from one’s heart, but it actually shows us how we all ultimately rest ourselves and our most fundamental and unavoidable beliefs on faith, for, for example, skepticism shows us that (barring theism) there is no non-circular way to justify our trust in our reason, and thus our acceptance of the validity of our reason rests, ultimately, on faith, and so too is the same (barring theism) with taking the reliability of our cognitive faculties on faith, and so too, as the great skeptic Hume showed us, does (barring theism) our trust in induction–the basis of nearly all science–rest on faith, and so too does skepticism show us that (barring theism), our trust in the value of and use of such explanatory values as simplicity rest on faith, and so on and so forth; thus, not only is skepticism not the opposite of faith, but rather, barring theism, skepticism shows us that nearly all our beliefs–again, barring theism–rest on nothing but faith, and so, perhaps with a deep irony does skepticism teach us that the very people, namely unbelievers, who claim that their skepticism is the opposite of faith are actually about as mistaken as they can be, for when skepticism is coupled with unbelief, it shows that all the unbelievers most fundamental beliefs–trust in reason, reliability of cognitive faculties, truth of induction, use of explanatory virtues, etc.–rest, ultimately, on little more than faith…and so those unbelievers, often claiming to have the most skepticism and the least faith, actually hold a position that has the most faith, and they actually have the least skepticism, for they do not realize that their dependence on faith given their lack of skepticism (and it should be noted that perhaps a few readings of the genuine skeptics, rather than just the “I-call-myself-a-skeptic-but-am-nothing-more-than-a-standard-materialist / naturalist” would be assistive in this regard).
Unbelievers and atheists often like to label themselves as skeptics and free-thinkers, and indeed, in our modern era the words ‘skeptic’ and ‘free-thinkers’ are almost taken as being synonymous with unbelief, and yet the ironic thing is that I would argue that some Christians are at least as skeptical and free-thinking, and arguably even more so–in fact, arguably much more so–than any typical theistic unbeliever, for take me, for example, a Christian immaterialist, who doubts the actual exists of matter based on my free-thinking, and then compare this doubt to the doubt shown by your average self-professed modern skeptic and you will thus see that in terms of really being skeptical about certain uncritical beliefs that most people accept (such as the existence of matter), someone like a Christian immaterialist truly is more skeptical and free-thinking than a professional skeptic; and so, the point of this point is to simply note that not only can a Christian, not to mention a general theistic immaterialist, be a skeptic and free-thinker, but he can be a mite bit more skeptical and freely-thinking than the unbeliever who calls himself a “skeptic”.
The issue of free-will–and here I mean free-will in the broadly libertarian sense–is fascinating, but as interesting as that issue, in and of itself, is, free-will is also interesting in that it is an issue which can give us a very simple and intuitive argument for the existence of god, for consider the following layman’s chain of reasoning:
1. All my experience tells me that I have free-will and all of society is build on that belief, and so I am rational to believe that I do have free-will until and unless given good reason to believe otherwise;
2. Something like free-will can only come from something that has and/or can create free-will;
3. The only thing that I know of that has free-will are persons (minds), and so the best explanation is that my free-will comes from a person (a mind), but the chain of persons cannot go on infinitely, and therefore there must be an uncaused and first free-willed person who is the cause of all the other free-will in other persons, and such a person deserves the label of a god…
…and when put into more philosophically rigorous terms, the argument might go like this:
a. I have a properly basic belief that I have libertarian free-will, and therefore, not only am I rational to believe that I have it, but, because it is a properly basic belief, the burden of proof is actually on the person denying this belief to demonstrate his case, not on me to prove it, and so I am rational to hold to my belief that I have free-will until and unless a sufficiently warranted defeater is brought against this belief;
b. There are no sufficient defeaters to my belief that I have libertarian free-will;
c. Given the Principle of Proportionate Causality (which states that an effect must, in some way, be entirely contained in its cause), I thus note that whatever caused me to have free-will must somehow have the causal resources / ability to create free-will to exist in something else.
d. Not only are there no known impersonal forces / mechanisms which could cause free-will to exist in something else, but the only things that I know that have free-will are personal (rational) entities like me (essentially, minds).
e. In light of the above, the only presently known causal explanation for my having free-will is that it was caused in me by some other personal (rational) entity which can create free-will, but such a chain of causality cannot go on to infinity, and thus, there must be a first and uncaused personal (rational) entity which exists (or existed) which has the ability to cause free-will and which gave free-will to all other personal (rational) entities that exist and have free-will, and any such uncaused personal and rational entity with free-will that exists (or existed) deserves the label ‘god’, and so, given all this, I am rational to be a theist, not an atheist;
f. Or, alternatively, for a “Inference to the Best Explanation” type approach to this issue, one might, after point (d), simply point out that between atheism (atheistic-naturalism) and theism, atheism simply does not have the ‘explanatory power’ to account for the existence of free-will in persons like theism has (an omni-God could give free-will to others by definition), nor is atheism ‘congruent with the background knowledge’ that only persons have free-will, nor is atheism simple given that it postulates an impersonal “thing or force” which is somehow (miraculously?) able to confer free-will to persons through some unknown mechanism, and so theism is therefore the better explanation of free-will, and thus theism is rational to believe in on the basis of free-will, at least provisionally.