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.
Unbelievers often scoff and mock that Christians follow, as these unbelievers say, Bronze or Iron Age beliefs written down by ignorant peasants and superstitious persons thousands of years ago in a no longer relevant book called the Bible, and by using these pejorative and chronologically-snobby labels for the foundational of Christian belief, the unbelievers are obviously trying to imply that Christians are fools for holding to these antiquated ideas, but, in fact, the truth, in many cases, is the exact opposite of what such unbelievers believe, for the fact of the matter is this: in this present age, where 1) we have modern academics and “thinkers” telling us that men can become women by mere verbal fiat, and where 2) we have modern academics and “thinkers”, such as modern ethicists, endorsing infanticide and bestiality and incestuous marriage, and where 3) we have modern academic and “thinkers” telling us that something can come from nothing, or that language is meaningless, or that morality does not exist, or that consciousness and the self just illusions, or that there actually is such a thing as equality in the world between people, or any one of the other myriad of absurd and reality-denying claims made in the modern world today, then I tell you that, in many cases, I am more than happy, and I am more than rational, in preferring to believe the common-sense and time-tested wisdom of reality-hardened men from generations long past than I am in trusting some modern gender-studies professor or some “ethicist” who tells me that shagging sheep is A-OK; remember, truth does not respect chronology, and just because it is 2016 does not mean that we do not have many things insanely wrong, and it is for that reason that in many cases, I am more than happy and smart to embrace Bronze Age beliefs rather than wedding myself to the insanities of our present age.
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.
In a moment of reflection, I came to realize something which, though without a doubt having already been thought of by someone else, was still fascinating to me, and this realization was that science is testimony, and by this I do not mean the obvious truism that most science that we know is utterly reliant on testimony for it is only through the transmission of a scientist that we come to know it, but rather I mean the fascinating fact that when we think about the scientific process itself, there is no such thing as “observation”, but only what we might term the self-testimony of observation, for consider the fact that given that the act of observing something is not temporally simultaneous with the mental realization that something was observed, and given, furthermore, that the instant after it is observed, its recollection is itself based on memory, seems to indicate that the most fundamental and important scientific act, that of observation, is itself a type of self-testimony, for we do not actually observe anything, but rather realize what we allegedly observed moments prior, and then only recall that observation after that, and so what this means to me is that any claim that testimony is unreliable–a claim which scientism’s proponents often make–is a claim which does, in turn, completely undermine science itself; and while I completely admit that testimony, and its veracity and strength and reliability, is a relative thing, with some testimony being more worthy of trust than other testimony, the fact remains that what normal human testimony is based on, namely the realization of what was observed and the memory of it, is actually the same thing that science is fundamentally based on, and so, in a way, it appears that it is not unreasonable to say that science literally is testimony (and note that the claim that science is repeatable does not necessarily help it, for, in actuality, each observation is itself unique, and it is only via the presupposition of the uniformity of nature that we accept this similarity, not through the scientific act itself)…and so, as stated, science is testimony, and what an interesting thing that is to contemplate.
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.
In this day and age, when we in the West entertain ourselves and our minds with the dreams and visions of children through plays and books about so-called “superheros” such as Superman and others (and superheros are, in point of fact, also a reminder to modern secular man of mankind’s need and desire for transcendent and almost spiritual heros) and also in this time when we men have dreams, in our games and our novels, of aliens who might span the width of a galaxy and control billions upon billions of planets, it is actually interesting to reflect upon the fact (for such reflection is appropriately humbling) of how pathetic our imagination is in this respect, and how awesome the true God is, for while we men think that certain of the superheros we imagine might be worthy of the label ‘god’ and while we contend that a potentially space-faring species of galactic proportions could be considered ‘god-like’ in power, these thoughts are, quite simply, small, for to think that some ‘superman’ or some aliens of great power deserve to be thought of as god-like simply shows the smallness of man’s reasoning, and it does, simultaneously, serve as a lesson and reminder of the sheer incomprehensible awesomeness of the true Creator of the Heavens and the Earth, to whom a superman or galaxy-wide alien race are powers of utter insignificance, and who, in fact, would only have the power that they would have because the God who is who He is would sustain and give them that power; and so, the point here is to simply note, with sadness, how small and unworthy modern man’s idea of god-hood is, and how it shows his sheer theological ignorance (a sad state of affairs indeed), while also helping to remind ourselves that even our imagination falls utterly short of the awesomeness of the true God, and this, in turn, gives us the confidence to know, that when the Lord God wills to do that which He wills to do–such as save us from damnation if we freely accept that salvation–there is not a sheer thing that any superman, or any man, or any created power in this universe, or even any other created power from outside this universe, could do to prevent that desire from coming about…and it is in this fact that we are rational to place our trust in the Lord.
It is at times contended by certain unbelievers that skepticism is the antithesis of “faith”–where faith is, presumably, meant to denote something like faith in God and/or faith in some religious doctrine–thus meaning that these unbelievers are essentially implying that the faithful, by virtue of their faith, cannot have skepticism, for skepticism would push them away from the type of faith articulated above, but the question thus becomes whether this is or is not the case, and the fact is that it is not the case, for not only can a theist and/or religious believer have skepticism, but skepticism can actually and easily lead a person to faith, such as faith in a divine being, for consider, for example, that a person might be entirely rational to think that either something like theism or atheistic-naturalism is true, but since the same person, via skepticism, could come to utterly doubt the causal power and explanatory viability of atheistic-naturalism to account for such undeniable things as life from non-life, the emergence of different life forms, the emergence of language, the coming about of sexual reproduction, the fine-tuning of the universe, consciousness, rationality, and so on and so forth, then, quite clearly, skepticism about the ability of the atheistic-naturalistic worldview to bring these things about might push one into the arms of theism; now, I am not, of course, saying that this will necessarily or absolutely be the case, but I am noting that it is entirely reasonable and legitimate not to see skepticism as the enemy of faith, but rather as a tool and way of thinking that could, quite rationally, push one to faith, and so those who claim that skepticism and faith are utterly opposed to each other are not only quite mistaken, but, apparently, they themselves were not skeptical enough of their own claim that skepticism and faith are polar opposites.