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.
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.
When debating with certain atheists, one of the most fascinating things to notice is that, on the one hand, they tell you that the blind-watchmaker version of evolution is an absolutely undeniable fact that only a fool could reject (and note that such a claim is absurd on its face) while on the other hand telling you–usually in response to the Kalam Cosmological Argument–that things, like a universe, can indeed pop into existence uncaused from nothing, but what is the fascinating thing about these two atheistic claims is the fact that the latter assertion readily undermines the former one, for if it is possible that such a thing as a universe could pop into existence uncaused from nothing, it is equally possible that animals, and fossils, and such other things could pop into existence uncaused out of nothing just as we see them today, in the order that we see them in today, and so, in light of this possibility, while the atheist might still argue that evolution is a potentially better explanation for the development of life given the evidence that we do see rather than the explanation that these things just popped into existence, the fact is that by opening the door to the possibility that things can come into existence uncaused from nothing, the atheist has also opened the door–at least on his worldview–to the possibility that all life came about that way as well, and so the atheist would be hard pressed to claim with firmness that evolution is an absolute undeniable fact in light of what he himself just admitted; now again, the point here is not that the atheist cannot try to make a case for both these ideas which he wishes to endorse (although something coming uncaused from nothing is utterly absurd), but rather that there is a serious tension in the atheist’s worldview, and thus his worldview begins to look ad hoc and incoherently cobbled together when viewed in totality, and the atheist himself begins to look a bit disingenuous when he picks one aspect of his worldview (popping into existence uncaused from nothing) to answer one problem (the Kalam), then uses another aspect of his worldview (blind watchmaker evolution) to answer another problem (the obviousness of design in nature), but rarely if ever admits that when he combines his own two atheistic answers together, it is the atheistic worldview itself that has the problem…namely, the problem of being arguably incoherent given its almost mutually exclusive claims (and note that any atheist attempt to claim that only universes can come into existence uncaused from nothing is a fallacious and ad hoc attempt to arbitrarily stop the causal principle right where it suits atheism, and since such a selective stopping is rather ad hoc, it can be safely ignored as special pleading).
One of the greatest propagandist myths perpetuated by modern atheism is the idea that 1) atheists are more curious than theists, and that 2) atheists want to burrow down into the deepest explanations about our universe while theists are contend with easy pat answers, and that 3) atheists strive for the most thorough explanations to natural phenomena while theists are contend with just saying “God did it”, and one of the ways in which we can see that this is the case comes when we discuss the existence of the universe and the reason for its existence (or the existence of, say, the laws of nature), for when we do so, a funny thing happens, which is that atheists suddenly toss aside the Principle of Sufficient Reason and they 1) stop seeking an explanation to the universe, and they 2) stop burrowing for answers about why the universe exists, and they 3) stop being explanatorily thorough and say that the universe just exists as an unexplained brute fact–the ultimate non-explanation and the atheistic version of “God did it”–and then the atheist adds that any further “why” questions about the reason for the universe’s existence are just inappropriate, all while claiming that the Principle of Sufficient Reason somehow arbitrarily stops when it butts up against the very issue of the universe’s existence; now, all of this is not to say that atheists are necessarily any less curious and explanation-seeking than theists are, but what it does mean is that we need to discard the propagandist myth of atheists being some kind of great explanation-seeking luminaries always ready to push deeper and search further than anyone else, for the fact is that atheists, when they reach their desired destination–namely, a universe, and nothing more please–are just as ready to fire out the “It’s just a brute fact” claim and be as readily satisfied with this absolute non-explanation as certain theists are satisfied with the “God did it” explanation…so let us, starting today, kill this fraudulent myth of the atheist as ‘superior explanation seeker’ and simply accept the fact that atheists, like many other people, will happily settle for even a non-explanatory brute fact when doing so suits their atheistic agenda.
One of the most interesting and unnoticed things in the field of atheist arguments against religion is that when arguing against religion, there is an implicit argument in the atheist’s reasoning that can be used to undermine the study of what so many atheists consider most precious, namely “Science(TM)”, and to understand why, consider this: atheists routinely rail against religious belief and argue, at least in part, that religious belief should be eradicated because religious beliefs are used as a type of tool that supports and spreads and exasperates war, violence, bigotry, and immorality in the world at large, and yet, by such reasoning, should not atheists also argue that science, or at least certain scientific enterprises, should be eradicated as well, for note that science has also been a tool that has supported and spread and exasperated war and violence and bigotry (racial theories, for example)–in fact, science has made war much worse than religion ever did (consider the “gift” of weapons of mass destruction, for example, something which only science could give us)–and so, by the atheist’s own reasoning, if certain societal ideas and tools should be avoided, or restricted, or removed simply because they can be used to assist in war and bloodshed, then it seems that a good atheistic case can be made to reduce scientific inquiry just as much as we should reduce religious belief; in fact, it is arguably more important to stop science than religion, for while religion may–and I stress may–be used to motivate people to violence, science can exponentially increase the ability to cause violence and death, and thus if the atheist really wishes to reduce violence and bloodshed between men, he would arguably be better served arguing against science first and foremost than against religious belief (or at least against certain kinds of scientific enterprises), and yet, since the atheist does not do so, then perhaps we can see that his real aim is just to undermine religious belief in anyway possible and support atheistic supremacy rather than to really seek societal improvement….it is, at the very least, an interesting point to think about.
As has been previously mentioned, the multiverse–the idea that there is an infinite, or near-infinite, number of universes that exist all with different fine-tuned parameters–is an idea that atheists often put forth to account for the intuitive design inference that comes from thinking about the fine-tuning of the universe, and while it is true that in most cases this multiverse idea is just a ‘get-out-of-God-free’ card, the fact is that this issue, for the atheist, is even worst than first suspected, for if the atheist embraces the multiverse idea, then the atheist must admit that there are a multiplicity of universes (possibly an infinity of such universes) in which there are whole worlds of people who think they have reliable senses and cognitive faculties (our reasoning, memory, thinking, decision-making, etc.), but who actually have utterly unreliable senses and cognitive faculties but who nevertheless still survive and thrive just by sheer chance, and yet since, in an atheistic multiverse, we might be in such a universe, and yet we have no way of knowing that we are not in such a universe, then we have no way of knowing if we should trust our cognitive faculties or not, and thus we should not trust anything that those cognitive faculties tell us for their reliability is totally unknown and inscrutable, and so the combination of the multiverse and atheism is in fact a lethal combination which gives us a good reason to disbelieve in the reliability of our senses and our cognitive faculties, and this, of course, is a combination which is fatal to all our beliefs, all our knowledge, and all our science; by contrast to this, on Christian theism, even if a multiverse exists, the reliability of our senses and cognitive faculties would be assured–for on Christian theism God wishes us to come to know of the truth of His existence and His nature through the universe, which necessitates reliable senses and reliable cognitive faculties–and so where an atheistic-multiverse leads us to a radical skepticism about everything, which is of course absurd, only on a worldview like Christian theism can we accept the multiverse and still believe in the reliability of our senses and cognitive faculties (and note that any attempt to accept the atheistic multiverse and try to statistically show that we likely live in a universe where people have reliable cognitive faculties and senses is simply begging the question for it assumes that our statistical reasoning is sound to begin with, which is exactly the issue in question).