Monday, October 20, 2014
Theists, Atheists, Agnostics, Nihilists and the Evolution of the Nothingness that is Love
I've had this thought for a long time. Perhaps you’ve got involved in this debate before. If so, sorry!
Theists can't prove that there is a god - but atheists can't prove that there is NO god. Therefore I consider atheism as much of a faith position as Christianity.
LOTS OF FAKE ATHEISTS
But what is the atheism faith? - It seems that not that many atheists think about it much. There are many atheists that I meet that turn out to be agnostics on closer inspection. They are lazy in their atheist faith. They are not prepared to research their beliefs. They have forgotten or they didn't even know they could opt for agnosticism so they tell people they are atheist but then many of them don’t bear up well under scrutiny.
Even some of the most passionate atheists turn out to be more anti-theists - IE "Christian bashers" rather than people who have actually researched the "no deity" position to bear similar cross examination.
When challenged by an atheist, the Christian is often asked to prove that God exists.
Okay then, prove that He doesn't. The chances are, the Christian will be more prepared to spar in this theatre of discussion since their decision to follow their chosen faith is based on a conscious commitment.
Most Christians wouldn’t say they believed in God unless they had some kind of answer to back up why. It is of course all subjective… but really, us faith people should really have a good reason for why we’ve gone this way…. atheists seem often to not really bother.
Of course this is a contentious subject on its own. Ricky Gervais once said, "Saying atheism is a belief system is like saying not going skiing is a hobby." I understand Ricky's take on this, but perhaps he's not fully seeing the gamut of meaning.
Atheism is a belief position that exists as the diametric opposite to religion, in my case Christianity. If you want to replace Christianity with a different faith, or just Intelligent Design - then be my guest. Atheism says "I am sure that God doesn't exist - I believe this - I can't prove it, but I'm taking this faith position".
The safest position to be is the proverbial fence sitter. The agnostic doesn't need to stake a claim on a specific belief. Why do you need to? Nobody's forcing you. If you can't be sure if God exists or not then why put yourself in a state of imposed surety? If the proof thing is important to you, and you can’t find any, then agnosticism is surely the most logical place to be.
BUT IS ATHEISM ACTUALLY NIHILISM?
So, as I’ve said, most atheists I've met are really agnostics who haven't really thought about it much - many of them don’t really realise that Agnosticism is a thing…. and an option to be considered. Here's my question on this though..... If you properly take the atheist stance, how much of a nihilist does this make you?
Nihilism is an existential and moral philosophical doctrine. From what I've read about it so far it basically posits that all things are meaningless.
Many if not most atheists would state that they are not nihilists. Just because they don't believe in a god doesn't rid them of all human values. Atheists believe in love, hate, honour, joy, fairness, pain, human rights, truth, betterment, success....
But wait a minute. Atheists are Evolutionists, Darwinists. They believe that one time there was a limitless vacuum with a burning sun that existed (by the way - for no reason). It exploded and created a galaxy accidentally. One lump of rock that was spinning around this star had some gaseous, chemical and physical elements (that have always existed - though no one knows when, how or why) and after a while they cooled down, heated up again and spun round for several hundred million years until something weird happened that doesn't seem to happen very often. A curious occurrence which has no current basis in provable science and has yet to be even replicated in a logical theoretical way - Life was spawned into being.
So it's obvious from the above that I'm no scientist, and I'm not really even an anti-evolutionist. I wasn't there. I don't know what happened. But if life began simply by some chemical anomaly which created single cell life forms that (again inexplicably) "learned" to replicate themselves. Then really this whole planet and the people on it are just part of a freak accident. This is currently what is being taught in schools in science lessons. We are here for absolutely no reason. Nothing created us - and if we believe in love, then we really need to get real with the fact that humans created this phenomena out of nothing. The nihilists are right. Everything has no meaning.
THE FLYING SPAGHETTI MONSTER
Some atheists who vehemently defend their faith actually do spend a lot of time bashing Christians (and obviously all other faiths too). I guess it helps them to spend their time doing something rather than going deeper into analysing their own beliefs.
As a result of one of these anti-theistic attacks, one group of scoffing atheists created the FSM; The Flying Spaghetti Monster. The general premise is that if theists can create a god and then believe in him/ her (albeit pointlessly since god(s) don't exist) then why not create the ultimate "straw man" (or more accurately, a reductio ad absurdum (I had to look it up!)) and use it to make a mockery of us God believing 'fools'. To them, Christianity is a crutch for those who can’t live without faux spiritual support. Not only are we scared to live, we are also scared to die and so we steep our denial into a off-land invisible fantasy which can be manipulated to whatever shape we desire and then worshipped, loved and even obeyed in order to satisfy our fears, guilts and ultimate loneliness. Eternity in Heaven awaits!
To therefore NOT believe in the FSM might help to bolster the previous statement of Ricky Gervais' in that, if atheists need to establish a belief system when challenged to disprove God, then Christians should do the same in order to disprove the FSM.
The atheist is offended that someone can create a deity, believe in it then hold disbelievers to account. Nobody in their right mind believes in the FSM because everyone knows he is a man made false idol. So when Christians are asked to disprove him, it illustrates the point perfectly. If, say the Christian God is actually man made, then why does a non-believer need to present an air tight case to justify any disbelief?
So this is the FSM / atheist point in a nutshell: It’s not that atheists are at the end of a scale denying God, agnostics in the middle and with faith believers at the other end… there is no scale. It is a pointless exercise to create something then ask everyone else to disprove it. The FSM creators refuse to be branded thus.
But haven't the atheists dug a bit of a hole for themselves when they created the Flying Spaghetti Monster?
THE CHRISTIAN VIEW OF THE FSM
I'm a Christian, so I believe that Jesus was and is the Son of God. This is a non-politically correct, non-pluralistic stance that basically says that all other religions are false. Just like the atheists, I have no difficulty in believing that all other religions are man made and wrong. To me, Krishna is just as made up as the FSM. I perhaps wouldn't be so quick to push this anti-belief into the faces of Hindus - but ostensibly, I obviously have to take this position if I'm going to go for the mono-theistic Christian route. It's not an easy walk - and you can't have a faith without having doubts - so I wrestle whilst I believe. This is pretty normal. It must be clear to everyone, even the Unitarians, that it is quite plausible if not straightforward fact that these days, people obviously still make up gods to order - and have done so since the dawn of time. The FSM can join the queue.
The human race came to be here completely by accident. The fact that we yearn for meaning is a joke played on us by a impersonal cosmos. There is no meaning. Love is man made. You think you love your children, your girlfriend, your mum - but you actually don't. Who told you love exists? Where is it? Love is a sensation created by some freak chemicals / neurons in your brain that tell you that someone means something to you. Your ancestors were amoeba in a slime pit. The value of love only existed because someone invented it because of some random feeling created ultimately from nothing. Just like the Flying Spaghetti Monster, the things that you hold dear are created for no reason beyond chemical chaos and are therefore absolutely meaningless. Are you bored of honour and honesty? Create some new values then….. if you do, they will be just as fabricated as every other standard the rest of the conditioned human race hold dear.
You think that it's wrong to rape, kill, lie. You find stabbing random children in the street an abhorrent act. But why? These values hold absolutely no meaning if you are a nihilist. There was no right and wrong in the primordial swamp of yesteryear - so why do any of these things matter now?
If this is all true then the atheist's stance must surely be the same as a nihilist.
Let me try to synthesise a dialogue with a protesting atheist - (though I may get some real ones if I post this blog online!) - Perhaps an informed atheist might say, “Yes, these values came from harbouring random emotions which came from rogue mind impulses, but they have now, over time become cerebral developments that make perfect sense to us since their creation.
Just as our legs developed from fins, so did our minds develop to bring about social maxims and desires that enable fulfilment, respect and fairness. It is innate to procreate, it is innate to survive and it’s now innate to believe in and practice care, consideration and love for the world and fellow mankind. Mankind created these previously pointless and non-existent things, but now that they exist, they are real and obviously important to a thriving world. The non-nihilistic atheist will still protect human values.
Incidentally, it's also innate to worship a deity... so, to the atheist, not all natural developments have stood the test of time - I guess that's evolution!
THE CHRISTIAN AGREES
Well I totally agree with the above. In an atheist world, where there is only evolution that brings about our creation and development, you could perhaps see that a creature that is no stranger to physical development (given the obligatory hundred million years) that we might just as easily enhance our mental abilities to form social structures that brings us our honour codes and emotions as we now know them.
But the father of all this meaning is still nothingness. This is a chain reaction, but with no catalyst. It is impossible for the atheist to borrow anything from the camp of intelligent design without transferring their stance to at least an agnostic position.
THE ATHEIST'S LOT
The water percentage that, mixed with carbon and other bits and bobs, forms your body has always existed. The glint in your eye that will one day fade is made from materials that were once a star - which again always existed. These elements never die, they just move on. Your soul however, in the atheist world does of course die. It never even existed. Your personality, your ideas, your loves, your hopes, your destiny and your future all cease when you die. And that comes with the atheist package.
If you felt uncomfortable with this meaningless finality, if you feared death, then why not create something to comfort you? But it would be pointless to believe in Christianity to simply offer comfort if Christianity is ultimately a man made untruth. That's when God truly becomes a crutch. A pile of denial. A hope in a phantom. A waste of life and time.
NO CRUTCH FOR ME
I personally have committed to the Christian faith because of other reasons beyond the "crutch" argument. I believe in God because it is my position that God invented our emotional, spiritual and moral needs for a reason - and that they may be fulfilled in each other and by and through Him. Their very existence is not something that developed from a freak incident based on nothing, but rather that they are intrinsic qualities of humankind throughout all generations because we were made that way.
Nothingness, even and especially from a scientific standpoint, can not create a something. It is a fully substantiated scientific absolute.
Life can not simply start from nothing and, in the same way, I believe that our entire ethos for living, Christian or otherwise - does not come from a construct of evolution stemming from single cell organisms to our current complexity without a master being in control of the design. Love is not a derivation from a survival instinct or a by product of reproduction. It's a complex, heartfelt, combining and everlasting, spiritual truth that exists and burns in all of us.
The next time atheists ask me to prove that God exists I will perhaps point them to this. The world dominating power of love.
An atheist creates the FSM to ridicule a faith position. But, if you're an atheist, then you can spend all day laughing at the weakness of a denial filled theist, but humans have created more than just a Spaghetti Monster.... without God, humans have also seemingly created all the other values that you hold dear. Even after several hundred million years, the FSM will still be a nothing. In the same way, you can enjoy the feelings of love, belonging and happiness if you want - but they can surely owe their roots to amoeba floating around in a volcanic swamp. To the atheist, they are surely as meaningless as the FSM.