Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Atheistic Ruminations

I think atheism is a physiological belief or condition first and foremost. Having reflected on my own experience I suspect that individuals who deny that God exists or deny that there is sufficient reason for theism are individuals who basically once had a bad day or a bad life.

Psychological pain is real, and grief is one sort of such pain. Serious physical pain in general often evokes some response or action to dull the pain: this response can come in the form of screaming, weeping, or one’s writhing on the floor in agony. Denials of God--denials that he exists or other similar denials--are acts of intellectual writhing in pain, if not frustration. You’re going through a rough time in your life, or you stop to consider other people who are going through a very rough time in their lives and you sympathize with them; these things are tough to deal with, and you take the easy way out: you numb the pain in denial (and defiance) of the divine.

These denials are easy to maintain and nurture, because man is meanwhile a creature of the senses, a creature of whom it is true: “out of sight, out of mind.” There is a reason that Israel shaped the golden calf when Moses was on Mt. Horeb, the people having just seen the wonders of God in Egypt before and during the Exodus: they could not nor would not deal with entities either unseen or not immediately manifest. There is a reason that self-professed Christians will sometimes act defiantly toward God's law: they don't see God or one of his messengers standing there watching them.

A hedonistic or quasi-hedonistic philosophy is built around the denial and around man’s sensory fixation. It will be asserted that it is impossible that the god of the Bible exists because it is impossible or incoherent that there should be a person who is “all-loving,” who is “all-powerful,” and who also allows pain and suffering. Is it a fair assertion? Frankly, some rejoinders to this assertion are not cogent, though ultimately and demonstrably it is a matter of course that the assertion is not fair. Yet this is what is asserted in opposition to theism; the entire matter can be summed up in the existence of pain or discomfort, with attendant issues of atheism being no less important.


Post-script: I believe whole-heartedly in intellectual honesty, and this is why personally I agree with atheists in some instances. Accordingly, I do not subscribe to easy “free will” counterarguments to theodical arguments for atheism. For instance, you might have the following exchange:

Atheist: The idea of one’s allowing pain and suffering is not logically incompatible with the ideas that this person is all-loving and all-powerful.

Theist: Not so, because this allowance of pain and suffering itself allows for the existence of human free will, which itself is a gift of a loving god.

Atheist: Wrong. Since God is also all-powerful, he just does have the power to have human free will exist and also prevent all pain and suffering.

Theist: You misunderstand the term “all-powerful.” God is all-powerful in the sense that he can do all that is consistent with his nature.

Atheist: Then what is his nature then? What is really his nature when he can prevent pain and suffering of abused children and battered wives but allows it anyway? Is his nature truly good then? By analogy, what about you? If you can prevent such pain and suffering but refuse to do so, is your nature good?

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