Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Thoughts on God

Udolpho has some interesting thoughts on the famous, if spurious, quote:

When a man stops believing in God, he doesn't believe in nothing, he believes in anything.

He essentially states why believing in God should not be considered more bizarre than any other belief. Perhaps. I'm not certain that there is any objective yardstick to measure bizarreness.

But I think he misses the point when he states:

Looking at that quote, is one really to believe that the source of superstition and absurd beliefs is…atheism? This seems rather unlikely; it is much more probable that being trained since birth to accept practically everything a man in a loose bathrobe tells you is what really softens the mind to future spiritual flakiness.

I don't think that anyone is saying that atheism is the source of superstition. Rather, what is being said is that supernaturalistic belief systems are largely hardwired into the human race as a whole and that attempting to get rid of the most prominent ones will simply cause the vast majority of people to fall into others. I would doubt that even most self-proclaimed atheists are rationalistic materialists of the Carl Sagan model. Getting everyone to become a rationalistic materialist is a pipe dream, and sometimes it's better the god you know than the one you don't.

In any case, I find the materialistic world view to be amusing, because the obvious endpoint of such a view is that we don't exist (which is what Dr. Blackmore is arguing, whether or not she admits it). By "we don't exist" I mean that persons do not exist, and that what I consider to be me and what you consider to be you are no more real than any character from a TV show. We are simply collections of behaviors and reactions; no more persons than a computer, we simply process and store data.

That we exist would appear to me to be somewhat axiomatic; it seems to me that the Blakemores of the world ultimately deny human consciousness (which she is doing, however many rhetorical devices she uses to pretend she isn't) because they cannot understand it materialistically, and they cannot abide the idea that there is anything beyond their comprehension.

Nonetheless, it seems to me that without some level of belief in something outside of the material world, and without some level of belief in an immaterial soul (not necessarily one that either pre-exists or outlasts the body), there is no real basis for believing that persons and consciousnesses exist.

That is all.

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