Saturday, November 22, 2008

There still probably isn't a God

There's an interesting take on the atheist bus campaign in a turkish editorial:

He wonders how buses with "There probably isn't a God. So stop worrying and enjoy life" on them would fare in Turkey. And even though he's a theist, he wouldn't have a problem with it because he believes in free speech. Awesome! I wish more Americans had that sort of attitude - one of the Imagine No Religion billboards just got pulled because of complaints. Land of the Free, indeed.

But then here comes atheist misconception #1:
by the way, atheism is a belief, not disbelief, as it is sometimes called mistakenly. A true disbeliever would be an agnostic, not an atheist.
Wrong, big time. Considering all gods to be imaginary is no more a belief system than considering ghosts or leprechauns or djinn to be imaginary.
Yet what interested me in all this was not just whether Turkish society has matured enough to allow such unorthodox views whether they be on God, Atatürk, or "Turkishness." We all know that the answer is not positive.
Yikes. What happened to that open society you were talking about earlier?
What interested me rather was the message given by the Dawkinsian atheists. From the premise that "there is probably no God," they were concluding, "now stop worrying and enjoy life." But why would the existence of God, rather than His nonexistence, be something that we should be worried about?
That's an excellent question. Allow me to illustrate:

In the Bible, hell is clearly described as a fiery, eternal torment for much of mankind, where "the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched" and there is a "weeping and gnashing of teeth".

Let's just say that there is a very good reason why the term "God-fearing" exists.

Now, I might be mistaken on this, but I'm pretty sure that believing these kinds of things doesn't exactly make for the ideal society. Especially if you sincerely think this sort of thing will happen to a family member or close friend for the unpardonable sin of not believing the right things.

So yes, I think it is fairly certain that people "worry" over God - both in the sense of divine fear (both the threat of hell and the more comical notion that God is some eternal policeman watching us commit trivial sins with stern disapproval) and the sense that whether or not God exists is something people puzzle over for much of their lives.
Belief in God is an obstacle to enjoying life.
Bingo! Yes, that's how it is seen.
Or, to put it differently, life is more fun when you don’t think that there is a God who gave it to you.
That one...not so much. That's one heck of a loaded statement, too. A more accurate depiction of a belief that a lot of atheists share is that life is more precious and important knowing that we have but one life to live and that not planning our lives according the wills of imagined Gods frees us up to determine what we want to get out of life and pursue it with all our strength.
Yet today most of us live in open, free societies. We are, thank God, no longer forced to be theists or atheists.
Amen to that.
Rather than being the traumatized victims of a neurosis, research has shown that religious people are actually, on average, mentally and physically healthier than secular people.
I rather doubt that. Here in the South portion of the United States, there is no shortage of crazy religious folks. I find it very hard to believe that, in the absence of religion, they'd have the same vocation with a secular cause instead.
...even some secular scientists have concluded that our brains are "hardwired for God." Why is that?
Wait, stop there. When scientists talk about the brain being "hardwired" for God, it's not usually in the sense that there's an "innate, physical conduit between human beings and God". We're talking about stuff like this:
Anthropologists like Atran say, "Religion is a byproduct of many different evolutionary functions that organized our brains for day-to-day activity."
We're talking about the same cognitive traits that evolved to help us survive may also lead us to superstitious thinking - we commonly anthropomorphize non-human things, attribute intelligence and will to inanimate things (my computer doesn't want to print!), see faces in the clouds, and easily develop causal superstitions (my favorite is post hoc ergo propter hoc).
One thing that might strengthen the atheist argument to "stop worrying" is that religious belief brings not just good news but also sobering responsibility. But then again, we have to ask whether man is happier when he feels free from responsibility or when he takes on responsibilities that he willingly fulfills.
What? Who said atheism meant shirking one's duties? If anything, the duties are increased, because one must now pursue knowledge and meaning on your own and act in a just manner while at the same time shouldering no small amount of bigotry from one's neighbors. It can be very tiresome indeed.
If I were an atheist, I would rather sit down, reflect about the meaninglessness and the inevitable tragic end of all my existence, and descend pessimistically into nihilism.
Jeez, atheist misconception #2! And boy is it a doozy! Come on Mustafa, you know better than that! There's a really good post about it over on Richard Dawkins'...oh wait, nevermind. Try here and here then.
I am rather happy because I am convinced that life has a meaning and death is not the end and that there is a God.
Cool. I'm rather happy too, and I don't believe in either a God or an afterlife.

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