Tuesday, April 12, 2016

To Believe or Not To Believe, That is the Question

Christians often insist that those who chose not to believe something are still choosing to believe in something.  In response to such assertions, Atheists point out that not believing in the tooth fairy is not the same as believing in the tooth fairy.  In truth, the claim by Christians is not as black and white as Christians so often reduce the world to be, nor is it always as simple as the Atheist's reply.

First - If an Atheist chooses not to believe in God, witches, the idea that human beings are "fallen" and "sinful" from birth, that homosexuals are a threat to sexual sanctity and family values everywhere, or that white people constitute a master race because Noah cursed Ham rather than take responsibility for his (Noah's) own drunken nakedness,  it is because the Atheist understands that humanity is not in anyway "improved" by such beliefs; most of which are so obviously rooted in nothing but fear anyway.

Second - The Christian insists, on the other hand, that only by seeing humanity as the miserable sinners the Bible describes us all to be, apriori, can we hope to be saved through the "grace" of a God who first choose to drown almost everyone on the planet, and then later had the Homer Simpson "D'OH!" - "I could'a had a V8" - insight to forgive us all for eating forbidden fruit by masterfully orchestrating the murder of his own son.

That Christians insist such an idea is a philosophically superior starting point for understanding and "saving" humanity from itself (despite how ineffective such an idea has clearly been in doing so up until now) is one of the greatest "mysteries of faith" ever, especially since it is one that has only been around for about two thousand years for the Christian, and a few thousand years or more before that for the Hebrews. This is true, even though humanity has been around for roughly 200,000 years, give or take, and seemed to be evolving along just fine without any such belief. Like the vast majority of religions that preceded Christianity, even Native American tribes thought that adopting such a "belief" seemed not only counterproductive, but rather ridicules.  Indeed, such a belief seemed only to serve the interests of all those who wanted people to believe it.

Yet such an idea asks us, or some instances even requires us, to accept that we are broken and can only be fixed by a particular brand of religious ideology, while all those who see such snake oil spiritualism as simply another cult, wonder how the rest of humanity could have gotten as far as it did without ever having to resort to such a self deprecating belief to begin with.  It also leaves us to wonder if Neanderthals and all the other such early humanoids who lived prior to the advent of our more contemporary religious "beliefs," had "souls" or where simply a kind of human prototype that God was experimenting with before he created the superior being he called "humans," that frustrated him so much with their disobedience that he eventually decide to kill us all.

Third - The Atheist does assert a "belief" when they reject a belief in God, but the "belief" the Atheist is asserting is not that there is no God (as Christians often mistakenly argue), for not believing in something is simply not the same as believing in something, even though the father of modern psychology, William James, brother of writer Henry James, argued that the two ideas were virtually indistinguishable to our minds nevertheless.

What James may well have overlooked, however, is that it is not necessarily the denial of a belief that he observes to be no different from the acceptance of a belief, but that the denial of one belief - in say God, for example - may be accompanied by another belief that often, but not always, takes the place of , say, a belief in God. Those who explain the existence of the universe through the organic process of the Big Bang, for example, may simultaneously "believe" what science suggests, even as they reject the idea that God was the Big Banger who started it all - with a bang!

The error of the Christian, however, is to assume that some other belief must always fill the void left by the absence of a belief in God! Yet this is clearly not the case. For a person can reject both the idea of God and the idea of a Godless "Big Bang," and hold only to their idea that they do not honestly know - or even care - where it all came from, how, or why.  That such a person may still "believe" that people derive no benefit from "believing" in a Bible, or that everyone including homosexuals are "sinners" apriori, may still be a "belief," as the Christians love to assert, but the onus is still on the Christian to explain how, or even why, it is ever better for humanity to believe such nonsense in the first place; especially when such beliefs have clearly come to humanity so late in the game of our evolutionary development. And if Malthus was right about the dangers of overpopulation, then perhaps what humanity needs right now is not less homosexuality, but more. 



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