Friday, August 02, 2013

Go go Godzilla

I'm confused about atheism. I think not a lot of the people who think they're atheists really are. I think quite a few of them just don't really know anything about it and are incurious. But ask them about it and they often start talking about, basically, pantheism. And none of them have a solution to the causality problem. But now, apparently, they want atheist "chaplains". What for? And what would an atheist chaplain do if an atheist were in some kind of crisis? Affirm his nihilism? Hand him a loaded pistol and a bottle of whisky?

But I have a theory about atheism. I think that atheists (so-called) aren't really people who don't believe in God. I think they're people who don't really believe in the existence of anything, up to and including themselves. My hypothesis is that this is because of a lifetime of television/internet entertainment consumption. By making fictional programmes, movies and whatnot, have the same weight and reality as television news, and by sticking their heads in the tv/computer nearly every waking hour of their lives, I think a great many people have become, effectively, solipsists who don't know what "real" is. Naturally, psychologically, the result is that the only thing they think is real are their wants, their preferences. Of course, the television has told them this all their lives. I think the basic psychological makeup of modern people precludes the notion that anything exists outside their egos. It's not, therefore, that they are atheists. It's that they are their own gods, each living in a tiny bubble universe of their own creation.

I maintain that the assertion of the non-existence of God is a religious assertion, and that atheism, therefore, can only be a kind of religious belief. Moreover, because it is impossible to prove, or even logically demonstrate, it is an essentially irrational one. I've never seen any of the fashionable atheists ever offer any kind of evidence for their claims, either empirical or philosophical. And as I said, none of them has ever offered any explanation for the problem of causality.

Why are there things? Why did anything ever happen? I've always laughed at that meme about their theory: "In the beginning there was nothing, and nothing happened to the nothing and then the nothing magically exploded, for no reason, creating everything, and then a bunch of everything magically rearranged itself for no reason into self-replicating bits, which turned into dinosaurs. The end." They won't talk about it, because they're militant materialists. They are incapable of conceptualising anything outside the strictly material, so when we ask "Where did the material come from?" they simply don't understand the parameters of the question.

They won't even really go and talk about the historical or anthropological implications. At the very least, the claims made about the Christian God, and about Christ, are unique in the history of the world's religions. Christianity stands out for that, merely sociologically, if nothing else. And the impact on human societies of Christianity's claims about the nature of God and man is unprecedented in history. Nothing else, except maybe the influence of Babylonian/Egyptian mathematics and astronomy, has ever come close. Even the later Greek philosophers would have been forgotten if it hadn't been for Christianity absorbing and rescuing them from the fall of Rome.

I think the challenge one always has to make is, refute Aquinas. Explain causality if there is no Unmoved Mover. If you can't do that, then you can't call yourself a thinking, considered atheist. Thomas is the big one, the theological and philosophical Godzilla to take down. The rest are mere Ghidra or Mothra in comparison.

I always think the same thing whenever I hear Dawkins or any of his ilk talking about it. From the way they blather, it's clear that not one of them has the faintest notion what they are up against. They're so totally ignorant of the extent of their ignorance, that I often like to imagine a sixth-grader fifty years ago, armed only with the Baltimore Catechism, would leave them face down in the mud.

Unfortunately, in our times, the Christians are as big a pack of idiots. I was deeply embarrassed once to listen to Rowan Williams blithering mindlessly about "feeeeeeeeelings" to some New Atheist on a TV debate. It's no wonder they think all Christians are morons.

Here's a video of Gojira, kicking Tokyo's butt.

Watch it and picture what Aquinas would have done to Dawkins or Stephen Fry.



Gerald said...

"Atheism: the religion devoted to the worship of one's own smug sense of superiority." Stephen Colbert

Anonymous said...

I was thinking about this today. I think you're over-thinking it. Many people are "atheistic" because it fits in with daily life. They are atheists out of habit.

When I was unemployed I became more faithful because I was able to build my routine around prayer and going to daily mass. Once I began working again this became much more difficult. Part of it is just that long working day without any spiritual drink. Like crossing a daily desert. Yes, I take time to pray at lunch.

But what if there was a chapel in my office building. What if we stopped work and gathered in the chapel for Mass. That would be affirming.

What we get in our daily lives is almost the opposite. Whether it's work or school or while watching TV.

If religion is not expressly prohibited, it is certainly not encouraged. And the overall message is that it just can't be very important.

But actually when people submit to God's will they are better employees and students and citizens.

Is it any wonder the mess that society is in?

The sad thing is that the Church has embraced this notion of a "pluralistic" society.

Teresa B. said...

I know someone who calls themselves a "Catholic Atheist!"
He figures that he was baptized Catholic and because of that he can still get a ticket to heaven even if he doesn't believe in God! ?????

John said...

I confirm what Teresa B. says. Such people are certainly bizarre, but they exist and there seem to be a fair number of them out there. I play for a good many funerals and I hear them speak. So far as I can tell, they do indeed seem to believe in heaven but not in God.

Another example of the absence of logic in the modern world that Hilary has written of so often.



Anonymous said...

Why aren't there sixth graders like that today? Feminism. If not for feminism, women in your position would have been oppressed into teaching the young instead of being free to pursue your own lives. It's quite a heavy thought, as the hippies would say. - Karen

Gaius said...

I think you're certainly right that most atheism (1) ought to be conceived as a religious position, and (2) isn't necessarily very well thought out.

I also think you're right to point to the big gap between the premise (the non-existence of God) and the conclusions that are supposed to flow from it.

I mean, it truly is a yawning gap.

I think Vladimir Solovyov's sarcastic quote sums it up perfectly: "We are descended from apes, therefore we must love each other."

So basically I agree with you. I also tend to be very fixated on the premises and grounding for beliefs, and it's very hard for me to avoid the conclusion that an extreme form of atheism necessarily leads to a really hardcore nihilism, even though I know that most intelligent atheists would disagree with this.

But I think a lot of people, most people, really, don't think about things in a systematic way, or don't really care about the premises of their beliefs, and so on. I would include a lot of Christians in here, along with members of every religion and no religion. Maybe this is the product of media or busyness, but I'm inclined to think it is more of a feature of people in general. I'm not sure.

As I say, I personally tend to be fixated on the logic of religious belief, and sometimes I get really frustrated with people who think about these things in a sloppy way, but I also worry that this tends towards elitism. "I'm a deep thinker, you morons haven't even thought this stuff through, or else you'd agree with me."

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

I certainly have a tendency to assume that anyone who disagrees with me does so because he's not very bright. But I have been innoculated from the hubris of that assumption by having two close, lifelong friends who are both atheists and intelligent, and decent, kindly and honorable people. Every time I think, "huh, atheists = stupid/bad" I am reminded, "Tony and Vicky".

Zach said...

A lot of people call themselves "atheists" when they really just have daddy issues with the Father.