Date: June 13, 2013 03:36PM
To kick things off, I offer below for your thoughtful consideration and engagement a "perspective" piece I just wrote that isolates what I consider to be the primary justification for the use of the "strong version" of (a priori) Atheism I advocate and employ in my book, as set forth in the FP and Chs. 1 and 2.
Here it is, inclusive of notes:
(Title) "On the 'Wondrous Spiritual Blessings' of ‘True’ Religious Belief."
As a testament of their faith in ‘God’, as well as justification for it (and for sharing it with others), “True” believers in ‘God’ (in this case TBMs) claim to enjoy an array of “wondrous, spiritual blessings”. These “wondrous spiritual blessings” allegedly include a profound feeling “spiritual confirmation” of the ‘Truthfulness’ of the ‘Gospel’ and of their ‘God’s’ existence, as well as perhaps the felt experience of personal transformation, or “spiritual re-birth”. Relatedly, or alternatively, such “blessings” also allegedly include a felt sense of supernal happiness, joy, love, purpose, meaning, belonging, security, hope and peace – particularly when they are in worshipful communion with their ‘God’, or ponder in wonder and awe the glorious Truths of his “Gospel”.
But what is such “faith” that accounts for the receipt and enjoyment of such “wondrous spiritual blessings”? And what exactly is the object of such “faith”?
Herein lays the problem.
If the object of such faith is conceived of as an eternal, exalted supernatural being (more specifically, the “Heavenly Father” or “Savior”) in the shape of a man who is sufficiently knowledgeable and powerful to ensure the salvation, deliverance and eternal life of man, then such “faith in ‘God’” would merely be:
“…the [desired, yearned for blessings] hoped for, and the [imagined, contrived] evidence of [‘God’s presence and workings] not seen [, or not even possibly confirmable, disconfirmable or falsifiable as conceived and believed]” (Hebrews 11:1, bracketed interpolations mine)*
This characterization of “faith” brings us, or so it seems, to the conclusion that believers have said nothing of any substance or import at all when they speak of the alleged personal benefits of their belief and faith in gods. For if their felt and believed “wondrous spiritual blessings” from ‘God’ are gone when the truth about the nature and source of such “blessings” is known**, then there never were any such “wondrous spiritual blessings” from ‘God’ to begin with.***
Instead, such alleged “blessings” from ‘God’ would be – beyond the natural human emotions or other sensations experienced through interaction and sensory contact with others and the physical world – indicative of something else entirely.
But what could that “something else” be?
In its weak form, such believed “blessings” of belief would most likely be indicative of re-experiencing the affects of our “basic biological situation” as human beings, and of the regressive bonding and magical, wishful thinking related to it.
And in its strong form as ‘unshakable’ conviction and certainty of ‘God’s’ existence or ‘Truth’ based on personal
“revelations”, “visions”, “dreams” and celestial “visitations”, such believed “blessings” of belief would most likely be indicative of a regressed, self-deceived and, at times, if not entirely, dissociated and delusional state of mind.
In any case, such alleged affects, experiences or states of mind would not be indicative of “spiritual blessings” from ‘God’, whatever such could actually mean, if anything. This is particularly so if it is determined that the “revealed” or conceived nature of such ‘God’ is false and/or incoherent, making such ‘God’ a factual non-reality as ‘revealed,” conceived and believed.
Nor are such alleged affects or experiences necessarily indicative of salutary psychological benefits or mental health. Indeed, even experienced “happiness, joy, love, purpose, meaning, guidance, belonging, security, hope and peace”, etc. can be detrimental to well-being if they are manifestations of a regressed (infantilized), dissociated and/or delusional mental state built on an imagined relationship or distorted reality. This would be particularly so if such imagined relationship or reality is the effect of authoritarian indoctrination, and the conditional love and acceptance from god, family and community that typically (and/or “doctrinally”) attend it.
* Those who would argue that their “faith” is not as alternatively characterized must, to be credible as “witnesses for ‘God’ (or ‘Christ’), intelligibly and coherently specify – along with truth-conditions that can, in principle, be confirmed or disconfirmed as being true (or probably true) or false (or probably) false – what the “substance” and “things” hoped for are exactly, what it is exactly that they have “faith” in, and why, given the believed ‘eternal’ stakes involved, such faith (and related ‘faith-testing’) would even be necessary. (Chs. 1, 3 and 6)
**The truth about the nature of such “spiritual blessings” is known through the vast, confirmed findings of the psycho-social sciences. And the truth about the non-existent source of such “blessings” (i.e. the believer’s ‘God’) is known, beyond I think a reasonable doubt, through its determined lack of: (1) any coherent and factually intelligible attributes; (2) its utter lack of possibly confirmable or disconfirmable truth-conditions as a claimed existent; and (3) the irresolvable contradictions of its existence in relation to the empirical facts on the ground, i.e. the existence of (a) gratuitous evil and suffering, (b) the requirement of faith and faith-testing, (c) the existence of non-belief and wrong belief, (d) the multiplicity of conflicting beliefs, (e) the problem of unanswered prayer and the impossibility of definitively proven or isolated and exact ‘prayer-outcome’ correspondence, (f) the fact of vague, contradictory or conflicting revelation, and the existence of amended revelation. (Chs. 7 and 8)
*** This conclusion was inspired by the following exchange between the fictional Dr. Gregory House and his patient in Episode 408 of the TV series “House MD”:
The magician/patient (MP) dazzles House (H) with a trick he can't explain. House wants to know how he did it but the patient refuses.
(MP) "Oh, if I explain it becomes mundane, and you lose the actual magic.
(H) "What do you mean the actual magic? Think you're actually sawing woman in
half? ...Magic is cool. Actual magic is oxymoronic. Might not even be oxy...."
(MP) "The fun is in not knowing."
(H) "The fun is in knowing...." (House demonstrates a little magic while saying this and then later demonstrates his own abilities, saying "You eat a lot of beets, you have an electric toothbrush, and you sleep less than six hours a night."
(MP) "That's impressive."
(H) "The red betamine from the beets stains the plaque deposits on your teeth, which are then swirled by your spinning toothbrush. Your heavy lids and your prematurely aging skin tell me that you're carrying a major sleep debt."
(MP) "That was way cooler before you explained it."
(H) "It was meaningless until I explained it."
(MP) "People come to my show because they want a sense of wonder. They want to experience something that they can't explain."
(H) "If the wonder's gone when the truth is known, there never was any wonder. You have tularemia from your rabbits. I've put you on antibiotics, you'll be better in a couple of days. Sorry to spoil the mystery.”
Comments? Thoughts? Reactions? Questions?