Monday, March 06, 2006

For all the wrong reasons

The onus of substantiation is upon the theists. Supernaturalism may remain a logical possibility, but only empirical evidence for it can evince its reality since it is said to be a phenomenon external to and independent of humans and exists out there somewhere somehow. But how can theists provide evidence when the supernatural is said to be outside the realm of the natural? Because of its dualism supernaturalism creates that unbridgeable chasm. How can something natural--and that is the only thing that we can observe, perceive, measure, etc. else we would be supernatural in some sense--be evidence for the supernatural? And if the evidence is supernatural how can a natural creature observe, perceive, detect, measure, test, ... it? This seems to be the cosmic catch-22 for believers. If so then indeed they have a pantheon of claims but nothing to show for it and nothing to bank on except faith--belief that's disproportionate to the evidence at hand, and in this case infinitely disproportionate.

So the question I'd like to ask is, Why then believe?

Because it is a possibility? Then why not believe in the thousand other deities as well? And why, if contradictory religious beliefs arise, believe in one rather than the other? While at it why not believe in flying, fire-breathing dragons; pigs with claws of an alligator, wings of an albatross, and brains ten times as complexified as that of humans; aliens who telekinetically make men and women horny, and anything that imagination can produce which may strike us as fantastical but does not contravene logic?

Because it's comforting to do so? Because it bestows meaning and significance to our short fragile existence? It's also reassuring and assuaging to believe that Santa will throw into his bag a 50Ghz 500Gb laptop, a winning lottery ticket, and a time machine for me, as well as a cure for diabetes, hypertension, and arthritis for my mom. It's also meaning-giving to believe that we will all lead fulfilled lives, that famine, poverty, oppression will end, and that in the afterlife everyone--regardless of what s/he had done or been in this life--will quickly evolve intellectually, ethically, socially toward the ideals that we here have only dreamed of. So why believe in your delusion rather than in mine? Does it boil down to whose imagined paradise is better? (Or perhaps whose imagined doom and gloom is worse?)

Because something must've created the universe? Why should that cause be supernatural when all the causes we know reliably are naturalistic. And even if we take for granted that nature had to be caused by something "greater" than it, then the next question would be,What caused the supernatural? The God of Gaps argument is teethless. Not least because thus far the only jowl and howl there is are human. No, nonbelievers and scientists still don't know what caused the Big Bang. But neither do believers. To leap two steps and claim, "Therefore I believe in an anthropomorphic supernatural Creator" is to found one's reasoning on the crap called argumentum ad ignorantiam. The fact that science still doesn't know the cause doesn't mean that believers do. If they did then they'd have evidence for it. Yet the best they've done is to read us a bedtime story of their creation. It's hard to imagine what kind of serious evidence they can muster to support their silly narratives. What we do know is that naturalistic causes are all around us and that there has to date been no known supernaturalistic phenomenon. Not one. I'm not a gambling man and I don't even know the rules of poker but I'm not insane enough to have faith and drop on my knees and pray that I'll be dealt a 14 of hearts.

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