07 September 2008

Objective vs. Subjective Reality (step 1.)

1. We admitted belief without evidence was powerless - that our faith had become untenable.

In addressing the first of the twelve steps, I will be addressing two sensitive words often considered to be off- limits in polite company, “belief” and “faith.” Let’s cram those worms back into their can.

“You have no right to question my beliefs” some may protest. To that I respond: “If your beliefs mandate teaching myths in science class, obstruction of scientific and medical research, denying complete sex education to American schoolchildren and uneducated third world citizens, invasions into the privacy of the bedroom, vilifying those who believe differently, pillage of the planet’s natural resources (since the world is ending soon, anyway,) or any number of other policies that hurt society as a whole, then I have a responsibility to challenge your beliefs. If these beliefs cannot hold their own (which they can’t) in the marketplace of ideas, they must be discarded.”

So, here we go.

I believe that when I throw a ball into the air, it will come back down. Almost everyone on the planet, regardless of which deity they believe in, if any, believes the same thing. (I have not encountered anyone who does not “believe” in gravity, but they probably exist.) I believe this because %99.9 of the time I throw a ball in the air, it comes down. (The other %.01 the ball gets stuck on a high shelf, ceiling fan, or some such.) There is clear observational evidence, and the experiment has been performed millions of times with the same results. This is objective reality.

Many believe that they can feel the existence of their preferred deity “in their heart.” Dismissing the fact that the heart is merely a blood pumping muscle and that any such “feeling” comes from the brain, that is strictly a subjective claim. Some claim to feel “Yahweh” in their heart while others claim “Allah” and others feel nothing of the sort. This is an argument from personal experience that is entirely unverifiable by anyone else, or subjective reality.

This kind of personal experience, and circular reasoning,
i.e. “we know this sacred text is true because it says its true,” are common arguments for the validity of faith, however, neither can be counted as evidence.

“But, I simply have faith that this is true,” some will argue. I agree with Mark Twain, who wrote “faith is believing something you know ‘aint true.”

The only honest theistic position is to acknowledge that there is no good evidence, but that one simply believes, via faith, with no good reason. If this is good enough for you, then you probably won’t be convinced otherwise. After all, you can’t reason someone out of a position they didn’t reason themselves into in the first place.

If you are not OK with believing outlandish things for no good reason, come back next week and we’ll discuss rational inquiry.

Think well,



Anonymous said...

Good stuff

Unknown said...

Thanks for the post. I believe in God simply because of two things. Love and beauty.

The evidence of God is his creation. No? If we believe there is a God then we believe that he created us and the world around us. You could say we are evidence of evolution or creation. We have to be evidence of something because we see that we are here.

I never understand what the big deal about believe in God is. Maybe you can explain it.

Lee Vegas said...

Thanks for reading, Page.

Our existence is not evidence that we were created, only that we exist.

Belief in gods usually is no big deal, aside from what was addressed in the 3rd paragraph. Although moderate believers tend to apologetic, or at least silent, towards the more extreme versions of their selected theological worldview.


Anonymous said...

query..Is faith only proven by a sacred text? In the cosmological since how would your view account for the existence of the universe?