Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Lack of an Answer

One of the most commonly and openly committed logical fallacies that Christian apologists love to engage in is the use of mystery or the unexplained to propose that God is the best or only explanation that makes any sense. Often times they will steep a subject in it's own complexity and play up the intricate inter-workings or causes and effects that would have had to all come together to make this thing happen... so there must be some form of God, some agency, some purpose to it all.

This tendency to read agency into things is one of the foundations of superstition and therefore serves as a psychological crux propping up all of religion. The mysteries that apologists often exploit are those that human beings most desperately want answered. Where did we come from? What is the origin of the Universe? What is the meaning of our lives? Are we just here or do we have a higher purpose? And, if it is all by natural processes, how can that be so?

That last bit of question begging, asking HOW all this could happen by natural processes, is often the most plaintive of the questions, pulling at the hearts of everyone. Everyone wants to believe they were special and no one seems willing to accept the idea that natural processes can be responsible for everything.

Yet enduring mysteries, even ones that seem insoluble and without resolution, are not a call to invent something spooky or, even worse, to cower beneath the shadow of something spooky that ancient people invented thousands and thousands of years ago. It is utterly human to want to fill in those mysteries and even to invoke agency to do so but it is also ignorant and it is even more ignorant to merely choose whatever supernatural agent happens to have been handed to us by our parents or the society around us.

The fact that children most typically have the religion of their parents and that religious denominations are cut almost as hard as political and geographical borders is a telling one indeed. It says that many people share the psychological need or desire for a creator or some sort of superstition but it also shows how misguided they are to put their faith in the cults of the past.

And this brings in another fallacy, the idea that these ancient schools of superstition (Christianity, Judaism, Islam, etc) are somehow MORE likely to be true because they endured thousands of years. Of course they've changed and evolved a great deal in that time and the beliefs of believers are not only vastly different today than they were five hundred or even a hundred years ago but there are so many varieties of belief even within those religions. Sects diverging like a thousand splinters from a bolt of lightning all with varying beliefs but all with the certainty that they understand the answer to the mystery better than the others.

We all understand, at least those of us outside the cult do, that something like Scientology is a load of shit, absolutely devoid of facts at its very core - an exploitative cult with bizarre ideas about ancient galactic empires and brainwashed alien spirits. But in the same breath people will praise the unseen hand of the Jewish God - a warlike plague-bringer who, sometime in the early 1st century, dispatched a constituent part of himself into the womb of a teenage virgin so that this incarnated divine child could set up a new more merciful covenant with humanity and then, through a blood-magic ritual of atonement where he dies and returns to life, save at least some of us from the wrath we all deserved because two ancient people in a garden somewhere took bad dietary advice from a talking snake. For some reason we can all tell Scientology is bullshit but as a society we give something as old and big as Christianity a free pass to be as full of magical mumbo-jumbo as is possibly imaginable.

Feel free to use this quote:

So when someone appeals to mystery in a talk about apologetics, when they appeal to the vastness of the Cosmos, when they start talking about the "improbability" of it all coming together just so and then they run and hide beneath some Middle Eastern deity who murders children, supports slavery and brings down horrid plagues on the heads of any who displease him their reasoning is flawed. They have forgotten the very mystery they were just praising and instead invested in some horseshit humanity made up to fill in the gaps. This is why it's called a God of the Gaps argument.

This came up earlier this year when I was discussing internet celebrity Joshua Feuerstein and his absurd 100,000 dollar challenge to disprove God, the good pastor Josh makes a great appeal to mystery where he draws a circle and then puts a dot at the center. Our knowledge of the Universe is the dot and the circle, more or less, is the rest of what's OUT THERE, all of the UNKNOWN Cosmic goings on. The problem is that Josh's answer to this isn't to be inclusive. He's not asking people to become New Age gurus who accept and cannibalize different parts of all religions to build one big UBER religion, he wants you to abandon the idea of the mystery of the Cosmos immediately after you've agreed to it and agree to his bullshit theology. He only wants you to acknowledge that HIS God and only his God might be out there and, because you can't disprove it, that you're a moron for disbelieving as strongly as you do.

The problem isn't that Josh's God is impossible or is definitely not out there, it's that Josh's God is no more likely to be out there than any of the other shit human beings have believed in since the dawn of superstition. Josh isn't actually open to the vastly weird Cosmic intelligences, gods or not, that might be out there. He isn't interested in talking about Bleebblarp from the Irulian Galaxy Cluster who is an almost omnipotent psychic being that can bend time and space however he sees fit. Josh doesn't want to find out and isn't open to finding out that a group of super-intelligent interdimensional bunny rabbits were contracted by an even smarter more intelligent being called Marvin the Space Penguin to build our Universe.

Apologists making these arguments aren't open to the mystery actually being answered, they want to shove their already existing beliefs into the gap they've just opened. This is part of the proof that apologetics is just verbal masturbation, or a verbal circle-jerk. Christians making other Christians feel reassured that they aren't wrong by fallaciously appealing to mystery or complexity and making sure their God sorta kinda could maybe work as an explanation if you squint real hard, clap your hands and say "I do believe in fairies".

Part of being open-minded is admitting that you could be wrong. I openly do this, I openly admit Gods could be out there. All kinds of weird shit could be out there and I want to know if it is but faith, superstition, they're a hindrance not a help, they're far more likely to close a mind than open it. The lack of an answer is not proof that your answer is the only one and sticking an even bigger mystery into an existing one does not help.

Author's Note:

Okay so this was a very off the cuff and spontaneous post but Hubpages (where I do most of my writing) has redesigned their site to look like shit, removed feedback features that are fundamental to the site and has basically shit the bed 100%. Chances are you (who am I addressing this to? No one reads this shit) will be seeing more posts here and over on my Bible study blog: fuckthebible,

No comments:

Post a Comment