Wishing on one hand and pretending you’re not wishing on the other


The atheist ethic of liberation:

If there is a God, I must do what God wants. If there is not a God, I can do what I want. There is no God and no accountability. I am free.

The religious ethic of liberation:

If there is a God, he can show us how to live in the best way possible. There is a God, and he sets us free from death and liberates us to do good. I am free.

If one is wishful thinking, it is just as logical to assess the other as wishful thinking. The fact that we wish something to be true certainly does not make it true, but the fact that we wish something to be true does not make it false for that reason. Desire does not negate the reality. The emergence of Atheism certainly came from a desire to change things by imagining there are no limits. But, how do we know that a desire to live without limits isn’t wishful thinking?

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18 thoughts on “Wishing on one hand and pretending you’re not wishing on the other

  1. I see you still have this “I can do whatever I want if I’m an atheist” canard bit stuck firmly in your teeth. All it takes is a bit of atheist dental tape to remove this straw man, but – of course and as always – the freedom to choose to do so is fully yours.

    1. Just because there are no limits does not mean that you take every option that is available to you. You choose you’re own limits. You imagine that you are free when you reject God. That is the atheist ethic of liberation.

      1. There are all kinds of limits we face – biological, social, secular, and so on. Just like you, I exercise my choices within a framework of the environment in which I find myself. The difference is that you make up a framework you call ‘god’ and pretend it means something in fact – along with many other people who share your belief – and then cause effect in my life.

        Yes, I am free from your delusion, your faith-based belief in some oogity boogity agency, so in this sense and this sense alone I am ‘free’ of not sharing your belief, but I am still subject to a whole host of ramifications enabled by people acting on a belief similar to yours – in law, medicine, education, public policies, governance, the armed forces, even broadcasted prayers to this oogity boogity at graduation ceremonies, and so on. This mass delusion forces itself into my life so, contrary to your assertion that as an atheist I am free to ‘choose my own limits’ in regards to your imagined god, I hope you can see that in fact I am not ‘free’ from it at all even though I reasonably and rationally reject it tenets. The ‘liberation’ of which you speak will not be mine unless and until faithists everywhere stop promoting and projecting and evangelizing their beliefs in the public domain where it has no right or reason to be except by the bullying tactics of those who mistake that infringement on me for pious righteousness and religious privilege.

      2. You may as well just move to the mountains or something. People are never going to change enough to suit you. The majority of people throughout history were religious and the majority of people in the future will be religious. I don’t see how you’re in a winning situation. Why take a position that requires you to think of 84% of the world’s population as delusional or some type of insane? Do you want to see people that way? You don’t have to, ya know.

      3. On this point I can say with reasonable optimism – thanks in large part to the efforts of gnu atheists – that there is a seismic change in the beliefs of our youth. With such widespread access to information through the internet, there is a measurable increase in the number of teens and 20-somethings who quite readily admit to no theistic identity whatsoever. Here in Canada, it’s almost 40% of this cohort and growing. In much of the developed world save the US, this number is by far the majority position. The days of implying that religion will always be a significant factor because of the number of adherents is dwindling as we speak. The battle you fight is a losing one because it’s not based on respecting what’s true. This is fault line you cannot repair and the younger people are beginning to know this fact.

        So, no, I don’t have to move and I do not have to pretend to respect a method of thinking that is considered delusional in every other area of life. My job is to continue respecting what is true and urging others to do the same. The freedom to our intellectual integrity is worth the sustained effort and I really enjoy when a believer wakes up and admits that his or her theological beliefs are based on nothing more than wishful thinking, on childhood and social indoctrination, on a broken epistemology that simply doesn’t work, that produces no new knowledge and impedes learning what we already know to be true. When this happens it’s very rewarding to welcome home minds that have been waylaid but have now been reconstituted through honesty and integrity.

  2. The Asantaist ethic of liberation:

    If there is a Santa, I must do what Santa wants. If there is not a Santa, I can do what I want. There is no Santa and no accountability. I am free.

    The Yultide ethic of Santa liberation:

    If there is a Santa, he can show us how to live in the best way possible. There is a Santa, and he sets us free from death and liberates us to do good and gives us presents. I am free.

    If one is wishful thinking, it is just as logical to assess the other as wishful thinking. The fact that we wish something to be true certainly does not make it true, but the fact that we wish something to be true does not make it false for that reason. Desire does not negate the reality. The emergence of Asantaism certainly came from a desire to change things by imagining there are no limits. But, how do we know that a desire to live without limits isn’t wishful thinking?

    Santapologetics

    1. Cedric,

      Santa does not stand in causal relations to the universe. Neither can he issue moral duties and obligations to anyone because he did not make anyone or anything and can lay no claim to what actions they ought to do. Santa’s character, since he did not create anything, is not the ground of moral values either.

      I don’t think you’ve made any good points here. In fact, I would like you to understand God before you compare him to any other thing in your imagination.

    2. The point made here is a good way of putting theists and atheists on equal ground intellectually. While atheists hold materialism as a tie breaker, it remains that we do not know enough about existence to claim an advantage for either side.

      It is not intellectual to assume an authoritative position for one side when looking at the material world because, of course, the material world will tell the materialist only about material causes, while the transcendental world would tell the theist both about the transcendental and the material world. At the end of the day it comes down to what you personally are willing to consider.

      The materialist is an authority in materialist philosophy. The theist is not an authority about theism or the transcendental because an honest theist would never claim to fully understand what cannot be seen from the standpoint of what is seen. However, the theist can draw inferences about what is not seen from what is seen. And that is the starting point of theology. So the theist looks to understand both the material and transcendental worlds in relation to one another. He cannot deny the material world, and chooses, not from a standpoint of authority but from a standpoint of conjecture and inference, to not deny the transcendental world. It is a suspension of disbelief for the purpose of opening up to the possibilities. The theist’s position is strengthened from inference much in the same way the positions of an archeologist or a forensic investigator is strengthened, not from a standpoint of authority over what happened or over the findings, but from a standpoint of inference and conjecture, suggesting what is not seen from what is seen.

      1. the transcendental world would tell the theist both about the transcendental. Oh would it? And this is different from mead-up stuff how?

        the theist can draw inferences about what is not seen from what is seen. And that is the starting point of theology. So there should be evidence for in the ‘materialist’ world, stuff absent that should be present. There isn’t.

        It is a suspension of disbelief for the purpose of opening up to the possibilities. But the possibilities are not equal. There is no evidence for and nothing but evidence against the hypothesis. The possibilities are akin to zero without evidence that such a ‘transcendental world’ exists when it is meets exactly the same criteria for not existing at all. The theist POOF!s it into existence by granting it as a legitimate possibility for no good reason except wishing it were so. The theist’s position is not strengthened by supposition and assumption and baseless conjecture whatsoever; it is revealed as equivalent in all ways to made-up stuff. In medical terminology, we call this injection of belief into made-up stuff and then pretending it’s real as a ‘delusion’.

        Watch the video again and perhaps you’ll glean onto what you doing.

      2. Your response to what I wrote appears to be fairly absolute in it’s conviction. My only question is how do you trust your own mind to judge these things? The way I see it, we know very little about what is going on whether materially or transcendentally, assuming both exist. So, I might as well accept the possibility that both may exist and have meaning in our lives because it is a possibility.

        The other thing I wanted to say is that, as far as I know and I read quite a bit of the arguments on both sides, there is no standing evidence that God does not exist. I’m not even sure how one would begin to prove that especially since science, for the most part, is concerned with materialist explanations only these days. This would preclude anyone looking into the existence of God. Although most of the scientists that gave us what are now considered the scientific general principles believed in God and questioned what arguments there may or may not be for God’s existence, science has now become almost exclusively materialist in it’s explanations. So, I don’t think there is much work being done to disprove God. I mean, I understand fully that one may claim to have shown that God’s work (creation) may be the work of material causes, denying the need for a first mover, but this does not really begin to prove that God does not exist, nor has any work as of yet, shown itself to have definitely occurred without the influence or direction of God. Yes, there is a lot of conjecture and anecdote showing how a particular natural occurrence might have been brought about through material causes but there has been nothing concrete that simply blows the debate out of the water. Sure, a lot of scientists believe materialism, but majority does not determine truth. There are some who have gone the other direction to explain existence from the perspective of design. Look into Intelligent Design, the Anthropic Principle, Specified Complexity, Information theory, Archeology, Forensic science, SETI. All of these have the commonality of inference. Again, I do not claim that any of this is empirical evidence, but empirical data is analyzed to bring about each theoretical framework I’ve mentioned.

        I don’t care if you don’t believe it. It’s an interesting undertaking nonetheless. And, personally, I don’t think we should preclude the possibility of a transcendental world, universe, realm, whatever. You may claim there is no evidence for it. But, again, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a good argument for it. And that is where it gets interesting. Just some thoughts. Not trying to be dogmatic about it.

      3. Tim, you use this false dichotomy of ‘the material world’ and ‘the transcendental’ as if these were two legitimate options. What you are suggesting is that ‘the transcendental’ IS real and knowable. I don’t think this is true. I think there is only reality and we can know about it only through what physically exists.

        Can you provide any way by which you know about this… whatever it is… that doesn’t always come back to the ‘the material world’?

  3. Santa does not stand in causal relations to the universe.

    Then how does he fly in a sleigh?

    Neither can he issue moral duties and obligations to anyone because he did not make anyone or anything and can lay no claim to what actions they ought to do.

    He makes presents.

    Santa’s character, since he did not create anything, is not the ground of moral values either.

    He has a list and he’s checking it twice. Moral values? He’s knows if you’ve been naughty or nice.

    I don’t think you’ve made any good points here. In fact, I would like you to understand God before you compare him to any other thing in your imagination.

    I don’t think you’ve made any good points here. In fact, I would like you to understand Baal before you compare him to any other thing in your imagination.

    (shrug)

    1. Okay, this is getting ridiculous. If you aren’t going to be serious in discovering or revealing truth in your replies I see no reason for you to be here.

  4. Well, Daniel started it.

    If God existed, and you knew him, how would you describe him? Feel free to use you imagination.

    How could anybody resist a line like that? I’m only human.

    It goes perfectly well with anything:

    “If Bigfoot existed, and you knew him, how would you describe him? Feel free to use you imagination.”

    “If Baal existed, and you knew him, how would you describe him? Feel free to use you imagination.”

    “If the Flying Spaghetti Monster existed, and you knew him, how would you describe him? Feel free to use you imagination.”

    It’s not like I’m being unfair or anything.
    I just switched the labels around.

    1. I see you’ve been reading/watching Richard Dawkins. I kind of like him. Despite our disagreeing.

      I think the thing to do when it comes to seeing which person/belief/idea really fits into the statement you’ve been tweaking for the sake of argument, is to question which one is the most reasonable based on what we know about the world. Bigfoot could have existed at one time and turned into legend even if he wasn’t really what people think these days. Perhaps just some mutant ape. Baal, I can’t speak for. The Flying Spaghetti Monster is an unreasonable creature because it takes an Italian dish and anthropomorphizes it. God, or some transcendental figure, would be the reasonable choice because we are intelligent creatures and therefore may have had an intelligent progenitor. I’m not saying this is evidenced, just arguable.

  5. I think the thing to do when it comes to seeing which person/belief/idea really fits into the statement you’ve been tweaking for the sake of argument, is to question which one is the most reasonable based on what we know about the world.

    I don’t see how that is “reasonable”.
    What we “know about the world” does not establish in any way the existence of magical things.

    I’m not saying this is evidenced, just arguable.

    Well, I suppose it could be mildly interesting as an after dinner conversation topic but I wouldn’t recommend it. Once you introduce magic and mystery into the mix you can churn out any fantasy and rationalize any objections away.

    God, or some transcendental figure, would be the reasonable choice because we are intelligent creatures and therefore may have had an intelligent progenitor.

    Or may not.
    (shrug)

    It’s all fuzzy make-believe. Aliens, pixies, gods, giant cosmic turtles, etc.

    For the record, there is nothing unreasonable about the FSM. Far from it.
    Don’t let your atheism blind you to the Truth.
    The FSM inspired the Italian dish, not visa-versa!
    And as for intelligent progenitors? The FSM is all over that one.
    His Noodly One intelligently progenitates all the time.
    (Midgets, for example.)

    The Real God: An Epiphany

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