Posted by: gebs | April 13, 2008

Water or Fuel? (To Atheists and Believers)

 

The atheistic position can be defined as being anti-religion, or anti-faith.  The whole argument of atheism is anti in its structure.  Its theory is solely the result of its dialectic against faith, and in a sense, can be said to exist purely because the idea of faith gives it the potential to. 

 

Some atheists, however, argue for knowledge through reason.  What atheists don’t realise, that after the work of many sceptical philosophers and thinkers, such as David Hume, knowledge is no longer considered possible for human beings.  All we have is opinion.  Belief is something they also share with religionists.  Their beliefs, however, are in reason!  But what is it to believe in reason?  Is it possible for reason to deliberate about human (moral) decisions?

 

Take the question: is it right to kill one person for the sake of a thousand?  Is it possible for reason to answer such a question on its own?  When I say possible, I mean, is it actually a thing us humans are capable of?  When we think about this question we do not only think about reason.  It is definitely reasonable to kill one person for the sake of a thousand, but this is not the question being asked.  The whole fact that this question exists for us humans is because our nature makes it so.  Our morality is our humanity.  Reason is not enough for us, and can never satisfy who we are.  Its what we choose to do with our reason that makes us human.  We always look for more.  And in the case of some fundamental atheists, the more often comes through the often destructive passions they build towards religion and believers.  This is not to say that believers are not guilty of this either. 

 

The point is that we appear to be creatures of something more than just reason.  Hume, who has been labelled amongst the greatest atheists, himself, came to the conclusion that human beings were creatures of belief, although his understanding of belief was empirically based.  What the atheists don’t seem to understand is that reason itself can never be an argument against faith.  If one is truly a sceptic, how can one not be sceptical about reason (as David Hume was)? Perhaps this is why Hume denied being an atheist, and his arguments are strong enough to baffle any so called modern day blogging atheist.  Yet some atheists dogmatically hold reason to be their stronghold, as if its powers were solely useful for human existence.  Reason alone seems blinder than faith!      

 

True faith has taken many blows in the past, and it will continue to take many more in the future.  Reason, on the other hand, which was one of the children of the Enlightenment and modernity, in its relatively short time at the throne, has taken one – the bloodiest century ever (the Twentieth Century) – to already begin its own demise.  Post modernity does not abide by human reason the way modernity did.  Today’s world has jumped out of the religious boat, yet has still not found anything worth while to hold onto.  When atheists hold onto the large piece of debris, which is reason, they soon realise that it too is only floating and has no foundation.  As our partner in crime Hitler illustrated, reason can also be manipulated.

 

There is a phenomenon called blind faith, and it too exists with all its dangers.  But there is also something that can be called true faith.  This is the same for hope and love.  We can have false hopes, and a very unauthentic love.  True faith is something that exists beyond the simple powers of reason, yet should never deny its place and role.  Faith is something that exists within the human person, in the same way love exists.  It is made known through relationships.  Atheists cannot deny the existence of faith (nor love) within human beings, regardless of whether or not they agree with it.  If they do, then they have nothing to argue against.  And in a sense, all believers need to thank the atheists for making them aware of the fragile nature of their faith.  It is something humans are possible of, yet like its counterpart love, is not always authentic.  Like all things human, faith, also suffers from our shortcomings.  Fundamentalism is also something possible for human beings, and it too can come in many different forms.  Even atheists can be fundamentalists, just like believers.  Fundamentalism is a dangerous enemy regardless of what it disguises itself as.  It can create many barriers for the human heart, and even lead to hate.

 

I have called this post water or fuel in anticipation of the two types of responses it will rouse.   


Responses

  1. Nice post Gebran. I have seperated your points and answered them in Q&A format.

    G: The atheistic position can be defined as being anti-religion, or anti-faith. The whole argument of atheism is anti in its structure. Its theory is solely the result of its dialectic against faith, and in a sense, can be said to exist purely because the idea of faith gives it the potential to.

    R: This is incorrect. The Atheist has no position, the religious do. The religious suggest the existence of a supernatural male entity. I suspect you don’t tell people that you are anti-dragons or anti-loch ness monster. Amongst people who believe in the existence of dragons or the loch ness monster, you may very well be considered a “non-believer”. Would you change your position? What if millions of people believed in dragons, yet no one ever saw one – ever. How about now, would you change your position? After all, millions of people can’t be wrong! Is this a good enough reason? Does it substitute for evidence?

    Muslims don’t believe (or have faith) that Jews are Gods chosen people. Why not? Why do Jews have faith in this statement? Simple. Having faith in that statement serves the Muslim no purpose. It does, however, strengthen Jewish people, giving them a sense of purpose, responsibility and obligation to (their version of) God. A Christian will quickly jump in and suggest that everyone will be saved if they simply acknowledge that Jesus is the answer or perhaps as long as people behave in a kind and honourable way (according to which God’s rules?), everyone gets VIP entry to heaven. It should also be noted that everyone here has faith.

    G: Some atheists, however, argue for knowledge through reason.

    R: Atheists apply science to the religious proposal of God. Evidence is required, testing is required. Everyone else is the same; sometimes though, they are unaware of this. Even though you have faith in God, you place more faith in science. “Nonsense! Where is your proof?” I hear you say. I suspect if you are hit by a car (I hope this never happens), you’d be on your way to the hospital and not a church. According to your logic, a God who can create the universe and everything in it should be able to deal with your problem in the blink of an eye. But NOBODY goes to church/temple/mosque in times of a medical emergency. Deep down, you know that God does not exist and is a manifestation of our ancestors’ attempts at answering the same questions we ask today. You place more faith in science in times of medical emergencies. Why would you go to hospital? Why do you have greater faith in doctors than in God during a medical emergency? You acknowledge that God has all the powers required to create a universal planetary system down to each individual atom, you live your entire life believing in Him and attempting to teach others of his beauty, wisdom and power, yet you would go to a doctor. Why? Has he not done enough to convince you that He can meet your needs during a life threatening crisis?

    G: What atheists don’t realise, that after the work of many sceptical philosophers and thinkers, such as David Hume, knowledge is no longer considered possible for human beings. All we have is opinion.

    R: “All we have is opinion.” Please remember this when you read the Bible.

    G: Belief is something they also share with religionists. Their beliefs, however, are in reason! But what is it to believe in reason? Is it possible for reason to deliberate about human (moral) decisions?

    R: You are playing with words here. Reason is the vehicle, not the destination. This is the same for you. If I told you that God just spoke to me and sent me flying across the sky, your reason would kick in to suggest that I was being dishonest. You may have believed me 2000 years ago. Today, however, you know that people don’t fly. Would this make you anti-God or anti-lies?

    G: Take the question: is it right to kill one person for the sake of a thousand? Is it possible for reason to answer such a question on its own? When I say possible, I mean, is it actually a thing us humans are capable of? When we think about this question we do not only think about reason. It is definitely reasonable to kill one person for the sake of a thousand, but this is not the question being asked. The whole fact that this question exists for us humans is because our nature makes it so. Our morality is our humanity. Reason is not enough for us, and can never satisfy who we are. Its what we choose to do with our reason that makes us human. We always look for more. And in the case of some fundamental atheists, the more often comes through the often destructive passions they build towards religion and believers. This is not to say that believers are not guilty of this either. The point is that we appear to be creatures of something more than just reason. Hume, who has been labelled amongst the greatest atheists, himself, came to the conclusion that human beings were creatures of belief, although his understanding of belief was empirically based. What the atheists don’t seem to understand is that reason itself can never be an argument against faith. If one is truly a sceptic, how can one not be sceptical about reason (as David Hume was)?

    R: Because it is (or should be) based on evidence. Tonnes of it. And you cannot argue against evidence.

    G: Perhaps this is why Hume denied being an atheist, and his arguments are strong enough to baffle any so called modern day blogging atheist. Yet some atheists dogmatically hold reason to be their stronghold, as if its powers were solely useful for human existence. Reason alone seems blinder than faith!

    R: Nonsense. Similar to faith, reason can be good or bad, evidence cannot. 911 hijackers had faith, as did mother Theresa. Hitler used reason, as did Oscar Schindler. None of this offers, alters or has anything whatsoever to do with evidence of a supernatural entity.

    G: True faith has taken many blows in the past, and it will continue to take many more in the future. Reason, on the other hand, which was one of the children of the Enlightenment and modernity, in its relatively short time at the throne, has taken one – the bloodiest century ever (the Twentieth Century) – to already begin its own demise. Post modernity does not abide by human reason the way modernity did. Today’s world has jumped out of the religious boat, yet has still not found anything worth while to hold onto.

    R: No Atheist ever claimed to have the answers. It’s the other way around. The religious KNOW why we are here and how we arrived with very impressive accuracy. (The world was created in 6 days, not 7 or 8 or 2 or 42, it was exactly 6 – they even know what happened on day 7!!)
    Atheists are not satisfied with the answers available today and require more evidence. The religious are happy to choose from the current (2000 year old) options.

    G: When atheists hold onto the large piece of debris, which is reason, they soon realise that it too is only floating and has no foundation. As our partner in crime Hitler illustrated, reason can also be manipulated.

    R: Do you realise that you just stated religion “is only floating and has no foundation”?

    Your subconscious appears to be telling you something.

    G: There is a phenomenon called blind faith, and it too exists with all its dangers. But there is also something that can be called true faith. This is the same for hope and love. We can have false hopes, and a very unauthentic love. True faith is something that exists beyond the simple powers of reason, yet should never deny its place and role. Faith is something that exists within the human person, in the same way love exists. It is made known through relationships. Atheists cannot deny the existence of faith (nor love) within human beings, regardless of whether or not they agree with it. If they do, then they have nothing to argue against. And in a sense, all believers need to thank the atheists for making them aware of the fragile nature of their faith. It is something humans are possible of, yet like its counterpart love, is not always authentic. Like all things human, faith, also suffers from our shortcomings. Fundamentalism is also something possible for human beings, and it too can come in many different forms. Even atheists can be fundamentalists, just like believers. Fundamentalism is a dangerous enemy regardless of what it disguises itself as. It can create many barriers for the human heart, and even lead to hate.

    R: I agree. NOBODY can say with 100% certainty that God does or does not exist. However unlikely the probability, it is nevertheless (similar to dragons or the loch ness monster), possible.

    G: I have called this post water or fuel in anticipation of the two types of responses it will rouse.

    R: With today’s petrol prices, I strongly suggest water!

  2. Rameil, I will keep this short.

    First of all, as your response clearly and fully illustrates the atheists do have a very defenite and often anti structured position. If its evidence that you seek, then there is ample evidence that God’s existence has changed peoples lives immensly. Im not sure you could argue the same for dragons as you try to do. Your naivety is beyond comprehension. How can you compare the Lochnes monster to a belief in God? What has belief in the Loch ness ever done for any body? I could go on, but it is like comparing apples with grapes!

    Like all atheists you also try to hijack beliefs and try to use them for your own benefit when it suits you. Check your info on Jews and Muslims, they are not all fundmentalists.

    On the accident. My going to the doctor in a car accident does not prove that i do not have faith in God. It is not one against the other, unless off course you are an atheist, which again supports my anti claims. For atheists the world seems clearly black or white. You want evidence, but only the type that suits you. Again, there is ample evidence that God is something in peoples lives and in our world.

    You seem to understand my point that reason is equally as dangerous as faith.

    Atheists do claim to have the answers. You seem more open in your rhetoric but it is clear that the answer is NO. Otherwise argue as an agnostic. It is a definite NO to God’s existence, pending the existence of some empirical evidence which only suits the one looking for it! Like the guy who was stranded on an island and prayed to God for help. He refuses to board the boat or helicopter that comes to his aid, insisting that God himself will come down if he really exists!

    Lastly, if you suggest water, then why choose petrol? I hope you understand if i dont reply next time, since it will only make your fuel more wothwhile to purchase.


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