The Truth Part II

Objective truth is an interesting notion. Us finite creatures like to think of it as both existing and accessible, and perhaps, most importantly, capable of informing our morality. I would, however, like to point out that morality and truth-seeking can only really matter to the “developed.” Those starving can only truly care about staving off their hunger and, perhaps, their loved one’s hunger. I, suppose, that might be tipping my hat to Maslow. Still, if one doesn’t think this true, one only has to look at the looting that takes place after a natural disaster.

Furthermore, even in a culture that is developed, one has to ask if objective truth can truly be found. It is quite popular today for people to think that science and philosophical debate can shine a light on objective truth. Unfortunately, people are not rational humans at heart, and as Nietzsche pointed out time and time again in Beyond Good and Evil often a philosopher’s  argument says more about the philosopher than the truth.

The problem, at base level, with trying to use logical methods to carve out objective truth is that human beings are not inherently rational beings. Thus, this begs the question of whether or not human beings even have the ability to discover objective truth. It is as if we can only see through a people through a windshield of car, while driving through a snow storm. We are prone to error, and these errors can be dangerous.

This is to to say, a little knowledge, without enough knowledge, can be dangerous. First year med students are known to want to over diagnosis themselves and their families with horrible illnesses, it is for this reason medical schools don’t give them prescription pads. Nevertheless, we give philosophers and clergy free reign over what constitutes objective truth.

On the other hand, objective truth may be out there, but can humans grasp it? I would argue that this is not clear, and this why much of the time we need to operate in probabilistic and pragmatic truth. It matters that Janet isn’t lying when she says John raped her. It matters that the engineer who worked on the bridge did his math correct, so I can be sure my car can go over it safely. It matters that the underlying mathematical system is sound. I can be reasonably sure, that everything shown on the Ancient Aliens program is horse shit.

Finally, some want to argue that we need to have one undefined axiom and rely on that for system of truths. They, conveniently, want to add God as this axiom. The problem, however, is that the really is no sufficient reason to think that such an entity exists, and its existence raises more problems than it solves. Even if it did exist, this beingm almost by definition, be incomprehensible to us finite creatures, but this isn’t the way most monotheistic traditions see God. Instead, the Western traditions are absolutist and ingrained with either “believe in our God and in our way.” The being the believe is defined with omni properties, acts a certain way, etc. Without these notions, the whole structure of their truth and morality falls apart. I would argue the falling apart of the absolutism of the monotheistic Western God is partially responsible for the chaos and culture wars we see today in the West.


Atheists and Agnostics: Statistics in the US

I will be drawing my numbers from the pew research center: Religion in America

Many atheists are happy to here that “nones” make up 22% of the religious landscape of the United States. When compared to other mainstream religions out side of Christianity (5.9%), the religious “nones” seem to be looking pretty decent. Although when compared to 70.6% for various Christians, they do not seem to be doing as well as they would like.

Are atheists and agnostics really doing as well as we hope? One has to look at the “nones” group at little closer. Atheism and agnostics make up 7.1% when added together. The rest of the group are classified either as “Nothing in particular (religion important)” or “Nothing in particular (religion not important.)”

This may seem like I’m making a big deal out of nothing, but it might turn out I’m not. Nothing in particular can take on different meanings. While atheism and agnosticism has become more popular, so have other views. Views like being “spiritual but not religious” and “against organized religion” are also enjoying popularity. Even though these may include atheists and agnostics who like to meditate or believe in the afterlife, they often, also, include those who firmly believe in a deity. People with these kinds of belief may very well survey as “Nothing in particular.”

I hope atheism and agnosticism continue to gain popularity in the US. Of course, this is due to thinking that we atheists have views closer to the truth than do theists and the problem of the religious not tolerating atheists. Still, I think atheists are not as likely to be oppressed by anyone in the “nones” group, but I have little to back this up except personal experiences with the “spiritual but not religious” types.

Can Religion and Science Coexist?

There have been many refutations of the Christian creation story via science. Evolution through natural selection science supreme in explaining how species have come to be what they are currently. We now know the age of the Earth. We know the age of the universe, and we know the Big Bang occurred and brought about the existence of our universe. That being said, there are still important questions, related to existence, that remain. However, it is exceedingly unlikely, in this day and age, that the Biblical teachings on creation will ever be proven to be a better explanation than science we have now. There may be a few corrections in science, and hopefully we will find answers to the questions that remain. Still, the basic features we have now in biology and astrophysics are unlikely to change, so where does this leave the believer?

Well, if the believer thinks the Bible needs to be taken literally, I’m sorry to say the believer is just plain wrong, and no, there beliefs cannot coexist with science. However, some Christians have moved on. Some claim that the creation story was meant to be metaphorical. Of course, this is problematic due church doctrine. Most Christians seem to accept the original sin concept which was based upon Adam and Eve sinning in the garden. In this case, the believer must jump through some mental hoops to get their religion and science to be in agreement. I, for one, am not willing or think it sensible to jump through those hoops.

Finally, there are believers who see their scriptures as not literal or inerrant. They see the Bible as, simply, inspired. It is fairly simple for these believers to just say the writers of the scriptures erred on occasion, and they were wrong on creation. For these believers, no, there is no issue with their religion and science coexisting. Some of them even make an interesting point. They argue that some people who take the Bible as inerrant and literal are in fact idol worshipers. They worship the Bible over God! However, there is one crucial problem. How, exactly, does one figure out which passage were in fact wrong? It doesn’t seem like everyone is receiving the same message from God on this.

Charity Works

I’m happy anytime anyone does some kind of charity. This includes when charity is done by the religious, but what bothers me about a lot of religious charities is that in one hand they offer help, but with other hand, they offer them their religious beliefs. Why not stick with just doing good works not for Jesus and not with expectations that the needy might come to Christ due to said good works. Why don’t people just do good works for the needy; because well, their human we’re human and we all deserve a decent quality of life. In other words if someone notices a child needs new shoes just buy them new shoes. It is not necessary to then invite them to church or preach to them. If there are starving children in Africa, just send them food. There’s really no need to send missionaries to proclaim the gospel.( I mean really there’s already a lot of Christians in Africa to begin with.) I feel like pushing religion on the needy is in some sense is taking advantage of them. I remember going to soup kitchens back when I was homeless, and every Sunday they sang gospel tunes. Also every once in a while, the Mormons would show up in suits and serve food, and they’d really stare at everyone, which was embarrassing. I’m not trying to complain I usually(there’s a long story there) got food that didn’t have the potential to also make me sick. I’m thankful for the food that they provided, but I didn’t need Jesus. I needed food, a home, electricity, heat, and job. Also the only clothes I had were from back when I was high school, so I suppose clothes to wear for job interview would be nice for the homeless as well. (By the way, I’m just listing my needs at the time, and I’m not expecting the soup kitchen to do all that for me.) My point is: it is already embarrassing to need help in the first place. Please don’t also try to convince me of your religion. The person being charitable is in a position of power over the needy, and preaching at them is taking advantage of their position. Just my two cents.