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.


Merry Christmas

When it comes to Christmas, I’m a bit of Scrooge. I have one young nephew, and a small family that I travel 16 hours to see. I’m always happy to see them, but I’m the only atheist in the family. Also, I don’t feel like being a Grinch and robbing people of their Christmas joy, so I put up with annual happy birthday Jesus song. I may even be in Church this with them this Christmas. Every Christmas  they get more and more religious about the season, which is great for them but alienates me.

I could make a point  of not participating in the religious parts of their celebrations. However, it’s one time of the year, and I it’s not hurting me. I’m quite opinionated when it comes to the different religions, but then again I’m the only atheist in the family. The rest of my family our fundamentalist Christians. You know the type young earth creationists, hell fire, etc. Perhaps, I’m a bit of wuss. However, bringing up unwillingness to take part in their religious traditions would dampen their holiday spirit, and for me it’s just an annoyance. So, I’ll just have to suck it up.

Like I said I’m a bit of a  Scrooge. I enjoy having enough time to actually go see family. On the other hand I’d be happier if we just watched the dr who special, drank some egg nog, and opened a few presents.

I know there are probably a few  people out their that think I should stand my ground about the religious stuff. I choose not to, but only on Christmas. As full of pagan elements as Christmas is, it now largely a overcomercialized Christian holiday, and I can’t change my families beliefs. I also only see them once a year. My advice for atheists, if you can avoid all the religious nonsense go for it, but if you’re in a situation like mine try not to be a Scrooge. I’m not saying don’t try to get out church and other religious aspects.  What I am saying is focus on what Christmas should be about, being with your family and getting along with your fellow-man.

Merry Christmas.