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.


On Truth: An Atheist Quotes Scripture

I am going to do some very odd for an atheist, but bear with me. I am going to quote scripture.

In John 18 Pilate is questioning Jesus who, according to the Bible, will soon be crucified.

37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him. 39 But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?”

40 They shouted back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in an uprising.

Many claim to be pointing to the truth. The Christians have Jesus and the Bible. The Muslims have the Quran. Many atheists declare there is no god with at least some degree of certitude, and everyone seems to think that if everyone else followed the same thought processes that they did everyone would reach the same conclusions. When everyone doesn’t reach the same conclusions, the other group is wrong and excuses are made. In a sense, “Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

“What is truth?” Of course, we have no idea if Pilate really said this, or indeed, if this scene really took place. Still, imagine just giving up flabbergasted and retorting, “What is truth?” I’m sure most of my readers know that it was Barabbas who was released. Does the truth matter? And what do you do with truth once it is found? Do you get a gold star for finding the truth?

But there is a scarier situation. What if on the journey to find truth, all that is found is chaos and, ironically at the same time, nothingness? What if, on finding the truth, the notion of human progress seems flimsy at best. What if there are no answers on how to live a good life? What if, at base, there are no logical answers to life’s most urgent questions? Maybe you do get that damned gold star, but at what price?

I’m not saying truth is that grim, only what if? Does one live their life wearing their gold star with pride, or do they do something different?

As always, opinions welcome!



Conservative Media and “Secular Progressives”

It seems that the media hates atheist, especially conservative media such as Fox News and The Blaze. Apparently, all of us atheists are progressives. Progressive of course is almost a curse word in it self. Atheists are seen as aligned with the “far left.” Being both an atheist and a liberal would seem to be one of the worst things a person could be.

When pundits demonize a view, they often describe the opposing group as  “secular progressives.” Of course, they forget that many people who are pro-choice,pro-same sex marriage, and so on are in fact liberal Christians or true Libertarians. Both Christianity and being a Libertarian are usually seen as highly good attributes. It is as though the media forgets that not all Christians are conservative or what a Libertarian actually is.

Then of course, they claim that Christianity and America at large is under attack from these “secular progressives.” They seem to forget that Christians are in the overwhelming majority. However, what really bothers me is when they say they are being persecuted. No, they are not being persecuted. Christians in the pre-Constantine days of Rome were persecuted NOT Christians in the United States today.

Yes, many atheists are very concerned about the separation of church and state, but this is a legitimate issue. I guarantee that if Christians lived in Muslim dominated society, which had separation of church and state, they would be fighting to impose it. As an atheists, if this were they case, I would help the Christians’ cause.

As far I am concerned as well as others, I don’t have a problem with Christians. I have a problem with Christianity and political dogmas being forced upon the population. People, for the most part, should be allowed to do and think as they please. That’s called freedom. If I recall correctly, that’s a value the founding father’s would have fought and died for.

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.

Christians and the LGTBQ Community: Caitlyn Jenner Anyone?

Christians have long-held to the idea of hating the sin and loving the sinner. When it comes to LGBTQ people, some Christians will maintain friendships with people who are homosexual, bisexual, transgender, etc. All the while, they think their “lifestyles” are sinful, and they secretly hope they will one day see the light. These Christians are generally genuinely nice to these LGBTQ people. These Christians are normally good people who are just confused due to their religion. To some degree, I can tolerate these types of Christians, so long as they don’t actively try to undermine the people who are different from them. I don’t agree with them, but I can tolerate them. Even if their position is ridiculous, I don’t want to live in a world where people are shunned based on merely wrong ideas.

However, what I won’t tolerate is outright intolerance. I don’t follow the  Kardashians, but today on my facebook I, unfortunately, saw a post by a pastor calling Caitlyn Jenner’s transition sick. This is unacceptable behavior. One may disagree with transgendered people. I might not want to be your friend, but I can tolerate disagreeing with someone. Calling someone sick is completely different . That’s not just disagreement. That’s outright prejudiced, hateful, and uncivilized behavior.

Yes, I find myself occasionally intolerant of intolerant people, and there is a difference between tolerance and acceptance. People don’t seem to understand this. I can tolerate a person who disagrees with homosexuality but is otherwise a lovely person. I can work with them etc. Still,  I would like to convince this person that they are wrong. A homosexual might hope one day to be just as accepted as a straight person, but no one can make or force someone to do this. By acceptance, I mean seeing a person as no different from yourself and not being in disagreement with their way being in the world.  By tolerance, I mean treating a person fairly even if there is a disagreement with their way of being in the world. Acceptance is the LGTBQ community should be aiming towards. Still at the very least, tolerance is a necessary condition. If someone is intolerant of LGBTQ people, that is bigoted regardless of religious ideology.

*People interested in Caitlyn Jenner might want to read this article. It is actually well-done.

Is Religion Comforting?

Many religious will report studies saying that people with religion are happier than those without. I, actually, don’t doubt that for the most part. Of course, people feel happier when they think their is a perfect entity watching over them, but what about the times when religion negatively effects people. For example, what about schizophrenics who get more delusional when exposed to religion?

I’m probably over exposing myself. The following is NOT why I don’t believe, (I’m less concerned about emotion. I’m concerned about the truth. ) Still, back before I was diagnosed, the more religion I was exposed to the worse the religious based delusions were. It was the bane of my existence for some time. I, simply, wonder what theistic apologetics would say to that. (I came to independent reason to why I don’t believe in God, later.) I, also, am worried about people with a certain amount of anxiety. I have no study to support any generalities, but there are people, who do exist, who are constantly tormented by the possibility of upsetting God to a pathological level.

Nothing I have written about speaks on the existence of God, but it could be damning to the comforting nature religion usually takes on. Just my two cents.