Dear friends, passerby and all, happy holidays.
And if you are one of those people who don’t have something to celebrate today, worry not, it is my birthday. And I am receiving gifts and cash donations. All will be used for a good cause of my choosing of course 🙂
Now that we have that behind us, can we examine the claims in this post.
In the very first paragraph, the author makes an unjustified claim, that is
Suppose that there were no God. I say that both atheists (that is, naturalists) and theists would be deluded.
do we know that there is a god? Nope.
We are told atheists would be deluded because
Atheists, or at least most atheists, would also be deluded. They think there is a meaning to life. Not a grand meaning, but a personal meaning. They make the meaning. It’s subjective, of course.
and i can’t help but wonder how believing that we give our lives meaning be a delusion? To start us off, it should be important to point out there is no consensus on what meaning in life is. Is it different from a moral life, a happy and pleasant life? Those who believe meaning is subjective (mind dependent) represent just one group of naturalists. There are as well objectivists who maintain meaning is mind-independent. But this distinctions are not important for our discussion now. It is only important to point out that the author of that post without claiming to, does believe in a supernaturalist view of meaning- without deity no meaning is possible.
This meaning would be reducible to a set of brain states. These can be ultimately reduced to chemicals. Thus, this meaning could be achieved chemically. So if we could invent an advanced heroin-like drug, something akin to the soma found in Brave New World, one that could induce a sense of awe, wonder, purpose, connectedness, community, happiness, etc, then we all can find meaning in our lives. Why not? We could make this available to everyone, so that everyone lives a meaningful life.
and i reject this view. We wouldn’t consider a life in tube (simulator) as meaningful. Two, does a happy life mean a meaningful life? Or a life in community? Could it be the case that these things answer to different states and may only be secondary to the question of meaning.
The author writes
To rephrase this as an argument, let’s call the combination of all those features of lives worth living well-being:
(1) Well-being is subjective.
(2) If well-being is subjective, then it is reducible to a set of brain states.
(3) Therefore, well-being is a set of brain states.
(4) If well-being is a set of brain states, then it can at least theoretically, if not practically, be induced chemically.
(5) Well-being can be induced chemically.
Does well being and meaning mean the same thing? And while subjective is reducible to brain states, I don’t know whether it is the practice anywhere, even among scientists to reduce their states of mind to chemicals. I think this is a strawman argument.
How the author comes from the above to
if an atheist/naturalist thinks that meaning, purpose, and all that makes life worth living is anything beyond a set of states that can be induced by drugs, then they are deluded too.
but how is this so?
In this last paragraph, the author is conflating happiness and meaning when he writes
However, if an atheist is willing to accept that happiness, at least in the short term, can be achieved by some kind of drug, then I guess they aren’t deluded after all. This could be extended, theoretically if not practically. Imagine that we can solve our survival problems with machines so that we don’t have to work, and arrange for the machines to manufacture and deliver our drugs, then an uninterruptedly happy and meaningful life can be achieved completely by drug use. Ahh, heaven at last!
for one, a few people are known to claim to be happy when high. This is not a delusion and is a fact of common experience- i.e, it is a truth. We have been working towards inventing machines to solve our survival problems not so that we can be uninterruptedly happy, but so we can have more time (thanks to capitalism this is not happening, we still work long hours side by side with robots) to do those things we find meaningful.
In the end, I argue that this author has not proved what he sought to do. But that happens a lot when you create a strawman anyway.
So once again, Merry Christmas my friends. You have one and all made blogging interesting and worthwhile.
for those interested in further reading on the subject