Happy holidays

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.

S/he writes

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

About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

18 thoughts on “Happy holidays

  1. judyt54 says:

    I used to get yelled at for this, but this venue seems a place for reality and a certain amount of thoughtfulness, so I’ll give it a go.

    The only meaning we have, in the eyes of anything, is to reproduce and continue the species. The delusion comes from people refusing to face the fact that our purpose is to mate, produce offspring, and then get out of the way for the next generation. That’s it.
    We have been cursed/blessed with the kind of brain that thinks things to death, and one of those things is ego, which tells us that we are superior to other animals, and that makes us special. It’s the old “one eyed man” syndrome, writ large.

    Our entire physical makeup was designed for attracting the opposite sex, mating, and bearing young. Once we are no longer perceived as useful our skin fades, that sparkle disappears, and we don’t even smell that good anymore. Trouble is, we don’t want to face it. Men often go through that madness called mid life crisis, when they start getting tattoos and wearing neck chains, and women do the same thing, without the tattoos but ever more makeup, all in the name of attracting a mate and embarrassing their grown kids.

    And while it’s nice to think that an invisible god picked us out to be the surperior species (let me know when it happens), it’s awfully hard to accept that what we do to each other and ourselves makes us superior to anything. Even wolves have rules, we seem not to.

    And Merry Christmas.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Happy Birthday and Merry Christmas!

    Drugs can provide short term happiness, but not sustainable happiness. Even in the scenario the author describes with robots taking care of us, we’d become habituated to the drugs and happiness would fade. More is required.

    This fits when you remember that pleasure is a signal to the planning portions of our mind, one that for evolutionary reasons must remain brief and fleeting. Of course, we might eventually be able to modify ourselves to not habituate, or to simply always be happy. But I think most of us know we wouldn’t survive long that way, again limiting sustainability.


  3. Happy birthday, my friend. So, tell me, how does it feel to be born on the same day Humphrey Bogart was? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Happy Birthday and Happy Fictional Christian Messiah Day!


  5. poor incompetent Christian. one can tell just how convinced they are in their own nonsense when they don’t allow comments.

    Happy B-day!


  6. Happy Holidays to you too!


  7. basenjibrian says:

    All these Happy Holidays references! For shame! The War on CHRIST-mas has been lost on this heathen site, I see!

    I would note also to some of the purer sects, birthdays are a pagan holiday as well. So I am not sure I can even wish you a Happy Birthday, Mak!

    It feels good to be so pure and in line with the Gawd-Given Morality of the Universe!!!!

    LOL. 🙂


    • makagutu says:

      These heathens here don’t know there is a war.
      Some friend sent me a short clip why it should be Christmas and not Xmas. I just laughed.
      Being that pure must be boring


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