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

On human life

By the great pessimist.

He writes in one of his essays

That human life must be a kind of mistake is sufficiently clear from the fact that man is a compound of needs, which are difficult to satisfy; moreover, if they are satisfied, all he is granted is a state of painlessness, in which he can only give himself up to boredom. This is a precise proof that existence in itself has no value, since boredom is merely the feeling of the emptiness of life.
If life had in itself any positive and real value, boredom could not exist, mere existence in itself would supply us with everything and therefore satisfy us.

what a pointless existence

if John Baker is to believed is the life of the godless. Because of limited intelligence he is unable to see how others can find fulfillment in a life without gods. Because a person believes that at the grave, all this ends, such a person should not love, laugh, draw or enjoy music. Life is only grand if you will live past the grave. Don’t help others, they will die and that shall be forgotten all this ignoring the other very clear point that helping someone makes their life here bearable and sometimes, just sometimes, dignified. How does the promise of a heaven with gold do to the life of a poor person here apart from filling them with false hopes?

His next qualm is that people are not getting indoctrinated enough. They also don’t get to hate enough gays. He writes

be another reminder to parents to be diligent in training their children to stand uncompromisingly on the Word of God and in equipping them to defend the Christian faith

which in intelligent speak is parents should indoctrinate their children and do it well they never get to reason out of stupidity superstition.

Caroline tells us naturalists are incapable of love. She writes

It would mean the depths of emotion that consume a man’s thoughts of his beloved and drive him to do anything for her, or the lengths a mother will go to care for and protect her child are merely the outworking of chemical reactions in the brain. Nothing more. It would mean that the supreme goodness we attach to the concept of real love doesn’t stick. In the survival of the fittest, why should a quality that seeks another’s good be preferable to selfishness?

At least the naturalist grounds love in the workings of the brain. She on the other hand grounds it in a superstitious, transcendent other. Why is the naturalists idea treated with so much disdain? Is it because it is logical and reasonable?

And it seems to me she hasn’t read much on the subject either, because then she wouldn’t write

I believe we all, consciously or subconsciously, recognize the transcendent nature of love. And I believe this points to the existence of a loving, transcendent God.

because this entry in SEP, would show her statement to be wrong. And no, it doesn’t follow that because a feeling is irrational it points to god. That, my friends, is bad reasoning.

Her conclusion that

Love. We can’t even comprehend it in its fullness. And we can’t reduce it to a material reality. It transcends time, and space, and matter. It is spiritual. It is of God.

unfortunately tells us really nothing.


The absurdity of life without god

For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.

 All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.

[..] Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him? [Eccl 3:19-20, 22]

It’s not always that I start my posts by quoting bible verses unless am writing about the bybill. I hope you can already guess where this is going, but if you can’t, it will become clear in a very short while. In his article, you have ruined my life, professor Craig, Adam is writing a letter to WLC praising the apologists for presenting atheists with unassailable questions.

He tells us

Before I go any further, let me say that you are and always have been my favorite living philosopher. I have seen every debate you have ever recorded and put up on the internet. I watch all your lectures and talks (Closer to Truth, youtube, etc.) I think you are the epitome of what a philosopher should be.

and I am immediately flummoxed. I know people’s choices are at best irrational. I can’t tell you why I prefer vanilla ice cream to strawberry. I will not hold a man to his preferences but if Craig is your best philosopher, it is time you take a brief pause and examine if your brain is still with you.

In the absurdity of life without god, Craig has set himself a task; Why on atheism life has no ultimate meaning, value, or purpose, and why this view is unlivable. It is my intention to show that Craig’s argument are fallacious and based on unsound reasoning. Before I go ahead, I will let it be known that I am not a philosopher, and if am not as eloquent as Craig, you can only blame my teacher of grammar.

The verse 22 above tells us that man should rejoice in his works, for that is his portion. No truer a verse has ever been written by man. I think if there was a time god could have told men about the netherworld, this was the occasion. If the author was this book was also inspired by god, then either at this point god had not decided on an afterlife or he simply forgot to mention it.

Craig writes that if god does not exist then man’s life is absurd. He continues to write

If God does not exist, then both man and the universe are inevitably doomed to death.

which is true whether there is a god or not. The scriptures talk of end times of the earth[universe] and all that is in it. There is death everywhere in scripture. It isn’t true to only associate death with godlessness. The most important question I think isn’t asked by Tillich but by Camus in The Myth of Sisyphus.  The question to me is what to do in an absurd world. Is suicide justified in an absurd world? Camus tells us the body has a head start. You get around to living before you start thinking. Were it the other way, there would be more deaths from suicide than there are.

Craig writes

There is no God, and there is no immortality. And what is the consequence of this? It means that life itself is absurd. It means that the life we have is without ultimate significance, value, or purpose.

Man creates god, in his image, then imagines god to live forever and while at it imagines he will live forever with the god he has created in an imaginary world he created at the same time. Craig or no other apologist has told us what god is, why god is and whether it is inconsistent for god to exist and there be no immortality. It is my considered opinion that those who don’t understand what being alive is are the ones who keep yapping there is no value or ultimate significance. Besides are things only valuable when they have ultimate utility? Nobody starts eating a doughnut thinking this thing will end. You know that while it last you will savour the taste and that is it.

Craig asks

Does it really matter whether he ever existed at all? His life may be important relative to certain other events, but what is the ultimate significance of any of those events?

and in retort we must ask does this question apply only to adults or does it cover those babes who died at childbirth, stillbirths and so on? What was the meaning of their brief existence? It really doesn’t matter whether a person existed or not. To each person and his immediate circle of influence, that life is important. He could be the sole breadwinner and if he was to become stiff, life would be meaningless for those who depended on him.

He continues to ask

Suppose the universe had never existed. What ultimate difference would it make?

to which I respond in two ways: one it wouldn’t matter and two we wouldn’t know. It is not a question that wouldn’t bother us in the least for we wouldn’t be there to ask it.

I want to know by a show of hands those here who wouldn’t go for holiday because it will at some point end? Are things only valuable/ meaningful when they are permanent? What is this obsession with permanency?

I feel insulted as a member of the human race when Craig writes

The contributions of the scientist to the advance of human knowledge, the researches of the doctor to alleviate pain and suffering, the efforts of the diplomat to secure peace in the world, the sacrifices of good men everywhere to better the lot of the human race–all these come to nothing.

how could this be when each of these actions made life livable for a time for our race? Why shouldn’t peace be good even if it is temporary? Isn’t it better to make sure there is food security to men where and when it really matters? In the afterlife that Craig thinks gives life meaning there will be no working. Let man work to provide for his means. No deity, no amount of prayers is going to do that.

Imagine a scenario where all your fucking life, all you have to do is worship some king. Imagine still there is no sleeping[ I haven’t heard of this about heaven] what meaning would such a life be? Has Craig really thought about what he will be doing for eternity with god? Or in the depths of his heart he will ask for a weekly tour of hell to see where those who didn’t make the cut get roasted? Man needs to live for now for his life to be worth living.

If there is no god, then it all depends on us and life then becomes precious for then it becomes clear that it is short-lived. It is the knowledge that life is short that makes believers hold to it even by whiskers. They would be dying in drones if they really believed they will live beyond this life.

I believe man’s first duty is to himself. I make no apologies that man is naturally self-centered. I further say that were it not for self-interest, nothing would be accomplished.

If there is a god, contrary to what Craig writes, there would be no way of discriminating between what is good or bad. Given Craig’s popular arguments, whatever god commands is right. God would, as most theists argue, be accountable to no one. All the commands would be arbitrary and to satisfy his whims. A morality based on god wouldn’t be workable. Our discussions on morality on make sense because we owe each other obligations. Were this not the case, the talk of good or bad would not even occur.

In any world, whether populated by a god or gods or not, morals would still be subjective. How would they  not be. In what sense would you be talking about morality. If one was to say a thing is good. Would the good be a property of the thing or a judgement about the thing?

Craig asks if there is no immortality, can there be ultimate purpose? The question to ask is who said there was an ultimate purpose in the first place? Apologists and men in general interest me. They think something, what Ubi called a mental image- then convince themselves that this is true of the universe. They are blind to the idea that all this is a mental exercise. They have no way of testing it against reality.

I think the words of this philosopher

“Human life is mounted upon a subhuman pedestal and must shift for itself alone in the heart of a silent and mindless universe.”

is closer to truth than all the yapping of Craig.

If god is dead, man’s life doesn’t become one of desperation. It becomes more valuable. There is no cosmic overlord waiting to punish you for infractions that itself couldn’t have stopped you from committing. Man becomes free to aspire to his highest potential. There is no longer a god waiting at the top of the Ziggurat to confuse man’s language. They sky becomes literally the limit. The grave is not a problem to the living nor to the dead for in the first scenario they are and death is not and in the second death is and they are not.

In the story of the madman that Nietzsche writes about, he is asking men to rewrite their values. Values that once depended on gods must now be rewritten for a new life. Man must create. It is not an invitation to despair but to creation to innovation.

Craig is not being truthful when he writes

Sartre argued that one may create meaning for his life by freely choosing to follow a certain course of action

but Sarte isn’t saying one has to create ultimate meaning. There is no absurdity in creating meaning in an absurd life. It is one of the responses to the question of suicide. Many people have killed themselves because their lives were no longer meaningful despite their still believing in god. No one is going to kill himself for the ontological argument but one will quit life the moment life becomes no longer meaningful.

Atheism makes no value judgement. It is a lack of belief in god[s]. Atheists are human beings and human beings make value judgments. There is no contradiction in a humanist making a value judgement. Why shouldn’t he? Why is he being denied the right other humans have? Why does Craig want to consider the atheist as less than human with fewer rights than the general population?

Craig brings up self-sacrifice and argues that it isn’t possible under atheism and I say it is not possible even under theism. He tells a moving story of a rescuer who loses his life helping others after a plane crash. He puts the question thus

But to die for others he did not even know, to give up all the brief existence he would ever have—what for?

and here is where you must forgive me for being a destroyer of illusions. First question we must ask is who was this man, what was his training? Once we answer that, we must remember that selfishness doesn’t mean we must live to enjoy the reward. The narrative of Jesus is a good example of this simple truism. He wouldn’t have died on the cross if he wasn’t going to heaven. Without heaven on the table, he wouldn’t have done it. This man who Craig is so moved by his story, had he lived, he would be the happiest man alive, a monument may have been erected to his name and a presidential medal of honour would be displayed somewhere in his house. Don’t tell me this isn’t a great benefit to him. If you say no, then am afraid you are not a student of man. You understand nothing about what drives him.

Craig finally lies that everyone creates purpose in life and to this he says means atheists are inconsistent. I have arrived at the conclusion that the likes of Craig have not thought well enough about what being alive is. There is no single thing called purpose. You don’t wake up just for a single thing. Life is rich in its many attractions and only a life devoid of these is meaningless and such people often kill themselves. When I read people like Craig, I get the impression that they think life should have a single purpose or it becomes meaningless.

Craig finishes his article by saying

what about biblical Christianity? According to the Christian world view, God does exist, and man’s life does not end at the grave. In the resurrection body man may enjoy eternal life and fellowship with God. Biblical Christianity therefore provides the two conditions necessary for a meaningful, valuable, and purposeful life for man: God and immortality. Because of this, we can live consistently and happily. Thus, biblical Christianity succeeds precisely where atheism breaks down.

and me wonders whether these are the only two possibilities in a world with different views towards death. Is Craig so blinded by his delusion to even consider Buddhism’s idea of Nirvana, a state of enlightenment where there is no rebirth or those cultures where there are no gods and immortality. It is unbecoming of a philosopher to be so shallow.

I am not questioning Adam’s atheism, but I think if Craig is his best philosopher and the reason behind his philosophy degree, he got a raw deal.

I know this post has been long, but I think Craig’s paper deserved a response.

thinking out loud

 If God does not exist, what is the purpose of educating yourself?  You will die, and if your works live on after your death, eventually nobody will be around to see those either.  If you simply want to educate yourself for the benefit of yourself, what do you objectively gain by the endeavor? 

My colleagues at atheistenquiry.org have answered this question here, here and here and I will add my two cents to this silly question.

My first response is because if god, as they don’t, do not exist, then all depends on us. We have no one else to wait on to give us this answers. That we must wrestle the knowledge from nature by diligently studying it, and coming back to it to arbitrate our claims. I would assume if a god existed, whichever god, and they were concerned about us and wanted us to have the right kind of belief, they would occasionally send notes.

My parents told me, to be competitive in the 21st century, I needed education and have a trade. Now that am old, I educate myself for the sake of knowing. I find immeasurable pleasure in learning something new. It opens my vistas. Expands my understanding of the world and so it is what I would call knowledge for its own sake.

I hate this questions of purpose. Must something have some preordained purpose to be enjoyed. It is silly to ask such a question. It is no different from asking why listen to music if god doesn’t exist.

I know I will die and will not be on the stage anymore. But while I live, I would love to be part of the conversation. It depends on what you write. Celsus, Cicero, Marcus Aurelius, Plutarch, Homer, Nietzsche among others wrote their volumes many eons ago. They have since died but we still read them. They have contributed to the improvement the human race, knowledge wise.  And anyway, why should I worry about what will happen to my books, if I eventually get to write a few, when am dead, I shall be dead. Those who are lucky will find them useful in dismissing beliefs in superstition. They will learn, if they don’t already know, that it is important to be kind, not to discriminate and to treat each other with dignity.

Lastly, as I have said, what I again by educating myself is knowledge of the world around me, some of it practical and most of it, knowledge for the sake of knowledge. I could, for example, tell you that during the reign of Marcus Aurelius, Rome was governed by one of its best men. Here is an ideal to aspire to.

In conclusion, while we can disagree on whether a question is silly or not, this one assumes too much. The person asking assumes, that the god he believes in exists, that this god somehow is the reason they are educating themselves and maybe even after their death, this god may in someway be concerned with what they have left.

Do I fear death?

Those who regularly read this blog are aware that in the past few weeks I have been blogging at atheistenquiry together with a team of some very excellent heathens where we attempt to answer several questions that either are asked directly through the contact us section or as a result of the discussions going on and the above is one such question.

I don’t fear death, why should I since death means cessation of all feeling? If as one of the sages who lived before me said

when I am death is not and when death is am not

and as such, I have no fear of death.

To turn the question on its head, one would ask, do/did you fear being born? I think all of you will most definitely say no for the given fact that you were not aware at that moment and it’s the same with death, you simply will not be aware or even be there to know that you are dead.

Do I fear dying? yes, if it would be painful and especially if it is a long and painful. I, however, would have no problem if I would go to sleep and wake up to find I died peacefully in my sleep.

Do I want to die now or rather do I have a very good reason why I should go on living? I really don’t have a great reason to keep on, except for the experience of being alive, meeting people, reading books and basically the little things I do on a daily basis which on the grand scale of things count to naught. And don’t get me wrong, I am a great optimist. I know that life is inherently meaningless and I also know am going to die so I live with a lot of hope that it will not happen in my sleep tonight. It is in that extent that yours truly is an optimist.

In conclusion, I find these words by Epicurus in his letter to Menoeceus as very appropriate for this post. He writes in part

Foolish, therefore, is the person who says that he fears death, not because it will pain when it comes, but because it pains in the prospect. Whatever causes no annoyance when it is present, causes only a groundless pain in the expectation. Death, therefore, the most awful of evils, is nothing to us, seeing that, when we are, death is not come, and, when death is come, we are not. It is nothing, then, either to the living or to the dead, for with the living it is not and the dead exist no longer.

Friends, therefore, fear not death.

Thoughts out of season 3

A few weeks ago, one of my WP friends, wrote a post, what are you worth? 6 million dollars? that is relevant to this discussion and the link that am about to share. As you are all aware, the hostage situation in Nairobi has come to a close and families that lost loved ones will have to rebuild their lives afresh, there are businesses that have incurred serious losses and so much more and I don’t want to belittle their suffering any bit.

However, a few uncomfortable truths have to be dealt with, to see where we have come from and how humanity can move forward, how such situations can be prevented in the future. There are those among us who will argue that the government ought to be granted more surveillance powers, that security searches should increase and other such measures. I disagree totally with such propositions. These measures do not contribute to our safety in the long-term. They are temporary measures that are implemented by unthinking people. The real deal is to ensure that no society feels marginalized, oppressed and denied opportunities for self-expression. Ensuring the masses get proper education is going to ensure that our race frees itself from religious, political and other forms of bigotry.

Having said this, the question to be asked of everyone is why hasn’t there been a similar outcry for the countless and nameless Somali women, men and children who have lost their lives in the duration that the Kenya Defense Forces have been occupying Somali? Are their lives of less value? And in which planet is peace kept by killing civilians? What peace is that? As I have said before, I will say it here again, we have to re-evaluate ourselves as a race, to come up with peaceful and better ways of living with each other.

I have to admit it here, the reason am against all this senseless killing is because of self preservation: The will to live. I, however, know that nature doesn’t give a bat-shit whether I live or die. It maintains the will in the general and not the specific so that there will always be a striving to live whether I exist or not. In the meantime, while I live, I realize there are 1000 plus things trying to kill me and the odd terrorist is the least of them. Why a lot of money is wasted on the war on terror is beyond me.

Nairobi attacks: what about the casualties of Somalia’s war zone?

On meaning

Folks, many times theists berate atheists because we[ most of us I believe] realize the universe in without purpose. No design and no goal, things in nature are indifferent to our whims or feelings, they just happen. Our lives are inherently absurd and meaningless or as the writer of Ecclesiastes writes in Chapter 3

18 I also said to myself, “As for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. 19 Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. 20 All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. 21 Who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?”

Faced with this meaninglessness what does man do? You have to choices to choose life through christianity which is a denial of reality. It is a pessimistic view of life based on the mistaken belief that human beings are created by their god to worship him and revere him so that in future they may spend endless time singing hallelujah hosana! or you can choose to live knowing that life ends when the final curtain is drawn, that we have this one life to live to the fullest so that should there be another life elsewhere, the gods shall be proud that we lived a full life here and wouldn’t punish us for that.

One of the greatest teachers to have walked the surface of the earth, Siddhartha Gotama, said of the people who claim to have a passionate relationship with god to be like a young man who has declared he is in love with the most beautiful lady in the village but on being asked how she looks like admits he has never seen her! it is groundless, based on human consciousness alone and nothing more. It is not suggested to us by nature and therefore to claim god gives our lives meaning is to claim unicorns give lives meaning since the existence of the two are just conjecture.

For an apologist to write

The Christian, by contrast, admits right up front that there is more to the universe than physics and chemistry, that minds and meaning do indeed exist, and that we have ultimate purpose in life because there is an ultimate that exists, God. Without God, Dawkins is quite correct that there is no meaning in the question “why do we exist?” But with an infinite God, we have infinite meaning in the universe.

is to pretend to possess some knowledge that isn’t available to the rest of us. It is a mark of arrogance that can only be explained by assuming the author is so brainwashed into believing his religion as true that any other opinion that challenges his world view false short. And what does it mean to talk about an infinite god? Rather what does infinity mean? Isn’t infinity a human concept to describe large numbers the human mind can’t simply conceive and what infinite meaning do we have in the universe?

I contend that our lives are inherently without meaning, but that each of us has to create meaning in their lives. The believer through believing in transcendence hopes that his life has a greater purpose than just spreading his/her genes and the non believer believes that he/she has a duty to live a meaningful life here without attaching any meaning to superstition.