Is theism true?

And if so, which of the many brands is the true one?

Do the three Abrahamic religions make the same doctrinal claims or do they differ sufficiently to be contradictory?

Is Scientology a separate theism? Should we consider it as true? Or is Mormonism the true theism?

And how is one to know which of the competing denomination is the truth?

Can one be forgiven for not believing in any of them until such a time as their claims can be verified? That is, is it rational to not believe in any of the available theism-s?

Are deists a separate theism or do their claims suffer from the weaknesses of the other theism-s?

Advertisements

Confessions 3

If we believe the priests, we shall be persuaded, that the Christian religion, by the beauty of its morals, excels philosophy and all the other religious systems in the world.

Baron D’Holdbach

One of the most irrational of all the conventions of modern society is the one to the effect that religious opinions should be respected. …[This] convention protects them, and so they proceed with their blather unwhipped and almost unmolested, to the great damage of common sense and common decency. that they should have this immunity is an outrage. There is nothing in religious ideas, as a class, to lift them above other ideas. On the contrary, they are always dubious and often quite silly. Nor is there any visible intellectual dignity in theologians. Few of them know anything that is worth knowing, and not many of them are even honest.”

H. Mencken

My first confession was a story of how I became clever, saw the light and left the faith I had been brought up in. The second confession (very Catholic, if you ask me) was a short story of the past. Then there was reflections on Christianity and finally about atheist experience in Africa.

This posting is about what I have become.

A great amount of care was taken to make me a Catholic. It was taught in school as fact. I went to catechism school. Went through the rites, participated actively in church activities and generally without reflection. It didn’t occur to me to question the truth of this religion I was brought up in. Did I have doubts, yes, but not about the truth of the catholic doctrine. I worried a little about whether I would go to heaven or hell. And the book of revelation (the few times I read it) didn’t help matters in this front with its small number of the chosen ones.

When my faith began to wane or maybe I had lost, I read a lot on arguments for god and why they failed. I read on authorship of the bible, on the existence of Jesus and even on miracles. All this reading led to one conclusion only, revealed religions were a scam. I read a little here and there on Islam and even the Gita.

Does Christianity or any religion for that matter deserve the attention we give them? Is there any good in wasting years trying to demonstrate that religions are all false, that their claims are contradictory and many times impossible? Is there any truth in the claims of Christianity? Is there a way to verify any of it? Is it any more true than the religions my forefathers had believed in? If it had been true and was ordained by a god, why did it need violence, deception, evangelism to spread? Was it important that we, everyone, had a religion or believed in a god(s)?

I am at that point in my life where I can say theism is false. That the supernatural claims religions make are baseless. It is not important that one believes in a god(s) as long as one lives well with others. Be kind. Be useful. Life is simple.

Africa interests me. African religion and philosophy more so. How my forefathers lived, what they believed in and how this knowledge made life in society and community possible. How did they face calamity? Death? Disease? And in times of plenty and bountiful harvests or hunts, how did they celebrate? Now this is interesting stuff.

Talk of gods and miracles bore me.

Hell doesn’t interest me. Heaven is a scary proposition. Vicarious redemption is abhorrent. And the gods? They don’t exist. We make them all the time. The raw material needed is a sick imagination and a people gullible enough to believe.

Of God and other manenos

Most of us would agree that the objectivity of good was a thing we had settled and dismissed with the existence of God. Theology and absolute ethics are two famous subjects which we have realized have no real objects.

Ramsay 1925

If the prospect of integrating faith and contemporary experiences is to be ultimately successful it must be sufficiently radical. And to be sufficiently radical it must get to the root concept of God. And to be sufficiently radical respecting the concept of God it must radically depart from the philosophical world-view which has given the traditional faith in God a cultural form which no longer serves well that faith.

Leslie Dewart, Catholic theologian

It is possible that in their time the Five Ways (Aquinas Proofs) were an exciting expression of the whole movement from the actual world to the reality of God… But there can be no doubt that they no longer express anything of the sort.

Howard Root.

Dear theist

This is a response- kinda- to this letter directed to atheists. It’s a letter that from the very onset is full of fallacies. I will pick a few and leave the rest for you to name.

The pastor asks

How do you think we got here? Was it a colossal cosmic accident or is there some plan, design or purpose behind our existence? (false dilemma fallacy)

An an atheist or unbeliever, there is no contradiction in answering I don’t know to the question of how we got here. As we do not have any definite knowledge on how we got here, the question of purpose cannot be answered conclusively. We can say our purpose is to propagate more life. But if this is the case, are those, who for one reason or another, do not propagate living purposeless lives?

The next question follows a wrong assumption.

 If we are here by cosmic accident, who is right and who is wrong, and what rules should we live by?

I don’t know how we got here or even why but that doesn’t stop us from working out a way to live that promotes peaceful coexistence.

If theists believed and acted like they believed their gods existed, some of the things we see around us would not happen. So to write

 If there is no ultimate arbitrator then I would assume that we are not accountable to anyone which means that the rules we make are based upon current opinion, force of autocratic power or democratic vote

is in my view to be blind to history and reality. We don’t need an ultimate arbitrator. We need just a few intolerant people to be adamant about something and it may become law.

I am certain there is a fallacy involved in this next question

You say that there are some things inherent in us that define what is right and wrong, but if we are cosmic accidents is anything really inherent or does each of us have to figure out life and sometimes we discover similarities in our experience and we conclude that our similarities mean something is inherent.

Our first parents (taking liberties here) can be cosmic accidents but we have what is called accumulated history and knowledge of the race that has contributed in promoting life. Over time, these habits, tendencies become part of the group psychology. It is not rocket science. And I don’t think there is any contradiction in finding a product of a cosmic accident having some inherent properties.

In the next question, the good pastor is being dishonest. He asks

If that’s the case why is it that all civilizations look for “God” without knowing each other or having a pre-existing cross reference?

And I argue that people do not look for gods per se, but are looking for answers. In this pursuit, humanity have invented gods, imbued them with powers ranging from omniscience to immortality, without ever being able to tell coherently what a god is or why one is even needed.

In asking

Religion is confusing and there are multiple religions and theories, but does that confirm that we are a cosmic accident, or does it mean that we just do not know definitively one way or another?

the pastor is mixing up issues.

How should we live? Many things answer this question. And we get answers from custom, from public opinion( a very potent guide, actually. The threat of public dishonour or shame is enough to keep many people in check). The good pastor however thinks he can corner us and asks

You insist you are certain there is no possibility of God, so who or what determines how we should live?

Is it nature?

Is it public opinion?

Is it science?

His question is loaded. He has introduced god in the premise as a determinant on how we should live.

Do our lives have meaning? In his book on the human condition, Benatar, identifies different levels at which our lives can have meaning; cosmic meaning. There are some people whose lives have meaning only so far as their families are concerned. Other people luckily, manage to transcend borders. Therefore, in asking

But can science help us with meaning? If we are cosmic accidents, is there a single meaning, or are there multiple meanings?

the pastor is pretending there is a universal meaning for all of us. Had this been the case, the many people who live miserable lives trying to find meaning for their lives shouldn’t be a common occurrence.

Atheism generally is understood as absence of belief in deities. It says nothing about the character of the atheist. The pastor in writing

If you subscribe to a belief system, do you have to be profane against the thing you don’t believe? Shouldn’t your atheism produce someone who is superior to the ignorant people who believe in God? Shouldn’t others be able to look at you and your character and conclude that atheism is good and produces better people?

is making an argument that has no leg or head to stand on. One could turn the question on its head and ask of the theist, why with the belief in god and the threats associated with it, do they steal, pillage and cuss? Do they not fear their god(s)?

In his final paragraph, Dave tries to be dishonest again. He writes

Since there is no scientific experiment that either proves or disproves God, why should I give up on something that works for me?

which contradicts what he wrote before, thus

No one is required to believe in God because we are all individuals who make our decision from our knowledge base.

Put differently, everyone believes as they are convicted. But there are good reasons to give up religion.

why are theists so foolish

I don’t like pastors. I really don’t like them. I think I agree with Diderot’s sentiments that men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.

In this post, the author has chosen to show that atheists are foolish. He writes

In other words, if one cannot accommodate certain propositions to be scrutinized by means of the scientific method, then said propositions must not be de facto, true.

which isn’t true. That would only make something unscientific not necessarily untrue. And there is no demand that the observations be under a microscope.

It is a misrepresentation of facts to write

Since the scientific method is allegedly the only venue through which one can prove things to be true, then the feelings of a cow for her calf must not exist. In fact, one could say that based on the scientific method, one’s feelings and intellectual musings do not exist either.

He also contradicts himself. The only we have come to know that a cow has feelings, whatever their representation, for its calf is by observation. Without observation over time, we wouldn’t come to that conclusion. In fact, it is only with observation that we can arrive at the conclusion the author of such trope is foolish.

It is an oxymoron, for deficiency in vocabulary, to say

Religion is also a scientific method. In fact…one could say that religion is the most ancient scientific method of human history…and as such, it should at least be respected

If anything, religion, properly defined, is the antithesis of method, scientific or otherwise.

This claim here

Like the scientific theories that inspire atheists to believe that there is no Creator, religions also evolve (and at times even supplanted by other religions) when new data (or new experiences) are observed. Like in the case of scientists, religionists hold on to their theories until other theories seem more plausible… A true religionist (as a true scientist) will keep an open mind and adjust his or her theories in accordance to experimentation and verifiable data.

is not only ridiculous but untrue. People didn’t change their religions because there was more data. A Katlick becoming a Muslim isn’t doing so because suddenly there is more data, they are changing from one delusion to the next. Data is the least of their concerns.

I contend there are no experiences that are religious. All our experiences are similar, profound joy, deep regret/ sorrow and whatever in between are human emotions. It is interpretation that makes some religious.

I don’t see how thinks this response

Thank you for sharing. Certainly there must be no God for you. You are an insignificant point of demarcation between eons of dark unconsciousness. In fact, from that perspective one could say you do not exist either. And yet, lo and behold, I am communicating with you even though you are nothing in comparison to the eons of space and time. In fact, since you are nothing, it is a total waste of time for you to argue against something that in your opinion does not exist…since in the grand scheme of things- you are absolutely nothing. You never mattered…you never will matter… So enjoy the little consciousness that you have accidentally been given- an illusory pseudo-consciousness since in the grand scheme of the universe, you still remain to be….NOTHING

to one who said they have no reason for devotion is profound. There is no relationship between my existence and that of a god. And logically there is no law of logic that is violated in saying there is no god. And why does someone have to matter in the grand scheme of things to be important?  As a pastor, one would expect he would attempt to show the interlocutor why they should pray instead of demeaning them. Maybe I am wrong and pastors are not taught to be ambassadors of their cults.

This statement

Atheists are fools because they discount as rubbish the existential experiences and scientific data that led millions (perhaps billions) of people before them to believe in the necessity of a Creator.

is not only blatantly false but a misrepresentation of a demographic that have rejected the received notions of god. Majority, if not all, who have believed in a god have done so because they were indoctrinated into believing there is one and have then interpreted events in their life as religious.

Finally, it is a case of irredeemable stupidity to claim that atheists are foolish because the bible says there is a god and they reject it. As others before me have opined, it would be unforgivable to deny superman since he appears in comic books.