- Paryatan ka mahatva essays
- Honest Doubt: Essays on Atheism in a Believing Society by James A. Haught
- Honest Doubt: Essays on Atheism in a Believing Society
If there was convincing, empirical evidence for the existence of a god, I would be the first one to accept it. What does it imply? Is it really possible to believe anyone could be so illogical? I have no interest in believing any proposition which is not true, and to stubbornly cling to one that I know is false would only be to do myself a disservice. In any event, as many former believers will testify, the psychological strain of acting in accordance with a set of principles one does not believe in is immense.
I claim no such fortitude of will as to be able to withstand it indefinitely. If what the fundamentalists say was really the case, I would become a theist before long, like it or not. It would be foolishness to say that I deny the god hypothesis because I do not want it to be true, since I accept many other propositions whose consequences are disturbing. For example, I accept it as true that human beings are currently destroying our environment — our one and only planetary home — at an unprecedented pace, by razing irreplaceable habitat such as old-growth forests, coral atolls and wetlands; causing the extinction of numerous species; releasing toxic pollutants into the earth, water and air; and changing global climate in unpredictable ways by emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Any of these changes may disrupt the fragile food webs and weather patterns upon which we depend, potentially leading to mass famine, outbreaks of deadly disease, even the extinction of the human species itself. Furthermore, I accept it as true that human society is currently menaced by fanatic religious terrorists bent on creating a totalitarian theocracy and willing to kill anyone who would stand in their way.
I accept it as true that a massive cosmic impact could destroy all life on Earth at any time, and that we are doing very little to even watch for such dangers. I accept it as true that terrible weapons continue to proliferate, with little oversight or control. Finally, is atheism itself such a comforting proposition? After all, it makes the potential consequences of the other dangers even worse.
True, it grants us maturity and freedom, but the other side of that coin is that it burdens us with responsibility. Atheism tells us that if we do not solve these problems, there will be no saviors, no second comings, no messiahs descending from the clouds to rescue us.
If we fail, humanity will die; the light kindled so briefly on our planet will go dark, and that will be the end. Why do I accept these propositions as true? It is not because their consequences are comforting — they certainly are not. The simple truth is that I accept them because that is where the evidence points; the question of their consequences does not enter into it.
And likewise, if the evidence pointed to the conclusion that God existed, I would have no choice but to accept that, regardless of how it made me feel. I am not saying that if I knew God existed, I would definitely worship him. Only a supremely morally good being would deserve that, and existence by itself does not automatically confer moral goodness, nor does supernatural power.
Even if I came across conclusive evidence that there was a god, important questions would remain, especially the problem of evil. But if such problems could be resolved, if I was presented with convincing evidence that there was a supremely morally good deity, I would gladly set aside my atheism and devote my life to worshipping and serving him. Why on Earth would I do otherwise? If I had solid evidence that an all-benevolent God existed, I would have every reason in the world to follow him and none to deny him.
If, on the other hand, God does not exist, then I lose nothing by my atheism and gain a life unfettered by ancient fear and superstition. However, there is a group of people who have good reason to be afraid of the truth — the fundamentalists. If the truth is that there are no gods, then many theists have lost a great deal: the time, effort and money often a lot of money spent on worship; the years of their life expended in intellectual servitude to erroneous beliefs often many years ; and the comforting illusions they have grown to depend on.
Reality can be a rude shock to someone unused to it. They have been taught that life without god-belief is bleak, futile and meaningless, without purpose or hope, and that only through theism can one possess basic human traits like morality and love. And to top it all off, many of them sincerely believe that if they abandon belief in God, they will be punished with an eternity of conscious torture in a pit of fire too horrible to imagine.
Although I know many atheists who have detailed experience and often first-hand familiarity with religious claims, the reverse is almost never true. Of the theists who accuse atheists of being afraid of the truth, how many can say they have read any atheist books? How many read articles about atheism written by actual atheists?
How many have engaged in civil, constructive dialog with atheists in an honest effort to find out what and how they think? No demon must whisper to him in some hour of anger that perhaps the company promoter was responsible for swindling him into the workhouse. No sudden scepticism must suggest to him that perhaps the schoolmaster was blamable for flogging a little boy to death. The Determinist faith must be held firmly, or else certainly the weakness of human nature will lead men to be angered when they are slandered and kick back when they are kicked.
In short, free will seems at first sight to belong to the Unknowable.
Yet Mr. Blatchford cannot preach what seems to him common charity without asserting one dogma about it. And I cannot preach what seems to me common honesty without asserting another. Here is the failure of Agnosticism. That our every-day view of the things we do in the common sense know, actually depends upon our view of the things we do not in the common sense know.
This is the real fact. You cannot live without dogmas about these things. You cannot act for twenty-four hours without deciding either to hold people responsible or not to hold them responsible. Theology is a product far more practical than chemistry. Some Determinists fancy that Christianity invented a dogma like free will for fun -a mere contradiction.
This is absurd. You have the contradiction whatever you are. Determinists tell me, with a degree of truth, that Determinism makes no difference to daily life. That means — that although the Determinist knows men have no free will, yet he goes on treating them as if they had. The difference then is very simple. The Christian puts the contradiction into his philosophy. The Determinist puts it into his daily habits. The Christian states as an avowed mystery what the Determinist calls nonsense. The Determinist has the same nonsense for breakfast, dinner, tea, and supper every day of his life.
- Way More Americans May Be Atheists Than We Thought.
- Selected Canterbury Tales.
- Terror of the Truth.
The Christian, I repeat, puts the mystery into his philosophy. That mystery by its darkness enlightens all things. The Determinist makes the matter of the will logical and lucid: and in the light of that lucidity all things are darkened, words have no meaning, actions no aim. He has made his philosophy a syllogism and himself a gibbering lunatic. It is not a question between mysticism and rationality. It is a question between mysticism and madness. For mysticism, and mysticism alone, has kept men sane from the beginning of the world.
All the straight roads of logic lead to some Bedlam, to Anarchism or to passive obedience, to treating the universe as a clockwork of matter or else as a delusion of mind. It is only the Mystic, the man who accepts the contradictions, who can laugh and walk easily through the world.
Paryatan ka mahatva essays
Are you surprised that the same civilisation which believed in the Trinity discovered steam? All the great Christian doctrines are of this kind.
Look at them carefully and fairly for yourselves. I have only space for two examples. The first is the Christian idea of God. Just as we have all been Agnostics so we have all been Pantheists. I will give no praise to so base an universe. There is a good thing behind all these things, yet all these things are lower than you. The Universe is right: but the World is wicked. The thing behind all is not cruel, like a bird: but good, like a man. Now when Christianity came, the ancient world had just reached this dilemma. War is as healthy as the flowers. Lust is as clean as the stars.
Both views were consistent, philosophical and exalted: their only disadvantage was that the first leads logically to murder and the second to suicide. After an agony of thought the world saw the sane path between the two.
Honest Doubt: Essays on Atheism in a Believing Society by James A. Haught
It was the Christian God. Lastly, there is a word to be said about the Fall.
It can only be a word, and it is this. Without the doctrine of the Fall all idea of progress is unmeaning. Blatchford says that there was not a Fall but a gradual rise. Unless there is a standard you cannot tell whether you are rising or falling.
Honest Doubt: Essays on Atheism in a Believing Society
But the main point is that the Fall like every other large path of Christianity is embodied in the common language talked on the top of an omnibus. I am the super-man. We have fallen with Adam and we shall rise with Christ; but we would rather fall with Satan than rise with you. Chesterton, Vol. The Apostle of Common Sense Season 3. All rights reserved.