Friday, April 3, 2009

In the age of godmaking...

Here's the received wisdom:

Humans have long suffered from various emotional and psychological needs and fears. So, seeing as the real world is harsh, indifferent, and unresponsive to these needs, humans in every age have fabricated gods and godlets to meet every little need. Finally, however, mankind has been freed from this craven superstitiousness and can now walk on two feet into the horizon of pure reason and exact science. There is no God; He's just been made up by precocious anthropoids in an existential bind. This is certainly the most basic objection to theism: "You know that's true, it's made up. So believing in X, Y, and Z is not only pathetic but also immoral. Humans should only believe what is objectively true and should proportion their adherence to a concept or claim based on the evidence for it. God is just a crutch."

Unfortunately, however, the psychological needs are still with us. We still limp. We simply can't function without meaning and purpose, value, hope, and unhinged love. So the new wisdom's solution is to beat the religious at their own game. Seeing as, on the one hand, there is no Meaning in the cosmos, since there is no "Meaner" in whose divine eyes anything and everything has meaning, and seeing as, on the other hand, humans are driven by their irrational evolutionary heritage to seek what is called "meaning," the best solution is just to make Meaning up as we go. If there is no meaning in the world to be discovered and cherished, then we had better just make it up ourselves.

At this point, however, the jig is up, rationally speaking. For it is the same people who in one breath castigate Christian believers for "just making up their god talk," for cherishing a make-believe world, who now, in the next breath, praise nonbelievers for making up the meaning in their lives, for cherishing a make-believe schema of value and meaning that has no more "objective" place in the world than, arguendo, God Himself. The atheist way, thus, enjoins men and women explicitly to believe in a fabricated Meaning and to proportion their evidence precisely in inverse proportion to the evidence for cosmic Meaning, namely, the total lack thereof. Precisely because there is literally no evidence for a higher purpose or a grand meaning in our world, we have to believe we can forge it every step of the way, and that, in an explicitly anti-evidentialist manner.

I have written before about the failure of paganism -- which I dub "utilitarian piety" -- to meet the true needs of human nature, even as it is mounted on precisely the premise that meeting those needs is the essence of religion.

4 comments:

unBeguiled said...

"The atheist way, thus, enjoins men and women explicitly to believe in a fabricated Meaning and to proportion their evidence precisely in inverse proportion to the evidence for cosmic Meaning, namely, the total lack thereof."

Your reasoning in the post has gone seriously askew.

One thing that gives my life meaning is that I have a job where I daily impact other people's lives positively. People need help, they come to me for help, I help them. That is what I do.

I think that is meaningful. You can call that "fabricated" if you wish, but that my job instills my day to day experience of life with a feeling of meaning is just a fact.

That is a far different thing from pretending that I have a job that helps people, and then claiming that pretending that gives my life meaning.

the Cogitator said...

"…that my job instills my day to day experience of life with a feeling of meaning is just a fact."

And that William Lane Craig's creed instills his day to day experience of life with a feeling of truth is just a fact.

You are as inscrutable to most people, who suffer from depression and Angst, as pious Catholics are to you. "I just don't see it," you say, "Putting all that energy into fables." And they reply: "I just don't see it, this 'meaning in life.' The world is bleak and doomed. Nothing matters."

Your feeling of meaning is a verity given by the internal testimony of the collective unconscious. His feeling of certainty is a verity given by the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit. At least the latter claim involves a Person that can intelligibly and benevolently express His will in the human heart.

unBeguiled said...

"And that William Lane Craig's creed instills his day to day experience of life with a feeling of truth is just a fact."

I do not deny that Craig has such an experience. But you and Craig are playing fast and loose with the word truth. Craig's biggest mistake in that chapter was his claim that his experience is veridical, while the experience of believers from other religions is false or mistaken.

"You are as inscrutable to most people, who suffer from depression and Angst, as pious Catholics are to you."

Word.

"I just don't see it, this 'meaning in life.' The world is bleak and doomed. Nothing matters."

Yes. So let us act and make meaning. Let us act and make things matter. If something matters to you, then it matters full stop. If something means something to you, then the universe is meaningful, full stop.

"Your feeling of meaning is a verity given by the internal testimony of the collective unconscious."

"Collective unconscious" is new age woo non-sense. I have no need for that hypothesis.

"His feeling of certainty is a verity given by the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit."

He has a feeling of certainty. I just read a great book called "On Being Certain". Perhaps you will receive this book.

Anonymous said...

It's entirely fabricated. You impact people's lives positively? What is this "positively" you speak of? More subjective babble imitating an objective measure.

You say you give meaning to life? Why do you have to "give" meaning to it at all? Could it be because, under your system, it has none? And what exactly is the meaning you give it? An atheist delusion. An inconsistency.

It's either Craig's way or no way. Man up and face it.