Monday, September 10, 2007

Losing God

Unorthodox Atheism has a post that starts with a reader saying that she finds atheist arguments convincing but still cannot give up her faith because atheism is so hopeless.

Of course, I, as an atheist, do not experience the hopelessness that some Christians claims to experience as they contemplate atheism.

I covered this topic recently in The Desire to Serve God. Specifically, a person with a desire to serve God is not going to see anything of value in a state of affairs where the proposition, "I am serving God" is not true.

Atheists have no such desire. (Or, at least, very few of them do). So, they do not see the utter emptiness that others see in such a state. Some atheists do share this desire (because it was taught to them as children) and, though they are atheists, still feel this huge sense of emptiness.

I think that it is important for atheists to get a grasp of these dynamics, if they are going to talk intelligently to those who have these impressions.


Hume's Ghost said...

I find it baffling to hear someone say they find an argument convincing but they "choose" not to believe it out of fear of the consequences. How does one choose to believe anything?

Its the same problem I have with Pascal's wager. How does one wager belief? It requires self-deception.

Alonzo Fyfe said...

Hume's Ghost

I actually have no problem with the idea of choosing beliefs.

Of course we lack some type of contra-causal 'free will'. That type of 'choice' never did exist.

However, we do have type of 'choice' that grounds outcome on desires - the ability to measure states of affairs my our desires and choose the option that (we believe) would best fulfill our desires.

The claim that we have the ability to 'choose' our beliefs is nothing more than the claim that people will, at times, evaluate beliefs the way they evaluate other states of affairs, and choose the belief they like the most.

Contrary to having problems with this, I think this is a very common way of evaluating beliefs - not according to the evidence, but according to what we prefer to believe.

It's not a very good system. However, this is no argument against the claim that the system is widely used.