The supposed moral failing of atheists

It's funny, but it seems like whenever I announce a big hiatus, I can't stick with it. Then, for completely unrelated reasons, I just sort of fade out from blogging for a bit.

The truth is, I've been burned out. I'm tired of arguing with believers. I read through that mind-numbingly awful apologetics book, and I've had it up to here with any of the incessant drivel coming out of William Lane Craig's mouth. The reality is that I've just been really disillusioned about changing anyone's mind, and frankly it's hard to see the point in trying. I want to keep blogging, but as Tristan has been doing, it's time for a change of focus. Don't get me wrong, I could never stop writing about theism entirely. It's just that I'm having a hard time caring about arguing for atheism.

Ironically, part of the catalyst for all this has been an interesting video I watched on William Lane Craig, called Understanding William Lane Craig. It's worth watching, although it's almost all text so it's pretty boring – it lacks the slick presentation of, say, a QualiaSoup vid. Nevertheless, it raises some really interesting points.

Essentially, it cuts to the idea which Craig has espoused in many of his writings and debates, which is that there's not really any such thing as atheists. We all know deep down that God exists, but we just want our sexual immorality and selfishness or whatever 'sin' you can think of. God's existence is self-evident, but we just don't have the stones to acknowledge it.

For Craig, his experience of the "witness of the Holy Spirit", as he calls it, is self-evident unequivocal truth that his faith is justified. He has said, unambiguously, that even if he were persuaded that all the evidence were against him, he would still believe. He would just think that there was some stone unturned, something lacking in his understanding, that was standing in the way of him thinking about his beliefs rationally.

What this means is that Craig is incapable of seeing non-believers as people who simply have a different point of view. We are people who have a deep moral failing. We're in denial, fully aware "in our hearts" that God exists, but we're just so comfortable in our sinful ways that we refuse to acknowledge the truth.

So in my mind, it's futile, and frankly missing the point, to debate cosmological arguments or whatever else with Craig or anyone like him. They do not really care about the arguments, because the arguments are not what underpins their belief. 

What, then, about this whole idea of the "witness of the Holy Spirit" – the idea that, even in the face of illogical arguments, assertions unsupported by evidence, or even overt evidence to the contrary – you can still, "in your heart", know that you are right?

I'm reminded of something Sean Carroll said:
Even if your faith is extremely strong in some particular proposition, e.g. that God loves you, it’s important to recognize that there’s a chance you are mistaken. That should be an important part of any respectable road to knowledge. So you are faced with (at least) two alternative ideas: first, that God exists and really does love you and has put that belief into your mind via the road of faith, and second, that God doesn’t exist and that you have just made a mistake.
The problem is that you haven’t given yourself any way to legitimately decide between these two alternatives. Once you say that you have faith, and that it comes directly from God, there is no self-correction mechanism. You can justify essentially any belief at all by claiming that God gave it to you directly, despite any logical or evidence-based arguments to the contrary.
This means that, when William Lane Craig enters into one of his 'debates', he does so with absolute certainty that he cannot be wrong – because no matter how un/persuasive he finds his opponent's arguments, he knows he is right because of the "Holy Spirit", and anyone who doesn't acknowledge the same truth is guilty of some moral failing. What's the point of even entering into a discussion with someone who is certain they cannot be wrong? In the above video, Craig can be seen accusing atheists of being "cocksure". I can't imagine anything more "cocksure" than a belief that is utterly immune to evidence and argument.

I'm singling out Craig because I think he embodies a mindset common in many modern believers. I see this all the time when I engage in lengthy debates with believers. The real buttress for his beliefs is simply incredulity at the notion that his most cherished beliefs could be complete and total bullshit. His personal and social identity is so deeply intertwined with his beliefs that he's incapable of putting himself in the shoes of a healthy skeptic. He just cannot imagine that we don't secretly believe in God. He can't even entertain the idea that his experience of the "Holy Spirit" may have been nothing more than the outcome of common cognitive biases.

That's why, in so many words, I'm burned out on it all. I don't have any desire to try to reason with people who only apply reason and skepticism selectively. This blog must go in the direction of my own personal development, and I'm not entirely sure what that's going to be. But I'm not going to be reading any more apologetics books or anything like that – not for the foreseeable future, anyway. Whatever direction The A-Unicornist goes, I hope I can keep it entertaining enough to keep you, my invaluable readers, around.


Oh, and I'll be extra-honest. I also haven't been blogging as much because I've been spending lots of time with my fantastic girlfriend (we have lots of atheist orgies and drugs to do!), and practicing a shitload of guitar. I've been studying this amazing Australian guitarist named Paul Wardingham. His music is insanely difficult, but learning it has definitely pushed my development as a musician. I'm currently, among other things, trying to get down the 'solo' section (2:08 – 2:41) to this song:

 

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