Monday, November 19, 2007


Micha vaguely tried to capture my position on religion, but to no avail, for I have kept that position so vague as to be unstateable. And if you can't state it, you can't criticize it, which is why I spell my name "Scottdrkt."

Ha, kidding. No, to the contrary, my position on religion is actually quite explicable, and I will explick it shortly. Said position is carefully designed to irritate as many people as humanly possible, and nearly everyone finds something in it to complain about. You will too!

First, there is no God. I have no knockdown argument for that bold assertion, rather simply a lack of personal evidence. I don't feel God in my life--some people do, but I don't, and I trust my own observations more than other peoples'. It's possible some day such evidence will present itself, but nothing I've seen to this point suggests such an event is on the horizon.

Now, that should offend a large number of you. Time to go after the remainder.

Second, it's not clear there is no God. Hell, it's not even clearly probable. All of the simple arguments against God are weak. The whole "there is no evidence for God claim" doesn't work, because there is arguendo lots of evidence for God--personal revelation, intuition. The real argument is over what counts as evidence, and no rule to define evidence, such as "only empirical third-party observeable data counts as evidence" suffices. That would rule out much of what we non-solipsists take to be true, such as axiomatic statements and various aspects of consciousness, without even getting into Hume's induction problem.

Now that's enough for me to doubt any kind of clear divide between what is science and what isn't, or what we have justification to believe and what we don't. I think that divide is there, but it's not enough to simply say, science relies on logical positivism and theology doesn't, ergo, trust in science. Or something of the like. And this whole queasiness, and knowing the majority of the world disagrees with my position on the existence of God, is enough to make me humble holding it.

I think the best I can do is point out that many religions differ quite a bit, but that's only reason to distrust any particular incarnation of God, not the general core religions share.

Now, if I've done my job, that last few paragraph pushed the amount of people annoyed with my position up to 99%. This next part has nothing to do with religion, but I include it just to alienate that last one percent: morality exists objectively, and we can detect it intuitively.

Also, Dane Cook isn't funny.


Micha said...

Damn, not much to disagree with here, though I will admit that I have in the past enjoyed Dane Cook's standup routine. I did feel terribly guilty and dirty afterwards.

punk rock girl said...

do you feel a lot of pressure to believe in God so that you can make new friends and get along with your roommates? if so this reminds me of my favorite episode of america's next top model cycle one.

Scott said...

Nah, I'm not into friends so much. I do feel a bit out of place when I go to Communion, but Hell--free bread!

punk rock girl said...

yeah that is how it ended on americas next top model as well.

Joshua Holmes said...

You don't believe in God because you have never experienced him, but you believe in objective morality that can be intuitively detected. I presume, since you're a nice guy, that you've intuitively detected some of it already.

So, how can you make a claim as strong as "there is no God"? Your argument against religion is that you haven't had any personal experience with God. But maybe your intuition is faulty. I don't see how that leads to so strong a claim as "there is no God".

For me, I found that I could duplicate religious experiences in non-religious settings. Singing in secular choirs felt just as transcendental as religious choirs. Intimacy with someone you is far, far better than the intimacy of prayer. And the calming, healing effects of prayer happen just as well with deep breathing and non-religious meditation.

The Boogie Down Productions had it right: the real holy place is mental.

(fresh for '88 you suckas)

Scott said...

1. I think it's obvious that I made my "There is no God" claim quite weak, not strong, as you charge.

2. My intuition may be faulty, indeed. I don't know how that gets me anywhere though. If it's an argument for just adopting the view of the majority, then that would rule out holding any minority position--which surely can't be right.

3. Or is your point that I should provide more justification for my atheism? I don't think that's necessary, since I didn't claim to hold that position particularly tightly.

4. Your intuition may be faulty, too. Perhaps there is some feeling that distinguishes the religious experience of prayer and that of meditation, and you, for your faulty intuition, just can't feel it. If you can find a way to defend yourself, I bet you can cut and paste that argument so that it defends me too.

punk rock girl said...

if it makes you feel better i dont think its offensive that you dont believe in God. i have never really understood why people are offended by the fact other people have not adopted their religious beliefs. i have spent over 7 years studying at a religious university and i never cared for the is there or isnt there a god argument. but it makes for a hell of a venn diagram.

Scott said...

Yeah. Tell you the truth, sometimes I think people aren't really offended by my religious positions, but rather, by my crass sexism and bigotry.

Joshua Holmes said...

I could be mistaken about my own intuitions, but it's sensible to trust my ability to compare my emotions with each other than to compare my emotions with someone else.

Scott said...

Holmes strikes again!

Josh, I'm guessing you're not as totally psyched about the upcoming Sweeney Todd movie as I am.