- Additional information
- God: Personification ≠ Person
- Is There No God? - jozomibola.tk
- Is supernatural belief unreliably formed?
- WE MUST SEE THAT FAITH IS THE CONNECTING FACTOR
For such people, therefore, religious faith and commitment is to be avoided because it appears to involve an unacceptable degree of personal humiliation and an unwelcome interference with the pursuit of pleasure and happiness. If, in addition, they are writers and artists, their desire for creative freedom increases their resistance to the idea that there may be some Eternal Power outside themselves to whom they are accountable for the use of their gifts and talents. For intelligent people who value their intellectual integrity and enjoy using their minds, that is an important consideration.
Moreover, the idea that life is full of mysteries to be explored and vanquished by the human intellect, is more exciting and appealing than the intellectual dead-end religious faith apparently represents. Consequently, by keeping God out of the picture, atheism seems to offer a bigger universe and a greater challenge to bold and adventurous spirits. Is it therefore any wonder that atheism is so widespread amongst our intellectual elites? Perhaps not, but whatever may be its attractions, the question still remains: is atheism true? Is there really no God?
You may think, given all the problems in the world, that there are more pressing matters to consider than the possible existence of God, but is this not the most important of all questions? If astronomers and doctors think it worthwhile to search for life in other galaxies or study the human body, is it not even more interesting to find out whether there is a creative Intelligence behind all the phenomena investigated by these and other scientists?
Can anyone who cares about truth ignore this subject and pass by on the other side? Even if tempted to do so, is it sensible given the possible implications and consequences if God does exist? If it is possible that we owe our lives to a Creator who is the source of our very being and the fountain of all beauty, goodness, love and truth, should we turn our backs on Him?
Would that not be like a plant refusing to grow towards the sunlight? While atheist philosophers vary in their approach and their arguments, the standard case against the existence of God commonly embodies three propositions. The first and most emotionally compelling is that the existence of evil and suffering cannot be reconciled with the assertion that the world has a good and omnipotent Creator.
Secondly, modern science — in particular, the theory of evolution — explains the origin and development of the universe, and all its life-forms and structures, without any reference to God, so why do we need Him? He is plainly redundant.
Finally, since enlightened self-interest and the good of society provide a perfectly adequate moral framework for human life, there is no need to invoke the existence of God in order to account for our moral faculties or provide a foundation for ethics. There is, to begin with, a glaring contradiction in the argument that the presence of evil and suffering in our world indicates that there is no God.
In the first place, our very awareness of evil and suffering underlines the fact that we seem to possess some internal standard of right and wrong, good and evil, by which we are able to judge existence and the universe, and find them wanting. But this raises an obvious question.
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Is this internal moral standard subjective or objective, true or false? But if, on the contrary, our moral perceptions are true and objective, they clearly reveal the existence of something good in Creation, namely, an eternal Moral Law, written on our hearts, but reflecting some greater Reality outside ourselves and beyond Nature. Paradoxically, therefore, our consciousness of evil confirms rather than refutes the existence of God, just as a crooked line implies the existence of the straight line from which it deviates. The realisation that atheism is a superficial response to the problem of evil was one of the reasons for C.
It also influenced the conversion of St. Augustine centuries earlier. But there is another equally compelling reason for rejecting the notion that the existence of evil and suffering discredits belief in God. It ignores the problem of free will. Lewis himself argued, in his books, Mere Christianity and The Problem of Pain , free will is undoubtedly a gift from God since without it we would be robots incapable of real love and therefore unable to experience the joy of being voluntarily united in love with both our Creator and one another. But there is a catch, since it is in the very nature of free will that we can choose to reject God and embrace evil.
If we do so, however, we not only cut ourselves off from the true source of our being and imperil our eternal happiness; we inevitably inflict suffering on others. Hence the impossibility of shielding the innocent from the malice of the guilty in a world of free agents.
The very fact that God has made us in His image limits, by an act of voluntary abdication, His ability to prevent the progress of evil in this life. Is this, then, all there is to say about the problem of evil? By no means. It is precisely the contention of the Bible and Christian theology that God has not abandoned the human race to its fate.
He not only offers forgiveness and eternal life to those who turn to Him and reconnect with their Creator; He also promises eventually to judge the wicked and redeem Creation. But this is a great and controversial subject well beyond the scope of this essay. What is simply being stressed here is the inadequacy and implausibility of atheism as a contribution to this discussion. The superficiality of atheism in relation to the problem of evil is mirrored in its equally shallow explanation of the religious impulse in human beings.
To dismiss belief in God as a form of wishful thinking rooted in a desire for significance and security, as atheists typically do, begs more questions than it answers. In particular, it fails to give proper consideration to what, on atheist premises, is a remarkable puzzle.
God: Personification ≠ Person
If the material universe is all that exists and there is no God, why are we, its accidental products, so unreconciled to our place in it and our fate? If it is absurd to imagine falling in love in a sexless world, is it not possible that our desire for God is actually a pointer to His existence rather than an illusion?
Furthermore, what are we to make of the fact that religious belief has been common to millions of human beings down the centuries, of all types, races and social conditions? Why, if there is no God, have kings and philosophers, artists and scientists, poets and peasants, thought otherwise? Has most of the human race, from Hebrew prophets to modern physicists, simply been mistaken in their religious convictions? And what, finally, are we to make of the experience of God claimed by mystics or encountered by ordinary people in their prayer lives?
Even allowing for the fact that majorities can be mistaken, should this weight of testimony across the ages be lightly set aside? Should it not give pause for thought to even the most hardboiled atheist? To be specific, it cannot offer a convincing explanation of our experience of free will, our ability to reason and obtain knowledge, or our awareness of moral values. Take the issue of free will first. Although scientific determinists, like the late B. Skinner, deny its reality, the evidence that we do in fact possess it is overwhelming.
Our freedom to choose is not only confirmed by our own internal experience of weighing alternatives and deciding between options, whether this involves selecting food from a restaurant menu or changing jobs; it is also presupposed by the very nature of all argument and debate, since there is no point in engaging in philosophical discussions if we are not free to examine, accept or reject a particular chain of reasoning. But if their belief that we have no free will is inevitable, how do we know that it is true?
It has, on their own assumptions, no more validity than the conclusions of their philosophical opponents. Why, in any case, should the burden of proof rest upon the upholders of free will rather than upon their determinist critics? Does not our experience of being able to change our minds or resist temptation confirm our common sense conviction that we are not robots? But if our belief that we have free will is well founded, how can that be reconciled with the physical determinism implicit in atheism?
How can we be free to think and choose, decide and act, if we are nothing more than complicated biochemical machines put together by chance within an accidental universe? On atheistic premises, all our thoughts and choices — including our belief in the rules of logic and our ability to use them — are simply the end result of a long chain of non-rational causes. How then can we trust any of our reasoning, including the arguments supporting atheism? Surely our minds and our capacity to be free agents are at least partially dependent upon or fed by some creative self-existent Reason and Intelligence outside the physical order of our brains and the material universe.
How else can we escape the self-contradictory logic of atheistic materialism? To quote C. Oxford Socratic Club It may be objected, at this point, that minds must be wholly dependent on brains, since death or injury can terminate or damage human consciousness, either by ending life or impairing our mental faculties. But this is not a convincing defence of the truth of atheism. Not only does it fail to provide an adequate answer to the problem raised above by critics like C.
Lewis; but it also overlooks the fact that physical death and decay can never be cited as proof of the non-existence of the human soul and its link with God. It is obvious that if human beings are a composite of body and soul, death or disease will dissolve or distort this union of matter and spirit, but this does not imply that materialism is true.
Otherwise one would be justified in denying the existence of newsreaders and the human voice because our ability to receive televised news bulletins will inevitably be disrupted if some hooligan destroys our television set. Does this not provide compelling evidence of the truth of atheism? Not by a long chalk. In the first place, this argument still fails to explain how, on atheistic premises, we can be sure that we know anything through the use of reason.
Secondly, it is invalid because it is based on a subtle confusion and misuse of language. It is the human beings who use the computers who are the ones really analysing, calculating, and processing information. The plain truth, of course, is that without the initiative and intervention of willing, acting, and interpreting human agents, computers, scissors, kettles, and all other artefacts, are just inert and purposeless pieces of machinery. Only our loose conversational shorthand makes us temporarily forget this.
Another reason for rejecting the belief that computers are in principle similar to the human mind, is that this notion fails to take into account the true nature and complexity of human consciousness and mental activity. When, for instance, we do mathematical calculations, analyse data, or solve problems, we not only perform these functions but are conscious of doing so. We have a self-awareness which not only enables us to know what we are doing, but that it is we who are doing it.
This self-awareness, moreover, is crucial to our whole sense of identity. It is what makes us persons , since without it, we would not be the subjects of our own experience, with wills of our own and therefore the capacity for forming intentions and taking purposeful action. Do computers have this autonomy and self-awareness?
Is There No God? - jozomibola.tk
Obviously not. Even the most impressive computer is merely a programmed and artificial extension of human intelligence with no inner life of its own, since its operations have no inherent meaning or purpose except to the human minds interpreting its data and determining their use.
Does this demonstrate that there is an unbridgeable gulf between mind and machine? Yes, unless someone manages to construct a computer which has motives, is self-critical, can fall in love, change its mind, compose music, write a novel, develop a new idea or product, and worship God. But even if that should prove possible, the discovery that minds are machines would still offer no evidence in support of atheism, since computers are not random creations but the product of conscious design. Without their human creators, they would not exist.
If atheism cannot account for the nature and operations of the human mind, is it any more successful in explaining the existence of conscience? I hardly think so. All its varied attempts to do so misrepresent and explain away our moral experience because they ignore the peculiar nature of moral obligation and moral values. For example, are our moral perceptions instincts aiding our survival, and therefore a form of learned behaviour preserved and extended throughout the human race by a social process analogous to natural selection? Surely not. But why do we make this choice?
Because of our moral perception that the life of another human being is as precious as our own, and we have a duty to save it if we can. There is another reason for dismissing the idea that our moral faculty has evolved because it helps us in the struggle for existence. It is contradicted by both history and our own experience. Why else are there so many dictators and criminals?
What about the other commonly held view, that it is the long-term interests of society which determine and explain our moral values, rather than our own immediate interests? The problem with that is that it fails to explain why we should care about society as a whole if we can have a better or happier life by ignoring, as many do, its wider interests. In the end, unless we are nihilists who deny the existence of all values, we are forced to admit that our moral convictions about the preciousness of life, truth, justice, mercy, and so on, are self-evident axioms.
How can we attach any importance or authority to our moral perceptions if they are only, as we are, the accidental product of a random and purposeless universe? The fact that we recognise an objective standard of Right and Wrong which exists whether we live or die, obey or disobey it, can surely only mean one thing: it is the manifestation within our being of an Eternal Self-existent Goodness outside ourselves and the natural order but in communication with us.
In short, it is the moral argument for the existence of God. The failure of atheism to make sense of human consciousness is symptomatic of its overall inability to provide a credible explanation of the origin and development of life.
Is supernatural belief unreliably formed?
The first important question it fails to answer is why does anything at all exist? Is the universe self-explanatory? The fact that scientists can study life and the universe without having to even ask, let alone answer, this question, does not make it any less interesting or relevant. To anyone searching for truth, it is a meaningful inquiry to ask whether Nature has an Author or is self-sufficient, for one very compelling reason. Paperback , pages. Published June 1st by Destiny Image Incorporated. More Details Original Title.
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WE MUST SEE THAT FAITH IS THE CONNECTING FACTOR
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