Archive for May, 2008

Governmental Beneficence

Dear US Federal Government,

I wanted to thank you for my recent “economic stimulus” check of $600.  It was very kind of you to tax me over ten times that and then generously give me back $600.  Tell you what, how about next year you stop wasting money and I’ll stop paying you to do it.  That would certainly suit me better than another check.

Love,

Jason Stotts

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Divine Purpose

by Jason Stotts

Everyone needs something to believe in. It is a fact of human nature that we seek to know, to understand, to have meaning in our lives. We search for this meaning, some of us spending their entire lives trying to find it. We have created gods to give us meaning; we have imbued them with omniscience and asked them for the answers we seek. We have forsaken them when they failed to reveal their secrets.

What is it that we are looking for? Meaning. We want our lives to have meaning: to have a purpose. We want to know why we exist. We want to know why we were born. We want there to be a cosmic plan with us as its locus. We want the impossible and we curse existence for denying us.

Yet, it is only our desire that frustrates us. We are not looking in the right place. We are not looking in the right way. There are gods to be found: do not look up, look in. The gods for which you searched have been inside you all along.

In exiling reason to the farthest corner of your soul, you have denied your unity. You have made it into an “other;” a being beyond you, yet all too close. You can feel its presence there, its power, its certainty, and its truth. Insofar as you partake in its divinity, you cry your ecstasies and sing your praises to the false idols you have erected outside you, fearing what was inside. Your idol is safe; your creation poses no threat. The divinity inside you is dangerous; it has the power to transform you.

You see, this god inside you has the one thing that you yearn for most: purpose. But purpose comes with a terrible price: responsibility. Your god cannot give you purpose. But as the legends say, your god is a creator. Your god, your reason, can create purpose.

Only by joining with your god, your reason, can you hope to find that which you seek. Only by becoming divine, by embracing your reason, can you hope to find that which you so desperately need: meaning. Your meaning: the meaning you have created for yourself.

Your god is in you, embrace him, embrace the divine reason within and gain for yourself the kind of life you never thought possible.

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The New Atheists?

by Jason Stotts

Following the marvelous essay by Greg Perkins at Noodlefood about “The New Atheists” v. D’Souza, I thought I’d chime in and write a critique of my own. For right now, I’m going to leave aside the problem that the New Atheists don’t offer anything to believe in and focus on the problem that they aren’t really Atheists.

What?! You might be wondering how I could insist that Dawkins et al. are not Atheists given that they call themselves Atheists, everyone else calls them atheists, and they’ve even written books throwing that term around. In order to understand my objection, lets look at the term “atheist.” An atheist is someone who is without god(s) (a-theist, a-theos, without-god). An atheist is not someone who thinks that god probably does not exist (this person has no categorical label), nor is he someone who thinks that we can never have knowledge about the matter either way (that person is agnostic). No, an atheist must be completely committed to the belief that there are no gods.

Yet, if we look to Dawkins’ The God Delusion, the strongest claim he can muster is this: god is really, really, really improbable. What?! An atheist needs a slightly more substantial claim than that: winning the lottery is improbable, but people still do it. Dawkins is actually unable to truly be an atheist because he is committed to a conception of science that relies solely on probability and eschews metaphysics.

Unfortunately for him, the battle against god is battle that must be fought on the metaphysical and epistemological battlefield. You cannot convince someone to abandon their beliefs in god because he probably doesn’t exist. No, this person could reasonably counter that they think he probably does. In order to end the scourge of religion, we must focus, as Perkins says, on the fundamental issues. The issue is between reason and faith, between rationality and irrationality, between a metaphysics of causality and a metaphysics of magic.

It is not their simple belief in god that must be eradicated, we must utterly destroy any epistemology that grants validity to super-sensory knowledge, to intuition, and revelation. We must destroy their metaphysics where any A can be any ~A at any time they wish, where causality is a matter of will, where non-contradiction does not apply.

It is not that god is improbable, he is a violation of every epistemological and metaphysical axiom that reason can identify! God is metaphysically impossible. This is the claim that we must make, this is where we must draw the line in the sand and stand our ground. If we move an inch from this line, we lose. Once we grant any validity to their warped metaphysics and epistemology, we are on losing ground. We must deny every principle they try to use: yelling at lumber won’t build a house, nor will praying for it. We must demonstrate the patent absurdity of their position and, regrettably, hope for the best. Why? Because you can’t argue with someone who has forgone reason. Argumentation presupposes reason and logic. Luckily, though, no one can completely move away from reason and live. Thus, we must appeal to whatever reason they left. The honest ones will recant their beliefs, the others are beyond our help.

If we really want to defeat D’Souza and his ilk, we must attack them at the root of the problem: their metaphysics and epistemology.

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