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Thursday, August 10, 2006

The "there has to be more to life" argument

The "there has to be more to life" argument is an informal sort of arguing which sees religion not as a competing worldview about reality but as a supplemental set of beliefs about reality. I think this way of seeing religion is probably very widespread as an implicit assumption in everyone's minds, believers and atheists alike.

I think that, to a certain extent, this is a dangerous perspective on religion, because it minimizes the bankrupcy of religious epistemology and ontology. It puts the inherent relativism and inter-subjectivity of religion on the same footstool as the rigors of science and rational independent thinking.

It is, in this regard, similar to the expression "alternative medicine", as it tries to smuggle irrationality as a complement to reality. The efficacy of "alternative medicine" depends compeletely on "evidence-based medicine", as in and of itself it brings absolutely nothing to the table. It is a castle in the sky.

So it is easy to squirm to a question such as "why do you attack people who just want more from life ?". Confronted with such a question, most atheists would probably fold faster than an origami Frenchman. But in fact there is no reason to fold against such a question. The obvious answer is that religion does not bring "more to life" - but in fact blinds people to great swaths of life.

Apart from the implicit model of religion contained in the argument, "there has to be more to life" is a double-edged way of thinking about the issue. What if I decide I want more than the blinkered, paranoid worldview of Christianity ? If God exists, then everything is arbitrary and contingent. What if I don't want everything to be arbitrary ? What if I want some actual meaning in my life ?

And what if I want some real morality, not just insane orders from an unproveable inspiration ? If I was a Christian, I would no doubt believe that the whole of the Bible, that book of lies and murder, was inspired by none other than Satan in an attempt to deceive people into worshipping evil. That seems far more reasonable than any claim of truth put upon that most insane of books.

The argument, therefore, can be easily turned against the believer. If everything that the secular world has to offer is not enough, then where do we stop ? Why stop at Christianity ? Rather arbitrary, isn't it ?

What people really want is pre-packaged answers that add a thick layer of veneer to their everyday lives. They want to be privvy to profound mysteries of the universe which require little study and intelligence. In short, they want the advantages of a scientific worldview without having to actually understand anything.

What is it that spiritual seekers seek ? What is the hole they try to fill ? It has to be the need to be part of something far greater than themselves, but at the same time something they can intimately relate to. Yet this is incongruous and dysfunctional. That is the nature of religion.

What is the meaning of life ? This is a question to which Christians have no answer. They claim that God gives meaning to their lives, but they have no way of knowing what that meaning is, except insofar as they simply make it up. Confronted with the difficulty of knowing what a transcendent being wants, they just transpose their petty desires and concerns on that being, and call this inspired.

The meaning of life is a silly concept. Life is not the product of human choice, or any choice at all for that matter. It can only be analyzed as a premise, in the same way that we may examine logic or materialism - as fundamental facts which support the whole fabric of our understanding. To treat life as a mere symbol is, therefore, a category error.

Christianity, of course, must treat life as a mere symbol, because its moral system is supposed to exist independently of humanity. Human life, in this view, is a testimony of the power of God, as well as its sovereignity. It belongs to God and can be disposed of at God's whim. This is a very arrogant and callous way of seeing the issue. We must reject any belief in the contingency of life as anti-scientific and anti-moral.

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16 Comments:

At 8/10/2006 8:02 AM, Blogger Zachary Moore declaimed...

I've seen this argument many times before. I was just recently told that "surely I believe there is more to the love I feel for my wife than just brain chemistry?" Why would I need there to be? Physical processes in the brain explain perfectly the experience of love- there's nothing more needed. It would be like saying that a picture is too beautiful to be made up "just" of individual pixels, or that a video game is too remarkable to be made up of "just" 1s and 0s.

 
At 8/10/2006 2:00 PM, Blogger olly declaimed...

Great post Franc, and Zach, the comment you receive about love for your wife seems to be a presuppositionalists bread and butter. There is actually a post over at Josh Brisby's blog regarding how much he respects Greg Bahnsen, blah blah, and the quote from Bahnsen has the same 'love for your wife' crap argument in it.

I guess that theists have a hard time believing that nature is enough to inspire beauty in and of itself, and that there needs to be an invisible cloud monkey as well.

-olly

 
At 8/10/2006 3:06 PM, Blogger Hellbound Alleee declaimed...

Well, of course there has to be more than THE ENTIRE FRIGGING UNIVERSE.

Yet if someone wants something "more," out of his own life, he is seen as selfish and greedy. Isn't that anti-Christian?

 
At 8/10/2006 8:09 PM, Blogger breakerslion declaimed...

You pretty much nailed it, but I live in the Paisley Universe, as opposed to the Physical, or the Cartoon Universe, so allow me to make these observations.

“If I was a Christian, I would no doubt believe that the whole of the Bible, that book of lies and murder, was inspired by none other than Satan in an attempt to deceive people into worshipping evil. That seems far more reasonable than any claim of truth put upon that most insane of books.”

Actually, the Byebull was written by putzes that were “inspired” by Beelzebub’s two moron brothers, Beelzepal and Beelzemac. This explains all the contradictions and idiotic assertions. You doubt my word? Then you are damned for eternity because I say so.

“What people really want is pre-packaged answers that add a thick layer of veneer to their everyday lives.”

What they want is to be led by the nose. They have been selectively bred to want this. They are fed a steady diet of bullcrap to keep them hypnotized.

“What is it that spiritual seekers seek ? What is the hole they try to fill ?”

They seek what they have been told to seek, and what they have been told that they are lacking. The hole they are trying to fill is the hole they have been taught to believe exists, but does not actually exist. You cannot fill what is not there.

“...they just transpose their petty desires and concerns on that being, and call this inspired.”

Not even. They transpose their leader’s petty desires, and those things that they have been told are desirable by those same scam artists. The Emperor of the Universe is naked. And absent. And made-up. But their denial is too deep ever to begin to admit that. That’s why there is so much fevered activity to reinforce the whole scam, day after day, over and over again. How can one combat such a colossal bullshit machine?

 
At 8/10/2006 9:01 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

Heh. Good work.

 
At 8/13/2006 5:15 PM, Blogger Zendo Deb declaimed...

You need to be a bit careful about generalisations about "all religion" when most people in the west are only in tune with the Lavant's world view.

Not all religion offers up a set of pre-packaged answers on all topics. Not all religions contain reference to a "creator" the way Judaism, Chistianity and Islam do. Not all religions are about life after death, and as you say the Lavant just uses the idea of life after death as a bribe for extracting behavior in life. (Be good go to paradise, be bad ...)

 
At 8/28/2008 8:09 AM, Blogger laptop battery declaimed...

Great post Franc, and Zach, the comment you receive about love for your wife seems to be a presuppositionalists bread and butter. There is actually a post over at Josh Brisby's blog regarding how much he respects Greg Bahnsen, blah blah, and the quote from Bahnsen laptop batteries has the same 'love for your wife' crap argument in it.

I guess that theists have a hard time believing that nature is enough to inspire beauty in and of itself, and that there needs to be an invisible cloud monkey as well.

 
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At 11/05/2009 12:44 PM, Blogger Sergio Negrinnie declaimed...

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At 11/05/2009 2:55 PM, Blogger Sergio Negrinnie declaimed...

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At 11/04/2010 11:48 AM, Blogger Rick declaimed...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 11/04/2010 11:51 AM, Blogger Rick declaimed...

well as the history has show us, if we left that our religious beliefs guide our life style we could end like Tadalafil , an old men who dedicated his entire life to one religion and in the end of his life all the church leave him alone, all need a balance to be perfect including your beliefs and life style.

 
At 11/04/2010 1:17 PM, Blogger Charlesman13 declaimed...

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At 11/04/2010 1:19 PM, Blogger Charlesman13 declaimed...

I don't know but in my personal opinion the argument is valid, by the simple reason we don't have to be conformist in our lives.
A few days ago I went out to buy Viagra Online , and I found a person who said that this argument was a crap... and I respect his ideology (I guess so), but he should learn we can not predict our destiny, and we can not know if there is more to life, so....

 
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