Friday, June 13, 2008

It's been emotional

This is a response to comments made to previous posts.

A bulk of the first response was regarding something that Jonathan probably did not intend to talk so much about. Specifically, why we should not expect anything extraordinary from god - why we should not ask him to create a round square or make 2+2 = 23.

My contention was that if we ask for proof of any other kind (miracles, specifically) , then we should reasonably expect to find a logical, natural explanation for them. If it does not happen according to the laws of nature, then it does not happen at all. If it does happen, then there is a reason for it. And my point was that if god really cared about fostering belief, then he would have set up a system whereby his presence - his existence even - would be evident. No such system exists.

Jonathan writes:
Unlike you I accept the evidence that you have eliminated: creation, the Bible,
experience, and the other logical arguments. All of these things can be
explained and or assumed to be explainable, but why would I want to try to
explain them away?


I was surprised to see him write this. What he seems to be saying is that he agrees that there is a rational, logical explanation for most everything. What I would call nature, he will call magic. When a ball rolls down hill, I will see a list of natural laws at work, and he will see the hand of god rolling the ball down the hill at exactly the same rate you would expect if we were to rely on science to explain the event. If he means to say that god is nature (and nothing more), then I am a believer. And belief is very much the wrong word to use. Belief, in this case, implies that there is no good reason to think something. That is, there is another, perfectly useful explanation available - natural laws, as discovered through scientific methods - which can be used and learned. No suppositon or superstition is involved. But the believer injects god into the equation, for no particular reason, and with no justification. Therefore, belief becomes necessary. The world runs perfectly well without making that assumption. If, as Jonathan says (and I agree here) "all these things can be explained an or assumed to be explainable," then why bother going a step further?

Which brings me to the second comment, where he concludes:

"If you haven’t thought of this already, consider it now. What is it that can
satisfy you completely? You may or may not have it or all of it. You may not
even be able to obtain it completely. But what would be your ideal existence?"


Throughout our ongoing debate, Jonathan has been remarkably honest and logical. Although I have disagreed with nearly all of his points, his arguments have been rational and based in logic. But this was just a blatant appeal to emotion, and assumed too much. It assumed, for example, that any one thing could satisfy me completely, and that I am capable of even defining an ideal existence.

I am not satisfied completely. There are problems in my life. Do I wish those problems would go away? Sure. But then I might be bored. I am entertained by films and books and video games that have conflict. Conflict makes life interesting, but it also makes life hard. So what would my ideal existence consist of? The question is completely irrelevant. I am happy most of the time, and for the most part, I am satisfied. Dissatisfaction should inspire change, not depression.

But I know what he was getting at. I know he was trying to make me recognize my 'god-shaped-hole' and realize that my life will not feel complete until I accept Jesus Christ. If his life is given meaning by belief in Jesus, then who am I to try to take that away? But even he has to recognize that just because it makes him feel good, just because it gives his life meaning and even if it inspires good behavior (which I am not convinced that it does), it does not make it true.

Which is why emotional arguments are worthless.

1 comment:

jljarvis said...

Nathaniel writes:
... he will see the hand of god rolling the ball down the hill at exactly the same rate you would expect if we were to rely on science to explain the event.

Yes, but not apart from natural laws. Natural laws are not an answer to "why?" but rather "how?". God is the Christian's answer to "why?". Your answer would be "no reason", which attempts the make "why" = "how". The jump from "how" to "why" can only be made by belief regaurdless of the answer to "why". Christians usually make the jump because of the Bible (which has a lot more credit than you make it out to), given how it came to be.

Nathaniel writes:
But this was just a blatant appeal to emotion...

I'm sorry about the obvious confusion. I was not attempting to prove something with my "satisfaction" question. Nor was I trying to bring up the 'god-shaped-hole' argument. I understand that just because we may have such a hole, it doesn't mean there is something to fill it. My intent, rather, was to point out (somewhat as a side note) that what does or would satisfy you (i.e. what you desire) is what you love and that what you love plays a major role in how you make the jump from "how?" to "why?".

Nathaniel writes:
It assumed, for example, that any one thing could satisfy me completely, and that I am capable of even defining an ideal existence.

If you ask yourself "why?" enough, you can summarize the answer. I asked this so that I and you could understand you better.