Sunday, March 15, 2009

Grasping For Meaning

Thomas Aquinas suggested that a proof for God's existence was the absurdity of infinite regression. Everything has a cause, but at some point there had to be a first cause. His way out of this was to assign that first cause the name "God".

Atheists have since contended that this only dodges the question. Even if we agree to call the first cause "God" we have failed to demonstrate any characteristics of that first cause. We can't even know if it's intelligent. To try to draw any conclusions from this assertion is impossible.

Similarly, theists will claim that the universe cannot exist eternally (for various unconvincing reasons) and so it requires a point of Creation. That point of Creation must have been enacted by a Creator, who is God and who is eternal. But the question then goes, "If the universe cannot be eternal, why can God?" Again, we have failed to demonstrate anything by the assertion, and we have failed to provide any evidence for the assertion.

The illusion of meaning, or purpose, is something taken very seriously by the religious. An argument that atheists hear time and again is that God must exist, because otherwise we would all be simply biological machines and everything we do would be ultimately meaningless and without purpose. They, of course, assume that life is not meaningless and without purpose as a foregone conclusion. Atheists respond to this by suggesting that the religious try to enjoy life for what it is, rather than for what they wish it to be. I think we can do better.

To suggest, somehow, that the existence of God solves the problem of purpose is deflecting the question. If we are unable to imbue meaning in our own lives (which, I would argue, we are), what makes us think God can? What makes It the final arbiter of purpose? The universe, if "Created", would simply be a grand experiment, or play, or argument. Its Creator, though having authored something of extraordinary magnitude, is without intrinsic value. To put it plainly, God is as empty as we are. To suggest that It is somehow able to imbue meaning and purpose into anything is to stop the infinite regression at an arbitrary spot, because the alternative hurts our heads (or, in this case, hearts).

God, if It exists, is a lonely, solitary, empty entity playing with Its own illusions. There is no other way to view a being like that. Theists must be so depressed and anxious, trying to search for approval and validation from something that never gives direct answers. I'm glad I'm an atheist so I can kiss a girl, eat a steak, laugh at jokes, and appreciate life for what it is.

2 comments:

Q said...

I like Christopher Hitchen's argument that not only does god not exist, but it would be horrible if he/she/it did (paraphrased).

Some unknowable entity watching you all the time and punishing you based on some random bronze era ruleset.

HeathenUK said...

Hey, if you wanna read the first new topic I posted in the Skepticism group, I can email it to you if you like? Click my name to get my myspace address and send me a message and I'll post you what I wrote. I chose "The Law of Large Numbers" to be the first topic to discuss.

That's a nicely put post. I've always been baffled at how people somehow link the idea of no god to no meaning in life.