Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Atheism is Boring

Sean McDowell has posted on his blog arguing that atheism as an idea leads to very boring conclusions. He announced he was working on it on Facebook yesterday, and I figured this would be the direction he would take. As I said to him on Facebook, "I think atheism must be the most intellectually mundane experience that anyone could partake in. What's the point of acquiring any knowledge at all if we're just sophisticated conglomerations of matter? That is boring." Check it out.

28 comments:

A.M. Mallett said...

Atheism, when we boil the gloss completely away, is nothing more or less than human selfishness. It is a rather dull companion to vain religiousness substituting an overt self for vain religion's covert emphasis on much the same. It has been around as long as the sinfulness of man and the LORD gave Paul a glimpse of it here ...


“¶ Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed [it] unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, [even] his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified [him] not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.” (Ro 1:19-25 AV)

zilch said...

Yes, I admit, atheism is boring: not believing in gods is not very interesting. Theism is also boring: believing in gods is also not very interesting.

Luckily, life itself is very interesting.

cheers from interesting, not boring, Vienna, zilch

bossmanham said...

I suggest you actually read the post before you comment.

Ryan Anderson said...

boring and mundane somehow equals not true?

bossmanham said...

Who said that?

Ryan Anderson said...

You

"Atheism is Boring"

Whateverman said...

Lack of belief in something in boring indeed.

However, I don't see you blogging about how boring not believing in unicorns/Allah/honest Republicans is.

Perhaps you're simply trying to feel better about your own beliefs, rather than commenting on the beliefs of others...

bossmanham said...

Ryan,

Are you purposely not keeping up?

Whatever,

So did you have a point there?

Whateverman said...

The implication was obvious, Brennon.

Happy black friday...

A.M. Mallett said...

Perhaps you're simply trying to feel better about your own beliefs, rather than commenting on the beliefs of others...

This comment draws attention to the common denial of many atheists that their worldview is itself a belief (faith) perspective.

bossmanham said...

I guess the implication would be those don't really pique my interest and for that reason I don't blog about them. But I would say that if those beliefs in some way afforded humanity with free will, then life under them would still be far more interesting than atheism.

Whateverman said...

What would you think of a person who asserted that a lack of belief in unicorns afforded humanity free will?

bossmanham said...

I'd ask them to show me how.

I wonder if you're freely able to click on the link I provided to read the article I'm promoting so that you can frame your objections in the proper context...?

Byron said...

One possible rejoinder to this assertion that atheism is boring can be found in, for example, the Youtube video "How Science saved my soul" or something to that effect. It's very interesting. I don't think that atheists consider their unbelief in God particularly boring, any more than a Christian considers his lack of belief in Zeus, Mithra, or Thor boring. It's no more a matter of faith to disbelieve in God for atheists I think than in Zeus for the modern man. The question boils down to being unable to believe in a particular concept of a deity because the observable facts cannot be harmonized with the existence of such a deity in the mind of an atheist. It's not a matter of having faith that God does not exist, any more than that is a matter of faith that invisible pink unicorns do not exist, for example. It is instead a conclusion based on available facts and personal judgment (which I admit, is not infallible). So, anyway, that's where I think some of these people are coming from.

exreformed said...

So, some atheists are more thoughtful and engaging than many Christians. Oh, ya, but, by the way, it has nothing to do with their philosophy of life. We fundy brains could never admit that

If naturalism is true and there is no free will, then there can be no real character development in life or in drama since people are helpless victims of their environment. This is why film professor John Caughie says that naturalism is boring when applied to movies (Television Drama: Realism, Modernism, and British Culture, p. 96-97).

Wow, Mcdowel is truly someone Bossman would read because of his Arminan drivel.

Why do we enjoy movies? The simple answer is that we are drawn to characters that choose good over evil, hope over despair, and forgiveness over revenge

Pretty weak and BORING analogy that only applies to some movie goers. Actually most people are drawn to movies because they like to watch violence, explosions, cool effects, people getting shot in the head, you get the point


A test for every worldview is if it can describe the world as we actually experience it. If a worldview fails to explain a universal human experience (such as free will) then it is inadequate.

Yet, your dogmatic worldview of fairy sky god does not fail to explain a universal human experience? Pleas tell us why this is a precondition for evaluating a worldviews, because McDowell and his buddies say so.

Of course out of all of the supposed “universal human experiences”, free will is chosen. Can you think of another one?

Another thing, it’s funny how fundys appeal to Ben Steins movie when Ben isn’t even a fundy. He is Jewish, so according to you, he is going to burn in hell for all eternity for not believing your Jesus was the messiah.

bossmanham said...

Byron,

Thanks for your thoughts. I'm not sure if people here are getting the correct context for what is being claimed about atheism. If atheism is true then then materialistic naturalism is true. If materialistic naturalism is true, then all events and states of affairs follow from prior states of affairs in an unalterable path, since there is no immaterial beings to act on the material world to change the path. If this is true about everything, then it's true about the human brain as well, meaning every firing neuron and every brain state is a product of past events going back as far as events have gone. That means everything we do and think is because of this mechanistic process, not because we actually sat and weighed options after deliberating the evidence. So you thinking your belief system isn't boring (which wasn't the claim) simply had to happen because of the events that transpired all the way up to the specific synapses involved in your brain that produced that thought.

If this is the case, then all thought is the process not of an agent intellectually examining evidence, weighing options, and coming to a rational conclusion as we typically think of it, but due to mechanistic processes. One can think of a robot that is programmed a certain way to respond to certain stimuli, or a wall of dominoes falling in an unstoppable process.

But if Christianity is true, then we are body soul creatures whose immaterial soul is responsible for controlling the material parts of the brain to produce the libertarian free will decisions we make. That is interesting because then there is real interaction going on. Naturalism is just a boring wall of dominoes falling. That is the issue, not pink unicorns and fairies.

bossmanham said...

ex,

Have a rebuttal to the argument or not?

exreformed said...

You are amazing. That's all you do is accuse everyone of taking things out of context and not offering a rebutal.

So can you at least make an attempt to deal with some of my assertions instead of just dismissing them without a reply, do you not have an ounce of decency?

Once again, please answer the following.

Yet, your dogmatic worldview of fairy sky god does not fail to explain a universal human experience? Please tell us why this is a precondition for evaluating a worldviews, because McDowell and his buddies say so.

Of course out of all of the supposed “universal human experiences”, free will is chosen. Can you think of another one?

Please, Mr. Ham, answer those two questions.

Byron said...

That's an interesting way to look at it, bossmanham, but I believe you are arguing from a set of theistic presuppositions in favor of your view at the very best. I'm not sure anyone has objective (as opposed to subjective) proof of anything in operation besides naturalistic mechanism. For example, brain damage alters not only the natural abilities of a person, but oftentimes (especially if severe) the personality as well, regardless of the existence or influence of an immaterial soul. I personally do not believe in free will, so I have little objection to the first part of your proposition, but to me that's beside the point. The point is, the burden of proof falls on the theist to prove that there is such a thing as free will, given what we know and the evidence we have for the operation of the human brain within physical limitations, and the absence of verifiable evidence for immaterial souls, supernatural realities, and a transcendent deity managing affairs invisibly to the human race. Granted, that's possible to exist I suppose. But in all fairness to Romans 1, it's hardly a given. And I am not sure what you mean by "real interaction" because real interaction occurs whether your theistic view is correct or if purely mechanistic natural processes compose our reality. The only necessary assumption is that we actually exist in the first place to interact with our environment, the way I see it.

bossmanham said...

ex,

That's because that's what's going on here. No one is dealing with the substance and context of the post I linked to. You quoted from it, but you didn't do anything but assert your position. Most of it is irrelevant.

Yet, your dogmatic worldview of fairy sky god does not fail to explain a universal human experience? Please tell us why this is a precondition for evaluating a worldviews, because McDowell and his buddies say so.

Yes, we have free will because a being with free will bestowed it upon us for the purpose of freely coming into a relationship with Him.

byron,

That's an interesting way to look at it, bossmanham, but I believe you are arguing from a set of theistic presuppositions in favor of your view at the very best.

No, this is accepted by most atheistic philosophers like Daniel Dennet, though he's a compatibilist.

For example, brain damage alters not only the natural abilities of a person, but oftentimes (especially if severe) the personality as well, regardless of the existence or influence of an immaterial soul.

I'll be the first to agree, and though I could argue for the existence of the immaterial soul, I'm not sure it's necessary here. The position is that if atheism is true then materialistic naturalism is true and all it entails. I don't need to show the truth of the other position to see what the logical conclusion of materialistic naturalism.

The point is, the burden of proof falls on the theist to prove that there is such a thing as free will

Not if all we're trying to show is the logical conclusion of another position. Atheism still entails all I said.

And your verifiable evidence presupposes the ability to reason and weigh evidence.

Byron said...

bossmanham, OK, I see where you are coming from now a little better, thanks. Though I admit I don't understand completely. I fail to see how atheism properly understood could be considered boring, because no one can even define what life is, and we do not yet fully know how the brain operates or what its capabilities are. It's rather easy (from my perspective) to just assume the mind is a function of the brain, because that's what best explains the evidence as far as I am aware. Even the ability to reason and weigh evidence, though I admit it is a presupposition I share, I see no reason why it too cannot simply be a function of the brain. Even animals reason. Primitive life forms can even reason, after a fashion. The simplest explanation is not necessarily the theistic one that presupposes a supernatural reality and the existence of a god.

But I concede the logical conclusion of atheism. I had never thought about it to that extent. I think I have to agree.

bossmanham said...

I fail to see how atheism properly understood could be considered boring, because no one can even define what life is, and we do not yet fully know how the brain operates or what its capabilities are.

I don't know that we need a real clear definition of life to deal with this question. At base we'd just need a definition of "boring" and "interesting" and I must say that a completely deterministic system where only one outcome happens by necessity in a domino-falling fashion isn't interesting.

It's rather easy (from my perspective) to just assume the mind is a function of the brain, because that's what best explains the evidence as far as I am aware.

And if this is true, then my conclusion follows.

I have no issue thinking that animals may have some immaterial part of them, though to simply observe behaviors that look akin to behaviors humans do could just be anthropomorphizing them.

But I concede the logical conclusion of atheism. I had never thought about it to that extent. I think I have to agree.

Great, I appreciate your honesty and objectivity.

Now the question would be, does this match up with how you experience life?

Byron said...

I don't know that we need a real clear definition of life to deal with this question. At base we'd just need a definition of "boring" and "interesting" and I must say that a completely deterministic system where only one outcome happens by necessity in a domino-falling fashion isn't interesting.

Here's where the rub is, I think. Everyone has a subjective view of what "boring" and "interesting" mean. Case in point, watching golf on TV puts me right to sleep. Not so for others, who somehow actually find it interesting to watch. Your opinion of what the definitions are for "boring" and "interesting" won't match mine, for instance. So, the whole assertion "atheism is boring" is a subjective one as far as I am concerned.

I have no issue thinking that animals may have some immaterial part of them, though to simply observe behaviors that look akin to behaviors humans do could just be anthropomorphizing them.

I am not trying to anthropomorphize animals, though I often do. I simply meant we can observe processes such as acquiring learned behaviors. The simpler explanation for how this occurs does not require anything outside of science or naturalistic processes. I suppose it cannot be proved or disproved yet, though I believe personally one day science will be able to explain this definitively without recourse to theistic beliefs. But that's just me.

Now the question would be, does this match up with how you experience life?

I would say so, yes, for me personally at least. It is a simpler and more elegant solution than deferring to theistic presuppositions. I realize that is subjective on my part, though. But I need evidence to believe beyond the natural mechanistic model.

exreformed said...

You still did not answer my questions, all you did was reassert the free will answer, you can dismiss it as being irrelevant all you want. I think anyone reading this can see that.

Once again:
Please tell us why a worldview must be tested in this way, it must be universally experienced.

And if so, please give another example of a worldview that meats this criteria besides free will.

bossmanham said...

Byron,

While there are some things that would be subjectively interesting to different people, I think there can be objective boring and interesting as well.

Just because an explanation is simple doesn't mean it's correct. I agree that, all things being equal the simpler explanation is better
, but all things aren't equal here.



ex,

You asked how my view addresses a universal human experience. I said that God bestows us with free will by means of our immaterial soul. That explains free will. That answers your question.

If your looking for justification, I have divine revelation, several philosophical arguments, and the intuitive feeling that I am not identical to my body.

Byron said...

While there are some things that would be subjectively interesting to different people, I think there can be objective boring and interesting as well.

Would not the belief in objective views of "boring" and "interesting" presuppose the existence of a deity to define those concepts? I'm thinking out loud here, but the minute you mention "objective" you are making reference to a standard external to yourself and your own judgment. However, it seems that the burden of proof lies on you as a theist to prove that such an objective standard exists and that its reality depends on the existence of a deity of some sort. I think you would only have two ways of proving an objective view of "boring" versus "interesting": either by referencing an explanation based on naturalism and its associated realities concerning the human mind, or on theological presuppositions. I guess I would have no contest with the first assertion, but the second one requires a burden of proof. Actually, I suppose both do, but the one may be reachable through science, while the other is non-scientific and so far cannot be proven.

Just because an explanation is simple doesn't mean it's correct. I agree that, all things being equal the simpler explanation is better
, but all things aren't equal here.


You believe all things are not equal here. That's fine. But why should I adopt your theological presuppositions? That's my basic question.

bossmanham said...

Would not the belief in objective views of "boring" and "interesting" presuppose the existence of a deity to define those concepts?

No, though I think you're on the right track. I think we can observe this objective standard and then conclude that a standard does exist; kind of like the moral argument.

I think that it's obvious that being tied up on a table for 50 years with nothing to do would be boring no matter who you are.

You believe all things are not equal here. That's fine. But why should I adopt your theological presuppositions? That's my basic question.

Well basically, you have to take the position that boring and interesting are completely subjective or don't actually exist to defeat the conclusion that something progressing inexorably toward one conclusion with no intent and no real interaction is boring, which you're free to do but is that plausible? I don't think it is.

If you want to discuss warrant for Christian belief, I'm happy to do that, but not on this post. I'm trying to keep things on topic.

exreformed said...
This comment has been removed by the author.