Thursday, May 09, 2013

Why everyone should be an atheist

By Mathew Goldstein

We start from scratch, from the perspective that we will give both possibilities, atheistic naturalism and theistic supernaturalism, equal opportunity to be adopted.  We can define supernaturalism as immaterial willful agency and/or immaterial mind, or god.  We know nothing and we are born into a universe.  What would we experience in a universe where we would be properly justified to be theists, and how does that universe compare to our universe?

We need an unbiased criteria to decide.  The bottom line is practical success versus failure, so that is the criteria. Success is whatever works to meet our needs and desires.  We need things like food, health, shelter, we desire things like travel and knowledge.  So what delivers our needs and desires?

The answer could be divine revelation.  By studying the holy texts, adopting the specified beliefs, worshipping, praying, following the rituals, obeying the laws, as revealed to us by deity, we receive food, health, shelter, transportation, and knowledge.  In other words, by practicing methodological supernaturalism we are successful.  Given a choice of what to believe, we follow the available evidences and become theists because the universe evidences supernaturalism.  However, in our universe, agriculture, medicine, housing, and transportation are human built and maintained products of human acquired knowledge, our knowledge is built exclusively on methodological naturalism, and the content of our knowledge is also naturalistic.  Therefore, when we follow the available evidences we become atheists because our universe evidences naturalism.

Some theists will probably object to this argument for atheism by saying it is bad theology.  Should we respect this objection?  If we are committed to holding beliefs that accurately model how the universe works then we should disregard this objection.  Success, not self-referencing ideology, must be our guide because success is the most plausibly unbiased criteria available to us, it is the way that our universe itself communicates to us regarding how our universe works.  Lacking omniscience we lack certainty that our conclusion is correct.  But such unavoidable uncertainty makes no difference.  We are rationally obliged to adopt the conclusion favored by a pervasive and unchallenged track record of success.

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