Saturday, February 7, 2015

Still more on disbelief

I don't know why I am making a second entry in the same day. I have papers to grade and I need to read Death in Venice, both for Monday. But I've just been watching anime all afternoon, not to mention that I only got up at 1:30 I think.

I want to hopefully bring a close to this consideration of that sentence "God's existence is too good to be true." I talked before about Hume, and about probability. About the idea that, as long as you can't be completely certain of a thing, you can always doubt it and it can always drive you mad.

I could imagine some skeptic objecting, Ah, this simply isn't the case Kevin. You don't very often meet irreligious people who have an equivalent anxiety that God might exist and they might be damning themselves. Oh, there might be some like that, Kevin, but we both know the proportions are not equal. The truth is, this skeptic holds, that the arguments in favor of God are simply so weak that an intelligent person - and the skeptic here acknowledges my intelligence - can't overlook them, at least subconsciously.

I don't know about that, Skeptic-kun. Like I have said, I don't tend to debate anything here - but I can tell you that I am more troubled by the thought "Its too good to be true" then the idea that there can be a completely inexplicable infinite regress, and that the universe is an example of such. I am not, again, debating the point. I am only saying, I am not psychologically bothered by it to the extent that I am with the the too-good-to-be-true argument. Nor am I saying that the possibility of an actual infinite regress doesn't actually bother me, just that the worry is lesser - but this could just as well be because I am irrational or unable to evaluate arguments correctly. But by the very fact that those arguments are arguments, and have the structure of an argument, they don't back the same punch as the too-good-to-be-true argue, which is essentially a troll - which are always more effective deep down than an argument can be.

Let me take another example that I can tell you I have enjoyed a full year of peace through - The Miracle of the Sun. You can look up Fatima if you like reader - I am not even talking so much about Fatima itself, because there isn't that much one can verify, as I found, if one doesn't read Portuguese. What I did find, in a book on the sociology of religion I don't care to look up again, but it is on Google books for those interested, was the report of of Avelino de Almedia. Before whatever happened in Fatima, he wrote a rather scathing and cynical appraisal of the situation, and that it was I found translated in the book. But as you can see in the Wikipedia article, he (apparently) saw something. It took awhile for it to sink it, but eventually, the thought dawned on me that I knew many people who used the same tone as Almeida had in the original article, and I can't imagine any of them writing the things he wrote after the fact if the whole thing had simply been the result of a mass hallucination. Soon after this, I had peace for almost a year.

But it is easy to forget that peace. I eventually forgot where that peace had come from in the first place, except that I made a concerted effort to avoid atheist blogs when they popped up on Google search results. I had also convinced myself that as long as I kept myself occupied, usually with a vidya game, the shadow of doubt would stay away from me. But a few months ago, when I couldn't really afford any games and there weren't really any I wanted to play, at a time when I had been having stomach problems, I lay awake during the middle of the night and thought "Why do I even believe in God?" And any answer I could come up with was met with "Ah, but isn't that just wishful thinking?" Just that little thought was enough to destroy my peace. Even now, the fact I am writing this shows my peace has not been entirely restored.

What this is showing is simply that that thought, too-good-to-be-true, is the most pernicious I know of. I can think of. It doesn't just do me psychological harm in the religious realm, but in the mundane as well. As the example I gave before might suggest, I have never had the courage to persist in trying to establish a relationship with the opposite sex. After two rejections in high school, I simply lost interest, and any feelings that might have stirred in me in the interim were snuffed out.

I don't know if I have said everything I wanted to say, but I am sick of writing at the moment. I shall, at least, try to hold off until tomorrow if the mood strikes me.

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