Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Fast Work Day Post

First, I'd better point out that during Lent when I was fasting from taking notice of the snark being flung at me from the rump of commentators at Eschaton, I assumed the pseudonym "Camera Obscura" to post comments on other blogs under,  I'd been getting trolled by He Who Craves Attention when I used my own name and I didn't want to be tempted to respond to him.  I have been keeping the same pseudonym since then to avoid his trolling, I assume I'll have to either put up with that now or to adopt a new one.   The boy does love to act out to get attention for himself.

Here is a small part of the exchange I had over at Religion Dispatches.  If you want to read them in all of their embedded, out of order confusion, you can look at it there.  I think this brings up an interesting point as to where the value of truth is more likely to arise, from religion or from atheism.


Are they arguing over which side is moral, or which side is true?


What makes anyone think that those are an either/or proposition? One of the reasons that truth matters is because it is necessary to know the truth to chart a more moral course of behavior. Which is one of the reasons that it is generally held by religious people that it is a sin to tell a lie and to bear false witness. The prophets, including Jesus constantly emphasize the importance of truth. The Bible says, You will know the truth and the truth will set you free. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth. John 4:24.
Atheism contains no commandment to tell the truth. The necessity to do so can't be demonstrated by science.
I think that what too many people, including many atheists, especially those who comment online, mistake the truth for agreeing with their opinions.

The idea that is an either/or proposition is really bizarre, considering the idea that the truth is superior to lies is, itself,  thoroughly embedded in moral obligations.

As shown, yesterday, atheists, when challenged to account for the huge numbers of murders, the huge mass of oppression committed by atheist will take refuge in a pose that, why, atheism is just the negation of belief, it contains nothing else, heaven, help us, so to speak, it's not an ideology.  More about which later.

So, just for now, taking atheists at their word about their ideology, atheism contains no commandment to tell the truth, it contains no means of evaluating the reasons to tell the truth over lying when that is expedient, when it is just desired or just for any reason.

Neither can the science that they claim as their property do that.  I have yet to have anyone point out to me the scientific paper that contains scientific evidence that we are required to tell the truth or even that it is better to tell the truth.  Of course, science is entirely unequipped for that task.  So, neither atheism nor science can assert a firm position that the truth is better than lies.  And neither can materialism.

On the other hand, in addition to those two quote from the Second Testament I mentioned, I went looking at concordances for mentions of the truth in the entire cannon.   Here are just a few mentions of the word in the Revised Standard Version from the Psalms and Proverbs.

Those who walk blamelessly, and do what is right, and speak the truth from their heart  Psalm 15:2 

Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long.  Psalm 25:5 

O send out your light and your truth; let them lead me;  Psalm 43:3 

In your majesty ride on victoriously for the cause of truth and to defend the right; Psalm 45:4 

You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.  Psalm 51:6 

You love evil more than good, and lying more than speaking the truth 
Psalm 52:3 

Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth  Psalm 86:11 

Do not take the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, for my hope is in your ordinances.  Psalm 119:43 

The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. Psalm 145:18 

for my mouth will utter truth; wickedness is an abomination to my lips.  Proverbs 8:7 

 Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence, but a false witness speaks deceitfully. Proverbs 12:17

Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment. Proverbs 12:19 

 A truthful witness saves lives, but one who utters lies is a betrayer. Proverbs 14:25

Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding. Proverbs 23:23

Certainly, in other religions, certainly those I've read in, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, there are similar injunctions to tell the truth and praise for knowing and speaking the truth, all of which, by their own professions of atheism being just a denial of belief, would be entirely absent from atheism.   Which certainly has been confirmed in my experience with arguing with atheists online. Whatever compulsion they have in line with regarding the truth to be superior to the false must come from somewhere other than their ideology and a lot of them would appear to feel no such compulsion.

This business of drawing distinctions between knowing and believing, reasoning and feeling, is dishonest in itself.  I think those are frequently false distinctions used to deny the fact that there is no bright line between knowing and believing, reasoning and feeling.  Every person who does those things are all the same person, doing so out of their one mind.   I think we, ultimately, choose to believe what we know, I think our feelings are certainly involved in that as much as reason is.  As can be seen with what is so often asserted to be known, most evident in the blog babble of self-advertised rationalists, feeling has everything to do with it.  And the nature of what is felt has everything to do with the moral nature of the outcome, for better and even up to the worst.

1 comment:

  1. Without any examination of the topic (the on-line atheists, I mean), on-line atheists discuss "truth" glibly, without really paying attention to differences in meaning.

    The famous "Truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth" of the courthouse oath, is not the "truth" most on-line atheists avow. That truth, the one they avow on-line, is some kind of fealty to materialism and empiricism (how much fealty, and to what, is something they never examine. Ask Richard Dawkins or Lawrence Krause that question and watch them squirt rhetorical ink like a squid, in an attempt to escape.). It is the "truth" that the existence of God cannot be established (what that existence would be is never examined, either; or how any existence is established. I used to want to prick them to prove they weren't a Turing test, since all discussion is on-line; but it's not worth the distraction to go down that road).

    Then there is the "truth" that I love my wife and daughter, and my closest friends. That is not the truth the courthouse oath covers, or that is covered by any school of materialism or empiricism; and by what method would I ever establish it, except my actions? And if one of my actions disputes that truth (if I flare in anger, for example), does that disprove my truth of my love?

    Immediately the howler monkeys start objecting that this isn't what they are talking about, or that I'm confusing the issue, or some such squirting of ink. And these are what I would call simply common-sense questions, not even the difficult philosophical issues taken on by Kant and Hume and Derrida and Heidegger and Wittgenstein (to name a few disparate thinkers), or (not to forget) even Kierkegaard.

    Just going that far is going too far. Interestingly, Nietzsche and Sartre understood the risks and responsibilities incumbent upon atheists who deny God (Sartre especially). On-line atheists want to eat their cake and have it, too. They are children, playing in a sandbox, unwilling to even admit they sit and throw sand and call it the whole of reality.

    It's sad, really.