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The Bubble of Truth

In George Orwell’s book 1984, there is a very interesting and often overlooked conversation. In this conversation, O’Brian informs Winston that he (O’Brian) can float on a bubble. O’Brian then contends that if Winston and he both believe this to be true and no one is around to disagree than it is in fact true and O’Brian really can float on a bubble. But if just one person doubts this reality, than that reality is shattered for everyone. Truth, O’Brian claims is what everyone (without exception) believes Truth to be. With that in mind, O’Brian later tells Winston that he can’t just kill Winston for opposing Big Brother, but rather he has to first get Winston to believe in Big Brother.

To some extent, I see this as the way theists think about “Truth.” As long as everyone believes in God, God is still real. People can argue about the attributes or character of God, but everyone still must believe that God exists. This is why so many theists focus so much on atheists. As long as there is just one skeptic out there who doesn’t buy into the God illusion, then that illusion is shattered for everyone. This is in part why so many theists are so opposed to atheists and it is in part the reason why they must shout their beliefs from the rooftops. The need for the conversion of others is tied directly to this view of Truth. In the end, just one atheist willing to ask questions is all that is needed to pop the bubble of religion.

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  • http://zaynawoman.wordpress.com Z

    That’s a really profound thought. Thanks for adding to the foundation-shaking I’m getting this semester! :)

  • ProgRockGirl

    I don’t know if I’ve met so many theists who were fervently anti-atheist. The very religious I’ve met, if they were against atheists, didn’t differentiate atheists from other religions they disliked. “None is worse than the other; they’re both just wrong,” one person said. There is a difference between theist and anti-atheist. But I do think the section in 1984 applies to extraordinary claims by certain people, who also claim that the miracles they work only work if everyone believes them, giving them a convenient excuse if they don’t work. The bubble of truth also has to do with society’s definition of insanity: some things that were once considered insane are now considered sane b/c they are embraced by a larger portion of society, and vice versa.

  • MosesZD

    Mine came with USENET, FIDONET and KESHERNET. All BBS webs that existed before the Internet. Some of that transferred over to the Internet; for example, The Panda’s Thumb originated out of a USENET forum.

    • Phasespace

      Yeah, I was going to mention USENET. There were several fairly active atheist/agnostic related newsgroups in the alt.* hierarchy that often cross posted to talk.origins. These places were where I encountered my first real intellectual atheists, whose logic busted away the last vestiges of an ill considered agnosticism that I was holding onto.

  • John Loftus

    Internet Infidels was available early on. It grew into a huge resource:


  • ncovington89

    Hmm, evilbible.com has a section from a website that went under called “The Church of theists suck.” Could that be the site you’re referring to?