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Do You Want To Believe?

In a recent discussion with a fundamentalist, the question was asked to me as to whether or not I wished that God existed or whether atheism was my desire. I thought this was an interesting question for a few reasons.

To start off with, the obvious fact that ones desire for something to be true has absolutely no bearing on whether or not that something actually is true. I want there to be a million dollars in buried in my backyard, but it is extremely doubtful that there actually is a million dollars buried in my backyard. I want to have superpowers and as a point of fact that is actually impossible. So I think this question takes the conversation in the wrong direction. But that aside, let’s proceed.

Do I wish there was a god? Which god are we talking about exactly? The Christian assumes that it is the Christian God, but even that god is not specific enough considering that many Christians have very different ideas of what the Christian God is like. There is of course the God described in the Bible which no modern day Christian really subscribes to. This God is the equivalent to a spoiled bratty kid with a tyrannical disposition. He is as the Bible describes him, a god of wrath, a jealous god, a spiteful god, etc. So if that is the god we are talking about then absolutely no, I don’t wish that god were real.

However, with a little imagination we can take old Anselm up on his definition. Do I wish there was a god that could be describe as that which nothing greater could be conceived? Sure that god sounds like great to me. That god would be perfect in every way: wise, compassionate, understanding, moral, etc. Of course, one look at the world around us proves that such a deity does not actually exist; because if there was a god that had all those traits there would be no suffering or evil in the world.

This brings us back to the old Problem of Evil. As I talked about many times in previous blogs and even an Examiner article or two, Christians will often try to blame suffering and evil on humans or the devil, but the fact is that I can conceive of a deity what could have foreseen all that and stopped it before it started. I can also conceive of a deity that could stop all the pain, suffering, and evil in the world instantly without the need for elaborate scheme of blood sacrifice that take thousands of years to play out.

Getting back to the issue at hand, I don’t think one can really say that atheism is a desire because atheism is not a concept or a thing that is capable of being desired. It is a lack of a thing. I guess I would say that it is my desire to not be shot in the head. In that sense atheism can be a desire, but it is an odd kind of desire when you think about it. Most desires are for something rather than lacking something.

The fact is that the world is a certain way and that science, reason, and logic help us to understand how that way is and how the world works. There are no greater tools at our disposal for accurately understanding the world around us. There are no greater tools that can make accurate predictions about the world around us. Anselm’s God would be able to instantly beam all the knowledge of the universe into everyone’s brain, but since that hasn’t happened, I have a more realistic desire for science.

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