So it is beginning to become clear to me that absolute truth, if it exists, is certainly less valued by the majority of humans on this planet than we might like to think. Of course, ask anyone if they value truth and there is overwhelming agreement that they actually do, but how do we actually form our opinions of truth? Rewind the clock just a 100 years and it becomes clear that “truth” if there is such a thing is decidedly malleable and things that we claim to know we can’t possibly know – you me and everyone else – we all do this. Can we escape the grasp of bias, or is it inherently built into us from thousands of years of evolution?
Take for example Christianity. One would imagine that to the vast majority of Christians, knowing if God exists or not is fairly important. Now as an atheist, who has written here before, you will likely be aware that I am of the opinion there is no God. Looking at the comments one might believe that there is a war raging among Christians and Atheists over this God topic, but sadly reality tells a different story, and sadder still, none of us actually know with any certainty who is actually correct. Sure we might say one side is probably correct, or statistically correct - but with absolute certainty? No reasonable person can make such a claim.
So to me it seems that apathy is the secret enemy of truth, blinding all of us on any topic we care to address. Take this God argument. While a cluster of people on the internet are up for discussion this is far from the norm. I have tried to engage in public debates, contacting churches to see if they are up for a formal debate, speaking to friends or acquaintances, or just asking people what they believe and why that I meet and found overwhelmingly that most people just don’t care. Astoundingly people are happy to trot of to church week in and week out for an hour on Sundays, and be apathetic enough to never want to seriously question this God claim. Humans just don’t care. Throw someone in a bag of 90% of people with an ideology and overwhelmingly they just accept the claim as true and move on. Its easier to go to church without a fight than ask why you are sitting there.
Think this is a bad example? How about measuring the earth is round. How many of you have actually done this? I have, and I suggest you do too, but such simple claims are elementary to demonstrate. More complex are the social “truths” that we live by. Take homosexuality. 100 years ago, unthinkable - but now accepted as part of society. What changed? Or how about the idea that women should vote? Today unquestionably accepted as correct, but before the suffrage movement this was a radical idea.
You see what happened was this: A bunch of people got up and stopped being apathetic. They came out and said women should vote, fighting their rights. The rest of society carried on being apathetic, and eventually as more and more people got converted to this new idea until being apathetic meant just accepting this new age thinking and carrying on with your daily grind.
Truth didn’t change, but the perception of what is true certainly did – we now take it as true that women are equal and should vote etc. The same thing happened with homosexuality, and overwhelmingly now it’s being accepted more and more. Everything from racial equality to the sanctity of marriage – all being overturned by a few people who stopped being apathetic, while the rest of humanity got on without caring.
And this apathy of society is not just shaping our opinions of truth, but shaping the society itself – in ways we never imagined. Japan now has a population crisis – not of overpopulation but negative birth-rate. In 20 years, it will shrink by 1/3rd of its current size, causing massive economic problems and debt to spiral away into unmanageable proportions. The apathy of getting into a relationship is just too bothersome for the Japanese. Voting – another long standing anomaly – the very thing that shapes your future that you have a direct say in also seems to be just too much trouble. Russell Brand tells us voting is pointless, and suggests you don’t too. We are in the midst of another great apathy right now: Climate change. What will happen I don’t know, but I do know that it’s a topic very few people do anything about. The absurdity to which we cling to the ability to do nothing is incredible. I ask: is whatever belief that prevails at a given time a function of truth or apathy?
Its no secret that Atheism is on the rise. Any atheist is more than happy to spend hours debating Christians, but Christians it seems do not return this fervour with their faith. Let the atheists believe what they want, seems the mantra of the day. In a hundred years from now, will more people be atheists because it is true, or because they couldn’t be bothered to respond to the crazies like Peter Allebone, when he contacted them for a debate?
I know what I think is true, but have any of you ever bothered to question it for yourself and defend your version of truth? Or are you so apathetic, that the easiest option for you right now is to simply click on the next headline that takes your fancy on this very page?