PLEASE NOTE:

MyNews24 is a user-generated section of News24.com. The stories here come from users.

 
Unrestrained
 
Comments: 91
Article views: 4
 
 
Latest Badges:



 
View all Unrestrained's badges.
 

God's Handicap

22 June 2012, 08:49

I’d like to kick things off with an upfront apology to all of those who are sick and tired of the religious debate raging in this forum. I, too, am increasingly convinced of the futility of it all (despite my previous contributions) and seriously considered not perpetuating it with this article. Alas, I have caved and what follows will probably result in much of the same circular and uncompromising debate. I am posting this mainly for the occasional gem comments that surface amongst all of the kak. So, if those comments, or this debate, do/does not interest you, perhaps, now is the time to stop reading. Having said that, I would like to ask (where possible) for intellectual honesty from the commentators, as I am genuinely interested in what people think of what follows.

I have recently been pondering two quotes, as, in combination, I think that they raise some interesting questions.

“Thinking is man’s only basic virtue, from which all the others proceed. And his basic vice, the source of all his evils, is that nameless act which all of you practice, but struggle never to admit: the act of blanking out, the willful suspension of one’s consciousness, the refusal to think – not blindness, but the refusal to see; not ignorance, but the refusal to know. It is the act of unfocusing your mind and inducing an inner fog to escape the responsibility of judgment – on the unstated premise that a thing will not exist if only you refuse to identify it, that A will not be A so long as you do not pronounce the verdict ‘it is’.” – Ayn Rand (Galt’s Speech in Atlas Shrugged)

and

“I know that you don’t now, because I don’t know – and you possess no faculty for understanding the world that I do not.” – Bill Maher.

Rand’s words were not written in specific reference to religion. But, she was a ‘devout’ atheist and it is easy to see how these words may find reference to the religious debate, insofar as it might (from the atheist perspective) be argued that religious people ‘induce an inner fog’, refuse to think and simply attribute everything to God.

Maher’s words were written in specific reference to the religious habit of claiming knowledge of God, without supporting evidence.

Easy enough? Well, I’d like to put a different spin on things, for the simple sake of argument. However, I need to first make reference to a third quote, in preemption of the inevitable accusation that I have wavered in or converted from my disbelief, as evidenced by my posting of this article.

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” – Aristotle.

What if we used Rand’s and Maher’s words within the context of what the religious have been telling us this whole time? What if Rand’s words are correct, but in the wrong context, and Maher’s are, simply, wrong? I imagine that I’ll need to expand a little bit here …

Rand talks about the closing of the mind and/or a refusal to know. In essence, she does not despise ignorance, but, rather, the educated refusal to acknowledge something that is true. Rand despises the people who, despite all the evidence, would argue that A is B. Now, we’ve all encountered the religious argument that God (A) is obvious everywhere and that atheists have simply closed their minds to the truth and have refused to acknowledge A as A, rather straying off and saying that A is B (where B could, for instance, be represented by The Big Bang Theory). If this were true, then we atheists are truly a reprehensible bunch and are probably deserving of the condemnation sent our way by believers (and, ultimately, God). Do we agree here?

As a hypothetical, I accept the above – but, I cannot leave things there. Personally (knowing that I cannot talk for all atheists) I have not willingly chosen to fog my mind. I have read broadly (including religious, philosophical and scientific texts); I have observed diligently; I have meditated deeply; I have prayed desperately; I have tested meticulously; I have discussed openly; and I have listened carefully ... My beliefs are as they are, as a result of thorough, conscious enquiry. Therefore, if there is a God, I remain ignorant of his existence. I do not refuse to acknowledge him, despite an abundance of obvious evidence before me. In this sense, at least, I do not think myself reprehensible, even if I am wrong.

This leads us to Maher’s quote. The religious maintain that God is obvious and that they know of his existence. But, how can they know, if I don’t know and they possess no faculty for knowing that I do not? What if Maher is wrong? What if the religious do possess some faculty for understanding that we atheists do not? What if we are, in a sense, handicapped? What if, despite it being obvious to them, we are incapable of ever knowing God? What if, because of our handicap, we are bound to remain ignorant, until death (along with its revelations) provides us with the truth? Will we be sorry then?

Well, if we accept the all-loving and forgiving image of God (basically, what we’re told about him) then it’s unlikely that he’s going to hold us accountable for a handicap that he, as the creator, built into us. It would be to punish us for something that we, by design, could not control and this would contradict what he’s all about, no?

So, I’m in the clear, right? Not quite yet … I could still, hypothetically, get sent to the ‘naughty corner’ for the bad things that I did in this life. So, I should be a moral person.* Does this mean that I should obey his commandments, or would it suffice that I have used my reason to work out an ethical code? Seeing as I’m incapable of knowing his existence, I’m probably also incapable of appreciating the threat of his punishment and, so, am only really left with doing the right thing because it is right (which involves me thinking about moral conundrums). In conjunction with the fact that my reason is all that’s left to me, with my vital ability removed, the creator could hardly fault me for following it, even in the event that my mind led me to dismiss one of his commandments. He could not punish me (surely?) for using the only moral compass available to me, in my handicapped circumstances, or, once again, it would contradict what he’s all about.

I’m hoping that, apart from being hypothetically interesting to atheists, the above also allows believers to consider some things, to the extent that they may be right about everything. Even though I said that I can’t speak for all of them - I can say, with confidence, that many (if not most) atheists haven’t willingly fogged their minds. Instead, they have considered the issue/s deeply and have still not found God. Assuming again that believers are correct, I can only make sense of this contradiction by suggesting that Maher’s words are wrong. Either way, assuming that we atheists live our lives guided by (our sense of) morality, the condemnation needs to stop, in the name of your God.  

*I am not saying that fear of punishment is a good reason to be moral. My mind (go figure) suggests the contrary.      

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.
 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
91 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Martine Blackler
Things to like

I hear people complaining all day about pot holes in the road, corruption, the legal system, the police.... Read more...

4 comments 202 views
Submitted by
FrancoisFMarais
Hunting of tame animals

Animals that were previously feeding out of the hands of visitors of Marloth park will soon make their way as furniture and decor in the houses of people that "love" Africa themed decorations. Read more...

8 comments 270 views
Submitted by
Atheitis
Where are the whales?

Does anyone have an explanation or am I one-eyed and wrong? Read more...

33 comments 500 views
Submitted by
Nhlanhla Nyembe
Pistorius sentencing

The five-year sentence received by Pistorius just goes to show that there is different justice for different people.  Read more...

4 comments 634 views
Submitted by
Saskia Ferreira
Oscar's Punishment does not fit t...

When putting a murderer on trial one needs to disregard his social status. This in my eyes is something they didn't do. They should have treated him as "Oscar, the guy who killed Reeva".  Read more...

14 comments 597 views
Submitted by
Renee Viljoen
Oscar Sentence.. unfair !!

I do not believe that he did not know Reeva was behind the door... justice was not served!! Read more...

6 comments 264 views

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Deal of the week!

Save R1200 on the Samsung 48” smart full HD LED television now only R8799. Buy now!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

Save 20% on Nivea beauty products!

Buy any two Nivea beauty products and save 20%. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

 

services

E-mail Alerts The latest headlines in your inbox

RSS feeds News delivered really simply.

Mobile News24 on your mobile or PDA

E-mail Newsletters You choose what you want

News24 on your iPhone Get News24 headlines on your iPhone.

SMS Alerts Get breaking news stories via SMS.

Blogs Your opinion on you, me and everyone.

Calais Website keywords automated by OpenCalais.

 
Interactive Advertising Bureau
 
© 2014 24.com. All rights reserved.
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.