Letter to a Theist

Dear Readers,

Today as I was reading The Common Atheist’s post on 2.4 Billion and 1.6 Billion and no Bliss, I came across this posting on Three Paradoxes of Atheism by Neil Shenvi, or NAShenvi, as he calls himself.. He is a Chemical Theorist, and quite obviously, a theist. I was intrigued. You know I HAD to read that post. Not only did I have to read it, within just a few lines I HAD to reply to it. Only, there was no place for commentary. So I went to his attached website, and still had to search for awhile to find a way to contact him. You know, of course, I am not computer literate. Even moreso, I am NOT WordPress literate. But eventually I came across his email address, and following is, almost word-for-word (I corrected a few small errors I missed while proofreading):

His full quotes are in red, his broken into pieces quotes are in magenta:

********************************************************************************************************
Dear Neil,
May I kindly enquire why it is you have a website and a blog on Word Press, yet you choose to make claims that cannot be publicly addressed since you do not leave a space for comments. You have an idea of “atheists” in your mind, obviously, yet you seem to know little about who atheists are. I am one. I have my own idea of a cosmology that does not include a superbeing of any kind, but does include a very strong spirituality that connects all living beings together. Yet, as I say, I am an atheist. How can this be?
It is mainly because we are not a group, nor a club, and especially not an anti-religion. NO TWO ATHEISTS think the same. Yes, there are those who try to stand up and speak for all atheists, but they can only represent themselves. NO ONE ELSE! Does that surprise you? It should, because like most people who are not atheists, you are likely so bound and boxed into having strength in numbers, you have probably misplaced the knowledge that the strongest number in the world is 1. No two atheists think alike, or even pretend to think alike. Atheism is a belief in one’s own cosmology, and no one else’s, therefore you are misled from the get-go. You cannot truly fight atheism as long as you believe atheism is a quantitative philosophy. IT IS NOT!
Yet you say we believe… Please allow me to correct that statement, because WE do not believe anything. The best that can be said is “I believe!”, or “in my opinion (IMO)…” Had you looked at who you are really dealing with, you would have known this. But it seems you have taken the easy way out. As a chemical theorist I would have expected more of you, but maybe you are too busy with chemicals to understand what words mean, and who people are.
But please, let me answer the charges you have levelled against atheists, such as “it is very hard for atheists to explain why seeking the truth is intrinsically good or why we are obligated to seek it.” My first thought is, why would I try to tell anyone “seeking … is intrinsically good,” when “seeking” is not something everyone does, so it is not “intrinsic” to anything. Millions upon billions of people on this earth seek, or rather desire (which is the correct verb in this instance), to be left alone, to live their lives as they see fit. No one, as far as your argument is concerned, has proven seeking to be intrinsic to anything. It is but an unproven assumption, intrinsic to nothing. But allow me to expand your statement one step, “the truth is intrinsically good.” Goodness has its root in the word “god,” so to a believer such as yourself, the truth is intrinsically god-like. Don’t  you think that is a rather fatuous statement? You are applying your belief system where there is no call to do so. God has not been proven yet, though nor has he been misproven. The point is moot. For now we will have to agree to disagree, because we are getting into an area that has absolutely no meaning in my vocabulary, so again, IMO, I cannot argue for either side. So, let us expand your statement once more, “seeking the truth is intrinsically good.” This, I presume, is part of your argument, though it is stated as an “a priori” truth,  or “truth is truth.” But is it? My truth is not your truth, and your truth is not my truth. So, either truth is relative to the beholder of the truth, or it is non-existant. There can be no “truth” when two people hold the same “truth” to be different. Truth either lies in between the two positions, or it lies nowhere at all. You can expound your belief all you want, that is your privilege. I won’t bother expounding anything because, as I said previously, the words are meaningless to me. They are beyond argument.
Ah, at last, we come to the crux of your statement, which is “it is very hard for atheists to explain why.” I could rejoin your argument with its counter, “it is very hard for a theist to explain why,” but why bother. Ring around the rosy, a pocketfull of posy, husha, husha, we all fall down! Not I fall down, not you fall down, but WE fall down. We fail to make headway from either side to the other side. We both end up looking like (biblical) asses. Yet you seem to think you have scored some points… And you may have, if like Trump you believe all you have to do is state an assumption is true and it will become truth. But that is not how the real world works. You must either prove your side, or disprove mine. You can do neither. For my part I just ignore the entire claim as meaningless, though I feel it is my duty as a living being to point out your so-called “facts” are fantasy. You really ought to check them before you try to make them true.
And finally, “or why are we obligated to seek it.” You may be obligated to seek out truth, I am not. If I choose to seek out truth, relative as it may be, I do so for my own edification. And when I find my version of truth (I much prefer understanding to truth, it is so much more meaningful to me), I may tell it to some others, but I do not offer it willy-nilly to everyone, but to only those who are looking for it. And, I ask deliberately that no one believe anything I say unless it is meaningful to them in some way. I will never again say, “Here is truth, believe me when I tell you. I KNOW WHAT TRUTH IS!” I do know what “my” truth is, I have no idea what your truth is.
So why do you feel obligated to find out “why?” Why is such a spurious question. Any two year-old understands that. At first s/he really means it, but soon the child learns it irritates the adult, and so continuously asks “why?” There needs to be no why. Because it is there. Because I made up the question. Because I want to learn. Because I want to understand. Take your choice. But that is what why is, a choice to know or not know, to understand or not understand. You ask, Why? I answer, Why not? I could tell you why if I wanted. I doubt you could tell me why not.

“The paradox of atheism is that the atheist, while usually committed to living a life consistent with reality, cannot bear reality as he believes it actually is.” Say what? To transliterate from theist to atheist language: the self-contradictory absurdism of atheism is that I who am living a life consistent with reality (as I find it), cannot bear reality as I believe it to be.
Oh, my. Oh, my. Oh, My! I must shorten that statement to make it even pretend to be understandable: I CANNOT BEAR TO FACE WHAT I BELIEVE IS REALITY? Please, give a person some intelligence, even if only that of a two year-old child. Since “what I believe to be reality” is something that I choose it to be, why would I construct a reality that I would not want to be in? The insanity of that thought is incredible! My reality allows me to be joyous, to smile, to laugh, to cry, to scream “I am alive! And I love it!” My reality does not require that I suffer, that I be in constant pain. My reality allows me to be in control of life as I know it, not to exist at the whim of some other being. Truthfully, Neil, you think an atheist cannot bear to live? I am appalled. I am human. Why would I want life to be anything but what it is? I, for one, do not want any other life. Thank you for asking.

“I am not asking whether atheists can do good. Rather, I am focusing only on the impact that atheism has on our moral motivation.” Dear sir, it is no wonder you do not understand atheists, in particular, this atheist. What have I to do with “moral motivation?” Morality is for theists. I am an atheist. I have no need to be moral. I have no need for motivation. What I am is responsible to all living beings. What I am is self-obligated not to intentionally hurt anyone, not to take life needlessly or frivolously. To help they whom I see need help. To soothe those I see are in pain. To succor those who are destitute, and I can give help to.
And I do this not through motivation, or through any sense of morality. I do it because I care. I do it because I can. I do it with compassion. And I do it because “I CHOOSE” to do so, not because I am told to do so.
What you call morality I want no part of. No one but me can tell me what is right or what is wrong, because there is no right or wrong. There is only life! And life is what I share with every living being, including you.
But I don’t believe you will care about me, because you have no duty to care. You might care about my soul, but believe me, you would be wasting your time. I have no soul. All I have is me, my life, my spirit, and Life itself. And that, sir, is why I am writing you today, because I care that you are working with fallacious facts, unbelievable understandings, and a need to be correct in whatever you write. Be honest with your readers, Neil, they deserve nothing less.
Thank you for your time.


rawgod

LIVE YOUR LIFE EACH DAY TO CREATE MEMORIES YOU WILL NEVER FORGET, OR REGRET

On Capitalism, and the RC Church

In my opinion, the Spirit of Capitalism is greed, no matter how you cut it. Exactly where it came from I cannot say, but certainly one of its roots was Ancient Greece, and another was Christianity. Neither of these roots started out as greed-obsessed qualities, but it did not take long, historically-speaking, for either one to honour the possession of goods and money above all else. Ancient Greece started with a polity, an organized society with a structured form of civil government, where all male citizens could vote, while women, children, slaves, and foreigners living in the polity could not. Christianity, which at the time was defined only as Roman Catholicism, started as an underground political rebellion in Judea, where supposedly the religious teacher Jesus Christ was co-opted to be the real King of the Jews instead of Herod. According to ancient history the rebellion was put down and Christ was killed. His followers spread out across parts of the Roman Empire, since the Jewish people did not believe Christ was a prophet from god, and spread his teachings among the poor and unhealthy. From these humble beginnings Christianity grew to overtake almost the whole of the European-influenced world. The Roman Catholic Church became the richest single entity in the Western sphere of influence, and capitalism, the pursuit of land, goods, and money, became its creed. Government and religion came together to make a centuries-long unbreakable union, with the rulers being (almost exclusively) male members of the aristocracy and the priesthood (clergy), working together to make the rich richer and the poor poorer. Laws that were made fairly arbitrarily still reflected the ten commandments of Moses (a biblical character from the Old Testament). The lines between political ethics and religious morals blurred until they were virtually indistinguishable.
Money, otherwise useless bits of metal, was made to represent value, all of it owned by the nobility and the Church for the longest time, represented power, and until a middle class started to develop in the Middle Ages, only the most exceptional, and/or vicious, of men could raise up from the lower classes to the upper classes. Women were chattel, belonging to the men, as were their children, and they took their position in life from their fathers and husbands.
Capitalism was still suffering its growth pains at this time, and was not yet a factor in the Western world, or anywhere else, for that matter. But as craftsmen began to join guilds, more money was leaving the coffers of the rich, and being transferred into the hands of certain groups of society. The middle class was emerging from poverty to monied. It was a slow process, almost invisible to the aristocracy. As for the Church, as long as the money kept coming in, they did not care where it was coming from.
At this point in time, though there was infighting and bickering between members of the aristocracy, and between certain levels of the clergy, society was still mainly group-centered. People were individuals, surely, but they were treated as communities, so-to-speak. Killing a peasant was meaningless to aristocrats, they made no real distinction between members of the lower classes. As for those peasants, or even slaves, there was little difference between members of the ruling classes. Some nobles or monarchs might be less vicious than others, but all in all the poor lived at the mercy or vanity of the rich. Who killed them, or stole their few belongings and food, did not matter. There was little to choose between one ruler and the next.
But those in the middle class were not only gaining in money owned, they were also gaining in distinctiveness. First came pride in being a craftsman, second came pride in how much they were earning as opposed to what their fellow guild-members were making. And certain guilds were earning more money than other guilds, and all these things started to distinguish one group from another, and one person from another. Thus individuals were gaining fame and or notoriety, and capitalism had the foothold it had been looking for to grow and take over our society. Individuality blossomed, and the groups or classes became less important, while the individual grew in importance. And the Church, no longer a monopoly, but still the most powerful single entity in the world, praised the individual. Its monetary base grew exponentially, from classes of people, to groups of people, and now to people themselves, apart from almost all others. (Families, as in the nuclear family, would give as a group, but the group was small, and was guaranteed to create more individuals, and then more family groups. Jumping ahead for a moment, when the Church saw that planned family size was looming on the horizon, when it became possible to actively prevent pregnancies, and then to stop pregnancies, the Church responded quickly by preaching against the preventing of lives, or the ending of lives before birth, so that the number of their adherents would continue to increase, thus keeping the money flowing in. What the Church did not foresee was that ultimately this move would drive more people away from the Church than it provided, but in for an ounce, in for a ton. The Church cannot suddenly break faith with their adherents by proclaiming the advisability of planned families, of the use of contraceptives, or the legalizing of abortions within the religious laws. What was done can never be undone!)
I quote, “capitalism was ‘the most fateful power in our modern life’. More specifically, it controlled and generated modern [culture], the code of values by which people lived in the 20th-century [European-based world]–some ideas of Max Weber. I can agree with these ideas to a point, capitalism certainly had a huge effect on our present Western culture. But when he says something like “public behaviour was cool, reserved, hard and sober, governed by strict personal self-control” I think he goes too far. There are so many laws, secular and religious, that govern self-control that few individuals have the opportunity, or desire, to decide what personal self-control is. There are those (whom we call criminals) who deliberately break such laws of conduct, and there are those, whom we call mentally ill, whose inability to cope with the life required of them by capitalism literally cause them to lose their self-control, and then there are the few, known in psychological circles as self-empowered or self-actualized (see Abraham Maslow), who demonstrate self-control totally on their terms without advice from any laws, but I don’t see any of these groups or quasi-groups exercising hard and sober personal self-control, except possibly the self-empowered.
Capitalism is a lot of things, few of them good for humanity or for life itself, but it is not a power to itself, not in my mind. But, I could be wrong…