The Argument Against Belief
I just finished an online debate for ” The Polemicists” against a numb-nut Christian fundamentalist ( is that redundant?) The argument was supposed to be for or against the existence of god. As one would expect, my opponent quickly abandoned the original proposition and started arguing for the persistence of belief as proof of god’s existence instead.
The following is my response:
Of course, I would like to argue my opponents reasoned and well-stated assertions if he had any. Unfortunately, the ‘we have to believe in something therefore we might as well believe in god’ doesn’t quite cut it for any advanced level of ratiocination above the age of 4 years old or I.Q. above 60.
To argue god’s existence based on the 400,000 year old human history of “belief” would be to give actualization to buffalo deities, coyote messiahs, chicken-headed serpents (Yahweh), predicting the future through animal intestines (augury), alchemy, astrology, necromancy, human sacrifice, regicide and a collective array of religious atrocities and “beliefs” so primitive, cruel and unimaginable there’s good reason humankind has learned to reprove them over the eons.
Nevertheless, the persistence of a “belief” in god is scarcely evidentiary of his/her, or even, its, existence, any more so than the belief the earth was the center of the universe eventually proved true.
I am not saying that the “idea” of a god has not been useful to human development and therefore highly utilitarian to his existence, preservation and progress. But we are also witness how the manipulation of this basic gullibility has served conquerors, tyrants, despots, slavery, uniformity, and genocide as well.
So, humankind’s propensity to believe in a god does not prove anything other than the fact that humans are susceptible to “ideas” and events that confound his level of experience, education, knowledge or ignorance as is often the case. And in all cases such assignment of causality to an exoteric deity has proved categorically and irredeemably false.
The various planets of our own solar system were once believed to be their divine namesakes: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, etc. and we now know them to be relics of archaic religions and practices in service of the prevailing polytheistic scheme of the universe.
H.G. Wells: “Civilization is a race between education and catastrophe.”
Studies at Harvard University Harvard University. prove the more ignorant. less educated, sentimental or naive a person is the more likely s/he is to believe in a personal or impersonal godhead. And my opponent’s sentimental averrals would seem to support this. Or, as Robert Oxton Bolt once wrote:
“A belief is not merely an idea the mind possesses; it is an idea that possesses the mind.”
Sometimes, these collective beliefs are a good thing, more often they are not.
Otherwise we would not see them so readily abandoned throughout the eons
and decline of great civilizations such as Greece, Rome, Mexico City (Tenochtitlån )
In fact, over the 13. 8 billion year history of our universe, and the subsequent 400,000 year evolution of the cerebral cortex the one thing that has held fast throughout the manufacture and discarding of thousands and thousands of gods and goddesses is, in spite of our most ardent and persistent protestations, the only thing that persists is our penchant to believe in them, even while their god names are committed to antiquity, museums, neuroses, or sometimes major metropolises (Paris, Athens, Rome, etc.)
My opponent’s introduction of Pascal’s Gambit is a hodgepodge of nonsense I feel no urgency to redress until he arranges and states it more precisely.