There’s a lot to consider in Hays’ post, and I have been tempted to give it a more thorough treatment, but I decided to keep today’s post relatively short as I want only to interact with a statement Hays makes towards the end of his post, where he fits in his predictable jab against atheism.
If following the evidence wherever it leads ends up leading you to a blind alley, then you need to back up. I refuse to follow the evidence over the cliff, which is what atheism amounts to.
- wishing doesn’t make it so
- denying a fact does not make it go away
- reality does not conform to imagination
- ignorance of a fact does not prevent it from existing
- believing something does not make it so
- commanding does not animate inanimate objects
- praying does not alter reality - hoping does not change facts
The Christian bible tells me that a supernatural consciousness essentially wished the universe into being; but my direct, firsthand experience of reality tells me uniformly that wishing doesn’t make it so. The Christian bible tells me that if I command a mountain to cast itself into the sea, it will obey my command (cf. Matt. 17:20); but my direct, firsthand experience of reality tells me uniformly that commanding inanimate things will not animate them and make them obey my commands. The Christian bible tells me that if I believe in Jesus, I will be able to do the same works and even greater ones that the gospel stories say he performed (cf. John 14:12); but my direct, firsthand experience of reality tells me uniformly that simply believing something does not make it so.
I have also observed, as I’ve pointed out numerous times in my writings on this blog, that I have no alternative but to imagine the supernatural consciousness which the bible portrays as the creator of the universe and its object of worship. I admit that I can imagine a glowing ghost sitting on a cosmic throne, its holy beard swaying to and fro, and boldly commanding galaxies, stars, planets, moons, comets, asteroids and interstellar dust to come into being. But once I realize that what I’m doing all along is imagining all this, I can’t “unknow” the fact that I’m merely imagining, nor will any attempt to deny the fact that I’m merely imagining make my imagining go away. And my direct, firsthand experience of reality tells me uniformly that reality does not conform to imagination.
The only sober conclusion to draw from these and similar observations, given their fidelity to fundamental facts which I have discovered and repeatedly confirmed without exception, is that theistic claims are not only simply not true, but in fact contrary to everything that is true. Hence I reject theism as irrational and acknowledge myself as a non-believer, i.e., a non-theist, i.e., an atheist. Now I can choose to ignore these facts and charge on in spite of them claiming that there is a god and that everyone should “believe” this anyway, but I’ve made the choice to be honest about the nature of reality, so I won’t ignore these fundamental facts. Would apologists prefer that I choose not to be honest about the nature of reality and instead embrace a cauldron of lies? That would not speak well for their religious devotion. At any rate, my direct, firsthand experience of reality tells me that ignoring a fact does not prevent it from existing.
Behind the scary black door of following the evidence where it leads is not only atheism, as I’ve described it here, but intellectual liberty. And the key that unlocks the door is acceptance of the primacy of existence.
Now, have I gone over a cliff? Not that I can tell. On the contrary, I’ve succeeded in orienting my mind objectively to the fundamental nature of reality, namely its existence independent of conscious activity. Now I can deal with reality in an adult manner. Really, what else needs to be said here?
Hays ended his post with:
I have no epistemic duty to embrace nihilism. That's diabolically idiotic.
And we find confirmation of this analysis in apologetic methodology itself: apologists (including Hays himself!) are continually pushing the narrative that atheism entails or leads to nihilism and that the only antidote to this is to convert to Christianity. Notice that they never make a strong case for the assumption that atheism entails or leads to nihilism, but they’re happy to repeat the claim that it does over and over and over again for apologetic expedience.
So while the doorway to a sound mind is through the evidence via the primacy of existence, the doorway to religion is the acceptance of an implicit nihilism that drives a thinker to retreat into a realm of imagination and fantasy.
by Dawson Bethrick