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Variants of self-deception
This blog post is the result of the long drive to Iowa and back on Thursday's expedition. Chase trips give you a lot of time to think!
Let's assume for this discussion that we do live in a Godless universe (in case someone misses the context here and misunderstands me, I don't believe this, I'm making a hypothetical statement for the sake of trying to illustrate a point). If that's true, then Christians would indeed be deceived. This deception could be either unintentional (one has simply not been exposed to any counter-evidence), or intentional (one chooses to ignore or quickly dismiss counter-evidence). Self-deception, either willful or not, has been a major indictment against not only Christians, but anyone that subscribes to the idea of a God. The implication here is that self-deception is bad - not only inherently, but bad for humankind.
But what is overlooked, I believe, is that there would be other implications in a Godless reality. Concepts like inherent value, purpose, destiny, transcendant morals, and probably most fundamentally, good and evil - would be non-existent. If all of life and matter is little more than a coincidental collection of subatomic particles, then all of those aforementioned concepts are human-manufactured constructs that we use to impart some significance to things that in reality, have no inherent significance. In other words, self-deception!
Why does anyone believe that things like good science, safety, medicine and progress is 'good'? The common (and correct, I'd say) answer is that it allows for the improvement in the quality and length of human life. On what, then, do we base our belief that extending and/or improving human life is good? On what to we base the idea that health, happiness and peace is good? On what do we even base the idea that 'good' is good? I believe we do this because we all subscribe to the worldview that human life has some degree of inherent value above and beyond what the natural world would suggest. But where do we get that idea?
What makes us different than spiders, bacteria or even dirt or rocks? Naturalistically speaking (you could say on a subatomic particle level), nothing. So why do we accept without prejudice a cheetah ripping a gazelle to shreds in the African bush, but hold to the idea that similar human suffering is unconscionable? Why do we value saving a person's life when that person will eventually die at some point regardless? What significance is there in that extension of life, if both end in a loss of conscious existence - blackness, nothing?
If there is no God, to arrive at a worldview that values human life requires some form of self-deception. You must either deceive yourself into belief in a God that does not exist, or deceive yourself into believing in human-constructed concepts that do not actually exist in the natural world. If one is wrong and 'delusional', why is the other not?
If there is no God, then any belief in the inherent value of human life requires self-deception, either naturalistically or theologically. If there is a God, the only way to derive the value of human life outside of that reality is to choose the route of naturalistic self-deception. In the end, which one is more rational?
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