From: Jarek Dabrowski
Subject: Is there a god? It doesn't matter ...
In <firstname.lastname@example.org> Iain Jameson argues:
>I have `rejected' religion and my life is not hopeless. Explain that
>if you can!
It's trivial. An atheist like you misses the whole universe of hope
accessible to a person like me who believes in God:
1) You are deprived of truly free (independent of outer factors) will,
so you cannot hope that your decisions are qualitatively different from
decisions of a pre-programmed automaton. You must say "It's sufficient
that my choices only SEEM free to me". You must say "It doesn't matter
that it's the Universe that controls me, not me who may control even
a part of the Universe". You must just give up any hope of any private
contribution to the history of the world; it won't be YOU to affect it
but the world itself will use you as a "programmed" tool (which feels
"I am", but that's a side effect) to make either determined or random
changes. That's the first kind of hope you reject: Hope for freedom.
2) You can't hope that you will ever know anything for sure. All your
knowledge - until you die and stop knowing anything - will be always
based on assumptions, will be always fragmentary. Answers to certain
questions will be always beyond your reach, even if you live seven
thousand years. You must either admit this or give up consistency of
your views. You can't rationally hope this sitution will change, for
this fragmentary character of human knowledge is a direct consequence
of human local, fragmentary, stepwise perception. You can't hope to
find even a piece of the absolute knowledge because no non-omnipotent
beings (as we certainly are) can be ever sure that they're not mistaken
if they don't obtain this knowledge from a being that is omnipotent.
That's the second kind of hope you reject: Hope for full knowledge.
3) Your beliefs put you in a world with a lot of suffering, where most
of this suffering is pointless. You can't hope that people who suffered
and died forgotten may have gained anything by their pain; you need at
least Buddhism to find this hope. In a truly "hopeless" situation you
may choose between despair and (maybe wise) resignation, but any hope
would require a change of your beliefs or would be a folly. That's the
third kind of hope you reject: Hope when no physical hope is possible.
4) You're given a couple of days to stay in this world and you're dead.
When you're getting old and the people you know and love are getting
old, there's no hope for you - soon it's all over; actually, it's over
now, it was over when you were born. You MUST either forget about it
or decide that you don't care, but you may have no hope - you BELIEVE
that you and they face a dead end. That's the fourth kind of hope you
reject: Hope that love survives death.
And what you may retain? Sure, you may hope that it won't rain tomorrow
or that your girlfriend will visit you tonight. Or that you won't catch
AIDS. Or that I'm stupid and you're wise. Or that one day you'll be the
Director of the Institute of Physics, Adelaide, Australia. Or that your
program is essentially bug-free. If something is physically possible,
then you may hope for it. It's more than obvious. This hope is, so to
say, built into the science; its another name is "missing data".