John C. Wright (johncwright) wrote,
John C. Wright
johncwright

Me Too Smart For Religion!

The good Doctor Rampage, Metahero, with considerably more patience than yours truly could bring to bear on the question, dissects the polemic of Adam Savage, Mythbuster Extraordinaire, where Doc Savage is savages the religions of the world with more enthusiasm than wit or logic.

Some of the many nice points made by Doc Rampage:

As people give up mysticism, they do not give religion. Instead they replace mystical religious beliefs with pseudo-scientific religious beliefs. I call these "mechanical mythologies" because they are mythologies designed to be compatible with a mechanical world view. Examples are alien visitors who will be the salvation of mankind, a Marxist future history which will be the salvation of mankind, a benevolent world government which will be the salvation of mankind, evolution which will be the salvation of mankind or science which will be the salvation of mankind. In addition to the salvation mechanical mythologies, there are the adversarial mechanical mythologies such as the evil Jews who want to dominate mankind, the evil Christians who want to dominate mankind, the evil government employees who like fallen angels work within the all Good and Holy Creation of Civil Service to pervert it to evil and murderous ends --perhaps to dominate mankind.
 
Finally, Adam assures us that he understands the desire for someone to be in charge. This condescending gesture is a common trope of the too-smart-for-religion believers. I think that many of them actually view their ability to offer psychological theories of a religious instinct as some sort of refutation of religion. To the extent that they think this, it is unworthy of their extreme smartness. First of all, it is a capricious form of argument that can be turned in any direction with equal ease. For example: "atheists want to believe that there is no God because they fear being held responsible for their behavior". Or how about "atheists are just like high-school kids playing goth who want to be different and shocking to everyone else". Or we could reverse the argument with respect to religious people, "Religious people don't want to believe in God because they are afraid of judgment, but they believe anyway so there must be some explanation besides psychology."

Furthermore, there is no logical connection between the desire to believe something and the likelihood that that the thing is false. I want to believe that I have a hundred dollars in my wallet. Does this imply that I don't have a hundred dollars in my wallet? Does it imply that I my belief that I have a hundred dollars in my wallet is just wishful thinking? Does the fact that I would like to believe this make you think that I don't actually have sound reasons for believing it? Yes, there is such a thing as wishful thinking, but there is such a thing as pessimistic thinking too.

Yet another reason that this argument is not worthy of smart people is that hundreds of years before any atheist came up with this argument, Christians already knew that there is a religious instinct (and they used the existence of that instinct as an argument for the existence of God). Since Christian theology has a coherent and functional place for the religious instinct, the existence of this instinct cannot be used as an argument against Christianity without begging the question and assuming that Christian theology is wrong.
 
This paragraph by paragraph autopsy of a brain dying of its own self-infatuation is here

A long bit of lunacy, complete with pictures, explaining the origin of Adam Savage in his place in the secret Theocrat-Technocrat Wars is here.  (Not for the humor impaired).
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