Sunday, November 23, 2014

Rational –isms, in the World of Peace

In the continuation of a series of enlightening exchanges from Reza Aslan and Sam Harris, two of the most important, clear-thinking intellectuals of the day, Reza has weighed in with a new article on entitled: Sam Harris and “New Atheists” aren’t new, aren’t even atheists. In this article, Reza misrepresents the views of Harris, Dawkins, Hitchens, et al. Assuming the reader is on his toes, he can look past this common religion/atheism debate tactic and find some value in the articles recitation of a history of anti-theism.  I believe the dialogue is enhanced by differentiating concepts of rational theism, rational atheism, and rational anti-theism.

Rational anti-theism is not in opposition to religious belief. It is in opposition to:
  1. The consideration of any concept of any religion in the formulation of the just laws in a world of peace. 
  2. The delivery of an uninvited religious message to any man, woman, or child. 
  3. The delivery of an invited religious message that is not accompanied by a good faith presentation of evidence supporting the concepts of religion in the message. 
  4. The repeated delivery of an invited religious message that is accompanied by evidence that has been previously rejected as insufficient by the one inviting the religious message. 
The world of peace welcomes any person to discover, formulate, possess and believe whatever religion one wishes. There is no disturbance of the peace if such person keeps his religion to himself. If a theist wishes to convey a religious message, accompanied by a good faith presentation of evidence, he can announce that he will speak on a religious matter with anybody who invites the delivery of such messages. He can then wait for an invitation to convey these messages. He will find many eager to invite such messages and he will no doubt encounter exhilarating debate on the merits of the evidence. If you have a religions message, with some evidence for its validity, you are invited to post it in the comments below and I will respond. There are an infinite number of possible non-evidenced gods and I just do not have the time to consider a random, non-evidenced guess. This is rational atheism.

With such simple, rational rules we can maintain the world of peace. Absent such rules, religions can be identified as opposed to the world of peace. A group of like minded religious individuals who insist that others adhere to religious beliefs can be identified as a conspiracy against the world of peace. As such they are restrained and reeducated in the world of peace.

In the world of peace, rational theism, rational atheism and rational anti-theism will all recognize the infinite number of possible non-evidenced gods as well as the real or imaginary states of consciousness that lead people into or out of the various -isms during the course of their lives. If one of the infinite possible gods actually does exist, and if the rational world of peace is anathema to such a being, and if such being has physical powers to prevent the rational world of peace from existing, then we can expect an appearance soon from such a being as we build the world of peace. This is irrational theism, requiring the malevolent gods of scripture who, at the end of the day, are only interested in the eternal sounds of worship and wailing.

We can take the opposite view instead. We can say that if one of the infinite number of possible gods actually exists, that such a god, having created the possibility for free-thinking people to build a world of peace, would be welcoming and indeed patiently waiting for us to complete the noble task. After all, this is the god we see, if indeed such god exists: a benevolent god that trusts the affairs of man to man, that demonstrates enough faith in man to warrant the continued entrusting of children to man. Such a god is not required to do this, but makes the decision to do this. From the evidence of simple observations such as these we know that the Bible, Qu'ran and Torah are in contradiction to the truth. This finding applies also to their associated writings and to similar writings of other world religions. The angry malevolent gods of these religions, the killers of children, the stoners of women, the beaters of wives, the burners of hell, they have never existed. This is rational theism.

Our ancestors had no concept of rational theism. To be fair to them, they were only just evolved to consciousness from fight-or-flight driven animals. They heard thunder, it sounded like an angry being, and they witnessed the strike of lightning and concluded it was the act of such a being. And from what appeared to them to be the angry character of nature, they developed their stories of angry gods. They wondered what it is they should do to appease the gods and as their religions developed, they merged with other systems of philosophies in trying to answer the moral question "How should I live my life?"

While we might still disagree on the answer to that question, we do agree we should be living in the world of peace that affords the free-ranging discussions that can lead to the answer. (The small number opposed to a world of peace will be identified as in a temporary state of irrational behavior, similar to that of a toddler testing the bounds of behavior, and they will be restrained and reeducated.)

Let us begin to keep our –isms rational and let us keep them private and be ready to discuss them with respect when invited, and let us build a world of peace, and rejoin the moral discussions in an epoch free from the anguish of the irrational –isms that are not yet disarmed and restrained today.