The Arrogance of Human-Centric Thought

Question:

-What do Allah, Brahman, and Yahweh have in common?

Answer:

-Millions of followers who obstinately assert the exclusive role that their respective deities had in the creation of the universe.

Atheist Arrogance

As the knowledge gleaned through the methods of scientific naturalism expands and is refined, the question of “god” keeps getting forced into the gaps of human understanding. For thousands of years, belief in the supernatural was nothing if not pragmatic– after all, in the absence of all means of investigation, why would you not ascribe to the notion that they were directed by Zeus? While such an approach to understanding the natural world was sufficient for early civilizations, supernaturalism simply does not have a place in modern society (I address this idea in my previous post).

It was not long after being notified of the existence of the universe that I became skeptical of the existence of God. When you consider the size of our Universe domain (ie our observable universe), and the apparent scarcity of life therein, it is readily apparent why atheists find so thoroughly implausible the notion that all of existence was created in the interest of supporting life on Earth. To put this idea in perspective, consider the following figures:

Volume of all life on earth: 75 cu km

Volume of Earth: 1,083,207,317,374 cu km

Volume of Universe Domain: 17,506,363,686,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 cu km

To save you the task of counting all those zeros and turning to Google for help in pronunciation, that’s 17.5 dovigintillion. Spelled out, it is seventeen-trillion, five-hundred and six billion, three-hundred sixty-three thousand, six-hundred eighty-six multiplied by a one-and- sixty-zeros. There is really no way to put that in perspective. If you were to divide the volume of the Universe Domain into Earth-sized volumes, every person on earth could claim ownership of 289,364,999,564,431,497,661,222,055,767,308,086,892,033,777,619 shares of the whole and there would still be almost two billion cubic kilometers of unallocated space.

While it may be possible to produce a number value for the volume of the Universe, the human mind simply cannot internally comprehend such spans of open space. Any sentient entity capable of creating the Universe would be, likewise, beyond the scale of human comprehension. As such, any attempt to describe the attributes of such a being would be speculative at best. Perhaps I am naive, but to assert that these attributes include an intrinsic concern with the course of human affairs is to grossly overstate the significance of our  existence.

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~ by incomposmentis on September 30, 2009.

8 Responses to “The Arrogance of Human-Centric Thought”

  1. Please feel free to share your thoughts!
    (People who rate are cool too)

  2. You should check out Neil deGrasse Tyson’s presentation on this very topic – its pretty spot on.

  3. Hear hear.

  4. Evil cannot make sense:

    http://thinkpoint.wordpress.com/2009/03/11/evil-cannot-make-sense/

    I hope there is no God

    http://thinkpoint.wordpress.com/2008/12/03/i-hope-there-is-no-god-thomas-nagel/

    • Thank you for reading and sharing you thoughts. I followed your links and have several comments to share regarding each.

      Evil Cannot Make Sense:

      The premise of the article is rests on the belief that good and evil exists objectively. Atheists reject this idea, and recognize that good and evil are relative terms. As such, it is impossible to say whether something is good or evil without first identifying your standard for measurement. The theistic view is extremely anthropocentric in that it uses the human experience as the metric of choice. Even if we were to operate under the assumption that the entire universe was created for the benefit of mankind, I would still contend that good and evil are relative terms, dependent upon the perspective of the individual.

      I hope there is no God:

      Let’s take this argument apart and assess its logical validity:

      “Some atheists would like us to believe that there is simply too much evidence against God. They mock God with silly false comparisons to Santa Clause and Easter Bunnies. Lacking the ability to offer substantive responses, they resort to childish behavior (and many children behave better).”
      Argumentum ad hominem – You cannot discredit the validity of an argument by impugning the character of your opponent.

      “But after years of interaction with atheists, I suspect deeper reasons for their rejection of God.”
      Disjoints from previous quantifiers. Implicitly commits the hasty generalization fallacy.

      “In speaking of the fear of religion, I don’t mean to refer to the entirely reasonable hostility…. fundamental features of the world”
      Appeal to authority – A degree does not make one infallible.
      Appeal to personal experience – This account is not valid as an assessment of the stability of atheism.

      “Perhaps a God really does actually exist, and many humans–especially those not blinded by the reigning narratives of modern science and academia–feel a recurrent and deeply compelling ‘built-in’ desire to know and worship, in their various ways, the God who is there” (Christian Smith, “Moral, Believing Animals”).
      The inherent irony is that the electronic publication of this article would not have been possible without the contributions of modern science and academia. The author’s choice of words describing man’s desire to “know and worship” is ironic. As I briefly discussed in my previous post: http://incomposmentis.wordpress.com/2009/09/27/attaining-atheism/

      Again, thank you for commenting.

  5. By reigning narratives, Smith does not in any way intend to dismiss science and academia themselves—only the dismissive arrogance some display toward the existence of God. And anthropologists repeatedly confirm the universal religious behavior of people all over the globe.

    My argument must be taken as a whole not in pieces. see also:
    Eight Reasons it is hard to be an atheist:
    http://thinkpoint.wordpress.com/2007/02/23/not-easy-to-be-an-atheist/

    • Interesting article. I do enjoy reading theist accounts of atheism because it gives me an opportunity to see their religious beliefs affect the way they look at the world. Give me a day or two and I’ll respond to that article item by item in a dedicated post. I was going to write about free will as my next topic, but I think I’ll hold off on posting that until I have a larger pool of subscribers.

    • I’m actually going to withdraw my previous statement of intent. I began to compose a response to your article, but quickly found that I could not do so in a space-efficient manner. To avoid costing myself momentum in future posts, I am going to abstain from directly responding to your argument. You may feel free to subscribe so as to keep up to date. I will doubtless be addressing several of the points in your argument sooner rather than later.

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