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Thought for the Day: Rationalization and Faith

There is an old canard that goes along the following lines, with minor variations in the script.  "Don't you see what you are doing?", says the wise old atheist.  "You see to many horrific things that make no sense to you: torture, abuse, senseless loss of life, and endless sorrow.  So you rationalize and create a super being who puts everything right in a beautiful life after death.  I appreciate that reality is difficult and some people -- many people, in fact -- need a crutch to help them through.  So if you need religion, go for it.  I myself prefer to deal with the reality I plainly see and make the best of things with the time I have.  You take the blue pill (live by your rationalizations) and I'll take the red pill reality."

The problem here is that the argument sounds awfully compelling.  I do see a lot of things I don't understand.  I do want there to be ultimate fairness.  I very much like the idea of a super being who will make things right in the end.  Does that mean I am rationalizing?  To answer that means that I first better know what rationalize really means.  The definition starts off innocently enough:
to bring into accord with reason or cause something to seem reasonable
That's good, isn't it?  Well... at that point we have a choice, we can take the high road and bring things into accord with reason by delving deeply in the matter and increasing our knowledge and sophistication of our thought processes until we are able to appreciate the rationality of the reality we experience.  There is, however, the low road, which is to skip all that hard work and just create a scenario that is more comfortable; forget about reality and be satisfied with a thin veneer of self delusion.

One of my children was 10 years old while I was going through chemotherapy.  I told her that the chemotherapy was making me better.  She saw with her own eyes that I was getting worse by  the day.  There was no explanation that her mind could appreciate in that immature state.  She had only one choice: believe I was dying or accept on faith that I was telling her the truth.  It was not blind faith, but it was a simple faith.  She knew her father wouldn't lie to her, so she believed.  Of course, now that she is married and has children of her own she can appreciate the situation; everything has been made right in the end.

The atheist cannot accept that there is more to reality than his simple perspective can grasp.  He would rather accept that there is no reason, no purpose; all of reality is one big accident.  This is especially compelling for him because it takes him off the hook; he can do what he wants when he wants and there is no ultimate responsibility nor culpability.  What about the incredible complexity of reality and how everything works together?  The simplest single cell creature is more complex in organization than the most sophisticate computer.  No one would dream of suggesting that computers just happened without a designer, but the atheist claims that life just *POOF* appeared out of nowhere?!?  I guess they can rationalize all that; but personally, I'll take reality.


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