Atheists Want to Feel Smart?

I’ve heard the explanation that some atheists become atheists because they want to feel smart. That never made much sense to me, but I’ve recently gotten some insight into what it might mean and I present that interpretation of the idea for consideration. You can also watch this on YouTube if you prefer:

7 thoughts on “Atheists Want to Feel Smart?

  1. Wow, It finally just hit me: it really is obvious that all that we see in this world has a cause and that there needs to be an ultimate cause that is by definition uncaused. I guess I’m a deist now.

    …But is it really true that there needs to be an ultimate cause? why not just have infinite causes stretching backwards in time?

    I guess I’m back to being an agnostic again.

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      1. After reading your response, I was grappling with the idea of God making an algorithm that derived each instantaneous state of the universe from a function of the last one and then using the inverse function of that to extend time infinitely backwards, and I think I stumbled upon what you mean.
        In this case, the past moments derived from the later ones would not have been causes of them. They would only appear that way to a human studying the history behind them. In that sense, if God had created the whole instantaneous state of the universe at some point during the cambrian explosion by hand and then had run the algorithm until today, so that a historian from the current day would look back to the time before that imagining that he was studying the causes of the cambrian explosion, he would really just be making an approximation of the output of that inverse function. The real cause of all that would not be in the past, but completely outside our flow of time.In fact, the past before the cambrian explosion would be the consequence of the many iterations of that inverse function. That is, the chain of causality would first be orthogonal to the flow of time (when God created an instant of the cambrian explosion) and then would bifurcate both forwards and backwards.
        I guess this is why Aquinas didn’t use the argument from motion to discard an universe that extended eternally backwards, as at least it says here: https://philosophy.lander.edu/intro/motion.shtml
        What do you think?

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  2. The ‘unmoved mover’ argument, or the ‘non-contingent explanation for all contingency’ (same argument) doesn’t get us anywhere near what people who say “God” are looking for.
    It doesn’t get us to personal agency. It doesn’t even do away with the speculation of a non-contingent physical principle that is as impersonal as laws of gravitation or gas laws.
    So, unless you are willing to say God could be the same thing as the Heisenberg uncertainty principle — with the exact same level of intent and interest in human activity — then not everything is evidence for God. It’s only if you smuggle in the idea that the ‘uncaused first cause’ has to be ‘personal’ or have ‘agency’ and ‘interests’ that the argument makes everything evidence for God.
    And, even that is only if you accept the argument. But, in post-Aristotelian thinking, it may not hold. The question of ‘What model can account for the data?’ is not the same as ‘what physical cause created this effect?’.

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    1. They are not the same argument and it’s a significant mistake you’re making in saying that they are. It strongly suggests that you are not thinking about them on anything but an exceedingly superficial level. You would do well to examine yourself and figure out why you’ve made such a mistake.

      Anyway, as to the rest of what you’re saying: so what? These are the beginning of natural theology, not the end of it. This is like complaining that the peano axioms don’t prove the pythagorean theorem. No, you don’t learn all of math on the first day. Similarly, you don’t learn all of natural theology on the first day either.

      You’re just not going to get any of it if you’re failing to grasp the day-1 material.

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