The Anathema of Atheism and the Inescapable Glasshouse Syndrome

Mehran Banaei

Bertrand Russell, the outspoken British atheist once made the assertion that: “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.” Russell ironically advocates uncertainty in human knowledge with certainty. Is the human mind not capable of achieving certainty, and if it ever does, would it then mean that once an objective freethinker is certain, he has reached the point of fanaticism? Is certainty an unobtainable task for human brain, the most complicated object in the known universe?

For Russell, in order to prevent being a fanatic, an intelligent man out to be a full-time sceptic who can never trust anything and always ought to be doubtful of everything. There can never be a universal standard to determine right and wrong. There is no such a thing as absolute Truth, everything is mere conjecture.

However, every denunciation implies an employed value judgement at work; yet one cannot have a reliable value judgement, if all propositions are doubtful, uncertain or meaningless. Russell undermines his own mind; he does not pause for a second to realise that he is on a collision course with himself. His assertion is a pseudo-philosophical claim, a pretence of significant truth, totally void of substance. It falls on its own premise and is nothing short of a self-refuting paradox.

One should ask Russell, if he is certain about his own proclaimed belief, to which, if he says yes, then according to his own statement he is nothing but a tiresome fool and an outright fanatic. Subsequently, he has committed the cardinal sin of being certain in a pluralistic world of competing ideas. If he says, “No I am not so certain about what I profess”, then he is better not to make a universal truth claim, if he is doubtful of the validity of what he is promoting. It is ridiculous to make a universal judgement and then admit that it may not be true at all. If one wants to doubt everything, then one has to doubt doubting, which is a total non-starter in a rational discourse, leading one into the state of perpetual limbo, if not outright paranoia.

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Life-long examination, contemplation and critical thinking, may lead one to conclude with absolute certainty that an Intelligent Power designed and created this universe. Subsequently, anyone engaged in such a repast would have absolutely no doubt that this universe is pursuing a meaningful intention. I suppose according to Russell that makes such an individual a fool, guilty of being certain in a world that ought to operate on relativism and uncertainty. In parallel, a life-long of examination may lead a sceptic to the conclusion of agnosticism, that is, one can never know the Truth, or the Truth is solely via humanism. Who is it to say that the former is a fanatic and the latter is open-minded? Atheists arrogantly like to attribute their own belief to objectivity and relegate theistic belief to psychological delusion and fanaticism. It was Henri Poinare the French mathematician and physicist who sharply pointed out: “To doubt everything and to believe everything are two equally convenient solutions; both free us from the necessity of reflection.” On this issue Poinare seems to have taken a much wiser stand than Russell.ShootingBertrand Russell further declares with certainty, that science is the only source of valid knowledge, “what science cannot discover, mankind cannot know.” The existence of the First Cause cannot be established by scientific inquiry; therefore “God” hypothesis cannot be scientific and true. Once again Russell shoots himself in the foot. The question that arises is: How did Russell acquire this particular knowledge? Is this proposition which is certainly not a scientific discovery duplicable in a lab exempt from the proposed universal rule? It seems so. Thus, it contradicts itself and fails miserably to establish what it aims to establish, which is the denial of the Uncaused Cause. Atheists like Russell, Dawkins et al. hijacked science to serve their atheistic agenda. Their defense of atheism severely suffers from the classic glasshouse syndrome, where arguments used against others would equally apply to one’s own position and arguments in defence of one’s own position are also equally applicable to one’s opponent’s position. Furthermore, they tend to scientifically elucidate the incredible complexity in the universe, and how the natural world functions. They then attribute the complexity and order involved to random cosmic chance. While their elaboration of the mechanism of the laws of physics may be scientific, their concomitant conclusion that there is no external Agent involved is a matter of pure unsubstantiated opinion. The opinion expressed has nothing to do with science or logic. The atheist scientists would like us to respect their subjective opinion outside the realm of science more than our own.

Likewise, Carl Sagan addressing theists asserted that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” Fine, agreed. First and foremost, this claim itself is extraordinary; thus requires extraordinary validation. Is Sagan the scientist providing any scientific evidence for his non-scientific proposition? For atheists, it seems to be an extraordinary claim that there is an Uncaused Powerful Deity who created this vast universe for a purpose. They boisterously demand: where is the evidence for such a claim? However, every counter-argument presented by the atheists seems if not more, to be an equally extraordinary claim, without even a modicum of support. For instance, where is the evidence for a self-created universe, uncaused universe, multiverse, unguided evolution by natural selection, etc.? If something in itself is astronomically improbable, do we or do we not require compelling evidence before we accept it? Is it not far more extraordinary to claim that everything there is in the universe is all a result of random products of matter, time plus blind chance? Further, what would qualify as an extraordinary claim or extraordinary evidence? Are atheists not being selective of what is extraordinary and what is not, to support their untenable position?

Perhaps Russell’s famous statement needs to be amended to: “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics always ignore the evidence, but wiser people attain certainty through it”. Further, if there is one thing that is more extraordinary than the universe, is the obtuse denial that it logically must have an Intelligent cause behind its creation.

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1 Comment

Filed under Philosophy of Science and Religion

One response to “The Anathema of Atheism and the Inescapable Glasshouse Syndrome

  1. eyeontheuniverse

    I think you are looking at these assertions incorrectly.

    Your assumption is that one is stating “you can be certain of nothing” with certainty. This is not generally the case when people make such a statement. They may, rather, fall into one of the following groups.

    1. Believe that you can be certain of nothing except that you cannot be certain of those thing. This contains an exclusion clause for that one certainty.

    2. Believe that certainty is ill-advised in all areas, including the position on certainty. In this very common context one is not certain about the claim to certainty, but holds it as a working hypothesis, either with or without a belief in its probability.

    3. View concepts of belief, knowledge and certainty as merely part of the language games we play. This linguistic pragmatist position calls into question the deep or coherent meaning of the very terms, and is the position most likely to be held by linguists, anthropologists, or anyone trained in post-Wittgensteinian philosophy.

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