On Athe­ism, Why Seek Truth?

by Thomas Larsen

Plato- why seek truthLet’s sup­pose, for a moment, that athe­ism is true and that Chris­t­ian the­ism is false; that there’s no such being as God or any­thing like him.[1] Now: why should peo­ple adopt athe­ism over Chris­t­ian theism?

“Because atheism’s true, and Chris­t­ian theism’s false!” a scep­tic might reply. Very well; let’s exam­ine the under­ly­ing assump­tion behind this rea­son for adopt­ing athe­ism over Chris­t­ian the­ism: that peo­ple ought to adopt true beliefs over false beliefs. Well, if athe­ism is true, why is it the case that peo­ple ought to adopt true beliefs over false beliefs? After all, if athe­ism is true, there’s no pur­pose to the exis­tence of sen­tient beings; all liv­ing beings and civil­i­sa­tions will even­tu­ally die, and all advance­ments in knowl­edge will even­tu­ally be ren­dered use­less. On athe­ism, there appears to be no rea­son for why peo­ple ought to adopt true beliefs over false beliefs sim­ply because they’re true. But per­haps there’s some other rea­son for adopt­ing true beliefs over false beliefs on atheism.

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“Peo­ple ought to adopt true beliefs over false beliefs,” a scep­tic might say, “because doing so is likely to even­tu­ate in greater flour­ish­ing and hap­pi­ness of sen­tient beings than would oth­er­wise be the case.” To which one could respond: really? If athe­ism is true—if there’s no God, and no ulti­mate account­abil­ity or hope for life beyond death—then can we really be so con­fi­dent that the adop­tion of athe­ism is likely to result in greater flour­ish­ing and hap­pi­ness of sen­tient beings than the adop­tion of Chris­t­ian theism?

Many people—including myself—find the idea of athe­ism rather depress­ing and ter­ri­fy­ing. If you’re an athe­ist, there’s a fair chance you’ll feel dif­fer­ently about athe­ism. But that’s not the point; the real­ity is that many peo­ple, both athe­ists and the­ists, find athe­ism much less com­fort­ing and pleas­ant than Chris­t­ian the­ism. On the face of it, it’s pretty easy to see why that’s the case…


The Poached Egg ApologeticsOn Atheism, Why Seek Truth? | Thomas Larsen



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