shadowlink26

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An Evidential Case for Naturalism and Against Theism
« on: August 01, 2016, 08:41:46 am »
AN EVIDENTIAL CASE FOR NATURALISM

When weighing the evidence for Theism and Naturalism which way, on balance, does the evidence point?  Let Naturalism be the hypothesis that physical reality ultimately explains mental reality.  Let Supernaturalism be the hypothesis that mental reality ultimately explains physical reality.  And let Theism be the hypothesis that there is an all-powerful, all-knowing, and perfectly moral person who created the Universe for a purpose.  I’ll use the term hypothesis to refer to a proposition for which we do not know for certain whether it is true or false.  The intrinsic probability of a hypothesis is its probability prior to examining any evidence and is determined by modesty, coherence, and nothing else.  In the course of my opening, I will defend two main contentions:

1) Naturalism is an intrinsically more probable hypothesis than Theism (and much more intrinsically probable than Christian Theism).

2) Naturalism is a more accurate explanatory hypothesis than Theism.

IN DEFENSE OF MY FIRST MAIN CONTENTION

Naturalism and Supernaturalism have equal intrinsic probabilities as they are symmetrical claims, so prior to examining any evidence, both hypotheses are equally likely to be true. Theism simpliciter entails Supernaturalism and makes additional claims:

1) The non-physical mental reality that explains the Universe is personal.
2) That person created the Universe for a purpose.
3) That person is all-powerful, all-knowing, perfectly moral, and worthy of worship.

Christian Theism entails Supernaturalism and Theism simpliciter, and  it makes additional claims:

4) That person has revealed Himself in the person of Jesus Christ.
5) Belief in that person is necessary for Salvation.
6) Mankind is in a state of rebellion towards that person.

In sum, Naturalism is intrinsically more probable than Theism, because it is a more modest hypothesis than Theism i.e. Naturalism makes fewer (and less specific) claims than Theism.

IN DEFENSE OF MY SECOND MAIN CONTENTION

Naturalism entails that neither the nature nor the condition of sentient beings on earth is the result of benevolent or malevolent actions performed by nonhuman persons.  Let’s call this the Hypothesis of Indifference.  Given that Naturalism entails the Hypothesis of Indifference and Theism is not more intrinsically probable than Naturalism., the following evidences are much more probable on the assumption that Naturalism is true than on the assumption that Theism is true:

1) NATURALISM IS THE BEST EXPLANATION FOR THE SUCCESS OF SCIENCE

Our Universe is intelligible to human persons.  In our quest to understand the Universe, the physical sciences (i.e. physics, chemistry, geology, and biology) have been extremely successful without making any reference to supernatural causes.  In other words, science is extremely successful without taking God’s actions into account.  For example, the history of science contains numerous examples of naturalistic explanations replacing supernatural ones and no examples of supernatural explanations replacing naturalistic ones. 

If God plays an active role in the Universe, then He would have to act as a causal agent in the history of the Universe.  Consequently, we would expect scientific accounts of that history to have to take God’s actions into account.  In other words, if Theism is true, then it could have been the case that successful scientific explanations were supernatural explanations.  By contrast, Naturalism entails that the Universe is causally closed and that any true explanations must be naturalistic rather than supernatural.  Consequently, we would expect scientific accounts to never have to appeal to supernatural causes beyond the natural, causal order. 

Given that the Universe is intelligible to human persons, the success of science  is much more probable on the assumption that Naturalism is true (because the Universe is causally closed) than on the assumption that Theism is true (because God is a regular, causal agent in the Universe).  Theism is not more intrinsically probable than Naturalism. Therefore the success of science is prima facie evidence confirming Naturalism and disconfirming Theism.

2) NATURALISM IS THE BEST EXPLANATION FOR BIOLOGICAL EVOLUTION

Complex life exists on this planet.  There is strong scientific evidence for the hypothesis that complex life, including conscious life, is the gradually modified descendants of relatively simple life.  All evolutionary change in populations of complex organisms either is or is the result of trans-generational genetic change.  Additionally, the process of biological evolution is an extremely inefficient and inevitably cruel means of producing complex life.

Naturalism entails (or at least strongly implies) that if complex life exists, then biological evolution is true.  By contrast, Theism does not entail (nor even imply) that God would use the process of biological evolution as a means to create complex life.  God had an array of processes available to Him other than biological evolution that would be physically impossible if Naturalism were true e.g. special creation.  Additionally, if Theism is true, then the physical world was created by a mind, so Theism would lead us to expect that minds are fundamentally non-physical entities and that conscious life is fundamentally different from nonconscious life.  Consequently, this would lead us to expect that conscious life was created independently of nonconscious life i.e. that biological evolution is false and special creation is true.

Given that complex life exists on this planet, the fact that it has biologically evolved is much more likely on the assumption that Naturalism is true (because there are ultimately only non-intentional causal principles) than on the assumption that Theism is true (and life was intelligently designed using efficient and moral processes).  Naturalism is at least as intrinsically probable as Theism.  Therefore biological evolution is prima facie evidence confirming Naturalism and disconfirming Theism.

3) NATURALISM IS THE BEST EXPLANATION FOR THE PHYSICAL DEPENDENCY OF MINDS.

Human persons exist on this planet, and all healthy ones have minds with rich, conscious experiences and personalities.  Neuroscientific evidences strongly imply that conscious states and personality are entirely dependent on physical processes in the brain.  In this context, nothing mental happens without something physical happening.  This strongly implies that minds cannot exist independent of physical arrangements of matter, thus disembodied minds probably do not exist. 

Naturalism entails that minds are physically dependent and that disembodied minds do not exist, because the physical ultimately explains the mental.  By contrast, Theism does not entail (nor even imply) that minds would be physically dependent.  In fact, Theism predicts that we would have immaterial souls, because Theism entails the existence of at least one disembodied mind, namely, God.  God’s mind is not in any way dependent on physical arrangements of matter, and we are presumably made in God’s image.  Theism gives us an antecedent reason to think that minds are properties of souls rather than merely physical brains.

Given that human persons exist on this planet, the fact that their mental states are entirely dependent on physical arrangements of matter is much more likely on the assumption that Naturalism is true (because the physical ultimately explains the mental) than on the assumption that Theism is true (because our minds would be properties of s immaterial souls).  Naturalism is at least as intrinsically probable as Theism.  Therefore the physical dependence of minds is prima facie evidence confirming Naturalism and disconfirming Theism.

4) NATURALISM IS THE BEST EXPLANATION FOR THE BIOLOGICAL ROLE (AND APPARENT MORAL RANDOMNESS) OF PAIN AND PLEASURE.

Conscious life exists on this planet.  The biological role of pain and pleasure is the same as other biological systems such as perspiration and shivering.  In other words, pain and pleasure  are systematically connected to survival and reproduction.  From a moral point of view, the distribution of pain and pleasure appears random and without a morally fruitful function.  It appears that the majority of pains and pleasures are gratuitous.

If Naturalism is true, then there is no God, and pain and pleasure are no different than perspiration and shivering, because Naturalism entails the Hypothesis of Indifference.  Additionally we would expect all living things are the product of evolution by natural selection, and there seems to be no way for creatures to have evolved so that they only feel pain when it will aid survival, reproduction, or some morally fruitful function.  By contrast, if Theism is true, then we would expect God to treat the experiences of pain and pleasure differently than shivering and perspiration, because a morally perfect God would not have produced pain and pleasure without some morally justified reason for doing so, and the chances that such a morally justified reason would coincide with the biological goals of humans is far from certain.  If Theism is true, then we would expect our experiences of pain and pleasure to be “fine-tuned” to only experience them when it served either a biologically useful or morally fruitful function.

Given that conscious life exists on this planet, the biological role of pain and pleasure is much more probable on the assumption that Naturalism is true (because the Universe is indifferent to the moral value of pain and pleasure), than on the assumption that Theism is true (and there exists a God who has both the means and the motive to have the morality and biology of pain and pleasure better aligned).  Naturalism is at least as intrinsically probable as Theism.  Therefore the biological role of pain and pleasure is prima facie evidence confirming Naturalism and disconfirming Theism.

5) NATURALISM IS THE BEST EXPLANATION FOR KNOWN FACTS ABOUT THE FLOURISHING AND LANGUISHING OF SENTIENT BEINGS

Living organisms exist on this planet.  In order for living organisms to  flourish, they need an adequate supply of food and water, are able to reproduce, avoid predators, and remain healthy.  The majority of sentient beings on earth are moral patients rather than moral agents i.e. sentient beings who are capable of being the beneficiary of moral obligations but do not have moral obligations of their own.  Most sentient beings languish while alive.  Thomas Hobbes famously described the state of nature as “solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short.”  Indeed, more than 99% of all species that have ever lived are now extinct, because all living organisms are in savage competition for limited resources.  While alive, only a fraction of living organisms, including sentient beings, manage to flourish.  An even smaller fraction of living organisms, including sentient beings, manage to flourish for most of their lives.  Almost no living organisms, including sentient beings, manage to flourish for all of their lives.

If Naturalism is true, then there is no God, and the Universe is indifferent to the intrinsic value of the flourishing and languishing of sentient beings, because Naturalism entails the Hypothesis of Indifference.  By contrast, if Theism is true and other moral considerations are held equal, a morally perfect God would be sensitive to the moral value of flourishing (and disvalue of languishing) and prefer that every sentient being flourish for a significant portion of their lives, especially human persons, so as to enter into a meaningful relationship with them.

Given that living organisms exist on this planet, the flourishing and languishing of sentient beings is much more probable on the assumption that Naturalism is true (because the Universe is indifferent to the flourishing and languishing of sentient beings), than on the assumption that Theism is true (because God would have both the means and the motive to have as many sentient beings flourish in order to have a meaningful relationship with them).  Naturalism is at least as intrinsically probable as Theism.  Therefore the flourishing and languishing of sentient beings is prima facie evidence confirming Naturalism and disconfirming Theism.

6) NATURALISM IS THE BEST EXPLANATION FOR KNOWN FACTS ABOUT TRIUMPH AND TRAGEDY

Human persons exist on this planet, our world contains much horrific tragedy and relatively little glorious triumph.  In other words,  triumph is the exception and tragedy the rule for human persons in the Universe.   Our Universe is one where the deepest and the best aspirations of human persons are routinely frustrated by a variety of circumstances beyond their control.  Horrific tragedies often destroy a person (at least psychologically, spiritually, and/or intellectually) making it impossible for them to participate in meaningful, conscious relationships.  Moreover, many people (Naturalist and Theist alike) report never feeling God’s comforting presence during tragedies making it difficult (if not impossible) for those people to love God. 

If Naturalism is true, then there is no God, and the Universe is indifferent to the tragedies and triumphs of human persons, because Naturalism entails the Hypothesis of Indifference.  Human persons would not feel God’s comforting presence during tragedies for the simple reason that there is no such person as God if Naturalism is true.  By contrast, if Theism is true, then a perfectly moral God has both the means and the motives to minimize tragedy and cultivate triumph.

Given that human persons exist on this planet, the fact that there is so much tragedy and relatively little triumph in the lives of these human persons is much more probable on the assumption that Naturalism is true (and the Universe is indifferent to the triumphs and tragedies of human persons), than on the assumption that Theism is true (and there exists a God who would have both the means and the motive to minimize tragedy and cultivate the triumphs of human persons).  Naturalism is at least as intrinsically probable as Theism.  Therefore known facts about triumph and tragedy are prima facie evidence confirming Naturalism and disconfirming Theism.

7) NATURALISM IS THE BEST EXPLANATION FOR NONRESISTANT NONBELIEVERS

Human persons exist on this planet and a  belief that God exists is a necessary condition for human persons to have a meaningful and conscious relationship with God.  However, some people who do not believe that God exists and their nonbelief is not in any way the result of their own emotional or behavioral opposition towards God.  Let’s call these people nonresistant nonbelievers.  Nonresistant nonbelievers are open to having a relationship with God (in fact, they may even desire it), but they are unable to have such a relationship, because they do not believe that God exists.  For example, former believers were already on the right religious path, in a relationship with God, and a loss of belief has terminated that relationship.  Additionally, lifelong seekers try to find out where they belong and are open to finding (and being found by) a divine parent without ever achieving that goal.  And finally, isolated nontheists such as Amazonian tribesmen have never been in a position to resist belief, because they’ve never even had the idea of God.  Consequently, isolated nontheists unavoidably live their entire lives within the influence of a fundamentally misleading system of religious value and meaning.

If Naturalism is true, then there is no God, and the Universe is indifferent to a belief in God, because Naturalism entails the Hypothesis of Indifference.  By contrast, if Theism is true, then there exists a perfectly loving God who would ensure that a meaningful relationship was always available to human persons open to one.  Additionally, God has both the means and motives to give every human person a clear, unmistakable inner awareness of His existence.

Given that human persons exist on this planet, the fact that some of them are nonresistant nonbelievers is much more probable on the assumption that Naturalism is true (and the Universe is indifferent to religious belief) than on the assumption that Theism is true (and there exists a perfectly loving God who would ensure that a meaningful relationship was always available to human persons open to one).  Naturalism is at least as intrinsically probable as Theism.  Therefore nonresistant nonbelievers  are prima facie evidence confirming Naturalism and disconfirming Theism.

8) NATURALISM IS THE BEST EXPLANATION FOR RELIGIOUS CONFUSION

At least some people have religious experiences.  Most of those people genuinely disagree about the nature and content of religious experiences e.g. Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, etc.  In other words, if Theism is true, then God has not clearly revealed the religious path that he wants us to take.  It is also the case that not everyone has theistic, religious experiences, and those who do have them almost always have either a prior belief in God or extensive exposure to theistic religion.  Additionally, the nature and content of religious experiences and beliefs varies drastically, and it is culturally predictable e.g. more than 95% of Saudi Arabia is Muslim, while Thailand is 95% Buddhist, and only 5% theist.  Subjects of religious experiences pursue a variety of radically different religious paths, and none of them seem to bear abundantly more moral fruit than all of the others.

If Naturalism is true, then there is no God, and the Universe is indifferent to religious belief, because Naturalism entails the Hypothesis of Indifference.  Additionally, Naturalism would predict that religions would reflect cultural contingencies and have no veridical content outside of the natural order.  By contrast, if God existed, then He would have the highest motivation to see that human persons chose the right religious path so as to be in a position to enter into fellowship with them.  Additionally, Theism would lead us to expect that worshiping God is a source of moral strength (a source not available to those who do not worship God).  Consequently, Theism gives us some reason to expect that Theists would live significantly more moral lives than non-Theists. 

Given the fact that people have religious experiences, the fact that there is so much religious confusion is much more probable on the assumption that Naturalism is true (because the Universe is indifferent to religious belief) than on the assumption that Theism is true (and at least some religious experiences are genuine revelations from God).  Naturalism is at least as intrinsically probable as Theism.  Therefore religious confusion is prima facie evidence confirming Naturalism and disconfirming Theism.

In closing, let’s review my two main contentions.  With respect to the first main contention, we’ve seen that Naturalism is intrinsically more probable than Theism and much more intrinsically probable than Christian Theism, because it makes fewer (and less specific) claims than Theism.  With respect to my second main contention, we’ve seen at least 8 lines of evidence that support the claim that Naturalism is a more accurate explanatory hypothesis than Theism.  I think it reasonable then to conclude that, all things considered, Naturalism is probably true, and Theism is probably false.  In order to undercut this conclusion a Theist will have to present evidence of her own that 1) overcomes the intrinsic improbability of Theism, and 2) outweighs the 8 lines of evidence that I’ve presented here.

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Paterfamilia

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Re: An Evidential Case for Naturalism and Against Theism
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2016, 09:48:27 am »
Who are you debating?
"First I knocked them out of a tree with a rock.  Then I saved them."

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Orion

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Re: An Evidential Case for Naturalism and Against Theism
« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2016, 05:08:02 pm »
Hey, Shadowlink—thanks very much for posting your essay. You clearly put a lot of analysis into it! Since you’ve challenged theism and specifically Christianity, I figured I’d offer some thoughts …

Freethinking Intelligence
Your essay assumes the existence of freethinking, rational, sentient beings on planet earth, and I make exactly the same assumption. In fact, it’s a necessary assumption, because apart from the existence of freethinking, rational intelligence, there can be no intelligent, rational debate. If we humans are not truly rational, it is impossible for us to either use solid logic or to commit logical fallacies, such as begging the question or making ad hominem attacks. However, the assumption of freethinking intelligence poses the first insurmountable problem for Atheism. There are only three ultimate cosmological possibilities to explain reality: Atheism, Pantheism and Theism. Each of them must somehow explain the existence of humanity’s freethinking, rational intelligence. Note that freethinking intelligence is, by definition, personal in nature. Yet both Atheism and Pantheism are impersonal ultimates, whereas Theism is the only possible personal ultimate. It’s easy for Theism to explain how humans obtained rational intelligence—an omnipotent personal Being bestowed it upon us. However, even with infinite physical or spiritual evolution, neither Atheism nor Pantheism can possibly explain how an impersonal ultimate accidentally or mystically bestowed freethinking intelligence upon humanity, since such intelligence is completely contrary to the foundational nature of Atheism and Pantheism. The truth is that by even having this freethinking, rational debate, we’ve already assumed Atheism and Pantheism are both false and that Theism is true. So let’s move on to your other points …

Probability
You presented a thorough case as to why Atheism is intrinsically more probable than Theism, and specifically Christian Theism. However, your assertion is based on multiple false assumptions.
-Specificity vs. Improbability: Your argument effectively assumes that specifics make worldviews less probable. But that simply isn’t true. How in the world could God do non-specific things? Would it somehow make the Deity more probable if God did nothing? The same applies to Atheism! If Atheism is true, then everything the material cosmos does is also specific. If your logic is correct, then the most probable worldview is a God or spiritual cosmos or material cosmos that does absolutely nothing. And that contention confuses specificity with improbability.
-Atheism vs. Theism: Atheism has just as many specific conclusions as Theism—whether Christianity or otherwise. If Atheism is true, the Blind Watchmaker indifferently and accidentally caused the United States to develop nuclear weapons and use them to bring about Japan’s surrender at the end of WWII. That is just one of an infinite number of examples that are every bit as specific as those found in various religions. Your argument that Atheism is somehow more probable than Theism is false.
-Eternity: Atheism hinges upon an eternal cosmos of matter and energy. As many atheists have pointed out, the existence of eternal time, space, matter and energy would solve all statistical problems with evolution, since even the most statistically improbable events will eventually occur. All too true! But therein lies the rub. Given infinite evolution, the cosmos will accidentally make fairies, goblins, unicorns, dragons, the Smurfs, Darth Vader and chimeras. Given infinite time and material, I see no reason to doubt any of the Biblical miracles—they have to happen somewhere in the eternal cosmos! And when you invoke Stephen Hawking’s Infinite Multiverse (with varied laws of physics in countless universes), the possibilities become even more boundless. The common atheistic mockery of religion as a “fairy tale” backfires on itself, because if Atheism is true, fairies must exist somewhere in time and space.
CONCLUSION: Since your contention that Atheism is intrinsically more probable than Theism is untrue, this undermines the fundamental basis for your essay.

1. Science
Science is, by definition, the process by which freethinking, rational, sentient beings study and attempt to understand the environment around them. But if Atheism is true, no such freethinking rational beings exist (rather we humans all have randomly programmed delusions of consciousness). Ergo, if Atheism is true, there is no such thing as scientists or science. The common atheistic claim of being “scientific freethinkers who have seen through the foolishness of religion” completely contradicts and defeats itself, since if Atheism is true, it is impossible for atheists (or anyone else) to be freethinkers.

Additionally, your proof that God does not intervene in the cosmos is your assumption that God does not intervene in the cosmos. And that is a very faulty assumption, which begs the question. The reason the Bible labels things like the Resurrection as “miracles” is because they are out of the ordinary. There is nothing incongruent about God’s existence and a cosmos that continually functions based upon the laws of physics. And of course (again), Atheism hinges upon infinite time and material, which will statistically cause all forms of matter and energy to eventually occur, including an accidental asexual or hermaphroditic virgin birth, not to mention all the epic battles described in The Lord of the Rings.

So your first line of evidence actually supports Theism, not Atheism.

2. Biological Life
Again, in order to overcome the statistical improbability of indifferent atheistic mechanisms producing the ridiculously complex biological life on earth, you will have to turn to infinite time, space, matter and energy. In which case you will have no reason to deny the existence of fairies, unicorns, orcs, kobolds, etc. Although God could create the Smurfs, the Almighty is not obligated to do so. In contrast, the atheistic cosmos is statistically obligated to accidentally create all possible forms of matter and energy, including Jabba the Hutt and the Tooth Fairy. Further, there’s no reason God could not choose to use biological processes—which rely on well-engineered mechanisms to generate and deliver intelligent information and instructions—to produce and alter biological life.

At minimum, your second line of evidence does nothing to tip the scales in favor of Atheism.

3. Minds
Your argument (again) assumes the existence of freethinking intelligence … and your proof that minds are purely made of matter and energy is the assumption made by atheistic scientists that minds are made of matter and energy. But unless you can demonstrate how an impersonal ultimate (Atheism) indifferently created freethinking, rational, sentient intelligence, then your argument contradicts and defeats itself. Also, one of your underlying fallacious contentions is that it should be possible to physically test for the existence of spirit/soul—in which case spirit/soul would be physical in the first place. The reality is that neuroscientists’ ability to study the human brain fundamentally implies the existence of “the ghost in the machine”—otherwise they would have no freethinking ability to study the mind. Interestingly, while there is strong evidence that electrical signals (etc.) can be used to mess with mental perception, there is absolutely zero scientific evidence that you can force someone to choose.

So your third line of evidence does not support Atheism—if anything, it strongly supports Theism.

4. Moral Indifference and 5. Lives of Sentient Beings and 6. Triumph and Tragedy
Your points 4–6 are all assorted versions of the famous Problem of Evil, which theists have been successfully countering for quite some time. The existence of human free will means we have the ability to reject God and suffer the ensuing consequences, namely frustration, disappointment, sorrow, destruction and death. The world around us is not morally indifferent—it is corrupted by evil. And as I demonstrated in my post Objective Morality—Atheism vs. Pantheism vs. Theism, saying that the universe is “morally indifferent” (a.k.a. relative morality) is 100% equivalent to saying everything is justified, which is a form of objective morality. But Theism is the only possible valid basis for any form of objective morality, whereas Atheism and Pantheism fall apart under scrutiny.

So your fourth, fifth and sixth lines of evidence actually support Theism—and per my post The Moral Argument for the Christian God Alone, I would argue that objective morality leads us straight to Jesus.

7. Nonresistant Nonbelievers
This line of evidence is once again based upon false assumptions. Per my post If God Is Good, What Is Evil?, all humans have challenged God (and each other) for moral supremacy in the cosmos. There is absolutely no such thing as a nonresistant nonbeliever. Granted that some people are more hard-nosed than others, but the truth is we all want to be right all of the time. In fact, you and I are both doing our best to be right in this debate … there is nothing that feels quite as good as being right.

And the reality is that a loving relationship with God is open to all humans, but we must respect God for who He is—the paradigm, definition and embodiment of truth, goodness, love and life. Yet the unfortunate fact is that we humans do not respect God for who He is. At minimum, we all want to be the embodiment of moral truth, which is (of course) the appeal of Atheism and Pantheism. If Atheism or Pantheism is true, then the physical or spiritual cosmos is legitimately self-justified, and since you and I are parts of the physical or spiritual cosmos, we are both legitimately self-justified.

Your seventh line of reasoning fails to support Atheism, as there is absolutely nothing incongruent about the world we see and the Christian description of reality, which brings us to your last point …

8. Religious Confusion
Your entire line of argumentation is based on a subtle assumption of human moral innocence. But the truth is that all humans (myself included) have challenged God, attempting to become the paradigm of goodness in place of the Deity (per Genesis 3:5). And because of that, we are all seeking various ways to justify ourselves—as well as to find meaning in life, in the absence of a fulfilling relationship with our Creator. And we’re all failing, but that doesn’t stop us from trying. This is thoroughly and accurately described from Genesis to Revelation in the Bible, and as such, the Christian explanation of religious confusion is far more compelling than that of Atheism!

If Atheism is true, the cosmos accidentally programmed a bunch of blobs of over-evolved stuff on planet earth to sit around concocting myriad religions to try to explain their own existence. Unless I’m mistaken, asteroids don’t sit around trying to think up explanations for why they exist. But if Atheism is true, the only difference between you, me and an asteroid is molecular structure—end of story.

On the topic of religious confusion, per my post The Moral Argument for the Christian God Alone, there are really only two gospels in the world. There is (a) the gospel of divine righteousness—that’s called “Biblical Christianity”. And then there is (b) the gospel of human self-righteousness—that’s called “everything else”. Truth is remarkably well lit! The problem is that truth exposes human self-righteous corruption for what it is, which is why we humans do everything possible to avoid the light. And please understand I am not merely criticizing you and other atheists on this point—this problem pervades our entire species, and like all humans, I wrestle with my own self-righteousness every day.

Shadowlink, you are obviously very thoughtful and care deeply about truth, so I wish you all the best as you sort through these challenging questions.