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The Great Non-Sequitur October 29, 2009

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Dwight Furrow's Posts, religion.
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Karen Armstrong’s career has been one long, mighty struggle to make sense of religion. And when she can’t make sense, she just asserts.

In her recent article in Foreign Policy she repeats the most banal of non-sequiturs:

While dogs, as far as we know, do not worry about the canine condition or agonize about their mortality, humans fall very easily into despair if we don’t find some significance in our lives. Theological ideas come and go, but the quest for meaning continues. So God isn’t going anywhere.

Yes, human beings must search for meaning and we are continually threatened by a loss of meaning. But that doesn’t entail that God exists or that humans must believe in God, or that belief in God is an adequate response to the threatened loss of meaning.

I have never been able to figure out, nor has anyone ever adequately explained to me, why life would lack meaning if God did not exist or why belief in God confers meaning on life which it otherwise would not have.

And neither can they explain why hope that God exists is somehow evidence that God must exist.

Yet, writers like Armstrong think this connection is so obvious it doesn’t have to be explained.

book-section-book-cover2 Dwight Furrow is author of

Reviving the Left: The Need to Restore Liberal Values in America

For political commentary by Dwight Furrow visit: www.revivingliberalism.com




1. Paul J. Moloney - October 31, 2009

To deny that the non-believer could have no meaning or not enough meaning in their lives would be to undermine some Catholic thinking. Aquinas drew heavily on Aristotle, among others, and Augustine was inspired by Plato. If these Catholic thinkers argued against the possibility of the Greeks having any meaning in their lives then their own edifices of thought would have crumbled. It is not a necessary religious outlook, then, that non-believers have no meaning or enough meaning in their lives. It seems to be an outlook of those who need someone to look down upon, which does not seem to be a Christian thing to do. Apparently for some, because God does not make them better than others, they have to make themselves out to be better than others. A good argument against the existence of God is that God does not put a stop to all the stupid things said about God. If God cannot speak for God, it would seem there is no God to speak, which would mean there is no God.

It seems also that meaning is derived from knowledge. I know, in my own life I acquire more meaning through the knowledge of others. If they can give more my meaning to my life, it must be that they have meaning in their lives. It does not seem to stand that I acquire more meaning from those who have less meaning.

I would think a lack of meaning comes through ignorance. An ignorant life is a meaningless life. If the ignorant have meaningless lives, they seem to give no indication that they mind it (Remember. I ride the city buses). I am sure most ignorant people are of the opinion that they do lead meaningful lives, but opinion is not knowledge. These are the people that are willfully ignorant through laziness. Nonetheless, there is an ignorance with which we are all afflicted. Intelligent people try to overcome their ignorance through knowledge. No matter how much we know or strive to know, we remain ignorant to some degree. Because we cannot know some things, life can seem meaningless at times. In this sense we do not seem to have any advantage over the willfully ignorant, except that we do mind our ignorance while they do not mind theirs.

If anything is going to lead to more meaning it is knowledge. We know absolutely that ignorance will never lead to any meaning. If we give up the pursuit to acquire knowledge then the only alternative is to willfully fall into ignorance, which is to go from bad to worse. Besides, I do not need another ignorant person on the bus.

2. The Good Fight? « Philosophy On The Mesa - November 1, 2009

[…] religion. Tags: Karen Armstrong, Richard Dawkins trackback I meant to post this as a comment to Dwight’s blog below, but couldn’t figure out how to insert a picture into the comment. So here is the photo, […]

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