• ThePhilosopherFromDixie
    This seems to be a common view among atheists. I'm wondering what the opinion is on the philosophy forum? Is this a view that you share? That you tend to hear a lot?

    Also, the video rips Sartre pretty mercilessly at the end. It compares the "responsibility" of Sartre to that of a consumer who is forced into a grocery store and confronted with way too many different brands of cheese.

  • Bitter Crank
    Are the Notions of God and Personal Immortality Emotional Security Blankets?ThePhilosopherFromDixie

    Perhaps, but what of it?

    I just finished up IRON WIND, a book comparing French and Polish, Jewish and Catholic responses to the Nazi occupation of Europe. For the Jews viewing their own destruction as a people, and their impending individual deaths, the question of whether believing in God was some sort of "security blanket" was a critical question.

    For some Jews, belief in God offered a way of sustaining their personal and collective identities in the face of certain annihilation. For others it was a burden, if they could not find a way to account for their faith and God's apparent abandonment of them. Many were, or became disbelievers. Some recognized their faith as some sort of "security blanket". In the end, they died at the hands of the Nazis, whatever they believed.

    Most of us are able to contemplate the existence or non-existence of god as an academic question. But one thing applies to us that applied to the doomed Jews: Whatever we believe, we are going to die just the same. So, if belief in God offers comfort, to whom is that a problem? What are you (or anyone else) offering as an improvement?

    Officially, I don't believe in the god that I grew up with. I've found ways of understanding god that I like better, but I don't find these overly convincing either. I'm 70; death isn't all that far away now. Hoping for more time on earth (which I definitely do) is a sort of security blanket, too. Of course the old security of life-eternal was comforting--assuming one was spending it in heaven and not hell. But I find it very difficult to believe in such a thing as this brief existence and then another, eternal existence. Belief in god has (for me) become a problem of cognitive dissonance, not a security blanket.

    There are more pressing issues of faith that Iron Wind presents clearly: Why were French and Polish Catholics NOT more concerned about the fate of their neighbors, the Jews? What we do or don't do as people who have, or don't have, faith is far more important than how we feel about dying.
  • R-13
    This seems to be a common view among atheists. I'm wondering what the opinion is on the philosophy forum? Is this a view that you share? That you tend to hear a lot?ThePhilosopherFromDixie

    The argument cuts both ways. We can always "psychologize" those who disagree with us. There's an assumption at play that atheism is so gloomy that it itself cannot be wishful thinking or a form of comfort. But let's look at Sartre. If there is no God and man has no essence, then he is radically free. He is freedom itself or a hole in being. He's a miniature, fragile God with nothing above him. He might even be described as a sort of God-man or Christ. Except Sartre was (a bit confusingly?) something of a moralist or evangelist (communism, humanism). This ties in to the idea that a Godless humanity, creating its own values through debate and experiment, can also serve as a new version of God, also incarnate, but this time social.

    I think we find the heart of the issue in the concept of rationalization. Our opponents rationalize. They are seduced away from the truly rational position (our position) by an irrational attachment or need. But the theist can play this game as well. The atheist can be presented as someone afraid to face up to their consciousness of sin --or simply too lustful and greedy to accept an authority that might curtail this lust and greed.
  • ThePhilosopherFromDixie

    1. So, if you watch the video,I specifically did not psychologize either set of views. Imho, the psychological question isn't philosophically interesting. I mean, I suppose you can say that I "psychologized" the Epicureans, but only to the extent that I said "This is the 'goal' that these beliefs play in their system."

    The more interesting question is what the concepts actually look like when they are fully fleshed out, which beliefs actually should be scarier or more comforting.

    And I think that I basically agree with what Plato has Socrates say somewhere...I think the Apology? If there is no immortality of the soul, then death would be like a dreamless sleep. Why should that be fearful?

    It's the concepts of God and the immortality of the soul that should be more fearsome. The idea of a Supreme Judge and retribution according to our deeds, either here or there...that's a scary thought.

    Republic, book I comes to mind on this point, were the old dude is like: "Yeah...when you get old. You start thinking about those stories..."

    2. Your comments bring Nietzsche and Levinas to mind. Nietzsche ultimately is the source of the "man god," "creation of new values" thing. I think that Levinas ultimately goes the "mankind is the new social god" route. Though for Levinas, it's the other person, not the self, who is the "new god," so to speak.
  • R-13

    I wasn't trying to accuse you of anything, just to be clear. I think it's natural that we "psychologize" others. We want to explain to ourselves how they could disagree with us, if only to protect our own beliefs. The ideal that we strive for (in my view) is something like pure or disinterested Reason, but how confident can we be in practicing this on matters of great import?

    Yes, God(s) and immortality can be more fearsome than endless sleep. This is exactly why one could call a bias toward godlessness and death-as-sleep a "rationalization." I personally think of death as a sort of "nothingness" that corresponds to the state before birth. I don't however think there's a absolutely devastating argument that "proves" this. Even if there was, I'd still want to account for the quite common opposite belief, if only to assuage fears that I was lying to myself on a most important issue , a lie that might get me thrown into Hell.
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