Spaghetti Monsters, Ctd.

A reader writes:

I'm an avid reader who's never written you before, but as a philosophy major and not much else, this is probably the first time I've felt (vaguely) qualified.  And the sudden phenomenon of assertive atheism has me concerned too.

What the defenders of the Flying Spaghetti Monster thesis' commensurability with actual theism fail to recognize is that belief in God generally doesn't have anything so "concrete" as its substance. It's not the particulars of God -- the "invisible man in the sky" imagery and such -- that matter.  In some sense these particulars aren't the content of theist belief at all; it's the "consequences" of God -- moral compunction, cultural taboo, social phenomena that amount to a de facto eschatology, etc. -- that actually constitute theism. And when measured by adherence to behaviors consistent with this belief, atheism suddenly appears much rarer. 

Nietzsche recognized this; it's the reason why an insistence on overcoming Judeo-Christian ethics comes right alongside his proclamation of the death of God.

These two things are one and the same for him, as they must be for anyone who claims to be an "atheist."

Summed in another way: the evidence for God that your last commentator finds lacking is the same kind of evidence which can't be found to support the existence of morality.  Does he really believe that morality doesn't exist, that moral propositions have no objective truth value?  Perhaps he does, but the point here is that many who find the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) commensurate with God might hesitate to follow him into such positivist territory. One last way to express this idea, calling on anthropology to aid philosophy: if belief in God is merely a testament to humanity's desire to believe, would belief in a flying spaghetti monster have arisen in history for the same reason?  Shouldn't we see today just as many people lining up to worship the FSM as we find pointing out its absurdity?  One might argue that people don't do this because they already adhere to a faith so popular that it overwhelms the rival FSM religion: but then, of course, we must admit we've come full circle.

2006-2011 archives for The Daily Dish, featuring Andrew Sullivan

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