Sunday 3 November 2019

Why atheism leads to (increasingly short-termist) hedonism, then despair

If there is no God, and this world is a merely-determined/ accidental and purposeless happening; then life is also purposeless.

If life has no external and shared meaning, then all that matters is how we feel about it - so life reduces to psychology.

Our innate psychology includes all kinds of instincts including loyalty, courage, appreciation of beauty, natural virtue... but with atheism these are accidental and contingent consequences of our past evolutionary history - and their meaning is in-the-past; and that meaning was only to enhance our differential genetic replicative success (because people are organisms, and organisms are only disposable contingent gene-controlled robots that exist to promote gene replication).

We may feel the pull or push of natural ethics or 'higher instincts' but they have no validity for 'my' actions, 'here-and-now'.

Therefore psychology reduces to the pleasure-suffering axis.

In other words; the only psychology that can be justified (for me, here, now) is my feelings, now = hedonism (the principle that the axis of my pleasure-suffering is the only 'ethic').

Current - here-and-now - feelings are the only relevant factor; because the future cannot be reliably predicted and the past may be forgotten or memories may be false.

Hedonic feelings are the only self-justifying feelings, because (by circular definition) feeling good is better than feeling bad. And because (with atheism) nothing else matters.

So with atheism hedonic feelings are the only thing left-standing.  

And when short-term pleasure/ happiness, gratification is the only bottom line; then as soon as it is absent, life is worthless.

If we come to believe that our own personal happiness is in decline or impossible - or simply currently insufficient: too weak or too infrequent - then we shall (we realise) despair - sooner or later. And there can be no reassurance against this despair, because such despair is rational.

Under such circumstances, only the deluded manic or the manipulative psychopath can be consciously happy with life - and even they are vulnerable to downswings.

What happens then? Look around.

We see a society incrementally being overwhelmed by a tidal rise in despair; caused by atheism and the ethic of hedonism.

Amping up the pleasure is ineffectual - unless it could be made overwhelming and continuous (which is the false promise of transhumanism - a world of engineered permanent euphoria). And all pleasure is (apparently) subject to 'habituation' - pleasure fades unless there is novelty, or increased dose. This seems to be a biological built-in.

(This is why atheism so quickly devolves from pleasure-seeking - like the middle 1960s radical-leftist, libertine hippie ethic of promiscuous sex, hedonic drugs, and rock & roll... To the 1970s-and-onwards ethic of suffering-avoidance - with its hopes of a 'therapeutic' totalitarian world government that will prevent any kind of personal, social, planetary suffering. The change is from pleasure-seeking to pain-avoidant: from stimulant and euphoriant abuse to mass mediation with tranquillisers, mood-stabilisers, and antidepressants; from aiming-at a positive and pleasurable socialist utopia - to a society structured-around preventing the angst caused by global warming, microaggressions, racism, sexism, unbiological sexuality and sexual identity etc.)

Atheism, as it becomes mainstream, then mandatory (in public life) leads to rational and increasing  despair; from which there can be no escape while atheism prevails.

The solution should be, but isn't, obvious: to re-examine our arbitrary and evidentially-unfounded assumptions regarding the fundamental nature of reality.

(These ultimate assumptions concerning the nature of reality are termed metaphysical.)

But once a person, or a society, is already-in the depths of atheism-induced despair; then it becomes increasingly difficult to make the metaphysical effort to escape, because real escape seems impossible, hence effort is futile and (here-and-now) counter-productive. 

Despair is the fruit of atheism, and despair is perhaps the worst of sins; because it destroys the belief that escape is possible.

Hence mass human despair is the sin most deeply desired by the devil. 

Note: In psychiatry - the highest rate of suicide - and of death from refusal of drink and food and lack of self care - is among the severely depressed: i.e. those who are in the grip of self-fulfilling despair. Captive animals in despair cease to reproduce despite protection from predators and adequate provision of food and shelter - precisely analogous to the modern atheist populations of The West. 

Further note: If you join the same dots in a different way; you can see why atheism tends strongly to supporting the demonic agenda of subversion all good values; and opens the atheist to the ultimate demonic goal of value inversion (evil is virtue, ugliness is beauty, lies and fakes are truth) - in the sense that when value inversion becomes socially-expedient (as it is now) there is no strong reason to resist it, and many reasons to embrace it. 


David said...

I don't know how a self-labelling rational Atheist (and probably an intermittently despairing depressed one) could read a surgically precise endictment of modernity, such as this, and not feel compelled to doubt the certainty of their self-imprisoning world view. And yet they do?!

Surely, even by the maxim of pleasure over suffering at all costs, many rational atheists would welcome the supposed 'delusion' of embracing a religious perspective, just to feel better about the inevitable arbitrary meaningless of it all, but, ironically,they cling to atheisism as a kind of 'sacred truth'that rubber stamps a futile 'meaning' on top of nihilism! Isn't that insane? But that is exactly how I thought for much of my life until I became a believer in a deistic God, and, eventually, a personal one.

I am tempted to print hundreds of leaflets off including this post and handing them out the Atheists to consider, but I suspect, through hard previous personal experience with such people (who are also clinically depressed and nihilistic) they would ignore me or mock me. I pray that God will work in their lives (as surely he already does) so that one day they may wake up before it's too late. After all, if you and I found a way, when we were so deeply invested, then it is possible for anyone. God willing, but also, they must be willing. God can only see you half way and does not force us to be a certain way.

Bruce Charlton said...

@David - Good points there.

When your assumptions are that religion cannot be true, then it is not taken seriously. When your knowledge of religion is superficial, ditto. When you believe that your must take religion 'off the peg' without thinking about it (in contrast to your politics) then it is easily rejected. When religion is known as being against the things that make you most happy/ motivated (e.g. sex unconstrained), then it is rejected. When being Christian (and serious about it) is status lowering, then it is rejected.

Francis Berger said...

Unfortunately, this post will bounce off those who dismiss religion outright, but I sincerely hope it reaches some people out there who are still sitting on the fence waiting on a decision regarding atheism and religion.

People who understand the error of atheism will find their beliefs and intuitions confirmed when they read this post, but I often wonder how those who are still undecided react to insightful pieces like these.

You spell out the inherent insanity of atheism with such devastating clarity that it is difficult to imagine fence-sitters being left unmoved or unaffected.

On a side note, your observations about psychology are spot on. Psychology is not enough. A certain famous psychologist is, rather pitiably, providing ample evidence of that at the moment. (Mentioning this is heartless and petty of me, but it provides living proof of the point you have made concerning psychology.)

Bruce Charlton said...

@Francis - My general attitude is that God can deal with issues of 'distribution' if or when something is worthwhile - not least because there is a world of universal reality to which - potentially - all people may have direct-knowing access. So 'publication' is not strictly necessary (although probably helpful). We are needed primarily to Think Original Thoughts, and if those are true and significant, then they will be (one way or another) permanent.

Cererean said...

" Captive animals in despair cease to reproduce despite protection from predators and adequate provision of food and shelter - precisely analogous to the modern atheist populations of The West."

That would explain the correlation between religion and fertility. Religious people (usually) have hope, albeit in most cases a false hope.

@Francis, who knows in what ways the Spirit works? This might be the push he needs to go and properly investigate Christianity, as he said he would. We live in interesting times. Who, a few years ago, would have thought Kanye would be decrying modernity and praising Jesus?

Bruce Charlton said...

@C - Some religious groups are the only people in Western Societies who *choose* to have above replacement fertility - leaving out those without access to contraception/ abortion. This is achieved usually by (attempting to) forbid contraception, as well as abortion; and those too unintelligent or impulsive to use contraception. Mormons are the only group with (modestly) above-replacement fertility who also use contraception. Although even these exceptions have significantly lower average fertility than in the past.

Francis Berger said...

@ Cererean - I sincerely hope he does.