Defending the faith is hard. Trust me, I’ve been there. But there are some arguments for theism I come across that aren’t arguments at all, and I think need their own category. These are usually used by your everyday Christian, not apologists (I’d hope). This is when someone claims something is true just because they want it to be. I call these “Arguments from Wishful Thinking”. For example : “If there’s no God…”
“That would mean… There’s no ultimate justice!”
“I don’t want to live in a world where Hitler isn’t punished.” Erm… Yeah, sorry. Do you really think Christianity is the only world view with a “ultimate” justice system? Every religion comes with a built-in system of justice. Protesting that Hitler won’t be punished by the Christian or Islamic God is like saying, “But if there’s no reincarnation, that means Hitler will just be dead and not be turned into a worm to be stepped on like the scum he is!” Uh yep, pretty much (sorry, Hindusim).
It may seem grossly unfair, but just because you wish that bad people would get what’s coming to them, doesn’t make it true that they will. Of course we want to think that evil is punished and good is rewarded. Hate to break into you, but there may be no universal tally of all the good and bad deeds people have done. I don’t want to live in a world where chocolate doesn’t grow on trees in my backyard buuut… just because we want something to be so, doesnt mean it is.
“That would mean… There’s no ultimate purpose in life!”
I guess that depends on what you mean by “ultimate” purpose. Yeah, it’s a little scary to think that we’re out here on our own, just a few billion people on this rock in space, just getting through life and sometimes contemplating our place in the universe. It’s juuust a tiny bit daunting.
But just because it makes you feel better thinking that there is some ultimate being pulling all the strings — I mean, sorry, that God has a perfect plan for precious little you — doesn’t make it true. I understand how comforting that thought can be, but there is no argument here.
“That would mean… There’s no afterlife!”
There are quite a few ideas wrapped up in this one. Fear of death. Fear of the unknown. The idea that if life sucks now, it’s okay, ’cause there’s another one coming. The thought that if the poor will be better off in the next life, we an excuse not helping them now. The fact that we wanted to be rewarded for being a “good person”. All of these come into play when someone tries to ask, “So what happens after we die?” This one, I think, best fits the Argument From Wishful Thinking category, just because there are so many implications there if theism is false.
Look, I don’t know what happens after we die. But I can recognize that just because I’d like there to be some kind of continuation, or that I would like to see my family and friends again, doesn’t mean that there is, or that I will. Yeah, that sucks. But guess what? It’s not an argument for theism. It’s just wishful thinking.
As Neil Degrasse Tyson warns…
Are there any other “arguments” you think fall into the “Argument From Wishful Thinking” category? Let me know in the comments below!