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After taking three holi-days of breaks from blogging, (I don't blog on Sunday

,)
and working exclusively on my brickfront retail operation Meta Candles and Gifts*,
I would like to say that I hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving weekend. Even
the smallest turkey was too large for the two people in my home; I'm going to
freeze one of the breasts, but we managed without too much difficulty to finish
off the pumpkin pie! I know at Christmas I will be forced to eat what ever pie we
decide on, and freeze half the Honeybaked Ham.
[*Click on one of the pretty images if you want to order online America's best-
made candles or fabulous gift baskets! Hint: Join the Candle of the Month for a
near-50% discount! Or contact me through that online site if you have questions
about the products and services. Blatant capitalistic promotion is naturalistic,
don't you think?]

I had a casual, workplace conversation with the owner of the brickfront, who deals
in rare, unusual and expensive antiques. He is religious, and has talked about his
work in the church as organist; he keeps a piano (for sale) in the antiques store
and sometimes sits down to play it. But until yesterday he never brought up the
subject of religion in any way that required an answer or reaction from me, except
to listen.

Yesterday he asked if I "believed." I told him I did not. What came next is not
unusual in such a situation; it has happened to me many times, so many over the
course of four decades of discussing it that I try never to discuss it, because
what I hear, and what I am forced to repeat, is simply too pedestrian, and lame at
that, to allow myself to be forced into discussing my beliefs--because no one ever
lets it go at what I answer.

I cannot recall one incident in all those many years when someone simply said,
"Wow. I never would have guessed!" or "Each to his own," or anything that
resembled the conversational equivalent of "I have no intention of impressing on
you what I think is wrong in your way of thinking." That would be a blessing to
hear.

Everyone has an opinion. Everyone wants to show what he/she thinks is the error of
my logic. Or it goes the direction it went yesterday, when the antiques dealer
brought up the subject we can call, "What if you're wrong?"

The "what if you're wrong" debate takes two forms. The first is about the idea
that when we die we discover we were wrong, by discovering ourselves in the
"afterworld." What will we do, then? we are asked.

The second form of the debate takes the position of, "What if something happens
while you're fully alive to change your mind?" The implication here is that if we
atheists were faced with some sort of revelation, either a revealed revelation, or
one of observation and logic resulting in a possible change of mind, would I be
able and/or willing to change my mind? see Horvath and Revelation and On
Revelations; Thomas Paine

Why do people need to know this? Why are they driven to inquire? Are they
convinced we may say we would be "forced by the circumstances" to believe? Are
they convinced, perhaps, that some argument on their part could makes us see the
"error" of having a "closed mind"? Are they looking for an opportunity to make the
case that "no one can be certain that no god exists"?

It seems my friend was of the mind that he could get me to admit that I could not
be certain. I've been drawn in to this argument before, and I knew that it was he
who did not have the "open" mind to listen objectively to me, and to objectively
ask about my logic. People like him, who are otherwise fine as friends, would
rather impress upon us the logic they believe will show we are the ones with
"closed" minds.
And by the way, this is behavior in which I never engage, that is, trying to
convince someone who doesn't want to listen to the logic of naturalism. It is
improper etiquette--and rude.

I did not take the bait. I merely got up from my chair, walked to my computer,
pulled up the Academy's "Strong" Position on Naturalism--which I then read to him.
I thought that if I presented my argument in its written form, rather than trying
to speak from the mind and heart--a situation where I knew he would not be able to
resist interrupting me, repeatedly, to argue this point or that--that he would
understand I had given the subject considerable scrutiny to publish it in a blog
that is readable world-wide.

Instead of being objective, or at the least considerate of my well-thought out
argument, his reaction surprised me.

"Do all those big words impress you?" he asked? Believe me when I tell you there
was no sarcasm ringing in his words. He wasn't trying to be rude either, though of
course it was one of the rudest things he could have thought to ask.

No, he wanted an objective answer: Was I impressed by the words?

I said no, of course not. I said I understood each and every word, that to me each
of the words were not "big" words; they were the properly definitive words for the
concept expressed by the word in that context. "Do not use two words when one will
do," said Thomas Jefferson, though I must admit you must also take into account
who will be doing the reading, and choose your words carefully for the purpose.
He was not someone who understood the words of the Academy's Position.
He told me about his cousin, his best friend, who for one of his university
degrees was forced to read some difficult books with similarly "big," difficult-
to-understand words, and how his cousin had read some of it out loud to him and
tried to impress on him the meaning of what he was being forced to read. He had no
more understood what his cousin was explaining than what I was explaining.

My friend had successfully changed the subject from my concrete, written logic
(and his beliefs, for that matter,) to something else entirely: how he was not
impressed by big words that meant nothing to him.

What it came down to for my friend was that he was not prepared to overcome my
concrete logic with his faith. Faith, in the end, has no words, and that is the
meaning of faith: that it is a matter of faulty epistemology that results in a
metaphysical world-view that the supernatural must exist.

When confronted by logic that declares all things to be natural and that nothing
is supernatural, this faulty epistemology is frustrated. It cannot make the leap
from faith-based beliefs to objective, i.e., non-faith-based, arguments. It must
stick to what it knows and that is implicit, unconscious knowlege that if a
believer enters into the area of objective language, he will be forced to admit
that his belief is not objective. That must be a very difficult thing to be forced
to accept.

And attempting to accept, to argue, the position that naturalism and not
supernaturalism is the "default position," [see The Big Question of Existence] of
objective discurse, it may open a door to the other side of faith that he is not
prepared to face. That door is precisely the fact that supernaturalism was the
skeptical position for two thousand years, until the faulty Platonic epistemology
of St. Augustine reversed the logic, making naturalism the skeptical position
against supernaturalism.

But what, the frustrated believer would ask by taking Augustine's position, about
the door that opens to faith, the door he would say we naturalists are keeping
closed?
The answer is that Reason permanently closes that door, and the only way it can be
opened is if Reason fails--if a person of Reason has what is defined as a
"revelation" and his Reason cannot overcome the neuropathological or psychological
causes.

The epistemology, the logic, of naturalism challenges the seemingly-convincing
appeal of the cosmological, mechanical, and moral arguments for the existence of
existence itself, and holds that the universe requires no supernatural cause and
government. If someone who maintains this logic suddenly has a neuropathological
or a psychological experience that causes him to abandon Reason for faith, or at
the very least question his Reason in an episode of skeptical vulnerablility to
faith, then he as abandonded what makes Man sui generis from all other creatures,
and that is the faculty of Reason.

Faith is understandable. Our animal brains are succeptible to latching on to any
argument that seems reasonable. When Man gained enough brain neuropathy to be able
to add philosophy to his mental tools, it quickly became apparent--within a few
hundreds of years--through the Atomists and others, that the universe was natural
and that it had natural laws.

Natural laws do not admit of the existence of things which are not natural; it
would be contradictory, and supernaturalism is by definition not natural.
Supernaturalism is what man clung to before he discovered the discipline and
science of philosophy.

There is no longer any Reason to continue thinking, as I'm certain many of our
other animal relatives do, that a clap of thunder and a bolt of lightening, or the
shaking of the earth, is anything beyond our understanding.
But the religiously faithful still ask "what if we naturalists are wrong, what if
the supernatural exists and what if we find reason to regret our earthly logic
when we die and meet our maker"?

If God exists, He will not ask us to regret using the Reason He blessed Mankind
with; but He will pity the fool who believed that faith and the abandonment of
Reason was what He blessed them with.
He would say that the pre-philosophical belief in the supernatural is not the
default position, and therefore supernaturalism is contradictory to naturalism.
Of course, that being so, He would never exist in the first place, to tell us such
a thing.

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