You heard me. You already believe in God. Atheism is logically impossible. Why? Because the definition of God is so broad and wide-reaching that it is essentially impossible to disbelieve. If you live in the modern West, you cannot exempt yourself from this, unless perhaps if you are: 1. a traditional Buddhist (no, shitty individualized English sutra-recitation doesn’t count), 2. a real nihilist (of whom there are very few), or 3. a radical ultra-skeptic (you do not qualify for this title if you browse Reddit or watch Rick & Morty).
So what’s a decent definition of God? Let’s start with what the Bhagavad Gita says:
“I am the goal of life … I am the beginning, the staying, and the end of creation … I am what is and what is not.”
“There is no truth superior to Me. Everything rests upon Me, as pearls are strung on a thread.”
We can see here at least four things identifiable with God: the purpose of life, the entirety of the universe, Existence itself, and Absolute truth. What does this mean for atheism? It means that if you believe in any of these things, you believe in God. This is not something that most people can choose to disbelieve in. Although there are many who claim that human life has no meaning, there are few who are willing to say that the universe has no origin, that Existence does not exist, or that truth is not truth. Western atheism is, fundamentally, not about belief or disbelief but about definitions. If you believe that there is existence, you must believe in God.
In the following shortpost, I use the word “Redditor” several times. But it’s a term that doesn’t strictly limit itself to actual users of Reddit.com, and in fact it excludes a pretty significant portion of Reddit’s population. What I mean by “Redditor” is the archetypal Reddit personality, characterized by:
- Browsing online forums
- Focusing on “intellectual” topics such as morality, public policy, world news, religion, science, etc.
- Not having a substantial background in these “intellectual” topics but constantly engaging in “debates” about them regardless
- Often describing himself as “intelligent,” “logical,” and “scientific”
- Generally lacking a sense of self-awareness
One reason why online armchair morality is so bad is because too many people think that ethics = decision-making. They believe in some unfounded principle that if you rationally choose something, that must mean that you think it’s moral. But there’s no reason why this should be the case. People rationally choose to do immoral things all the time. When I use the word “rationally” in this sense, I do not mean 100% word-of-God divine rationality, but the average amount of rationality that a reasonable person would employ in his or her day-to-day actions, free from direct physical and mental coersion.
Sometimes I commit an act of littering by dropping chewing gum wrappers on the ground. I am fully aware that what I am doing is wrong, but I choose to do it regardless. Sometimes (actually, almost every day) I eat meat. I know that this is wrong, but I do it anyways, because meat is a very convenient source of protein and pretty tasty at the same time. There’s no reason to conflate human decision making with human morality. If anything, it should be intuitively obvious that because humans strive to live up to some ideal morality that the average human would, therefore, be at least a teeny little bit immoral.
And this is why Reddit ethics debates are so terrible: Redditors just want to design a moral framework that justifies everything they do. Redditors think that an ethical system that doesn’t provide a convenient excuse for their everyday actions is a bad system. It’s a point of view that is characteristic of people who haven’t really thought critically about ethics, and even worse, of people who are dangerously self-unaware. Any virtuous person who lives in this fallen world (Redditors: I use this term metaphorically) should at the very least be able to list his or her own flaws. A good moral system doesn’t come after-the-fact.