It may come as no surprise to readers that I disagree with the substance of John Sykes’ tweet, and that the remainder of this post is devoted to an analysis thereof.
“Ouch! That Hurt!”
I will take as a starting point the observation that a brick dropped from a great height onto your own toe usually causes a lot of pain. This is an experiment that you might like to try at home: continually drop a brick held above your head onto your toes and verify that it hurts every time. You have here an example of falsifiable evidence: other experimenters can carry out the same experiment, and report whether or not it also causes great pain in their toes. This evidence can be regarded as false if even only one experimenter reports a lack of pain. In the spirit of scientific enquiry, it can then be asked how the evidence is now known to be false. Answers could include, but are not limited to:
- The wearing of boots with steel toe caps
- Local anaesthesia
By the falsification of evidence, we have been able to gain a better understanding of the world that we inhabit. By using that understanding, we each of us has a guide, a “truth” if you like, to improve our own lives, and then (should we wish) to benefit the lives of others. We have a reasoned understanding of our own actions.
A Competition of Religions
We now have competing claims from competing religions that they are each “the one true religion”. Apart from the by-definition inconsistency of such competing claims, we have the further observation that none of them offer any means to generate falsifiable evidence for their claims. This then affords the position where all the following statements are mutually exclusive:
- Christianity is the one true religion
- Islam is the true religion
- Pastafarianism is the one true religion
Two of these, Christianity and Islam, have even built large social hierarchies.
Such competing claims amount to an absurdity.
“No Basis Except the Self”
It may have escape John Sykes’ notice that both he and I are individuals, that we both have selves. My self tells me that repeatedly dropping a brick from a great height onto my toes is not a good thing to do, and that this is a reasoned position: I do not like pain.
If we are to take John Sykes’ tweet at face value, he differs from me in this regard. According to him, the truth of my pain is a illusion, and that if I had sufficient courage, I would then have the faith needed to not feel the pain.
An Invitation to Mr Sykes
I invite John Sykes to demonstrate how pain can be avoided by the means of courage and faith that he asserts. After all, it is he that has asserted that “[My] ‘reason’ has no truth …”.
And you wonder why I am an atheist?