Earnest: Prayers

June 4, 2010

I’m an atheist. But I also want to be O’Nest: on occasion I pray. I am somewhat of an Earnest atheist maybe because I’ve found it difficult to ridicule religious people, when their faith seems have a nice intrinsic Kierkegaardian motivation. Do not get overexcited though, for the moralizingly pious zealots that feel not the least doubt when defending the extrinsic organization that motivates them to desire punishment on other-minded people, I don’t even find ridicule in my heart.

Now I have put the disclaimer, I can proceed. First, to apologize for the disclaimer. Second, to forward a thesis that will be explored over the fold:

The thesis:It is possible to justify ‘supernatural’ beliefs on purely naturalistic grounds“.

An attempt at proving this (given the context, more than an attempt is not now called for and if it is: I do not feel in the slightest compelled to provide it) is based on the following schema:


Step 1: a situation “A” leads to’ supernatural beliefs’, for instance praying

Step 2: this situation “A” also provokes a moral choice, for instance ‘doing the right thing’

Step 3: the moral insight in Step 2 with regard to “A” is only achieved insofar as “A” has led one to go through Step 1

O’Nest, he, says that the situation “A” might for instance be having a family member in hospital and the moral choice to attribute the right level of attention to this situation, and therefore to this family member.

I can, but will not (because it would be more something for my friend Guido), defend the details of the schema, nor the fact (according to me) that it does not appeal to other-than-naturalistic criteria, but I will venture to put it into a small, nice aphorism (aka “one-liner”) for you:

Aphorism: Doing the right thing is not so much the consequence of ‘good’ faith as it is the exclusion of bad faith.

Shorter: the concept ‘faith’ is unavoidable either way, even if ‘good’ faith mostly leads to ‘bad’ actions.

Or longer (in my case): Maybe I can’t directly help you but I really want to so I am willing to give up my consistency as a non-believer in order to muster the type of motivation that is necessary for me to do everything that maximizes your chances of having a spot of good luck.

OK, all those that are dreck can now start their ridicule.


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