A misplaced Google search hijacked my mind for almost twelve hours; even the internet has a disturbing Christian undertow – an undertow in which Aquinas is still revered. To my disbelief there are people who still believe the ontological argument to be the final word in any debate regarding the existence of a benevolent chap sat in a cloud armchair. Now I’m going to make something of an assumption, a large percentage, if not every single person who reads my scribblings are atheists – not just this blog, which no one reads; but my essays, short fiction, and stand-up comedy which no one reads or listens to. All those nobodies together could pack a laundry closet with a powerful display of their agreement; on a dull, wet Monday they can reach double figures.
Contact with those of an imaginary-friendship bent often leaves one feeling like the sole rational being in a room full of toddlers, screaming, kicking and crying over the loss of a blue stuffed bear. That only exists in their minds. At these moments it is easy to feel a kinship with Richard Dawkins – shouty defender of reason from people who view rationality much as I view the smoking ban. Dr Dawkins is intelligent, eloquent and so smug looking that I almost wish there was a deity just to wipe the smirk from his Oxonian chops.
Where Dawkins goes wrong, as so many of us do, is by using reason to argue a matter of belief. While reason is the perfect tool with which to crush Aquinas’ rational proofs of existence, it has little impact against cherished beliefs which have no more rational basis than Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and leprechauns. This argument is itself a rational one, but I find it difficult to construct an irrational argument (or to imagine the structure and purpose of one). I’m sure the nearest religious believer will do so for you. All this has been said countless times before, however, I do have a vaguely original point to belabour: the size of the argument is unreasonable.
While reason remains the key in constructing larger arguments against god’s existence, as has been admirably done by minds (e.g. Hume, Mill, Russell) greater than mine or yours. If I’m truly honest, while the large arguments are responsible for my atheism, it’s the small things, the everyday occurrences that confirm it. Today I’ve had a headache for the entire morning and a good chunk of the afternoon: that’s enough for me to deny the existence of a benevolent God. As far as I’m concerned no benevolent creature, be it deity or mollusc, would allow me to suffer from a condition that appears to be worsened by caffeine, nicotine, and music – the three things that make day to day existence bearable, the problem of suffering is much similar to the problem of evil, scaled down to a personal level. If God not only inflicts headaches upon me, but also denies me coffee, tobacco and music; then he either cannot rid me of headaches (is not omnipotent), does not know I have a headache (is not omniscient), and/or is willing to let me suffer (is not benevolent).
To those who think it a sign of self-importance to write an entire blog about my headache, I must say I think you look rather silly now. My headache is not just a problem for me; major theological issues hang in the balance. The fact that it refuses to shift is sufficient to convince me that God does not exist, or is a cruel bastard. Unless Rowan Williams makes me jam sandwiches with hot whiskey and lemon. Maybe God can use his supposed omniscience to find the remote.
BLASPHEMY, BLAS FOR YOU, BLAS FOR EVERYBODY