Religion explains the human condition

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The human condition is "the characteristics, key events, and situations which compose the essentials of human existence, such as birth, growth, emotionality, aspiration, conflict, and mortality." [1]. Apologists argue this requires an explanation and naturalistic processes fail to provide a complete account. The best explanation for the human condition is supposedly God.

"The Christian theistic world view described by the parameters of creation, fall, redemption and consummation has considerable explanatory power in accounting for the existence of human complexity, creativity, love, suffering, disease, evil and hope. [2]"
"Humans experience ourselves and the world in a manner that is difficult to explain on naturalistic atheism or impersonal deism or pantheism. The best explanation for our experience is in our being created in the image of a personal God.[3]"

A variation of the argument known as the argument from the improbable self was put forward by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein.

"Nothing within the world can account for why I am just this, since the laws of the world are generic: they can explain why certain kinds of things come to be, even (let's assume) why human beings with conscious brains come to be. But nothing in the world can explain why one of those human beings should be me. [4]"

Contents

Natural processes

Apologists argue that science cannot explain the human condition in terms of natural processes. This is partly based on unsupported assertions on what science could achieve in principle, and also by claiming questions about the human condition are not scientific questions.

"Brain imaging won't help you to analyse Bach's Art of Fugue or to interpret King Lear any more than it will unravel the concept of legal responsibility or deliver a proof of Goldbach's conjecture [...] We should recognise that not all coherent questions about human nature and conduct are scientific questions, concerning the laws governing cause and effect. Most of our questions about persons and their doings are about interpretation [5]"

Counter arguments

Vague definitions

The human condition is a vaguely defined concept that means different things in different fields of study. Apologist arguments rarely base their argument from a specific aspect of the human condition but rather use generalisations. Since the human condition is arguably beyond the realm of scientific investigation, it is also debatable if it describes anything that actually exists and not just a human invention or a case of the projection fallacy.

Argument from ignorance

Since the argument does not rule out other possibilities, it is an argument from ignorance. Also, scientific understanding of human behaviour and psychology is improving, so it is an example of God of the gaps.

The human condition and each human identity may not have an explanation and just be a brute fact. Claiming that it your particular identity is both improbably and significant without some justification commits the Texas sharpshooter fallacy.

Which God?

Main Article: Which God?

The argument supports no specific God or religion.

Poor explanation

Using God as an explanation is unjustified because God is a bigger mystery that the one we are trying to explain. Explanations should always be based on known entities.

Christians sometimes argue that Adam and Eve and the Fall are explanations of the human conditions. Apart from the story clearly being absurd (including a talking snake), it also fails to explain any specific aspect of the human conditions but only raises more questions. Humans had already rebelled before they had eaten from the tree of knowledge (otherwise they would not have eaten from it), so the tree is in fact a red herring explanation. The question of why did Adam and Eve rebel is not addressed.

See also

References

  1. [1]
  2. [2]
  3. [3]
  4. Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, 36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction, 2011
  5. [4]
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