Sunday, November 29, 2009

Part II: Doubt and the paradox of solipsism

There is only one thing that you can know for certain and that is that since you are thinking you exist. Once you get outside of your own mind uncertainty creeps in. Are these people and things surrounding you actually real or are they illusions? Is the world around you a fantasy piped into your brain by Descartes’ evil genius?

Solipsism is the most rational view since we cannot be certain of the world around us, yet it is an absurd way to live life. It is true that our senses can deceive us at times, like the noise that we imagine that we hear, and we can’t be sure if what we see is just a dream, but life demands faith. You could sit idly by and watch the world, that you believe is a fantasy, pass by, but then you risk missing out on a world that is likely real. Will you stand your whole life because you fear that chairs aren’t substantial enough to bear your weight? You must wager that the world around you is real and that chairs can bear your weight. Is there a chance you could be wrong? Of course, but the odds are in your favor if you take the leap of faith.

Faith is everywhere in life. We put money in banks with faith that it will be there when we want it back. We trust that our loved ones will not murder us in our sleep. We ride in elevators with faith that they won’t come crashing down. Is there a chance that a loved one could murder us in our sleep or that the elevator we’re riding in could crash to the earth? Of course, but where would avoiding all these things lead us? We’d be paranoid people who live alone, hide money under the mattress and avoid elevators. This way of life is irrational because these calamities are so extremely unlikely, and fear of them would diminish our lives.

We now come to the greatest question, dose God exist? We’ll never know for certain. Atheists and theists try to prove his non-existence or existence, but the truth is that with the knowledge that we have (or probably will ever have) we can’t prove or disprove his existence. I would argue that he does exist because there are several indicators that I believe point to his existence which I’ll talk more about in Parts III and IV.

The main point I want to make now is that do you want to miss out on the afterlife, relationship with God, and all the good things that come with faith because of uncertainty about the existence of God? If you can make the leap of faith and God does exist then you will have hope, relationship with God, and you will last for all of eternity. If you do not make the leap and God exists then you risk losing relationship with God and an eternity of torture in hell. If you make the leap and God doesn’t exist then your hope will be in vain, but you will have lead a good life and enjoyed fellowship with other believers; ultimately your life was meaningless. If you don’t make the leap and God doesn’t exist then you were right, but you will meet the same fate as the believer—you will die and eventually there will be no trace left of your existence. So, if you make the leap of faith you are playing with the house’s money; you will either win big or loose nothing. If there is no God then our short, troubled lives are completely meaningless.

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