Sunday, November 22, 2009
Lewis Black, The Limitation of Human Understanding & Reasons to (or Not) Believe
Those who listen to Lewis Black's comedy may be forgiven for initially assuming that he's an atheist.
In many of his religious beliefs, Black seems more like an agnostic, although he never goes so far as to outright declare himself one.
Black instead believes that organized religion simply limits the ability of humanity to understand whatever supreme force exists in the universe -- whether it be a God or something else -- it almost certainly exceeds the limits of human imagination.
More interesting still is Black's list of reasons to believe in God and reasons to not believe in God.
Among reasons to believe, Black mentions a woman's breast, sausage gravy and that his mother doesn't. Among Black's reasons not believe is God's inability to reveal himself, ticks, and the laughter of a child.
Certainly, not everyone makes their decision on whether or not they believe God exists on such frivolous and facile grounds. But there's little question that some people do make this decision based on these kinds of criteria.
Interestingly, there seems to be a tendency among many people to disresepct the decision of a religious believer to believe for these kinds of reasons, but more reluctance to disrespect the decision of an atheist on similarly paltry grounds.
Of course, there's no reason to expect that the imaginations of atheists are any less limited than those of religious believers (exempting, of course, any artificial limits, like -- if one accepts Black's thesis -- organized religion).
It isn't to say that the decision of an atheist to not believe God exists shouldn't be subject to any more respect than the deciision of a believer to believe, or vice versa, but merely that the reasons themselves don't necessarily deserve the same amunt of respect.