still a draft
In May 2022, after about 5 months of furious reading and thinking and reflection, I decided to surrender to God and the truths of Christianity. My reasoning went something like this:
- I have always found enormous emotional resonance in the character of Jesus and the message of the Gospels (thinking about Jesus’ love reduced me to tears). When thinking about the meaning of life or what things I valued most, I would arrive at answers like “absolute love” and “the pursuit of righteousness”. These concepts have always been supremely important to me, and essential to who I am.
- It seems impossible to hold any strong views on whether the universe spontaneously arose or was purposefully created, purely from the evidence of our own existence. The former is near-totally improbable by the fine-tuning argument; the latter is also improbable because it requires the existence of an even more complex and intelligent creator than us. Bayesian reasoning didn’t help me arrive at a solid conclusion here.
- I began to see that God’s existence made sense, in ways I hadn’t considered before.
- I considered God viewing us as we would view a Flatland. A being that exists on more spatial and temporal dimensions than us could simultaneously see all three dimensions of our universe (He could see inside your brain!) without us ever knowing. He could see all of time, all at once. I don’t think of God as literally existing in 4 spatial and 2 temporal dimensions, but I think it’s a useful intuition pump. The Flatland analogy also neatly explains the incarnation of Jesus and miracles.
- I appreciated that we are probably about as intelligent as hamsters, cosmologically speaking. We tend to think humans are the pinnacle of possible intelligence, just because we are the most intelligent beings we have ever observed. But it seems plausible that we might appear to other beings just as hamsters appear to us: extremely stupid, with tiny brains that are fundamentally incapable of understanding complex concepts (e.g. linear algebra). At the very least, this should make you extremely humble about what you think you know about the universe
- I realised I had to choose one of two beliefs about morality. Either (a) morality is just an illusion produced by social evolution or (b) things can be truly good or bad, in a deep and cosmic sense. If you accept (a), you have to conclude that literally nothing matters. There are no rules and no purpose. Your biological whims are the only ultimate reasons for doing anything. You could shoot up a school and commit suicide, and it wouldn’t matter. I know several of my atheist friends aren’t troubled by this conclusion, but I certainly am.
- The historical evidence for Jesus’ existence and resurrection seem pretty strong.
[an argument that I haven’t considered much and might be flawed]: it seems like the only reason to accept viewpoint (a) is if you disproportionately emphasise the virtue of deducing truth from observing nature. But why is this style of epistemology a virtue in the first place, if you think virtues are arbitrary? If nothing matters, why does careful epistemology matter?