In my review of “Buried” I mused on a broader, metaphorical take on the central dilemma: “Whether we like it or not, each one of us is Paul Conroy, slowly waking up to our own inevitable demise and like him, desperately calling on the phone for somebody — anybody — who can help us”.
Shawn replied: “Once again we agree Randal. You have just outlined my theory (well not just mine) of why theism is so attractive to humanity.”
Shawn’s correct. Many people have proposed a similar argument. Ludwig Feuerbach proposed a projection theory of religion as did Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud and countless people since. As best I can surmise the argument goes like this:
(1) Theism offers a more optismistic worldview than atheism.
(2) Therefore, people are theists because it is more optimistic than atheism.
(3) Therefore, theism is false (or) stupid (or) irrational (or) ripe for ridicule by the four atheological horsemen of the secular apocalypse.
I could go further in speculating on an argument but I’ll just leave it at this. Thus once we realize we’re born into a coffin awaiting our inevitable demise we look for some reason to forestall this fate and religion serves this role. It is the ultimate security blanket.
When using this argument it is important to divert the theist’s attention from its inherent weakness (i.e. complete lack of logical structure). This can be done by sticking out your bottom lip and making mocking “goo goo” noises followed by “Theist need daddy? Daddy going to make it okay? He’ll make your existential boo boo feel all better.” Then you need to laugh, not merely a light-hearted belly laugh but rather a hard-edged sardonic snort of utter disdain that will cause the theist’s cheeks to turn redder than Rudolf’s nose as he hangs his head in shame.
If you don’t use sufficient pandering sarcasm the theist might actually think about the argument. And that could lead him to ask things like “Who says my view is more optimistic? I believe God is a wrathful judge who will hold us accountable for sins committed. And in some cases that will mean an indeterminate number of people ending up eternally separated from God.” Or they might say “So what if it is more optimistic? That doesn’t mean I believe it simply because it is more optimistic.” And they might add, “If I were to accept your argument then I could likewise say that you reject complete nihilism simply because you want your own security blanket. Atheist need to pretend that science and humanist values provide meaning? Goo goo. Ga ga.”