An argument against rationalism

Refer to following list of important human values:…-of-values.htm You may add or delete some from it as per your own liking. Are these values important to you or not? Are they necessary for a good human civilization or not? If you think they are not, imagine life with all people around you, including yourself, having none of these values, especially love, respect, trust, cooperation, conscientiousness, freedom, intellect, truth and happiness. It is better not to even imagine that.

What is the source of these values? Those who have faith in the God would say that these values are all inspired by the God. For a moment let us pardon these believers for their unscientific, incomplete, inconsistent and unconvincing understanding of the the concept of the God and human values. But what about those who don’t believe in the God? If they are all a result of a phenomenon called big bang/evolution, a certain set of physical/chemical reactions, what is the standing of these values? Are these these values, the emotions generated by them and the behaviours inspired by the emotions finally (and only) attributable to certain chemical and physical reactions?

Doesn’t this in a way convey that the human values are effectively meaningless, useless, worthless and random in the eyes of a “non-extant external observer” i.e. nature? It is really does not matter if our values, emotions and resulting behaviours are worthless and meaningless in the eyes of that non-extant observer, but it is really a serious problem if they are factually/technically so in our own eyes in the same sense. There is no reason why an individual with the philosophy – “there is no subjective source of human values” – should be committed to those meaningless, random values? What inspires those who do not believe in the existence of the reason of values or the source of values in following these values quite committedly though the obervation of these values is voluntary? Would this disbelief in any subjective/judgemental/immanent source or any alternative reason of values not vegetate disinterest in the values themselves in the personal life? Wouldn’t these people dilute if not discard these random and reasonless  but otherwise good values? And wouldn’t this lead to a civilization of lower morals, ethics and resultantly lower happiness, higher criminality and then ultimately universal misery? A valueless civilization?

If we do not choose to believe in the idea of an “external (external to humanity) appreciator” of our existence, our sovereignty, our freedom and our happiness then in the absolute framework of universal existence; we are as good as isolated dead, lifeless bundles of chemical compounds. Even if alien life with same kind of understanding of nature as us is discovered, we would be still bundles of chemicals. Biological consciousness is all about knowing, feeling and telling – I am. If a computer ‘evolves’ on a planet and keeps shouting ‘I am, I am’ (because of its physical and chemical properties, composition, etc and the evolutionary events that preceded) without understanding the fact that it exists, will we call it a live thing? Will we ‘feel’ that shouting? Is the same the case of humans? With some more features? Are we random physiochemical outcomes and that is the totality of existence? Is that the notion under which we are supposed to live? Are our consciousness, sovereignty, freedom, existence, intellect, judgement, emotions, affectations, volitions just another names of chemical reactions in the background? What is the sanctity of the in which direction these reactions should go? What is the significance of behaving good if behaving bad is also just another natural reaction? Why should the rationalist’s loyalties be on the side of good values? There is no rational in it!!!

The moment we recognize any external appreciator, external absolute conscious existence, our existence too gets a lot of meaning. Now it is not necessary that we and that appreciator are related in any solid bond. It is not necessary that it has created us and it is taking care of us or controlling us. No proof in that direction should be sought. At the minimum it would be a good idea to just recognize the existence of external conscious and intelligent (intelligent enough to acknowledge our existence, consciousness, and our values at basic level) being to give meaning to ourselves. It is possible that such being just might not be existing. But still it is a good idea that we keep believing in it. This belief should continue so long as we scientifically ascertain all properties of all existences in the universe. Till that time this belief will help us in sailing through the plethora of paradoxes, illogicalities, irrationalities, absurdities, incomprehencibilities, inintellectualities, transcendentalities in this universe in our scientific quests especially those related to our own origin, structure, properties, values, emotions and behaviours.

One may describe oneself as a candid atheist, rationalist, logical, scientific being, one may be loving the idea of denying the concept of the God in line with popular fashion, one may be loving frequent caressing one’s intellectual ego accepting the challenge of providing an alternate model of the ‘existence’, one may just chagrin the lesser analytical mortals by endlessly questioning their well meaning value led acts, but such rationalists must appreciate the utility of the concept of the God. In mathematics, zero is real number. Two zeros are two realities. Division is a real process. But zero divided by zero is not a reality. It is meaningless. When we make the correct assumptions, when we set a correct context and then when we superpose two realities in correct way, they don’t give us an absurdity. But this happens when we apply it to zero/zero. (May be this is why is it took so much time for our naive ancestors to the make basic invention of number zero.) Now division is just an another way of expression of multiplication. Multiplication is an another way of expression addition which is in turn is an another way of expression of subtraction. But did we choose to discard the concept of algebra for this kind of very basic absurdity in case of the very first number? Rather we excelled even with this meaninglessness. One should sympathetically consider similar absurdity called God. Live with it and excel rather than thoughtlessly and abruptly nipping it in the bud. Afterall God should not be singled out as a completely unacceptable concept when the scientists, atheists and rationalists live with so many illogicalities, paradoxes and absurdities in their field of work.

It is very common for the atheists to trace their philosophy of life in scientific thinking. However, this would be a gross mistake. Science speaks about properties of nature and interpretation of science for social philosophies is not the core domain of the scientists. It is done by well meaning social thinkers who call themselves social scientists. The official science is limited to what all has been proven through the scientific method.

Science is also incapable of making value judgments. It cannot say global warming is bad, for example. It can study the causes and effects of global warming and report on those results, but it cannot assert that driving SUVs is wrong or that people who haven’t replaced their regular light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs are irresponsible. Occasionally, certain organizations use scientific data to advance their causes. This blurs the line between science and morality and encourages the creation of “pseudo-science,” which tries to legitimize a product or idea with a claim that has not been subjected to rigorous testing.

It very clearly says that science is not judgemental. It cannot say what is good and what is bad. Forget telling what is good and what is bad, science is altogether incompetent to understand the terms good and bad. How can a knowledge body, completely unqualified to tell one what is right and what is wrong can be one’s guide for thoughts? Science would tell you whether the person in front of you is your mother or not. But it won’t tell you whether you would eat her or the food in her hand when hungry. Is this stuff reliable? Rationalism entails a lot of self-interpretation. But why invent the wheel again? All the tall values are already eulogized in the traditional systems all over the world and even functional working mechanisms have been evolved.

While rationalists and atheists believe that it is them who have tamed down the ills in the traditional systems and have created a better society (which is true in the current context to some extent), I have a strong sense that, in fact, the damaging social nuisance of rationalists is absorbed by the concrete legacy of traditions. The rationalists, though they may or may not concede it, are highly influenced by the prevalent ethos and their own work is only correcting existing thought. But imagine what will happen when there is no reference of existing value systems? In the way there is the Indian Constitution to guide how the state will behave with its citizens, there is no guide on how the members of rationalist society will behave with each other. If in place, the topics in such guide would be in over-abundance, they would be extremely intricate and nearly impossible to go through in one lifespan. The confrontations amongst the rationalists in deciding what is rational and what is not or in deciding what is more rational would be painful if not unending. Forget very complex events such as marriage alliances, state policies, relations amongst diverse cultural groups, a simple action of having one’s own tea in the morning can be a big challenge for a rationalist. A rationalist may think and shall have a take a rational decision: Why should I have tea? Why in the morning? Why at a specific time or after specific event? How much? Why tea? Why not some other drink? Why drink? Why not some other food? Is it an addiction? Is its artificial kick to brain justifiable? Am I being addict? Would my apertures refuse to open without it? How will tea help me? Do I afford it? Can I do something better with that money? Do I support the oppression of tea workers if I buy tea? Do I help aggrandizement of some capitalist owning tea farms? Have I tasted all the economic tea brands to see which one I like the most? Do I use the right mix of elements of tea? Or we 5 family members choose to drink the same mixture because it is convenient? Is it rational to ask so many questions about a simple cup of tea? Or is it rational to keep on drinking tea throughout the life without even answering the few basic questions about it to oneself? Will such thoughtlessness have no impact when looked at global level? Will such thoughtlessness of each of the society member have more such undesired impact? and so on. What happens to a person who does not consider oneself as a rationalist? One either takes tea or not!!! The rest of tea universe is collectively taken care by the society!!!!!

Confrontation between two soft, genuine, ego-less, intelligent but firm rationalists on a disputable issue would be an interesting piece of entertainment.

There is one more reason to desist people from being rationalists. It is that it takes a lot of intellectual rigour. It require a lot of analytics. It requires a lot of exposure, experience and knowledge. What is the point in making errors till you learn the correct thing? Also won’t one might be a miserable irrational till one get complete competence to think and act rational? There is already one or other guideline in the traditional method on all necessary issues. Why not use it? Maximum people do not have time to do this analysis. As part of our modern rationalist life, we keep analysing all things afresh on daily basis, we find it difficult to reach conclusions, we find difficult to get convinced with our own conclusions and most importantly many a time we find that we are not happy with what all was executed under that conclusion. Why be atheist and rationalist and revise the philosophy of life on daily, etc basis on every new kind of circumstance? Why not pick up a big chunk of traditional values and tailor them for one’s needs?

And after all, can rationalism be recommended to a man of ordinary capacities? I doubt.

Another common complaint about the religious systems made by the atheists and the rationalists is that these systems are totally spoiled. That is true to a great extent. But generally what should be our approach to a spoiled thing? When a farmer finds that some grain in his silo has rotten, does he throw away all the grains? Does he throw the silo? Does he let wild grass grow in his farm? Does he quit farming? It is really not important to believe or not to believe in God for the the atheists and rationalist. It is not important to follow the existing religions in spirit. But it is very important for them to keep associated with the concept of religion ( I don’t mean as enemies or opponents but as friends). The religions are going to be dominant for quite some time. The moment intelligent, rational, logical and well meaning people dissociate themselves from religions, the fall of goodness in religion (this is very different from fall of the religion itself) is going to exponentially accelerate.

Technically quest of source of values may necessitate to believe in God. Practically social requirement may need your association with religion. What do you say?

(This article is not about how to interpret a value. It is also not about how to interpret whether a behaviour is as per any good value. This thread is not about deciding whether a certain value is good or bad. It is not about the philosophical alignment of the author. It is not about proving God’s existence and justifying religions. Anthropology says humans started living since 2.2 million years. I see a very widespread thinking among the well meaning modernists that most of the human generations except of last 4-5 ones were idiotic if not pathetic in their thinking in terms of what values they endeared and on what basis they were endeared. Whereas I see that we have inherited a very rock solid and highly valuable system from them for our benefit. We must be grateful to them for the immense thought leadership they have shown for the benefit of their future generations. And yes, scientists have not reported any recent noble value booster mutation and neo-cortex is not a recent phenomenon!!!)

Also published on under title  Source of Value.