To my way of thinking, there have been three schools of thought which, throughout history, have been held out-of-bounds to honest inquiry and criticism. The first is religion; at least, when it comes to questioning the efficacy of the idea itself, since certainly the supporters of the various creeds have spent no little energy in lambasting all metaphysical belief systems other than their own. The second is the concept of free-will, a belief that even many a dyed-in-the-wool atheist and/or scientific naturalist seems disinclined to let go of, mostly based on a rather ill-contrived 'intuition'; which, in my opinion, flies in the face of the modern scientific schema i.e. cause-and-effect, or "somebody get that ghost out of our deterministic paradigm!"
The third, and probably hardest, notion to stomach is the conviction that something is fundamentally wrong with life itself, and that we should therefore stop breeding, and let the race die out under one of two scenarios (with perhaps some minor variants, which I plan to discuss sometime later on this blog). This idea is so radical, and supposedly counter-intuitive, that the discussion is considered by most to be beyond the pale of serious conversation. I disagree.
There've been some pretty tricky philosophical arguments on both sides of this issue, and I'll do my best to sidestep a lot of the technical aspects. Suffice it to say for now that a lot of this hinges on what people conceive of as being 'good', and I believe the arguments often get sidetracked in attempting to quantify 'good' in a rationalistic sort of way; which, as I hope to show, is impossible to do. Ultimately, I think our sense of rightness and wrongness flows from an emotional response base, which we then tend to rationally justify only in retrospect. I suppose there are exceptions-at least, ostensible exceptions- and certainly there's a kind of feedback loop oscillating between our thinking and emotional modes of being. Still, I think I can demonstrate that there is a universal pool of emotional experience from which we draw our personal values, and cultural mores. Just an overly-wordy way of saying that, at base, we have more in common than we think we do. And that, furthermore, and just as we do with the religion and free-will issues, we tend to often draw faulty conclusions when it comes to our personal experiences and thought processes, which we then isolate and sanctify under the misguided misnomer 'intuition'.
Concerning religious experience, this allows a person like famed scientist Francis Collins to see a frozen waterfall, emotionally discover beauty in it, then erroneously translate that experience into the realization that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior of the universe. It also grants permission to many otherwise well-trained, objective observers of nature to believe in free will, completely by-passing the principle of causation which is at the very heart of authentic scientific methodology (this includes the recent quantum indeterminism end-around plays, as if spontaneous micro-jumps in the quantum world have anything at all to do with autonomous agency).
And, of course, it helps us to foster the belief that life is good and ultimately worthwhile- when, in reality, it isn't.