After suggesting moral anti-realists live a life based on make believe, I was asked what I mean by “make believe.” I would say something is “make believe” when it is the product of our minds that is not dictated or constrained by objective reality.
I would say Star Wars is make believe. Yes the author chose to have some things, like gravity, seem to work in similar ways to objective reality but he didn’t have to. He could have done it different and so objective reality did not dictate or constrain him.
Just like the moral anti-realist might say well suffering (or whatever they want to say) is part of reality and I am basing “my morality” on that. But they are just choosing to base it on that. There is nothing about objective reality that dictates or constrains their choice. If you do think objective reality dictates or constrains a rational view that something is moral, or not, then you are a moral realist – as I understand the term.
If you just say it is based on my desires and they are real. Well the author of Star Wars desired to write Star Wars but it is still make believe. Simply desiring that things should be a certain way does not make it so, nor does it say anything about the world beyond your mental construction of how it should be. Those mental constructions (not dictated by objective reality) are what we call make believe. And if you are choosing to live your life based on them, I think a more rational alternative is available.
One might say that I am living my life based on make believe. And I would say that might be. Even Paul seemed to acknowledge that was possible when he said “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” 1 Corinthians 15:17. But the key word for Paul myself and all Christians is the “if.” At least we are living our life based on something that we think has a chance of being true. Some Christians might place that chance very high. Others may place it very low. But none of them, that I know, are saying they know it is all make believe because they themselves are making it up as they go. Even if they were, they would be no different than many atheists who take an anti-realist position when it comes to morality. Because both are openly admitting they are making it all up.
I think that is an irrational choice in the face of uncertainty. The Christian God has a chance of being true. Why live your life based on something you know is just make believe?
This is why I think it is simply incorrect to say the Christians are the ones fooling themselves. They are not the ones pretending there is purpose to make them feel better. They may very well realize that there might be no purpose and our faith may be in vain. But they also correctly see there is another possibility, we may, after all, have a purpose. So we walk the path that most likely will lead to real meaning instead of just making one up and pretending that is the way.