Guest Post: The Disparity Between Religion and Reason

This post was written by Chad DeVillier. He was raised a devout Creationist and spent his mid-twenties transitioning from Biblical Studies major to skeptic to antitheist. His passion is now inspiring skepticism and critical thinking in others through rational discourse.

Guest PostWe are not and cannot be on the same playing field, they the religious and we the non-, because those who have come to accept deities into their lives have done so either largely or entirely for emotion-based reasons—“feeling God’s presence,” faith, subjective experiences, correlations that cannot be proven between events that cannot be verified, etc. You will never find a religious person who came to be such because they spent years researching and weighing the objective evidence for and against each major religion; that’s not how religious conversion works, no matter what C. S. Lewis and Lee Strobel tried to sell you. The religious sometimes defend their beliefs with attempts at logical arguments they’ve picked up after the fact, but I submit that the religious don’t have a seat at the logic table because logic was never the driving factor behind their conversion; one cannot throw logic to the back burner in favor of faith and then simply pick it up later to defend oneself with. Unless they cite thorough research and objective reasoning as the primary reason for their conversion, the religious are not at liberty to pretend that their intention was to side with the most well-reasoned side. (And if they do attempt to cite this, a test to verify this is below).

Once the emotion-based conversion has taken place, once a now-saved person embraces something as the cornerstone of their life, confirmation bias runs rampant and beliefs become irrevocably tied to emotion, leaving the convert unable and unwilling to be objective, impartial, or the least bit interested in deconverting. While it is true that no one can be completely free of bias because of the mind’s overwhelming tendency to employ them, I think it’s fair to say that a religious person who has based their entire life, hope, and future on an ideology is vastly less capable of being objective than someone whose entire source of purpose and hope does not depend on faith in their beliefs. You cannot talk objective reason with someone who is not willing to seeing things through a lens other than their own.

And why should they want to see things through another lens? The believer has much to gain, theoretically, from embracing an ideology that tells them that they are cherished by an all-powerful being, destined for eternal happiness, and required only to seek the will of their very own creator for all of their needs and questions; they see, on the other hand, only bleakness and death compared to the shimmering narrative they’ve come to hold fast to and will therefore find excuses to refuse anything but that. Of course, wanting something to be true does not make it true, but try telling that to the convert!

Test if beliefs are based on logic

To test whether or not this blatant disregard for logic applies to a specific religious person (we mustn’t jump to conclusions without giving them a fair chance to prove themselves, must we?), two simple questions can be asked:

One: “What was the primary factor behind your conversion?”

If the answer is anything other than rigorous, objective research into many ideologies, independent of and only later followed by subjective reasons such as “feeling God” or faith, they have failed the test of potential for objectivity. Again, one cannot simply make a life decision based on subjective reasons and then act as if objectivity is their goal. Logical reason only impacts those not already convinced of something else, and subscribers to a religion that demands faith capable of moving mountains are much too far removed from the reach of reason to plausibly claim that they are daily willing and capable of suspending that immovable faith in order to ask and answer uncomfortable questions impartially. Cognitive dissonance and unshakable belief are mutually exclusive.

Two: “Would you, hypothetically, be willing to completely abandon your faith and beliefs if you received undeniable evidence that you were wrong, and if so, what evidence would you need that to be?”

Stated again for emphasis: “Would you—again, only hypothetically—be willing to let down your family and friends, leave your church community behind, and come to terms with the fact that there is no one guiding your life or watching over you, if you turn out somehow to be wrong, and what sort of thing would you accept as undeniable proof that you are wrong?”

An answer of anything other than a complete willingness to abandon that which they cling to most if the facts demand it, and a need only for objectively verifiable evidence in order to do so, is a proclamation that they cannot be reasoned with and are not capable of a discussion based on empirical reason. One cannot claim to champion reason if one will not allow oneself to be swayed by it; the objective person must be prepared, always, to be wrong.

The religious sometimes like to imagine themselves as wholly logical creatures who alone are capable of being objective, while those of us trapped in our lives of sin are doomed to be beguiled by an invisible yet mighty devil with access to all the minds of the world simultaneously. But is such a tricked and tangled mind more duped than a mind wrapped in promises of lifelong purpose, salvation from all pain, and joy unimaginable? Such a mind as the latter appears nearly unrescuable by any information to the contrary, no matter how grounded in reality and empirical evidence that information may be, since they already imagine infinite gain for themselves and infinite loss for everyone else. They are trapped by Pascal’s wager, so enticed by what they stand to gain that they can’t even imagine the very real possibility that they could lose.

Keep the separateness of the playing fields in mind when next you attempt to induce critical thought into the mind of the faithful; reason is a powerful tool, but, like the Almighty Mystery in the sky, can only influence those who accept it into their hearts in the first place.

Other related posts:
Faith, the Other F-Word
“I Used to be an Atheist, Just Like You”
Word of the Day: Shermer’s Law
Christianity, the Ultimate Unfalsifiable Hypothesis
Stupid Argument #13: Pascal’s Wager

Faith is the surrender of the mind;
it’s the surrender of reason,

it’s the surrender of the only thing
that makes us different from other mammals.
It’s our need to believe, and to surrender our skepticism and our reason,
our yearning to discard that and put all our trust or faith in someone or something,
that is the sinister thing to me.
Of all the supposed virtues,
faith must be the most overrated.
— Christopher Hitchens

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  • RichardSRussell

    Shermer’s Law: “Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons.” —Michael Shermer, founder of the Skeptic Society, Why People Believe Weird Things (2002)

    Galbraith’s Law: “Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof.” —John Kenneth Galbraith, American economist

    “You do not reason a man out of something he was not reasoned into.” —Jonathan Swift

    “It is wrong, always, everywhere, and for everyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.” —W. K. Clifford (1845–1879), “The Ethics of Belief” (1879)

    • Chad Courage DeVillier

      Really like that Jonathan Swift one; it captures the entire point of the article. All I did in the article was point out the problem, but the solution, I think, is pretty clear from it– we need to attempt to reach the religious on their emotional level if we’re to have any meaningful impact on them.

      • Dave Armstrong

        Swift was, of course, an Anglican clergymen, and one of the all-time great Christian satirists. Obviously, then, he wouldn’t have applied his own quote to matters of religion and God that he held himself.

        http://www.victorianweb.org/previctorian/swift/religion1.html

        Or is he yet another of these mythical atheists we always hear about, like Jefferson, Paine, Franklin, Lincoln, Twain, Hume, and Einstein?

        • RichardSRussell

          Obviously, then, [Swift] wouldn’t have applied his own quote to matters of religion and God that he held himself.

          Maybe, maybe not. The brain is capable of wonderful compartmentalization. A lot of people who fancy themselves to be funny will say things they don’t really believe in for the sake of a gag. Recently, for example, Bill Maher referred to his own aversion to the great out-of-doors by calling himself a “house nigger”. Well, he’s not a racist at all, but he went way too hastily for the quick gag that just sprang into his mind. He subsequently apologized, but obviously he was able to hold both ideas in his head simultaneously.

        • Dave Armstrong

          Sure, people can be inconsistent. I’m simply noting that it is a bit silly to cite an Anglican clergyman and make out that his quote would apply to the religion he himself held. The likelihood is that he made no such connection between the two.

          Can’t you guys ever find any atheists to quote?

        • RichardSRussell

          “An idea is not responsible for the people who believe in it.” —Don Marquis

        • http://musingsfromacorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com/ Michael

          Shermer is an atheist, or at least agnostic. Galbraith and Clifford may have been too, I don’t know.

        • Chad Courage DeVillier

          I suppose, if he were, in fact, religious, and he indeed said/wrote those words, I would more liken him to C.S. Lewis– claiming to champion logic, yet being quite poor at it when it comes to religious application.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          *WAVES* =,A

      • RichardSRussell

        I understand what you’re saying about making an emotional appeal, but I always hate having to do it, because it simply reinforces the idea that emotional appeals, rather than rational thot, are a good way of making decisions.

        Of course, my own preferred approach of humor is too often viewed as insulting ridicule, so it’s not as if I’ve got any better ideas.

        • Chad Courage DeVillier

          Feel you there completely. I attempt to compromise by asking leading questions; it’s not technically an emotional appeal, but it’s not throwing out facts, either. Even that can be difficult for me… why can’t we all just value objective reasoning the same??

        • TheNuszAbides

          because we haven’t been propagating it across society for long enough and The Old Way fights to protect itself?
          just a guess.

      • Giauz Ragnarock

        I recall an old thought I had a year or so ago:

        Cynical Apologetics
        – You give the best of the best preaching to the choir apologetics you can
        – Explain how you are manipulating them after each bite of “information”!

        Also, question zero should be: Person’s deity, what is the best argument for your existence?

        They think their deity exists, yet they never think to end our skepticism with what should be a slam dunk. Huh…

        ~}@°°@{~

  • Bob Jase

    If reason mattered in religion then faith wouldn’t.

    • Chad Courage DeVillier

      And, as the Hitchens quote at the bottom says, that faith, then, seems pretty damn overrated.

    • Dave Armstrong

      Why do you assume that they are inexorably opposed? On what basis? Atheists believe in many things things they can’t “prove empirically” just as everyone else does.

      • Chad Courage DeVillier

        It is not merely a lack of being able to “prove Christianity empirically”, it is a matter of having significant evidence against it as well. The only evidence in favor of it that could potentially be considered objective would be the Bible– since God does not reveal himself in any other way– and we have found this to be rife with contradiction, plagiarism, historical inaccuracies, scientifically illiterate assertions, and morally repugnant ideas.

        Out of curiosity, what do atheists believe that we can’t prove?

        • Dave Armstrong

          This is my notorious response to that question (!):

          Atheism: A Remarkably Strong, Impervious Faith in “Atomism”

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2015/08/atheism-remarkably-childlike-atomistic-faith.html

          This was extraordinarily misunderstood, so I wrote an accompanying apologia, explaining the precise nature of the satirical humor, and my intent:

          Clarifications Regarding My Atheist Reductio Paper

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2015/08/clarifications-re-atheist-reductio-paper.html

        • Chad Courage DeVillier

          Your argument (I read both articles) seems pretty absurd to me: You claim that atheists “exercise every bit as much faith as any Christian, when it comes to the origin of the universe and the marvelous processes by which it came to be,” and that simply isn’t true. Faith isn’t required when WE OURSELVES did not personally uncover the objective evidence, faith is required when sufficient objective evidence DOES NOT EXIST. There exist mountains of evidence for the origin of the universe and the ways in which it operates, which makes our present understanding of them far from “magical”; there exist no such mountains of evidence for the claims of the Bible, and within the Bible itself we find plenty of what I mentioned above– copied stories, contradictions, blatant inaccuracies, etc.

        • Dave Armstrong

          You can have the last word. Thanks for your congeniality. It’s been a pleasure.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I read the first article. It’s rather insulting, so I hope my few comments about the article below will be in the correct vein.

          It’s currently fashionable for atheists to deny that a universe without God is caused by “pure chance” or “randomly colliding atoms,” as their earlier forebears might have boldly and proudly described it.

          Evolution isn’t “pure chance.”

          The atheist places extraordinary faith in matter – arguably far more faith than we place in God, because it is much more difficult to explain everything that god-matter does by science alone.

          Faith? I haven’t noticed that. Evolution, to take one example, is backed up by mountains of evidence.

          It is quite humorous, then, to observe the constant charge that we Christians are the ones who have a blind, “fairy tale,” gullible, faith, as opposed to self-described “rational, intellectual, sophisticated” atheists.

          I’m glad you’re taking it with cheerful spirits. Seeing what Christians believe on faith, I must confess that I don’t find it funny. Words like sad, pathetic, discouraging, and frightening come to mind instead.

          The polytheistic materialist, on the other hand, is far more religious than that.

          The materialist has evidence. The theists can’t even agree among themselves how many gods there are or what their name(s) are.

          Trillions of omnipotent, omniscient atoms

          But no one believes that, do they?

          “Why” questions in the context of Atomism are senseless, because they can’t overcome the Impenetrable Fortress of blind faith that the Atomist possesses.

          I’m lost. Who are you talking about again? Naturalists (that is, most atheists) follow the evidence. They believe things for good evidence, and that’s why they reject theists’ claims—lack of evidence.

          The question, “Why do the atom-gods and cell-gods and the time-goddess exist and possess the extraordinary powers that they do?” is meaningless and ought not be put forth. It’s bad form, and impolite.

          Oh, yes. Don’t ask a question within science. Scientists don’t like answering questions, especially ones they don’t have an answer for.

          Instead, we are asked to bow to the countless mysteries of Atomism in dumbstruck adoration and awed silence, like the Magi at the baby Jesus’ manger

          Not sure what you’re saying. Are you saying that we should all be impressed at the tsunami of discoveries about reality that science has given us compared to zilch from the theists’ side?

        • Pofarmer

          I’m pretty sure Dave is saying he’s a shallow dumbass, but I may be reading him less than charitably.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I keep hoping for a pleasant surprise. Let’s see if Dave turns out to be a thoughtful antagonist who will try to put our feet to the fire with thoughtful, well-reasoned arguments.

          Dave: don’t let me down.

        • Pofarmer

          In the last couple threads, Dave seems like a one trick pony.
          Pretty much question all means of knowing and assert that his ignorance is as good as your knowledge.

        • Dave Armstrong

          I will now block you, so I don’t have to see any more of your inanities.

        • Dave Armstrong

          Having just endured in the last week a mudfest of 21 atheists insulting me up and down (in one combox of 300+ comments), calling me a liar, scumbag, all-around wascally wascal, telling me to %#$# myself, and one even hoping I would die, I would say that the task is for atheists to behave, not me! I can talk to anyone who is willing to talk. And my initial default position is that of Will Rogers: “I never met a man I didn’t like.”

          The good news is that I have found several atheists, like yourself, who are quite capable of non-insulting, rational, constructive discussion.

          So I’ll be looking for a pleasant surprise here, as well.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I would say that the task is for atheists to behave, not me!

          My typical challenge is a little different. I’ve been blocked at several sites, though I still get email notifications of new posts. I think an objective observer would agree with me that my comments were reasonable responses.

          It says quite a lot that some blogs don’t like to have discouraging words in the comments and strive to till a Christian-only garden. It’s almost like their position can’t take the heat.

        • Dave Armstrong

          Yours are reasonable and non-insulting, as I have already said. Many others here are not of that nature (as usual on any atheist site I’ve ever been to).

          My sites have never been Christian-only and they’ve always had comments capability. It would be pretty stupid for an apologist to otherwise.

          Absolutely anyone is welcome. Everyone also has to abide by simple rules of civility: no insults; no sweeping character judgments. This allows for great discussion of all viewpoints.

        • Rudy R

          There are plenty of foul-mouthed atheists, but the foulest of mouths I’ve ever run across were Christians on Christian comboxes, when challenged with their beliefs. I, for one, enjoy a good, respectable debate, but I do share in disgust with my fellow atheists your use of strawman arguments, especially the inane atomism argument. I would be just as in disagreement, as you, with whomever held that idiotic and ancient worldview and there are scant few that believe that trash.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          What was he trying to say with that atomist thing? I thought it was largely satire, with the only reasonable point being that life and consciousness came from atoms in the naturalistic view.

          Maybe he was more serious than I thought.

        • Rudy R

          His argument feeds into the “atheism is a religion too,” albeit using satire, but using the atomist philosophy as his straw man argument.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I also demand basic civility, but my bar is probably lower than yours. You’ve got to really piss me off to get banned (which has both good and bad repercussions, as you can imagine).

        • MR

          I love it when they walk in quick with a slight and oozing condescension and then tone troll.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          You argued animals making noises was good enough for informed consent, yet my comparison was uncivil?!!?

        • http://withinthismind.com/ WithinThisMind

          When your religion dehumanizes and degrades me, as well as actively works to remove my basic human rights, its adherents don’t get to admonish me to be ‘nice’ and ‘civil’. I treat people with the same level of civility and kindness with which they treat me.

        • Dave Armstrong

          No, I’d say that is very charitable by your own rock-bottom standards.

        • TheNuszAbides

          which only goes to show your ignorance regarding his standards.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          The last I was allowed on his blog he continually made the argument that informed consent could be an animal making pleasure noises as a human is mounted by the animal, and eventually I used language that suggested Jesus destroying Sodom was like a school shooter. You are reading him just fine.

        • TheNuszAbides

          I have repeatedly found [reading Dave charitably] to be a massive waste of goodwill.

        • Dave Armstrong

          Satire is hard for anyone to read, if they are the target; hence, the explosion of protest from atheist regarding my paper. Most didn’t even grasp its essential nature, so I had to carefully explain it. To me, that suggested two things:

          1. They aren’t very familiar with satire and how it works.

          2. They are extremely uncomfortable having the tables turned on them. They’re used to mocking and satirizing Christians; very unused to being the subject of satire.

          I ask again: “Why do the atom-gods and cell-gods and the time-goddess exist and possess the extraordinary powers that they do?”

          I haven’t seen an answer for that.

          I have no idea how your last comment relates to what it is purportedy replying to. Sorry!

          I think the main points of my “atomism” paper are pretty straightforward and might be said to be summed up by the question I cited above. But we stray far from the original topics . . .

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          1. They aren’t very familiar with satire and how it works.

          Or your post was confusing.

          2. They are extremely uncomfortable having the tables turned on them. They’re used to mocking and satirizing Christians; very unused to being the subject of satire.

          Ah, the thin-skinned atheist problem! I wonder if atheists being on top all the time—winning all the political races, never being challenged with breaches of church/state separation—has made them arrogant and entitled.

          I ask again: “Why do the atom-gods and cell-gods and the time-goddess exist and possess the extraordinary powers that they do?”
          I haven’t seen an answer for that.

          And you won’t get one from me. This is gibberish. Or is this simply a variation on “Why is there consciousness?” or “Where did life come from?”

          I have no idea how your last comment relates to what it is purportedy replying to. Sorry!

          You said, “Instead, we are asked to bow to the countless mysteries of Atomism in dumbstruck adoration and awed silence, like the Magi at the baby Jesus’ manger”

          And I replied, “Not sure what you’re saying. Are you saying that we should all be impressed at the tsunami of discoveries about reality that science has given us compared to zilch from the theists’ side?”

          Satire is hard for anyone to read, if they are the target. Just take it as a statement rather than a question, and I think you’ll understand my point.

        • Paul B. Lot

          Satire is hard for anyone to read, if they are the target; hence, the explosion of protest from atheist regarding my paper.

          Lol.

          GOOD satire can make one feel uncomfortably revealed/focused on, true. I welcome GOOD satire of myself. For example, I would emphatically describe myself as a nerd, and few do nerd-satire better than SMBC comics:

          http://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/iusasw

          I typically display terrible fashion sense (a statement with which you should deeply, profoundly identify http://disq.us/url?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwp.production.patheos.com%2Fblogs%2Fdavearmstrong%2Ffiles%2F2015%2F08%2FDaveOptimizedforWeb.jpg%3AjcbHJqMXwgjtdYS3t2lqeXZQe8Y
          ), and I am often uncomfortable with how dorky I look in pictures. Comfort-level: dis.

          And yet the comic strip does a good job of capturing an essential truth whilst portraying nerds in an uncomfortable light.

          That’s what GOOD satire does, and why even the targets of GOOD satire can often find the humor in it.

          This?

          Why do the atom-gods and cell-gods and the time-goddess exist and possess the extraordinary powers that they do?

          This is not GOOD satire.

          However, being the product of the new wave of PC/self-esteem culture, I feel that you should get a participation ribbon for trying.

          PS. For those curious about the fundamentals, few explain them better than the author of “Alice in Wonderland”:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x26a-ztpQs8

        • jamesparson

          On your first article:

          Yet natural “laws” somehow attained their remarkable organizing abilities. One either explains them by natural laws or by humbly bowing to divine teleology at some point, as an explanation every bit as plausible as materialism (everything being supposedly “explained” by purely material processes).

          ~~~~~~~~~~
          Are you suggesting that there could hypothetically be something that could not be explained by a material process?

        • jamesparson

          When I was a teenager, I wondered how an infinite God can fit into a finite book.

          Now that I am old, my answer is He doesn’t.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          I’d say the Bible is a dead giveaway that Christianity is false. People who are omnipresent and immortal would have no use for written language and all of written language’s disadvantages for no reason at all.

      • jamesparson

        I do believe in many things that I can prove empirically; but I don’t want to believe in anything that can’t be proven empirically.

        If I have have a belief on something that can’t be proven, please let me know so that I can stop it.

        I don’t want to make decisions based on unjustifiable beliefs.

      • Giauz Ragnarock

        You’re claiming a person exists, Dave. What can persons such as yourself do?

      • Rudy R

        You’re conflating atheists with skeptics. Atheists can and do hold many things that can’t be proven empirically. A skeptic, which I primarily identify myself, questions the notion that absolutely certain knowledge is possible and challenges knowledge claims not justified by the laws of logic and empiricism.

        “A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence.” David Hume

  • Raging Bee

    …reason is a powerful tool, but, like the Almighty Mystery in the sky, can only influence those who accept it into their hearts in the first place.

    That sounds WAAAY too much like the religious apologist claiming that OF COURSE there’s objective proof of his God, but we have to accept God in our hearts BEFORE we can understand how totally true the proof is. Don’t be surprised if you hear your own words spat back at you by an apologist as part of a “presuppositional bias” argument.

    And it’s not always true for all converts either. Many do indeed end up letting themselves get reasoned out of their unreasonable beliefs.

    • Chad Courage DeVillier

      The difference, of course, is that the religious need to accept reason before being swayed by it because they’re being ruled by emotion, whereas the non-religious would only need to accept Mr Deity before being swayed by him because they were being too rational. Which one sounds better– too influenced by emotion, or too influenced by reason?

      And of course religious people can become reasoned out of their beliefs; I am one of them! …though, to this day, I still wonder how all that reason snuck in past my walls of blind, emotion-clad faith… must be a miracle!

      • Dave Armstrong

        It is remarkable that reason changed your mind, since by your own account, you possessed mere blind / emotional faith. That would have been tough to penetrate indeed. Millions of Christians don’t know their faith very well, let alone reasons to hold its tenets. You were clearly one of those. And many atheists are quite unacquainted with basic philosophy and logic.

        • Chad Courage DeVillier

          Don’t get me wrong, I knew my stuff– I actively studied the Bible on my own time and majored in Biblical Studies at a Bible-based private college. But, as with all religious people, I had blind faith to block out evidence to the contrary. I think the only thing that rescued me from the throes of irrational reasoning masquerading as rationality was my personality– I am an INTP, and by nature question things and demand logic; it was only a matter of time before I realized I could apply this to my own faith.

        • Dave Armstrong

          And now you have no blind faith, huh? There is absolutely nothing where you don’t have proof; nothing where you have to accept an axiom that itself can’t be proven?

          I guess you have given up on logic, mathematics, and science: all involve such axioms: indeed, start from them. Thus, we could argue that in accepting all of those, you were being merely “subjective” rather than “objective” since none of those things begin with “empirical proof.”

          And you are blissfully free from emotion now? I see. Do you love anyone? Do you explain that in terms of Spock-like “objectivity” and pure reason, too? You seem quite emotional when you knock Christianity. But maybe it’s just an exceptionally strong emotion-free passion . . .

        • Chad Courage DeVillier

          Mathematics and science don’t require blind faith because each discipline is backed by significant objective evidence. The point is not to have everything be conclusively proven– scientists will be the first to say that nothing is conclusively provable because evidence could, at any time, disrupt everything we know on any subject– the point is to have significant objective evidence in favor of what you hold to be true, and to have come to hold it to be true BECAUSE of this evidence. That is not how religious conversion works. That is not the way that the Bible asks people to come to belief; it asks for blind faith, scolding those who, like Thomas, simply asked for a bit of proof first.

        • Dave Armstrong

          They start with unprovable axioms. In other words, one must exercise a sort of faith to accept those without initial evidence, and then proceed: scarcely different from religious tenets.

          Jesus scolded Thomas, it’s true, but it was a matter of degree (better and best), and you neglect to also note that He came back in one of His Resurrection appearances precisely to persuade Thomas. Thus, it is hardly a proof of supposed Christian “blind faith” to cite this story. Quite the contrary: the whole point of that story was to show that there is such a thing as excessive demands for proof (which Jesus and Paul talk about a lot), not that proof itself is unnecessary or frowned-upon.

          The purpose of most of Jesus’ miracles (including, ultimately, His own Resurrection) was also to give testimony to His claims to be God, which is hardly a ringing endorsement of “blind faith” either, but rather, empirical evidence right before people’s eyes (much as atheists are constantly demanding today).

          If you’re gonna bash the Bible, please do so, rather than bashing a straw man caricature of the Bible and what it teaches.

        • Chad Courage DeVillier

          They start with them… but they don’t end with them. Objective evidence quickly surfaces, or the axioms are summarily rejected. Not so with religious tenets, though this should be the case.

          The Thomas story you mention ends with Jesus saying to him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed,” which is blind faith in literal definition.

          The performing of miracles would, indeed, be a solid reason for people at that time to believe. We have documentation of those people witnessing them– the Bible. So we must– as you implied– search the Bible for veracity. When we do so, unlike mathematical or scientific ideas, it falls far short of verisimilitude. Therefore accounts of Jesus’ miracles are also cast into doubt.

        • Dave Armstrong

          Again, the “Doubting Thomas” story is not sanctioning blind faith at all: else Jesus wouldn’t have appeared, and He (or the Gospel writer) would have simply said something like, “Blessed are those who believe anything whatever with no evidence whatever.” Then it would be consistent with the atheist caricature of it.

          Jesus, of course, said nothing remotely like that. All He said was that it was better to have faith without the required miracles than without it. The fallacy you commit is to assume that empirical proof is all there is along the lines of evidence and knowledge. But that’s ridiculous (both philosophically and logically).

          There are eyewitness accounts (they could have heard such accounts of other people witnessing Jesus healing people) — this is the nature of most historical “facts” that we all accept — , there was Scripture, which we believe to be a revelation from God. There was his own previous experience as an apostle: what he himself had witnessed.

          You collapse “not seen” [Him risen] into all evidentiary or corroborating knowledge whatever; therefore you conclude that Jesus is teaching blind faith. This is illogical and doesn’t follow at all (classic eisegesis: reading into it what isn’t there).

          Jesus’ point was that people have more than enough evidence to believe, without keeping up the demand for more. In the Bible, again and again (Old Testament and New) it is taught that hardness of heart and rebelliousness cause people not to believe what they should believe: not any lack of the miraculous.

          Hence, Jesus said, citing Abraham: “`If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead” (Lk 16:31: RSV).

        • Chad Courage DeVillier

          Jesus’ words calling for faith without seeing him– faith without evidence, since no other evidence of Jesus’ resurrection existed– is blind, and this idea is consistent with many other passages of the Bible calling for childlike faith that doesn’t demand proof. This is not something some people are capable of; we need hard proof to believe, and we don’t think we’re asking too much by that.

          Recorded eyewitness accounts are where we get a lot of historical information… but those accounts are always corroborated by a plethora of sources. Biblical accounts are not. You can believe that Scripture is somehow on a separate level because it is divine revelation, but again, we without emotional connection to the religion don’t see any evidence of divine revelation (at all), so we are forced to treat the Bible as any other account– susceptible to scrutiny.

          Do you believe that people currently have more than enough evidence to believe without needing any more? Do you believe that atheists are only such because we are being rebellious and intentionally rejecting belief? Having been active in atheist communities for some time now, I believe that this is not generally the case; many of us are willing to accept proof, but we don’t find nearly enough of it to assuage our doubts. I remember and sometimes fondly miss (genuinely) my Christian days where I always felt loved, guided, and secure in my future. I would return if I could, but I cannot– I, and many like me, have been actively searching for evidence for some time now, and we find only mountains of evidence to the contrary.

        • Dave Armstrong

          We’re just going round and round with Doubting Thomas. I don’t see how you have overcome my objections at all. The Bible teaches again and again that we are to give reasons for why we believe what we do:

          1 Peter 3:15 “Stand ready to make a defense [Gk., apologia] of your faith”

          [it’s the same Greek word used in Plato’s Apology: whereby Socrates elaborately defends himself against bum raps]

          Jude 3 Contend earnestly for the faith . . .

          Acts 1:3 To them he presented himself alive after his passion by many proofs, . . .

          Both Paul and Jesus are recorded as having “argued” and “reasoned” with opponents again and again. None of that is consistent with the thoroughly misguided notion that the Bible and Christianity supposedly teaches “blind faith.” Why argue at all for something if it is believed to not have a rational basis and is to be accepted blindly?

          So you’re dead wrong on that. You want to believe that this is what Christianity teaches, and so you pretend that it is actually in the Bible, by butchering texts like Doubting Thomas: according to the time-honored “butcher and hog” tradition of atrocious, laughable atheist pseudo-exegesis.

          Do you believe that people currently have more than enough evidence to believe without needing any more?

          I believe there is more than enough evidence, if in fact it were known to people. But then of course they have to be of a predisposition and fair-minded enough (not hostile!) to actually receive it. Many simply haven’t become acquainted with the abundant resources of philosophy of religion and apologetics, biblical archaeology, medical documentations of miracles such as at Lourdes, etc.

          Do you believe that atheists are only such because we are being rebellious and intentionally rejecting belief?

          Some do that, but not all, by a long shot. I think it is a problem mostly of deficient knowledge and logic (adoption of too many false premises and fallacies); unfamiliarity with good philosophy, etc. I have written the papers:

          Are Atheists “Evil”? Multiple Causes of Atheist Disbelief and the Possibility of Salvation

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2015/10/can-atheists-be-saved-are-they-all-evil.html

          New Testament on God-Rejecters vs. Open-Minded Agnostics

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2015/10/nt-on-god-rejecters-vs-open-minded-agnostics.html

          I think the demands for proof are excessive, philosophically naive, double standards compared to what atheists “demand” in order to believe many other things, and based on unfamiliarity with the nature of axiomatic knowledge: the basis of things like logic, mathematics, and science.

          We are what we eat, and the more false premises we accept, the less likely we will arrive at the fullness of truth. I hope and pray that you and many other atheists can find this truth and joy and peace that we Christians believe we have found.

        • Chad Courage DeVillier

          As is fairly common in the Bible, some of its verse support one idea, others support an opposing idea. Some verses say that faith should be tested (which is what you apparently enjoy mocking atheists for– testing too much, despite all the verses saying we should feel free to), and others implied less testing and more blindly believing, like Mt 21:21 (“have faith and do not doubt”), 2 Cor 5:7 (“walk by faith, not by sight”) and Heb 11:1 (“assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”). These don’t ask us to test but to trust, not to put doubt to the test but to simply not doubt.

          If there is sufficient evidence, and it requires only a non-hostile mind to see it, how would you explain the way that a good many apostates come to be– we are immersed in religion, have a strong predisposition to it, and know full-well the beauty of its promises and the benefit for us if they’re true, yet when we look for evidence, we cannot find it. Are we all simply not as philosophically and apologetically resourceful as you? We have, many of us, studied deeply into these areas and others, and we still come out with handful after handful of problems with the religious text. To claim that the evidence is overwhelmingly there yet we have “deficient knowledge and logic” necessary to see it is pretty bold, mate.

        • Chad Courage DeVillier

          Anyway, this has deviated from the topics posited in the article. If you’d like to return to those, we can.

        • Dave Armstrong

          I think it’s been sufficiently covered. Let the proverbial “man on the fence” reader determine who gave a more plausible presentation. Most atheists will be biased towards yours, and most Christians to mine.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          “… knowledge and logic” necessary to see it”

          Some of us were praised for when we showed “insight” (we said stuff we and they were pleased to hear). I guess we went too far XD

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          The Bible teaches again and again that we are to give reasons for why we believe what we do

          That may be true, but so what? The Enuma Elish might make some claims about Babylonian religion, but I don’t believe the authority of that mythology either.

          I believe there is more than enough evidence, if in fact it were known to people.

          You have an audience. Do you want to share your favorite bit of evidence that should convince non-Christians?

          But then of course they have to be of a predisposition and fair-minded enough (not hostile!) to actually receive it.

          Hmm . . . this sounds like too much of a safety net for my liking. Don’t say that God declares that you’ve got great evidence, but certain restrictions apply. You’ve either got great evidence or not.

          And by “great evidence,” I mean evidence of such quality that if it came from some other religion, you’d accept it. Imagine how compelling that evidence would need to be for you to become a Hindu or Mormon or whatever; that’s what I need.

          Many simply haven’t become acquainted with the abundant resources of philosophy of religion and apologetics, biblical archaeology, medical documentations of miracles such as at Lourdes, etc.

          Many of the readers here are quite knowledgeable. I learn stuff from them all the time. Don’t expect much to take us by surprise.

          But don’t let me discourage you. If you’ve got some great stuff you’re bursting to tell us, let us hear it. Maybe give us a summary to see if it’s something new.

          I think the demands for proof are excessive, philosophically naive, double standards compared to what atheists “demand” in order to believe many other things

          I demand the same quality of evidence that I suspect you demand for you to change your worldview.

        • Dave Armstrong

          That may be true, but so what?

          Chad brought up Doubting Thomas, claiming that this was an instance of a biblical sanction of blind faith. I showed how it wasn’t, and moreover, that the Bible as a whole taught no such thing.

          You have an audience. Do you want to share your favorite bit of evidence that should convince non-Christians?

          Thanks! These are my two favorites, as noted previously:

          Cosmological Argument for God (Resources)

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2015/10/cosmological-argument-for-god-resources.html

          Teleological (Design) Argument for God (Resources)

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2015/10/teleological-design-argument-for-god-resources.html

          I believe that Christianity is shown to be true by an accumulation of many many kinds of evidences. I’ve devoted my life and my blog with its 2000+ posts, and 48 books, towards that end: to share these arguments with others.

          It’s well-known that we all have biases and predispositions. That’s why we all have different opinions as to the soundness or validity or strength of any given argument of position. Knowledge is obtained in a social environment and all kinds of factors influence what we believe and why we do (Polanyi, Kuhn, etc.).

          Constructive atheist-Christian discussions have to be focused on very narrow subject matter.

          Currently, I think a great example of that is claims about Bible contradictions and Christian replies to same. That will be my focus for a while. I enjoy it, Christians like to see how these “problems: are resolved, and atheists love the discussion, too, because they love to try to tear down and mock the Bible. So it’s a win-win: good for everybody.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Chad brought up Doubting Thomas, claiming that this was an instance of a biblical sanction of blind faith. I showed how it wasn’t,

          And I showed how it was.

          Thomas is shown as being inferior to those who believed on faith. Thomas did what I would hope anyone would do in a similar situation: demand evidence for an incredible claim. That the gospels argue differently is unforgiveable.

          and moreover, that the Bible as a whole taught no such thing.

          Careful. Using the whole Bible to overlay your preferred interpretation on an unfortunate passage is cheating. If a passage says X, correctly interpreted and in context, you’re stuck with it. It doesn’t matter than in ten other places it says not-X. The Bible is therefore contradictory, and individual Christians can use that to pick X or not-X as it suits them. So much for an objectively true message from the Creator.

          Thanks! These are my two favorites, as noted previously:
          Cosmological Argument for God (Resources)
          http://www.patheos.com/blog
          Teleological (Design) Argument for God (Resources)
          http://www.patheos.com/blog

          I haven’t read your particular twist on those arguments, but I’ve responded to each of those several times, for example, here and here.

          I believe that Christianity is shown to be true by an accumulation of many many kinds of evidences.

          In general, the arguments for Christianity are not like bullets, where any one can hit the target. Rather, it’s like a chain, where every argument must work.

          I’ve devoted my life and my blog with its 2000+ posts, and 48 books, towards that end: to share these arguments with others.

          That’s the kind of Christian I enjoy engaging with. 48 books? That’s quite a few more than I’ve written.

          It’s well-known that we all have biases and predispositions. That’s why we all have different opinions as to the soundness or validity or strength of any given argument of position.

          Yes and no. It’s rare for Christians and atheists to change their minds, but there should be an objective element to the validity of an argument.

          Christians like to see how these “problems: are resolved

          I’ve never been impressed. Christianity has been around for a long time, and lots of smart people have devoted their lives to coming up with snappy responses to the many, many embarrassing elements of Christianity. Just because you can dig up one of these responses means nothing to me anymore. It must stand up to scrutiny.

        • TheNuszAbides

          … and you ducked the outsider test for faith. Again.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          All He said was that it was better to have faith without the required miracles than without it.

          Typo?

          The story says that faith without solid evidence is a good thing. That sounds like pretty bad advice to me.

          The fallacy you commit is to assume that empirical proof is all there is along the lines of evidence and knowledge. But that’s ridiculous (both philosophically and logically).

          Expand on this. I see how I should believe something if given sufficient evidence. What are these other ways of understanding something?

          There are eyewitness accounts

          You mean in the gospels? Let’s just say that I’m skeptical.

          Jesus’ point was that people have more than enough evidence to believe, without keeping up the demand for more.

          Oh? I like evidence. What is this “more than enough evidence”? And keep in mind that I don’t live down the street from Jesus 2000 years ago. I need evidence that I can use and trust today.

          In the Bible, again and again (Old Testament and New) it is taught that hardness of heart and rebelliousness cause people not to believe what they should believe: not any lack of the miraculous.

          Which sounds like nonsense to me. If God exists, he’s going to want me to put some mileage on this marvelous brain that he gave me. I’m not going to say, “Duh . . . if you say so.” God will take points off if you show up for Judgement without being skeptical of fantastic claims.

          You make the outlandish claim that a supernatural being exists who created everything? OK, I’m listening. Now show me.

        • Dave Armstrong

          Yes, a typo. Thanks for catching that.

          I dealt with the axiomatic knowledge in my long post on the axioms of science, mathematics, and logic.

          Your evidence of Jesus today is from the eyewitness accounts, backed up by general NT reliability, extraordinary manuscript evidence, and corroborations from historiography and archaeology.

          You would then believe or disbelieve on the same general basis as is the case in “legal criteria of truth.” How we determine if a thing likely happened in court, is the nature of the Christian testimony as to historical aspects regarding Jesus.

          Of course the big issue with atheists is their inherent anti-supernaturalism. You simply say that miracles are impossible: but it’s very difficult to prove a universal negative, and Hume’s famous argument against miracles has long been shown to be pretty unsubstantial and ineffective.

          God has provided plenty of verifiable historical evidence of His existence. I’ve collected many articles along these lines:

          God: Historical Arguments (Copious Resources)

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2015/11/god-historical-arguments-copious-resources.html

          As for God creating everything, that is argued for (philosophically) by means of the cosmological and teleological arguments (my two favorite theistic arguments):

          Cosmological Argument for God (Resources)

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2015/10/cosmological-argument-for-god-resources.html

          Teleological (Design) Argument for God (Resources)

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2015/10/teleological-design-argument-for-god-resources.html

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I dealt with the axiomatic knowledge in my long post on the axioms of science, mathematics, and logic.

          You’re saying that belief in Jesus is properly basic?

          Your evidence of Jesus today is from the eyewitness accounts, backed up by general NT reliability, extraordinary manuscript evidence, and corroborations from historiography and archaeology.

          Uh huh. And Mohammed got his story first hand from an angel. And Joseph Smith found gold plates and used magic rocks to read them—no decades of oral history, no suspect chain of custody of the documents, and so on.

          If you’re curious, I could point you several posts rejecting these claims. Did you know, for example, that the average (per chapter) gap from the original of Matthew to our best copy is 200 years? Did you know that all but a handful of the 5800 or so Greek New Testament manuscripts are from 400 or later?

          I hope you’ve heard all this and more, but I can elaborate with those posts if you’re interested.

          You would then believe or disbelieve on the same general basis as is the case in “legal criteria of truth.”

          Right. No one would believe the gospel story in a court of law for loads of reasons.

          Of course the big issue with atheists is their inherent anti-supernaturalism.

          This doesn’t describe you? When you read about a Hindu miracle, do you say, “Well, sure—if the Christians can have their miracles, why not believe the Hindu ones, too?”?

          You simply say that miracles are impossible

          Laughably wrong. Next time, check first before making bold declarations.

          I’ve collected many articles along these lines:
          God: Historical Arguments (Copious Resources)
          Cosmological Argument for God (Resources)
          Teleological (Design) Argument for God (Resources)

          Having read a mountain of articles like these, I’m almost certain that there will be little of interest here. If you want to point me to the one most compelling article, I’d be interested in reading that.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          They start with unprovable axioms.

          No faith required. They’re unprovable because they’re not built on yet-more-primitive axioms, but that doesn’t mean that they’re unevidenced. Indeed, we test them continually.

          If 1 + 1 = 2 is such an axiom, the moment that fails to be true in some particular case, we will carefully note that limitation and make sure that the axiom is applied in the future with that limitation noted.

          Note also that we don’t just say, “Well, since these are unprovable axioms, I’ll just make one up. I’ll say that 1 + 1 = 5, just cuz I’m in that mood today. Let’s see what happens.” Nothing good will happened because there’s no good evidence supporting that axiom.

          In other words, one must exercise a sort of faith to accept those [axioms] without initial evidence, and then proceed: scarcely different from religious tenets.

          Hopefully you see why I reject this.

          Jesus scolded Thomas, it’s true, but it was a matter of degree (better and best)

          Right. Thomas got his evidence–boring. It’s almost like he cheated. But those who accept the story without evidence? They’re blessed!

          Quite the contrary: the whole point of that story was to show that there is such a thing as excessive demands for proof (which Jesus and Paul talk about a lot), not that proof itself is unnecessary or frowned-upon.

          I know, right? Thomas hears that Jesus rose from the dead, and he didn’t immediately believe it! It’s fine to be a bit skeptical, but c’mon! I mean, seriously, how much evidence is this guy gonna ask for??

        • Dave Armstrong

          My point was simply that there are many forms of non-empirical knowledge that we all accept. Yet atheists continually carp about evidence supposedly being only empirical. This is philosophical infantilism. Positivism was essentially gutted some 60 years ago by Michael Polanyi and others.

          You say mathematical axioms are good because they have been proven to work. Christians say the same thing about faith. We try it and it works. It’s what might be called the reverse pragmatic argument (that I’m very fond of): “it’s not true because it works, but it works because it is true.”

          I already commented more than enough on Thomas, and showed that that story is not extolling “blind faith”: nor does the Bible in general do so. But it’s such a cherished atheist whopper-myth that I didn’t expect that I would successfully knock it down with one punch.

          Thomas was a disciple. He had seen numerous miracles already from Jesus, which is why Jesus didn’t think it was necessary to appear to him in His glorified body. Thomas knew enough. But because Jesus is also all-loving and knows all about human weaknesses and foibles, He appeared in charity to Thomas (making His comment that it was not strictly necessary).

          Christian axioms or beliefs held primarily through faith are also tested in various ways by Christian experience, philosophy of religion, and Christian apologetics (my field). The analogy still holds. Christians actually reason too!

        • adam

          ” Christians say the same thing about faith. We try it and it works.”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/576b5354eb99d2993f45ae1c298d7ea1beb6be63a081a92e69a99632f9b856b3.jpg

          Except when it doesnt.

        • Dave Armstrong

          So you think one nut disproves something, huh? Meanwhile, the atheist position (or secularist or liberal: take your pick) leads to one million preborn children being brutally, mercilessly slaughtered every year in the US alone. But that’s “progressive.”

          And that’s not nuts and lunatics. It’s intelligent, educated people who have been brought to a place where they see nothing wrong with that at all.

        • adam

          “So you think one nut disproves something,”

          Why is Dena a ‘nut’?

          Like Abraham, she heard the voice of God.
          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/831e274b356c03b8778b1d9672b8ab244560e2fda7a4cd57b0436d5bda02694f.jpg

          “Meanwhile, the atheist position (or secularist or liberal: take your pick) leads to one………..”

          Atheism has ONE position, disbelief in deity.

          “Who’s having abortions (religion)?
          Women identifying
          themselves as Protestants obtain 37.4% of all abortions in the U.S.;
          Catholic women account for 31.3%, Jewish women account for 1.3%, and
          women with no religious affiliation obtain 23.7% of all abortions. 18%
          of all abortions are performed on women who identify themselves as
          “Born-again/Evangelical”.”

          It’s the religious who are getting abortions.

          But OBVIOUSLY, you care nothing about truth.

          ” It’s intelligent, educated people who have been brought to a place where they see nothing wrong with that at all.”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/57fc02d9d9eb86554f705551ba2dbc89bf3ab7bfd35db508e5ec140698255ebb.jpg

          We have come a LONG way from genocide being the preferred method….

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          one million preborn children being brutally, mercilessly slaughtered every year

          That’s one rather silly viewpoint. I have another.

          Once you and I resolve this whole Christianity thing, we’ll have to move on to abortion.

        • http://withinthismind.com/ WithinThisMind

          You prefer rape and slavery then?

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Entirely missing the point (that faith/prayer didn’t work; deaths are hardly the only examples).

          Relating to your comment: You’re calling Jesus a nut? How does one murder a baby they still need to coerce the pregnant person into building for the remainder of the roughly nine months?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Yet atheists continually carp about evidence supposedly being only empirical. This is philosophical infantilism.

          That’s nice. Now show me what you want to use in addition. If it’s something like revelation, you can imagine my reaction.

          And what do you mean by “evidence supposedly being only empirical”? Are we using different definitions of “empirical”? Doesn’t it mean “evidence based”?

          You say mathematical axioms are good because they have been proven to work.

          No, not proven, but shown to work with evidence.

          Christians say the same thing about faith. We try it and it works.

          Give me a demonstration. What can you do with it? Show me.

          He had seen numerous miracles already from Jesus, which is why Jesus didn’t think it was necessary to appear to him in His glorified body. Thomas knew enough.

          There are a few assumptions here, but let’s ignore that for now. Thomas’s evidenced-based belief is showed to be worse than the “blessed” belief by those who didn’t get the evidence.

          Why is the atheist teaching you the basics of the story?

          But because Jesus is also all-loving and knows all about human weaknesses and foibles, He appeared in charity to Thomas (making His comment that it was not strictly necessary).

          Of course it was necessary! That’s the point! Jesus is completely wrong in the story by showing that evidence-based belief is less noble (or less blessed or something) than belief without seeing.

          “Appeared in charity”? Jesus deigned to give Thomas evidence? When I stand in judgement before the Big Man, I will proudly declare that I demanded evidence for any unbelievable claim. And “a man was raised from the dead” is certainly one of them.

        • DoorknobHead

          NUMBERS: ‘HISTORY’ OF TWO POPULATION CENSUSES
          > I accidentally hovered over Dave Armstrong’s icon and found it reported 4400 comments and 936 up votes. I might have not paid any further attention to the numbers, other than the ‘providence’ of 4400 being such a nice clean number. It was at this point I glanced over to the 936 up votes and thought to my self, “Self, this seems like an awfully low comment to up vote ratio.” (21 percent up vote to comment ratio) then I thought to my self, “Self, I wonder what is the up vote ratio of Bob Seidensticker.” Bob has 40124 up votes to 25886 comments! or a 155% up vote to comment ratio. BAZINGA! Just a random, fun, trivial fact.

          MYSTERIES OF THE BRAINS OF BOB AND DAVE
          > What is this evidence of? Nothing. More investigation would be required to draw any conclusions. Maybe Dave spends more time in the ‘heathen’ world than Bob spends commenting away from his supporters. Maybe Bob’s ‘god’ is more powerful than Dave’s ‘God’? Maybe Bob makes significantly better arguments. Maybe Dave’s ‘choice’ of ‘field’, Christian apologetics, is not well suited to him? Maybe Christian apologetics is not well suited to an enlightened world? Who knows? I only have questions and no answers. It sure would be interesting to have Bob and Dave subject themselves to long term scientific scrutiny (fMRI’s and other state of the art scientific tools) while they make comments, arguments or think and feel-out their own positions to see what parts of their brains naturally light up, or are supernaturally lit up by a hidden unseen entity that somehow leaves no discernible finger prints upon reality but is really good at flipping brain-switches with god magic. Is a little sacrificial brain dissection too much to ask? :)

          WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY?
          Dave (21 percent up_vote/Comment):
          Up Votes 936
          Comments 4400

          Bob (155 percent up_vote/Comment):
          Up Votes 40124
          Comments 25886

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Some questions may simply be too deep for Mankind to plumb.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Christians actually reason too!

          very much so! such a shame that they can’t help but compartmentalize that sort of activity.

        • Joe

          The purpose of most of Jesus’ miracles (including, ultimately, His own Resurrection) was also to give testimony to His claims to be God, which is hardly a ringing endorsement of “blind faith” either, but rather, empirical evidence right before people’s eyes (much as atheists are constantly demanding today).

          So, you’d accept that our atheism is well-founded until we personally see a miracle performed?

        • Dave Armstrong

          No, because that’s not the only evidence there is. I’m not an empirical-only guy. There are many forms of knowledge.

        • Joe

          There are many forms of knowledge, some are demonstrably more effective than others. Ask any prosecuting attorney.

          Are you saying I must accept a lesser form of knowledge than was available to others?

        • Dave Armstrong

          I’m saying that we all accept non-empirical knowledge. The only question is whether we are aware of it / admit it or not. But everyone does, as soon as they think at all or open their mouths to express a thought.

        • Joe

          I’m saying that we all accept non-empirical knowledge

          I’m saying that we don’t accept it over empirical knowledge on the same subject. Or at least, some people don’t.

          But everyone does, as soon as they think at all or open their mouths to express a thought.

          I’m not sure what you mean by that.

        • Pofarmer

          What other forms of knowledge would that be?

        • Dave Armstrong

          Logic, mathematics, experience, philosophy, revelation, historiography, etc.

        • Pofarmer

          Logic uses both deductive reasoning and inductive reasoning. In it’s modern from it use empirical observations to prove it’s premises in the form of induction. Mathematics has been explained. Experience is notoriously unreliable. To Quote Feynmans first rule “Be sure not to fool yourself, and you are the easiest one to fool.” Philosophy. Really? Philosophy also relies heavily on induction. The scientific method was formulated almost exclusively to address problems trying to use philosophy soley as a source of knowledge. Philosophy, without induction, is just as likely to give you an incorrect answer as a correct one, and you have no way to tell. Revelation. Again, really? Revelation hasn’t been seen as a legitimate path to knowledge starting with Hume, and I thought Thomas Paine put it to bed. Historiography? O.K. Without some sort of induction, how do you tell the difference between fiction and history? Once again, without some sort of empirical methods, you don’t.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I expected this. He laughs at empiricism as a cramped and shallow approach, and yet his list can be put into two categories, empiricism and crap.

        • Pofarmer

          Look out Bob, he’ll both ban you on his blog, and block you on your own. Lol,.

        • http://musingsfromacorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com/ Michael

          Experience and revelation are empirical. Historiography also greatly depends on empirical data. Even logic and philosophy deal with it. Don’t get me wrong-I’m not an empiricist, but all this isn’t entirely non-empirical.

        • epeeist

          Logic, mathematics,…philosophy,

          These generate knowledge if and only if their premisses are true. How do we know their premisses are true, for example “All men are mortal”?

          experience,…historiography,

          Are of course empirical

          revelation,

          Isn’t knowledge unless it can be justified. How do we justify it?

        • Pofarmer

          In other words, one must exercise a sort of faith to accept those without initial evidence, and then proceed: scarcely different from religious tenets.

          Uhm, no. We accept it because it works and gets results, unlike…….

        • epeeist

          They start with unprovable axioms.

          Do they? Could you provide us with a list of these axioms in that it is obvious that you must know them.

        • Dave Armstrong

          For science:

          1. the universe is rational – can be determined by systems of logic

          2. the universe is accessible – we have the means to interact with the universe

          3. the universe is contingent – relationships of cause and effect operate within parameters

          4. the universe is objective – exists independent and indifferent to sense perception

          5. the universe is unified – nothing can be “separated” from the universe

          Or another way of putting it:

          Axiom 1: The universe operates in a consistent, uniform manner. [uniformitarianism]

          Axiom 2: Humans can accurately learn about how the universe operates. [trusting of our senses, and that they convey to us accurate data]

          Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947) wrote in 1925:

          “In the first place, there can be no living science unless there is a widespread instinctive conviction in the existence of an Order Of Things. And, in particular, of an Order Of Nature . . . The inexpugnable belief that every detailed occurrence can be correlated with its antecedents in a perfectly definite manner . . . must come from the medieval insistence on the rationality of God . . .

          “My explanation is that the faith in the possibility of science, generated antecedently to the development of modern scientific theory, is an unconscious derivative from medieval theology.

          “The faith in the order of nature that has made possible the growth of science is a particular example of a deeper faith. This faith cannot be justified by any inductive generalisation. It springs from direct inspection of the nature of things as disclosed in our immediate present experience.”

          (Science and the Modern World,; reprinted by Free Press, 1997, 3-4, 13, 18)

          Philosopher of science, Thomas Kuhn (1922-1996), elucidated the medieval background in his book, The Copernican Revolution (New York: Vintage Books / Random House, 1959):

          “After the Dark Ages the Church began to support a learned tradition as abstract, subtle, and rigorous as any the world has known . . . The Copernican theory evolved within a learned tradition sponsored and supported by the Church . . .” (p. 106)

          “The centuries of scholasticism are the centuries in which the tradition of ancient science and philosophy was simultaneously reconstituted, assimilated, and tested for adequacy. As weak spots were discovered, they immediately became the foci for the first effective research in the modern world. The great new scientific theories of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries all originate from rents torn by scholastic criticism in the fabric of Aristotelian thought. Most of those theories also embody key concepts created by scholastic science. And more important than these is the attitude that modern scientists inherited from their medieval predecessors: an unbounded faith in the power of human reason to solve the problems of nature.” (p. 123)

          Loren Eiseley (1907-1977), an anthropologist, educator, philosopher, and natural science writer, who received more than 36 honorary degrees, and was himself an agnostic in religious matters, observed:

          “It is the Christian world which finally gave birth in a clear articulated fashion to the experimental method of science itself . . . It began its discoveries and made use of its method in the faith, not the knowledge, that it was dealing with a rational universe controlled by a Creator who did not act upon whim nor inference with the forces He had set in operation. The experimental method succeeded beyond man’s wildest dreams but the faith that brought it into being owes something to the Christian conception of the nature of God. It is surely one of the curious paradoxes of history that science, which professionally has little to do with faith, owes its origins to an act of faith that the universe can be rationally interpreted, and that science today is sustained by that assumption.”

          (Darwin’s Centenary: Evolution and the Men who Discovered it, New York: Doubleday: 1961, 62)

          Related reading:

          Christian Influence on Science (Copious Resources)

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2010/08/christian-influence-on-science-master-list-of-scores-of-bibliographical-and-internet-resources-links.html

          Mathematics is unfalsifiable:

          Hilary Putnam (philosopher), Words and Life (edited by James Conant, Harvard University Press, 1995, p. 258):

          “[A]s a matter of descriptive fact about our present cognitive situation, we do not know of any possible situation in which the truths of mathematics (as we take them to be) would be disconfirmed, save for situations in which the meanings of terms are (by our present lights) altered. To insist that these statements must be falsifiable, or that all statements must be falsifiable — is to make falsifiability a third (or is it a fourth by now?) dogma of empiricism.”

          For more on that and for logical positivism, see:

          Must Christianity be Empirically Falsifiable to be Rationally Held?: Positivist Myths and Fallacies Debunked by Philosophers and Mathematicians

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2015/09/must-christianity-be-empirically-falsifiable.html

          For logic:

          The Axioms of Classical Logic|

          The Law of Identity: Metaphysically, this law asserts that “A is A” or “anything is itself.” For propositions: “If a proposition is true, then it is true.”

          The Law of the Excluded Middle: Metaphysically, this law asserts “anything is either A or not A.” For propositions: “A proposition, such as P, is either true or false.” We also refer to such statements as “tautologies”

          The Law of Noncontradiction: Metaphysically, this law asserts:: “Nothing can be both A and not-A.” For propositions: “A proposition, P, can not be both true and false.”

          All of our syllogisms rely on these laws – that any thing is equal to itself, that tautologies must be true, and that contradictions must be false. Classical logic holds that everything has a definite, non-contradictory nature. A metaphysical law of identity would hold that to be perceived or even exist at all it must have a definite, non-contradictory nature.

          Self Evident Nature of Axioms

          Seeing as axioms are the foundation to classic logic, it is not possible to use classical logic to justify them anymore than it would be possible to use a building’s second floor as its foundation. Any attempt to do so is doubly folly, seeing as the axioms of logic, as well as logic itself, is prescriptive, not descriptive. It’s not a element of the universe that we need to verify as true or false, it is a system. In addition, any natural attempt to give logic a psychological justification would be viciously circular, since all reasoning, including that to produce the justification, already assumes the validity of logical rules of inference.

          Finally, Aristotle found any attempt to logically justify axioms as unnecessary: he held that the axioms of classical logic are self evident. It was said that they are are self evident because 1) all syllogisms rely on them, and 2) because they can be defended through retortion.

          http://editthis.info/logic/The_Laws_of_Classical_Logic

        • Kevin K

          God is a hidden variable. And there are no hidden variables.

          If there were a god, and it were of the type that interacted in the universe, it would be detectable by our current level of knowledge of physics, and therefore would have already been detected.

          The scientific argument in favor of god fails because there is no scientific evidence to support that hypothesis. Only assertions.

        • Joe

          Axiom 1: The universe operates in a consistent, uniform manner. [uniformitarianism]

          If you don’t truly believe this is an axiom, then why are you attempting to have a conversation with other people?

          Why even put pants on when leaving the house?

        • http://musingsfromacorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com/ Michael

          All those axioms seem verifiable by experience.

        • epeeist

          Rather a long post when you have got so many conversations going, however:

          1. is not an axiom, rather a generalisation from experience. As for logic, which one, there are so many and the ones used by science include rather more than the inadequate Aristotelian logic.

          2. Again, not an axiom but generalisation from experience

          3. Exactly the same. As it is causal explanations are unimportant in science and are not necessarily universal anyway.

          4. Once more, a generalisation from experience

          5. And another generalisation from experience

          As for the rest, it is a mass of irrelevance. I will emphasise one thing again though, namely that science uses more than deductive logic.

        • TheNuszAbides

          His claims to be God

          wow, even you fell for gJohn?

        • MR

          Also, mathematics and science are blind to me. They don’t love me and want me to come to them. That’s a huge disparity when comparing math and science to a loving God working actively in the world to win me over. Math and science I have to discover on my own.

        • Dave Armstrong

          The analogy was to non-empirical knowledge that virtually everyone accepts, not to God.

        • MR

          Knowledge which points to God, no? God who works actively in the world and wants to win me over.

        • Dave Armstrong

          Not necessarily. I’m simply talking about the universality of axiomatic acceptance and the fact that atheists are no different than Christians in this regard.

        • MR

          And I’m just pointing out that mathematical and scientific axioms don’t have an active being to promote them. You’re not just discussing philosophical concepts, you’ve also got the Master of the Universe in there. You seem to want to hamstring God.

        • Dave Armstrong

          God is quite happy to set the rules of thought and matter in motion, to fend for themselves 99.9999999999999999999999999999999999% of the time (miracles being the ultra-rare exceptions).

        • MR

          Right? It’s almost like he’s not even there. Can’t even be bothered to make an unequivocal miracle. Not what I expect from a God who so loves the world. That’s my point.

          “Let the rules of thought and matter handle it. I’m busy.”

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          It’s almost like you have to know that miracles happen by faith, rather than with good evidence.

        • MR

          I was just shocked to find out that he knows what “God is quite happy” to do!

          If I didn’t know better, I’d guess he was making excuses for God.

        • Dave Armstrong

          There is still God’s providence. But I was talking strictly about the laws of nature.

        • MR

          Which has been my point all along: by limiting it to the laws of nature, you ignore the elephant in the room. The laws of nature aren’t an active agent that want you to know about them. God is. God loves us and wants us to know him. Obtaining knowledge of the “laws of nature” is all on us. To equate finding knowledge of nature with finding knowledge of God makes God look impotent or indifferent. In another setting Christians would have us believe differently. You make excuses for him here, but a simpler option is that he simply doesn’t exist.

        • MR

          Looks like I’m still getting Russian bot spam in the likes. Please don’t click on any URLs with a .ru in any profiles.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          That the Christian god is supposed to desperately love us and desire a relationship and yet doesn’t get off the couch to make it happen is the biggest argument against Christianity IMO.

          It’s almost like he’s not even there.

        • Joe

          It’s almost like trying to find out about someone by looking around their empty apartment after they’ve moved out.

        • adam

          “God is quite happy to set the rules of thought and matter in motion, to fend for themselves ”

          Sorry, but have you yet demonstrated that this “God” of yours is anything but IMAGINARY?

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/cec86c13ff651044ebf846246f7b360fb2d8a3eccf42e97c497a2d680eb4b44d.jpg

        • Pofarmer

          Do you enjoy being an asshole to people? That’s rhetorical, btw,

        • Dave Armstrong

          I enjoy doing what Socrates did, and for the reasons he did it. Your response to that gives us a clue as to why he wound up dead.

        • Pofarmer

          Socrates was ostensibly questioning to find truth. You are questioning to create a hole to shove your theology in. Socrates you are not.

        • GubbaBumpkin

          I enjoy doing what Socrates did, and for the reasons he did it.

          When you find yourself losing an argument, try to distract people by talking about horses. (?)

        • Paul B. Lot

          I enjoy doing what Socrates did, and for the reasons he did it.

          While you are quite bad at producing adequate satire, your unintentional-humor-skills are nearly off the charts.

          You are to be commended.


          Your response to that gives us a clue as to why he wound up dead.

          [People asking rhetorical questions] is what killed Socrates?

          I must’ve read a poor translation of The Apology!

        • RichardSRussell

          In math, axioms are taken to be true (and postulates are assumed to be true) because they’re so fundamental that there are no simpler terms with which to explain them. If there were a problem with that approach, it would become apparent when the conclusions that were drawn based on those axioms and postulates failed to match the real world. But they continue to work just fine, worldwide, in all applications, for everyone, so there’s no reason to think we’ve made bad assumptions.

          This is not faith, this is evidence.

          Trying to figure out whether faith in God works out the same way is left as an exercise for the student.

        • Dave Armstrong

          I didn’t say it was faith per se. But it is like faith in some key ways (belief in unproven, perhaps unfalsifiable things). And it’s not empiricism, so I have brought this up in an effort to show the silliness of the empiricism-only self-refuting view.

        • RichardSRussell

          As I said, it’s not faith, it’s evidence. Faith is a terrible method of making decisions. You can use it to “prove” anything you want. Evidence, OTOH, is reliable. If you can come up with even one counter-example to the axioms and postulates of math and logic, you will greeted with hosannas and showered with glory by the rationalist community for having expanded their knowledge. So go ahead, give it a shot.

        • Dave Armstrong

          Whatever. I’m primarily interacting with Bob now. I can’t do a dozen things at once. Nothing personal.

        • Michael Neville

          You do realize this is a public blog where anyone can post. It’s difficult to have a private conversation in this place.

        • TheNuszAbides

          weird that you completely ignored at least one of his substantive replies to you, then.

        • adam

          ” But it is like faith in some key ways (belief in unproven, perhaps unfalsifiable things).”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/776ee9cb44b1845e5a62ce2f892baf0c5ddae40995c8cc0fc5fbc5a113ae2682.jpg

        • Dave Armstrong

          This is the caricature (at least of an informed Christian view). Thanks for the textbook example.

        • adam
        • Dave Armstrong

          Better, but it’s not the entirety of what the Bible has to say about faith, because it also talks about evidence and reason as well. It’s a harmonious whole.

        • Brad Feaker

          Fine – supply this evidence. And please make sure it is empirical (we are naturalists for the most part) and not some of your usual pseudo philosophical BS either.

          I won’t hold my breath…

        • adam
        • Chris Nandor

          Then you only believe things you can prove, absolutely, using the only scientific method? Or do you take *some* things on faith?

          I am pretty sure it’s the latter.

        • adam
        • Chris Nandor

          “I take nothing on biblical faith”

          You didn’t answer the question.

          And it’s not about your life. It’s about humans. We all act on faith. When you turn on your computer, you have faith that there are electronic components inside doing their job, and not little animals moving information around. Even if you just looked inside a moment ago … you’re not perceiving it now, so how do you know?

          How do you know your friends and family really love you, and you’re not in some Truman Show existence?

          How do you know you have any wealth beyond what is physically in front of your open eyes right now?

          You have faith. Literally. That is how almost all — if not all — humans function. Those who lack this ability to have faith end up in mental institutions or homeless on the street.

        • adam

          ” We all act on faith.”

          We dont all act on biblical faith.

          ” When you turn on your computer, you have faith that there are electronic components inside doing their job,”

          Nope, I could not care less when I turn my computer on, if ‘electronic components’ do their job, they dont have a job, they have a function.
          And that function has been demonstrated by years application, testing and research.

          “How do you know your friends and family really love you, ”

          I dont, and it matters not, it matters only how they treat me.

          “How do you know you have any wealth beyond what is physically in front of your open eyes right now?”

          by checking my accounts.

          “You have faith. Literally.”

          I have no biblical faith, literally.

          ” Those who lack this ability to have faith end up in mental institutions or homeless on the street.”

          Faith is no measure of truth

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b4daa8eb8f6cdde7dc6cef1fd33a8d0acc554ea42510fdbeea6ee4c3b3b5a9c2.jpg

        • Michael Neville

          So are you claiming that you do have evidence to support your beliefs? If so, what are they? Are you going to use the Transcendental Argument, the Cosmological Argument, the Ontological Argument, or some other PRATT*? Please don’t trot out Pascal’s Wager or some other laughable cliche which isn’t really a argument. Or do you have some new argument that we haven’t seen before?

          *Point refuted a thousand times.

        • Dave Armstrong

          They are summarized on my Atheist page (not that any will likely have the slightest effect on you):

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2006/11/atheism-agnosticism-secularism-index.html

          I’m under no illusions that anything I argue will persuade you of anything, since you have already stated: “As I said, theologians, that’s ALL theologians, not just the folks who theologize for your child-raping cult, make it up as they go along, trying to figure out what an imaginary critter is thinking.”

        • dorcheat

          Dave, to be fair to Bob’s readers and not to mention you, listed below is the Wiki site Iron Chariots as well with arguments for and against the existence of Jehovah (i.e., God, Elohim, Allah, Yahweh).

          http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=Main_Page

        • Michael Neville

          I see, you can’t rebut my comment about theologians and somehow that’s my fault.

        • Pofarmer

          Most apologists don’t want to deal with the end results of their theology.

        • Michael Neville

          I have just spent the last couple of hours reading some of the entries on your blog and skimming others. In a phrase, same old-same old. You had exactly what I predicted you’d have, the Transcendental Argument, the Cosmological Argument, the Ontological Argument, Aquinas’ Five Proofs, etc. You do get a point for not having Pascal’s Wager (or perhaps I missed it). But there were no new arguments and certainly none that were convincing or even plausible.

        • Pofarmer

          Maybe a bottle or two of communion wine would help the conversion process.

        • OutsideLookingIn

          This comment is spot-on. One of the Peano axioms (which is ONE of the axiomatic systems that can be used as a starting point) says “every natural number is equal to itself.” That’s a property of what we call equality that cannot be proven, but it’s right on the line of essentially being part of the definition of equality.

          That’s a Loooooong way from an axiom like “God exists.”

        • OutsideLookingIn

          This appears to be a variation on an argument that ignores the fact that the we use the English term “faith” in different ways in different contexts and it sets up a false equivalence between situations. I’ve seen people say that if you hail a cab and get in it, then it means you have faith because you have faith that it will get you to where you want to go.

          The problem is that the faith described in the Bible and the faith to get in that cab refer to very different notions. The faith that the cab will get you where you want to go is based on mounds of visible and verifiable evidence of how cabs work, previous cab rides, etc. Biblical faith is believing in spite of a complete lack of observable evidence and in some cases, the existence of observable contrary evidence.

          The comparison to the axioms of mathematics is an odd one. The most important thing to point out is that there are numerous axiomatic systems that can be used as the framework for mathematics. There’s Zermelo-Fraenkel axioms, the Peano Axioms, etc. in addition to the various axiomatic systems for geometries. Plus, you have to decide whether or not the Axiom of Choice should be included in the axiomatic system, and this is a big deal to many mathematicians who work without assuming this axiom. The bottom line is that the idea mathematicians have a singular set of axioms they all accept is false. Mathematicians in particular like to play around with removing axioms and proving results based on the resulting system.

          Secondly, the axioms in mathematics are at such a base level as to be (almost) indistinguishable from definitions. The Peano axioms start with “0 is a natural number”. Well, humanity created the symbol and concept of 0 and the idea of a natural number. The axioms themselves are essentially building the set of natural numbers on which the operations are added.

          Lastly, mathematicians have consistently tweaked the axioms (added, subtracted, devised new systems) and been straightforward about the limitations of those systems as they have been discovered. They are completely open to challenging and changing those foundations as counterexamples or new, surprising proofs are devised. I’d say most of the kinks are out of the system at this point (post 1930s or so), but mathematicians will adjust based on logically based arguments.

          None of those three things sounds like the axioms of Christianity.

        • Dave Armstrong

          Already answered this five hours ago:

          I didn’t say it was faith per se. But it is like faith in some key ways (belief in unproven, perhaps unfalsifiable things). And it’s not empiricism, so I have brought this up in an effort to show the silliness of the empiricism-only self-refuting view.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          An empiricism-only viewpoint would indeed be silly if it ignored other way(s) of discovering the truth. I’m drawing a blank–what are these other ways?

        • http://withinthismind.com/ WithinThisMind

          I said an aardvark is an apple not because it is an apple per se. But it is like an apple in some key ways, like starting with the letter A and not originating on Mars.

        • Paul B. Lot

          all involve such axioms: indeed, start from them

          “Waiter, I’ll have the French Dip sandwich with Au Jus sauce please.”

          ~Dave, ordering at the Doubly Redundant Cafe

        • Pofarmer

          If philosophy is so important to faith. Why are around 80% of professional philosophers atheists?

    • GubbaBumpkin

      “Every tool is a weapon if you hold it right”

  • Dave Armstrong

    That’s funny. I’ve been catching all kinds of hell lately from many atheists for having the audacity to critique atheist deconversion stories as inadequate arguments against Christianity. You’d think I had attacked mom or apple pie or summer days at the lake, to see all the fuss and stink.

    But we see that — as always — it’s open season on Christian conversion stories. Why would that be? Is it that we’re so relentlessly unreasonable and y’all are invariably so reasoned (and love science, etc., like we supposedly don’t), so that a critique from us of your stuff is impossible beforehand, by the nature of the case? :-)

    I’m all for atheists critiquing our arguments in our conversion accounts (insofar as they are there). I just marvel at the thin skin of so many atheists when we deign to do the same thing back.

    Much more fair, I think, is the view that a conversion story on either side is not usually intended to be (or is by nature) a logical tour de force. Both sides assuredly have their non-rational, emotional, experiential (etc.) elements. And the purpose of these stories on both sides is primarily to preach to the choir.

    • Chad Courage DeVillier

      That’s pretty disheartening to hear. ANYone who surrounds their position with so much emotion that they are a chore to reason with is to be called out for failing to be objective in a discussion; I only single the religious out because religious conversion and belief is almost exclusively based on subjective reasoning, whereas atheism *should* be based on objective facts. Obviously, there are some atheists who were born into it and are no better at defending it than most religious Americans, but regardless of fools like that, atheism is a conclusion that can be reached by objective reasoning, whereas religious conviction requires subjective beliefs and emotion-heavy faith.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      I’ve been catching all kinds of hell lately from many atheists for having the audacity to critique atheist deconversion stories as inadequate arguments against Christianity.

      Speaking just for myself, critique all you want. I’ll agree that “I reject Christianity so therefore Christianity is false” wouldn’t be an effective argument.

      I’ve written a post that at least tangentially applies to this: “I Used to be an Atheist, Just Like You”. In short, I attack the idea that there’s a symmetry here (atheists become Christians, and Christians become atheists). Take a look and tell me what you think.

      But we see that — as always — it’s open season on Christian conversion stories.

      If someone became a Christian for intellectual reasons, that sounds fine (and I’d be curious to hear those reasons). Someone becoming a Christian for emotional reasons is also fine, just don’t tell me that this happened for intellectual reasons.

      Much more fair, I think, is the view that a conversion story on either side is not usually intended to be (or is by nature) a logical tour de force. Both sides assuredly have their non-rational, emotional, experiential (etc.) elements.

      In my limited experience, deconversions from Christianity are largely for intellectual reasons and conversions to Christianity are largely for emotional reasons. Your thoughts?

      • Dave Armstrong

        I’d like to read that paper, but I’m already being stretched thin. Here, I’ll concentrate on talking to you (as I did before with Chad). I can’t interact fruitfully with a dozen people at once (it seems to be an atheist thing to pounce all over any Christian who dares show up in an atheist combox).

        I’m primarily devoting my energies at present to Jonathan MS Pearce, and his articles about alleged biblical contradictions. I finished a reply last night, regarding Gadarenes / Gerasenes. Fun stuff! I intend to thoroughly answer his material on the infancy narratives.

        So, time-permitting . . . If you enjoy good dialogue, as I do, then this can be the start of a long intellectual exchange. I would welcome that, as you seem to be very well-regarded in the atheist community.

        I agree that someone shouldn’t call intellectual reasons emotional ones or vice versa.

        The nature of conversion / deconversion stories depend on the person. In my own opinion, reasons for conversion (I’ve been through two major ones) are wide-ranging, very complex, and the culmination of many many factors, which accumulate and cause the person to then change their worldview (in a Kuhnian sense).

        I have stated several times that I think this is true of atheist deconversions, just as of Christian conversion stories. They are complex phenomena. But the rationales and reasons given are as good as the quality of thought, research, educational achievements, etc. of the person writing them.

        • MR

          …I’m already being stretched thin. Here, I’ll concentrate on talking to you (as I did before with Chad). I can’t interact fruitfully with a dozen people at once (it seems to be an atheist thing to pounce all over any Christian who dares show up in an atheist combox).

          Pounce? For the record, you engaged me in our conversation, not the reverse. I daresay you wouldn’t classify that as “pounced.”

        • Dave Armstrong

          Great. Then obviously I didn’t have you in mind, in saying that, did I?

        • MR

          Yet for all the pouncing you had time to address my comment. I’m just pointing out that your comment seems disingenuous.

        • Dave Armstrong

          What else is new? As soon as a theist disagrees with something, BAM: he must be dishonest and disingenuous.

          I make short answers because I am courteous and don’t want to be rude. At the same time, it’s impossible to do a dozen things at once (the two things are not mutually exclusive).

          This combox is rapidly becoming that sort of thing, and I will simply eventually refuse to keep up with most of the sub-threads, as a result.

        • MR

          As soon as a theist disagrees with something….

          Not at all why I found your comment disingenuous, which makes that comment seem disingenuous, too. You should probably stop while you’re ahead.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Dave’s never been ahead here. He has to be a Mod to maintain a lead.

        • MR

          =D

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          it seems to be an atheist thing to pounce all over any Christian who dares show up in an atheist combox

          Thanks for the condescension. Uh, yeah, you’ve stumbled on the truth—atheists must rely on bullying and intimidation because we don’t have any arguments.

          The point of this blog is to engage with Christians, not with atheists. There’s loads that I have learned from atheist commenters here, but they already get it. This blog was started 6 years ago to complement my first book on atheism, which was also aimed at Christians.

          I agree that someone shouldn’t call intellectual reasons emotional ones or vice versa.
          . . .
          I have stated several times that I think this is true of atheist deconversions, just as of Christian conversion stories.

          Yes, but this doesn’t answer my question: In my limited experience, deconversions from Christianity are largely for intellectual reasons and conversions to Christianity are largely for emotional reasons. Do you agree?

        • MR

          I can’t interact fruitfully with a dozen people at once (it seems to be an atheist thing to pounce all over any Christian who dares show up in an atheist combox.

          Bizarre, right? You walk into a popular blog that explores opposing viewpoints and people interact with you and you qualify it as “pouncing” someone who “dares” to show up. Dramatize much? I thought it’s kind of the point of these forums….

          Did he “pounce” on me when he addressed my comment? At what point do you define engagement a “pounce?” Is it a numbers game, or maybe a tone game? And did he “dare” to show up? Hmph. I thought Christians were welcome here!

          It’s kind of like when Trump complains that the media wants him to stop tweeting. “Oh, no, no, no…, we want you to keep tweeting!” We want Christians to show up! Please, come demonstrate the holes in your arguments!

          How about, “I can’t interact fruitfully with a dozen people at once, but I appreciate the enthusiasm to engage me on these questions.”

          I guess it’s all about your attitude.

          [edits]

        • Bob Jase

          We really have to stop forcibly making these poor innocent believers post here – we are just awful that way.

      • Dave Armstrong

        If you have materials about alleged Bible contradictions and similar stuff, I’ll probably tackle some of those, as I have decided for the next several weeks or more to concentrate on those issues, where a concrete thing can be rationally discussed.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I have some material in this category, but I haven’t put it together into a post yet.

          Tip: the failing I always see when Christian apologists take on this job is when they simply have a response, not a good response. Perhaps you’re never confused by these two, but too often I see the former sufficing for the latter.

        • Pofarmer

          Honestly, they can’t even prove their God or Jesus exists/existed. Who gives a fuck?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Because the statement that there’s a typo in the blog of an ancient Iron Age tribe is utterly offensive.

    • Kevin K

      As long as you see that the obverse is also true. Conversion stories are not an adequate argument in favor of Christianity.

      Petard, meet hoist.

      • Dave Armstrong

        Sometimes they are; oftentimes they are not. So, e.g., my conversion story from Protestant to Catholic was a very “intellectual” one because the reasons were almost solely intellectual (moral theology / philosophy and historiographical). My earlier conversion to evangelical Protestantism was much less “intellectual” per se and I claim a lot less for it (while regarding it as perfectly compelling for myself). So even my two stories differ widely in nature.

        • Kevin K

          So, you’re special pleading, then. Good to know intellectual honesty isn’t your strong suit.

          How do you distinguish your “intellectual” conversion from the “intellectual” conversion story of Dr. Francis Collins to evangelical Protestant? You can’t. You beat your chest like a silverback gorilla and declare your story to be genuine and his to be false.

          So, in the end, all conversion and deconversion experiences have exactly the same weight in proving or disproving the “truth” of a specific religion, or of the god experience in general.

          My deconversion story was quite simple and intellectual. The nice lady in the third grade Vacation Bible School class told us the story of all the animals walking to the big boat. My 8-year-old brain said “no way that happened”, and God disappeared in a puff of logic. I haven’t seen him since.

        • Dave Armstrong

          See ya.

        • Kevin K

          Ditto.

        • Brad Feaker

          You will note the one thing missing for his reasons. Evidence.

        • Kevin K

          You would think that someone who “intellectually” came to a religious decision would have some of those, wouldn’t you?

        • Brad Feaker

          If he did, he will be the first.

        • Brad Feaker

          My deconversion story was quite simple and intellectual.

          Given your lack of evidence your entire religion – I would not be patting myself on the back so much Dave. Beware the intellectual who tell you he is an intellectual – it is usually a brilliant display of attribution bias.

          Regards…

        • Brad Feaker

          Sorry Kevin – that was meant for Dave :)

        • Kevin K

          You replied to the wrong person. But I agree with what you’re saying. Dave seems to be a legend in his own mind.

        • Brad Feaker

          Yeah – sorry. I caught that later 😉

        • Otto

          There is an understatement…

    • Otto

      Atheist deconversion stories are usually that Christianity fails in its claims, those do not prove Christianity to be false, it merely shows that we no longer accept the claims to be true.

    • epeeist

      But we see that — as always — it’s open season on Christian conversion stories. Why would that be?

      Because there are so many more of them than going the other way. I can’t speak for the numbers outside the UK but continuing British Social Attitudes surveys show large numbers of the religious becoming non-religious (44% of those brought up in the Church of England and 32% of those brought up as Catholic) and only small numbers of the non-religious becoming religious (about 4%).

    • http://withinthismind.com/ WithinThisMind

      Or maybe you are catching hell because you are repeatedly making false claims?

  • ClayJames

    ¨You will never find a religious person who came to be such because they spent years researching and weighing the objective evidence for and against each major religion; ¨

    This is 100% false.

    ¨The religious sometimes like to imagine themselves as wholly logical creatures who alone are capable of being objective, while those of us trapped in our lives of sin are doomed to be beguiled by an invisible yet mighty devil with access to all the minds of the world simultaneously.¨

    Ironically, the views that you attribute to the religious in this piece are just as ignorant as those that you correctly criticize in this quote.

    • Chad Courage DeVillier

      Why do you think this is false?

      Your last sentence is a bit confusing– you’re saying the views that I attribute to the religious are as ignorant as the views of the religious that I criticized in that quote? I’m not following you.

      • ClayJames

        It is false because there are religious people that research and weigh objective evidence. You might disagree with their conclusion but to make a statement like this is, ironically, nothing more than conjecture.

        ¨Your last sentence is a bit confusing– you’re saying the views that I attribute to the religious are as ignorant as the views of the religious that I criticized in that quote? ¨

        Yes.

        A religious person claiming that theists are logical and objective while atheists are immoral sinners is as ridiculous as an atheist saying that ¨You will never find a religious person who came to be such because they spent years researching and weighing the objective evidence for and against each major religion¨. Both statement are clearly false.

        • Brad Feaker

          It is false because there are religious people that research and weigh objective evidence.

          Citation please? For both an example of these ‘persons’ and citations for the “objective evidence”.

          This I wanna see…

        • Chad Courage DeVillier

          I’m not saying that religious people don’t research and weigh evidence, I’m saying that they do so AFTER the conversion and therefore their research is far too heavily biased to be worth much. I say confidently that no religious person exists who came to be a convert solely through logic because their own Bible does not leave that as an option; it implores for the believers to allow a Holy Spirit to enter (by dropping their intellectual guards, of course) and begin to “believe without seeing”. If their God wanted people to convert through intellectual arguments, he’d have given them a fuck of a lot more evidence, wouldn’t you think, than a contradiction-rife, historically laughable collection of scientifically illiterate, rambling stories that bring up far more questions than they answer?

        • Dave Armstrong

          And you say that I’m caustic? LOL

        • ClayJames

          I’m not saying that religious people don’t research and weigh evidence, I’m saying that they do so AFTER the conversion and therefore their research is far too heavily biased to be worth much.

          Can you show me this evidence? I know some people personally where this is not true and I have read of others becoming religious by researching and weighing evidence. A single example invalidates your entire premise.

          I say confidently that no religious person exists who came to be a convert solely through logic because their own Bible does not leave that as an option;

          This statement shows your incredible bias and I have a hard time understanding how someone can say they confidently believe something that is so clearly false to begin with and then lecture others about how they unintellectual they are.

          First of all, most religious people in this world do not have a Bible so I fail to see how you can confidently come to this conclusion when you are so wrong about this simple fact. Secondly, even among Christian converts, most Christians believe that one can come to believe in God through reason alone (and would not agree that the Bible prohibits this).For example, Catholics in general believe that logic alone can lead someone to believe in God´s existence. I see from your intro that you were a creationist and I wonder how much of your experience is completely clouding what you attribute to ¨religious people¨ in general.

          If their God wanted people to convert through intellectual arguments, he’d have given them a fuck of a lot more evidence, wouldn’t you think, than a contradiction-rife, historically laughable collection of scientifically illiterate, rambling stories that bring up far more questions than they answer?¨

          Many religious people would say that the evidence is there, others would say that the Bible should be taken within the context and time it is written and others still, do not believe in a holy book to begin with. The point here is that to completely brand all religious converts as emotion-based, unintellectual, illogical morons is extremely disingenuous and most importantly it is false. You might be right that there is no god, you might even be right that all arguments for god´s existence are invalid but you are so incredibly wrong about what you attribute to all those who disagree with you.

        • Chad Courage DeVillier

          You know people who passed the test for objectivity outlined in the article? Who pored over objective evidence for various religions and came to accept the Christian one entirely because it made more sense than NOT accepting supernatural events, a hidden 3-in-1 deity, a former angel residing in a realm of perpetual fire who can influence the thoughts of everyone in the world simultaneously, and biblical events that have no historical evidence to support them? If they truly came to their faith through reason alone, I would like to official call into question their ability to reason.

          That is what I meant, by the way, by “religious”– I meant specifically Christian, since that is the religion my article is focusing on.

          And, again, regardless of what Catholics like to believe about themselves, their own holy book does not make an intellectual conversion possible. That was the whole point of my article– that Christians, by confine of their own dogmas, cannot be objective because their dogmas call for faith, accepting the Ghost person of the Trinity into your heart, and accepting wild supernatural claims that have never been seen since and have no reliable record of having happened in the first place. The only historical record for many of the events that Christianity is fundamentally built on (and without belief in which you aren’t actually, technically, a Christian by definition) is the Bible, and the Bible has thoroughly proven itself to be unreliable… at least, to those who do not have a powerful bias toward accepting it before they research it.

          My branding of Christians isn’t as “emotion-based, unintellectual, illogical morons”– though I’m sure that was a fun straw man for you to knock down– but as people who, by necessity, cannot be objective in their beliefs because their beliefs were not reached objectively. They are not (all) morons, and I wouldn’t even call them (all) illogical, I’d say they are limited by their beliefs which demand suspension of reason by requiring acceptance of extraordinary claims without sufficient evidence.

        • ClayJames

          First your article talks about the religious and now you take that to mean a certain type of Christian which is a very strange way to limit that word since it is a fact that the type of Christian you are talking about makes a very small percentage of those that are religious.

          Then you say that the religious do not use logic, objectivity or research but now you are simply saying that they believe in things that you disagree with. It does not follow that a Christian is not trying to be objective or not attempting to be reasonable because they believe in supernatural things that you disagree with. This is not what those words mean. There is nothing inherent to logic that makes the supernatural unreasonable. At the most, you might disagree with the conclusions they have arrived at and you could say that they made a mistake in logic but it doesn´t follow from this that all of them believe for emotional reasons. Making a mistake in logic does not mean someone is disregarding logic to come to a conclusion, if this was the case, atheism is full of people that disregard logic and believe because of emotions simply because they make mistakes in logic.

          The only historical record for many of the events that Christianity is fundamentally built on (and without belief in which you aren’t actually, technically, a Christian by definition) is the Bible, and the Bible has thoroughly proven itself to be unreliable… at least, to those who do not have a powerful bias toward accepting it before they research it.

          This is again, factually incorrect, whether you believe Chrisitianity to be true or not. Most Christians uphold the improtance of tradition as well as scripture and therefore believe that the historical records of tradition is as important to their belief. You have taken your very limited experience as a creationist and mistakenly applied it to all Christians (and in the beginning, to all the religious). So once again, Christianity being bogus does not change the fact that you are completley wrong about what you say all Christians believe.

          but as people who, by necessity, cannot be objective in their beliefs because their beliefs were not reached objectively. They are not (all) morons, and I wouldn’t even call them (all) illogical, I’d say they are limited by their beliefs which demand suspension of reason by requiring acceptance of extraordinary claims without sufficient evidence.

          Most Chrisitian denominations demand that their beliefs be reached objectively, reasonably and that they be warranted. The only way to make your claim true is by changing the definition of words ¨Christian¨, ¨demand¨, ¨reasonable¨ and ¨warrant¨.

          Your article has gone from defending the idea that ¨no religious person comes to believe by attempting to use logic and reason¨ to ¨some Christians believe in things that I consider to be a result of mistakes in logic and emotions¨. The first thesis is absolutely false and the latter is just mundane.

        • Chad Courage DeVillier

          Looking at my article, you can see that it is directed toward organized religion in general, with a focus on Judeo-Christian beliefs.

          I made a case for how the religious come to accept their beliefs by subjective reasons and for why their lack of objectivity is apparent; these comments are just follow-ups on specific points. I’m not going to recap everything I’ve said thus far every time I address a new comment; it’s up to you to remember what I said already.

          Acceptance of supernatural accounts without sufficient evidence is illogical, though, again, that is not the only reason why the religious are incapable of objectivity.

          What, exactly, did I say that was factually inaccurate? That the only historical record for many of the events that Christianity is fundamentally built on is the Bible, that without belief in those events you aren’t technically a Christian, or that the Bible has thoroughly proven itself to be unreliable? I find no factual inaccuracies there, and you have not provided any, you’ve just said they’re untrue, and then proceeded to assert that I am making assumptions based on only my personal experiences, again, without showing how you came to this conclusion.

          Where are you getting the idea that Christian denominations demand objectivity? I have pointed out how the Bible demands “belief without seeing”, allowing a “holy spirit” to enter your heart and convince you (which sounds very unlike objective evidence to me), and accepting accounts that lack severely in any historical or otherwise verifiable (outside of the Bible) proof, so your simple claim of “nuh uh” is not really compelling to me.

          My article asserts the first thing you said, one of my comments additionally assert the second. The first can’t be “absolutely false” if I’ve been given no compelling argument to the contrary, and the second ties into the first.

        • oracle

          A single example invalidates your entire premise.

          Oof, you missed the opportunity to provide an example again. I would suggest that a single example invalidates the severity of his premise. Many good examples would invalidate the entire premise. How difficult is it to find reasonably convincing counterexamples?

        • TheNuszAbides

          A single example invalidates your entire premise.

          and yet you present zero examples.

        • Dave Armstrong

          Amen! My view as well. It’s the minimal ethical requirement on both sides to not make sweeping judgments of that sort.

    • oracle

      This is 100% falsifiable. A single counterexample would be sufficient to refute it.

      • Chad Courage DeVillier

        As I explain below, a religious person cannot be converted using only logic because their own Bible does not leave that option open to them. It demands “belief without seeing”, accepting of the Holy Spirit (which is almost certainly not a euphemism for “well-reasoned arguments”), and requires the suspension of rationality in order for the supernatural stories and tenets to be accepted– we have absolutely no objective evidence throughout all of history of the supernatural, so to even request that the supernatural be believed is to demand ignorance.

        • oracle

          I was pointing out the lack of substance in his rebuttal. You made a falsifiable claim (“you will never…”), and by missing the opportunity to prove you wrong he’s inadvertently supporting your position.

        • Chad Courage DeVillier

          Oh, I know.. I thought I would add on that I won’t even be convinced by a “counterexample”, because such a thing cannot possibly exist within the Christian framework. If they tried to cite a friend who came to faith entirely through evidence, I could confidently call “bullshit” for the reasons I listed above.

        • oracle

          I think you’d support the spirit of your argument better by acknowledging a reasonable counterexample, if one were provided. The exception that proves the rule can be a lot more convincing than framing the argument to be bulletproof.

        • Chad Courage DeVillier

          I’ve sort of already removed that possibility with the article itself, though, haven’t I? I personally know many who claim to have come to faith through reason alone, and then when I ask digging questions, I always come to find that that was not the case. It’s easy for people to cite counterexamples because those are hard to verify without knowing the people they reference. But I can claim that their dogmas don’t permit them that objectivity by asking them to accept supernatural claims on insufficient evidence, and they can attempt to counter me on that premise.

        • oracle

          Citing a friend (of a friend of a friend) would be low quality evidence, and I agree with you that there’s reason to doubt in that case. But maybe there really is a reasonable counterexample, someone who has publicly grappled with the claims of Christianity in a way that satisfies the demands of rationality and then converted. Such an exceptional case would force you to revise your claim (“never” to “almost never” isn’t too painful), but it would also give Joe Christian the experience of difficulty in finding a suitable example.

  • Dave Armstrong

    I’ve put together a dialogue of my interactions here (sincere compliments to Chad for his amiability and responsiveness):

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2017/07/reason-science-logic-not-the-exclusive-possessions-of-atheists.html

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      I hope you asked permission of any commenters whose material you used.

      • Dave Armstrong

        I only cited Chad. If he objects (I don’t know why he would), I’d be happy to paraphrase his sections.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          (I don;t know why he would)

          Because you used his words in another context without his permission.

          I agree with you that he may be fine with it, but please ask. You know how some photos are usable under Creative Commons and some are copyrighted? The photo originator decides whether you get to use them elsewhere or not. It’s like that.

        • Dave Armstrong

          Is it okay, Chad?

          Can I cite your words, too, Bob, in a dialogue I would make, if I replied to you tomorrow? Otherwise, I wouldn’t spend the time (and I sure hope I can, because you asked good questions).

          I always want it to be a teaching opportunity, through dialogue, for my readers: present both sides and let the reader determine where more truth lies. I’m a passionate believer in dialogue leading to stimulation of the mind and attainment of more truth and insight.

          I learned a ton of things this very night in replying to JMS Pearce regarding the alleged Gadarene / Gerasene “contradiction.”

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Yes, you can use the comments I’ve made to you in this post.

          But you do see the problem, I hope. A semi-private conversation in a comments section is quite different from a post that is public and available to search engines. I labor over an article to make sure it reflects well on me, while I rarely even reread a comment before clicking Post.

        • Dave Armstrong

          Comboxes are perfectly public material, and all of these comments are public at Disqus under any given individual’s name (though some choose to make private their comments on their own Disqus pages).

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Hmm. Let’s just say that my opinion differs.

          You’re representing at least yourself as a Catholic, if not the Patheos Catholic channel. This is your chance to show us how Catholics respond to a moral challenge—double down or step back and make a correction. Yes, I do appreciate that you’ve since asked for permission and seem prepared to do whatever it takes to make this right, though the horse has left the barn.

          This strikes me as a situation where technically you’re kind of right, but it still seems obvious to me that someone commenting way down in a comment thread has some expectation of privacy. Search engines read posts, not comments. I dash off comments quickly, opting for quantity over quality, which is very different than my standards for writing a blog post. I’d be shocked if some of my angriest comments were taken selectively without my permission and put into a post titled, “Let’s See How Loving Today’s Atheist Is.”

          If I’m treated unfairly online, I have this vehicle to respond with, but an ordinary reader can, at best, make a comment in protest in the blog, and often not even that.

          Your job as a blogger is to write blog posts. For you to take a discussion you’ve had in comments and then just shovel that into a blog post is tempting. I don’t know about you, but sometimes it takes me a couple of days of solid research for one post, so I see the allure of a quick and easy post. But that blog post is then your copyrighted material. You even get paid for it (quite possibly very little, but that does change things). Creative Commons permissions include one category “you can reuse my work, but you can’t make money off it.” Get permission next time.

          My point here has been to provide you with information that may prevent surprises like this in the future.

        • Kevin K

          I blocked his dishonest ass. If that’s the best the Patheos Catholic Channel can do; well, there won’t be any crackers in my near future, that’s for sure.

        • Brad Feaker

          I like to interact with Dave sparingly. He got pissed off at me for calling him out on his blog and banned me – his right.

          But Dave doesn’t respond well to being backed into a corner by logic and reason.

        • Pofarmer

          Dave doesn’t seem to respond well, period.

        • Kevin K

          Yeah, if his second post to me is just one big special pleading logical fallacy … and he thinks that’s a good thing, then I have no interest in anything else he has to say.

          One thing’s for sure, he wasn’t trained by the Jesuits.

        • Brad Feaker

          And even the Jesuit’s argumentation all pseudo philosophical densities. I am not impressed in a favorable way.

        • Kevin K

          I’ve known and counted as friends several Jesuits, including a full-on professor at Fordham University. He was smart, funny, and fully aware that his arguments were limited by his need to see the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. He’s long gone now; hopefully not in purgatory.

        • TheNuszAbides

          nope, he’s a protestant defector who got all fanboy over ~historiography~.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          He’s promised to address the issues I’ve raised in my comments to him here in a future post. He’ll probably give me a good thrashing, but that’s OK because I deserve it.

        • Dave Armstrong

          I have given some reply to pretty much every question you have asked me. At length I didn’t deem it worthy of a dialogue on my blog because it covered too many topics.

          But it was good discussion, for which I thank you.

          And now I truly have to split and get back to my work that I have intended to get to for about four days now (Bible contradictions stuff).

        • Brad Feaker

          You don’t deserve it Bob – you are already masochistic enough – you actually expose yourself over and over to Christian apologists. Something I no longer have the stomach for :(

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          It comes with the territory, I think. I want to be able to say with a clear conscience that I do my best to put myself in the way of the best apologetics that Christians can offer.

          But yeah–pretty tedious most of the time.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Not even the new gluten-free kind?

          Oh, wait a minute. Never mind.

        • Kevin K

          Ha! I saw that the other day. Apparently, the “substance” of Jesus is gluten.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          The irony is that Catholics say that the wafer transubstantiates into the body of Christ. So, they should be arguing that every consecrated wafer is gluten free.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, sort of. It has the substance of Jesus and the accidents of bread. A/T metaphysics is complicated. Totol bullshit, but complicated.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          “substance of Jesus and the accidents of bread”? I haven’t heard that before.

          maybe I’ll just distill it down to “total bullshit” since that’s easier to remember.

        • Susan

          I haven’t heard that before.

          It’s standard RCC gibberish. They think they are being very clever and very very deep when they explain it.

          I’ll just distill it down to “total bullshit”

          .
          That too.

        • Pofarmer

          If it weren’t for Catholics needing apologetics for their communion nonsense it would have died out centuries ago.

        • Pofarmer

          It’s the best they got period.

        • Otto

          I can’t believe I am saying this but I have more respect for See Noevo

        • Greg G.

          That made me think of the dude who walked out of Communion with a cracker in his pocket. Catholics freaked all over the place because he had kidnapped Jesus.

        • Kevin K

          Let’s not get started with cracker abuse! I think PZ Myers is still getting hate mail over his cracker abuse.

        • MR

          I’ve got one hand with a cracker in my pocket
          And the other one is hailing a taxi cab

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQ8D5Ihe4hg

        • Dave Armstrong

          I’m not gonna quote anyone here (so everyone is safe). I probably won’t even cite your words: not because they were not worthwhile and thoughtful, but because we have tackled too many topics at once, and that’s not particularly apt for what I consider to be a helpful dialogue for teaching purposes.

          When 21 people were attacking me up and down in one combox, I was perfectly entitled to cite their venomous bilge. And I did so, to make my point that there are plenty of irrational “angry” insults, who do little else when they meet Christians.

          There are several here. Most so far are not of that type; nor are you. I have made it clear (many times) that I think angry atheists don’t represent the whole group: certainly not “in person.” But they are wildly disproportionate among online atheists.

          But I also can’t have 15 discussions at once, and I have other things to do.

          I need to get to my project of responding to JMS Pearce on the infancy narratives.

        • dorcheat

          Dave, you need to temper your expectations with reality. This is an atheist blog and a very popular one at that. Some of Bob’s blog posts have generated well over a 1000 comments. You downright should expect several comments from several readers.

          Learn to budget your time. If you need to start your infancy narratives project, then get cracking.

        • Dave Armstrong

          You’re absolutely right, and I will follow your sage advice. Last night, I did exactly that, by responding to a related piece by Jonathan MS Pearce, on the “Gadarenes / Gerasenes” alleged contradiction. That was an actual discussion on one limited thing (and was great fun, too, as a bonus).

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2017/07/gadarenes-gerasenes-swine-atheist-skeptics.html

          I think that’s what atheists and Christians have to do in order to have fruitful discussions: beyond all the mutual suspicion and vitriol.

          It’s been fun here. Thanks to all: especially to Bob and Chad.

          Any atheist who wants to dialogue, minus the insults and BS, on my blog, is always very welcome. I’m still only one person, though (please bear in mind) and can only do so much, given the laws of physics, that include time. :-).

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          the “Gadarenes / Gerasenes” alleged contradiction.

          I prefer to resolve the contradiction by imagining the Gabardine demoniac—that is, a smartly dressed demoniac.

        • Dave Armstrong

          Good one! LOL

        • OutsideLookingIn

          If you throw 15 grenades, then you shouldn’t be surprised that there are 15 explosions.

          You have so many discussions going at once because you interjected yourself into so many discussions. That’s on you and not on those replying to you.

          It’s always worth asking oneself the following question: “If people are frequently rude to me, then could at least part of that reaction be due to the way I approach them?”

        • Otto

          And I did so, to make my point that there are plenty of irrational “angry” insults, who do little else when they meet Christians.

          Do you think maybe…just maybe… the way people have responded to you has a lot more to do with how you behave and a lot less to do with the fact that you are a Christian? I think it is rather arrogant and disingenuous for you to assume that any and all vitriol directed at you is solely because you are a Christian and has nothing to do with how you present yourself. That does play nicely into the Christian persecution complex though doesn’t it?

        • Pofarmer

          We have to be nice to theists IRL. Here we can say what we really feel.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          I don’t think that’s completely accurate. I try to do the best I can to be courteous (though still pointed), but the lack of feedback from peoples’ tone of voice, face and body language, and ability to digest ideas in real-time smaller chunks (same limitations on my input) tends to make me more reactionary and snarky than I am in real life.

        • Chad Courage DeVillier

          I’ll allow it, mostly because I stand behind my writing and don’t feel as though I were misrepresented. I do think permission is important in the future, though.

  • Ford Warrick Jr

    The author is setting logic, reason and objectivity as the criteria for something being of value and then criticizing religion for not meeting that test. I understand his point that religious people who think their beliefs are based on logic, reason and objectivity are wrong but there are people for whom logic, reason and objectivity are not the reason they believe. As the author says, there is an emotional component.

    Personally I’m not an atheist solely because of logic, reason or objectivity but also because of emotion. I have yet to learn of a religion that matches my subjective experience of existence on either a rational or emotional level. For example, my reason for not being a Christian is not only because I don’t think it makes sense but also because Christian stories and practices don’t evoke any emotion. I’ve never been moved by a religious ceremony. When attending a passion play where the audience is weeping my reaction is “well, that was gruesome.” When people talk about feeling God’s love I have no idea, other than intellectually, what they are talking about. Some Christians think as an atheist I’m going to be persuaded by arguments based on logic and reason but they typically don’t realize there is an emotional component to my atheism.

    • Chad Courage DeVillier

      Interesting take, thank you for your response. Would you say that the intellectual component outweighs the emotional component in choosing a religion or ideology for you personally, or vice versa?

      • Ford Warrick Jr

        When it comes to religion, if someone tells me “God is speaking to you” my initial emotional reaction is “bullshit.” This isn’t a rational, logical assessment of the statement but an immediate, split-second judgment. Then my rational side engages and I consider what that person really means, is he speaking figuratively, how I am going to respond, etc. According to psychological research this is how most responses work: emotional then rational.

        I like psychologist Jonathan Haidt’s metaphor of the elephant and the rider. He argues that humans have two sides: an emotional/automatic/irrational side (the elephant) and an analytical/controlled/rational side (its rider). According to the model, the rider is rational and can plan ahead, while the elephant is irrational and driven by emotion and instinct. In order for the elephant and the rider to make progress they need to work together. Religions like Christianity and Islam appeal to neither my elephant nor my rider, where a philosophy like humanism appeals to both.

        • Michael Neville

          Thank you for Haidt’s elephant and rider metaphor. I’ll have to remember that one.

        • Chad Courage DeVillier

          I prefer to hop off the elephant’s back and pull him along behind me as much as possible :)

      • MNb

        In my case it’s hard to say. My unbelief started with disgust (triggered by the atonement doctrine), but me turning from an agnost (4 on the scale of Dawkins) into a radical atheist (7) was an intellectual process that took about 35 years. In the meantime I’ve learned to appreciate some aspects of christianity much better – there are several christians I admire for instance, ao Franciscus of Assisi. It always has puzzled me somewhat that so few christian internet warriors refer to them. It’s always me who has to bring them up when they desperately ask whether there is nothing I like in christianity.

  • Dave Armstrong

    I’d like to commend Bob for overseeing a combox that is mostly insult-free (very unlike most atheist comboxes I have been in). Good job!

    [an hour later] Well, unfortunately, now the insults are starting to come in, in decent numbers, so my time is short.

    • Brad Feaker

      Says the champion of “One cannot claim to champion reason if one will not allow oneself to be swayed by it…”. Because you are surely unable to allow yourself to be swayed Dave…I have data 😉

      Cheers…

    • Chad Courage DeVillier

      Something we have in common is that our writing about the opposite side tends to lean toward the caustic, which tends to invite impassioned responses and disparaging comments. I’ll admit, the thinly-veiled sardonicism in some of your comments got a rise out of me, but I try hard to remain objective in my actual responses. We are all human and can’t pretend not to feel, but it’s when we let those feelings cloud our judgment that we lose credibility, and we could all do better at trying to avoid that.

      • Dave Armstrong

        I totally agree with your last sentence.

        I’m reacting to the pointed, insulting rhetoric of atheists (generally speaking) whereby Christians are supposedly anti-reason, anti-science, gullible, infantile, undereducated Neanderthals (and of course all Catholics countenance child abuse). I exaggerate a little, but not much.

        Note even the title of your post above: “The Disparity Between Religion and Reason.” Christians absolutely detest those sorts of sweeping judgments, because they are patently false. We reason just as you do, but we have different premises and therefore, different conclusions. You’re better than that title. I’ve seen that you are a nice guy.

        Therefore, I make no bones about my contempt as regards those false accusations (not towards people).

        Because I don’t take any guff along those lines, atheists perceive me as you do: caustic, sardonic, etc. But it’s a very specific context. I’m reacting to the false accusations, as I see ’em.

        • Paul B. Lot

          We reason just as you do, but we have different premises and therefore, different conclusions.

          This implies that the “premises” we have are of-a-piece, which is false.

          Your (non-properly-basic) premises are unfalsifiable, methodological naturalism’s aren’t.

        • Bob Jase

          “I exaggerate a little, but not much.”

          I dunno, seems to me you were spot on.

        • Otto

          Except when people make true accusations with citations…that is what really gets your goat and is deserving of the banhammer.

        • Chad Courage DeVillier

          My point with the article was to show that the religious and non-religious, in fact, do NOT reason the same. I stand by the points I made– that once the religious conversion has taken place, all shreds of objectivity are lost. Cognitive dissonance and unshakable belief seem pretty damn mutually exclusive to me… how would you argue differently? Your Bible commands you to have a faith that can move mountains; how is a faith like that supposed to daily question and scrutinize itself? How are you supposed to be ready at a moment’s notice to disregard your beliefs if proven false when you stand to lose so much? I once had arms as big as the sky holding me, a voice whispering in my head every moment of its undying love for me, and a hand moving through my life in unimaginable ways to prepare me for an eternity of bliss… to go from that to the reality of being utterly alone was very difficult at first (I’ve since found joy unlike any I’d known before in accepting this reality, but it took plenty of time). Would you be willing to do it?

  • skl

    I think the beginning of the first sentence might say it all:

    “We are not and cannot be on the same playing field, they the religious and we the non-,…”

    Everyone sees the same things, but not everyone thinks about them the same way. Some brains evolved to be religious and some to be non-religious. Some evolved to move from one to the other (e.g. from creationist to antitheist), and others vice versa.

    It’s the same with politics. Everyone sees the same things going on around the world in history, but hardline liberals will almost never be on the same playing field with hardline conservatives. They’ll almost never agree on HOW THEY THINK about what they both see.

    • Chad Courage DeVillier

      Not everyone thinks about them the same way, for sure… but I don’t think it has anything to do with brains evolving to be either religious or non-religious. Many of us have been on both sides; I was a passionate, well-informed Christian, and now I consider myself a passionate, better-informed antitheist. Politics, likewise– people are not born liberal or conservative, that is largely the product of their upbringing, education, and values. I wrote this article because I am very aware that both sides think differently, but I also know that each side can talk to the other on their terms– we can learn to appeal to the emotions of the religious, and the religious can learn to respond appropriately to logical arguments (though, as my initial premise states, the religious aren’t at liberty to pretend that their logical arguments are what caused their conversions and can’t be taken very seriously because of this). Thanks for commenting :)

    • Matt Cavanaugh

      … hardline liberals will almost never be on the same playing field with hardline conservatives. They’ll almost never agree on HOW THEY THINK about what they both see.

      On the contrary, both embrace their respective sets of unquestionable dogma.

  • Chris Nandor

    I am waiting for him to demonstrate how he came to the belief that one must come to a belief logically before having that belief, or else logical reasons supporting that belief are invalid. And then, for him to show how he came to this belief simply by logic.

    And if he can somehow pass that test, showing the philosophical underpinnings that led to this belief … I’d like him to demonstrate that he came to believe in the philosophical framework he used to come to this belief, using only logical arguments … arguments which themselves would likely require a belief in the framework in order to use them in the first place.

    This is a cheap and uninteresting non sequitur designed to dismiss arguments without having to address them, a very clearly fallacious (read: “logically incorrect”) argument.

    • Joe

      To whom are you directing this post?

      I am waiting for him to demonstrate how he came to the belief that one must come to a belief logically before having that belief, or else logical reasons supporting that belief are invalid

      If I’m reading this correctly, wouldn’t that mean that you came to a belief by chance, then fortuitously found logical reasons for that belief?

      I don’t know if the OP would say you can’t do that.

      EDIT: I’m pretty sure that we’re discussing religious belief here. Chad can correct me if I’m wrong. Dave and yourself seem to be inadvertently talking about all beliefs, which is not the case here.

      • Chris Nandor

        He did say that: “the religious don’t have a seat at the logic table because logic was never the driving factor behind their conversion.” That’s obviously fallacious, as I described.

        • Joe

          I must have missed where you described how it was fallacious.

          Like poster @oracle_oracle:disqus replied to Clay James below, real life examples of religious people who logically came to religion would help falsify Chad’s statement.

        • Chris Nandor

          No, it wouldn’t, actually. He’s saying “a belief not reached by logic is not objectively logical.” So even if someone did arrive at their belief logically, that does nothing to help the person who didn’t, on his view.

        • adam

          “as I described.”

          Don’t you mean ‘claimed’?

        • Michael Neville

          “Asserted” is also applicable.

        • Matt Cavanaugh

          Perhaps Chad can clarify: does this ‘logic table’ represent any & all logic-based discussions, or only ones related to religious beliefs and claims?

    • Chad Courage DeVillier

      You ask much, sir.

      I didn’t say you can’t come to a belief any other way than by using logic; I said that unless you do, that belief is not objective. That stands to reason, yes? A belief not reached by logic is not objectively logical? I further said that once you come to belief by means other than pure logic, you are not credibly permitted to use logic to defend those beliefs, because you didn’t use logic to come by them. It would be like me losing weight by eating at Subway and then trying to endorse Taco Bell; Taco Bell didn’t have a goddamn thing to do with it. Now, I may have occasionally eaten at Taco Bell during my weight loss, but it is certainly not the primary factor behind it. I believe this analogy holds up.

      • Chris Nandor

        “That stands to reason, yes? A belief not reached by logic is not objectively logical?”

        Of course that’s not true. I believed 2+2=4 because someone told me. Then later I proved it to myself with logic. I am entirely entitled to credibly defend that belief with logic regardless of how I originally came to it. This is simply a form of the genetic fallacy.

        • adam

          ” I am entirely entitled to credibly defend that belief with logic regardless of how I originally came to it. ”

          Ok, so you are entitled, can you actually do it?

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/75f6018d11b7534565e1a271187120582baef1ebe1da0dc5c353b6e7ba36dab5.jpg

        • Chris Nandor

          Yes. Why do you ask?

        • adam

          Because we havent seen it.

        • Chris Nandor

          Hm. I think that’s odd, since there’s been many serious logical defenses of Christianity. Regardless, this topic isn’t about actually doing it.

        • adam
        • Chris Nandor

          Yes … and? You seem to be trying to say something. My best guess is you want me to go off-topic and actually provide a logical defense of Christianity, but that would be silly, so I wonder if there’s another explanation.

        • Michael Neville

          It’s actually quite simple. Most if not all of the atheists here came to atheism due to the complete lack of evidence for gods. If you claim there’s “many serious logical defenses of Christianity” then we’ll like you to trot one or two of them out. None of us have seen such a thing. Surprise us.

        • Chris Nandor

          Did you miss the part where this is off-topic?

        • Michael Neville

          In other words you won’t (or more likely can’t) provide a couple of “serious logical defenses of Christianity”. You brought the topic up but now you want to back down from actually providing any defenses. Why am I not surprised?

        • Chris Nandor

          “In other words you won’t … provide a couple of “serious logical defenses of Christianity”.”

          Not where such a discussion is off-topic, no.

          “(or more likely can’t)”

          So the fact that I refuse to follow your off-topic rabbit trail means I likely do *not* have logical arguments? Huh. What an odd thing to say.

          “You brought the topic up”

          False. The article brought up the topic of using logical arguments to defend Christianity, not me. But just as the article didn’t go into those arguments — because the arguments themselves are beside the point he was making — neither, as a part of discussion about that article, will I.

        • Michael Neville

          The article brought up the topic of using logical arguments to defend Christianity

          So the topic of “serious logical defenses of Christianity” is not off-topic. I was right, you won’t bring up a discussion of the topic. Is that because you know that you were talking out of your ass when you pretended there were serious logical defenses of Christianity?

        • Chris Nandor

          “So the topic of “serious logical defenses of Christianity” is not off-topic.”

          The discussion of what those defenses *are* is off-topic.

          “I was right”

          False.

          “Is that because you know that you were talking out of your ass when you pretended there were serious logical defenses of Christianity?”

          Clearly you’re uninterested in serious and reasoned discussion, and are just looking for a fight. Yawn.

        • Michael Neville

          Clearly you’re uninterested in serious and reasoned discussion

          In my first comment to you I was interested in serious and reasoned discussion. Your response was what is called in the Navy “blowing him off”. You, that’s YOU Chris Nandor, refused to discuss what I wanted to discuss with the excuse (and it was an excuse) that it was off topic.

          Since you decided to be an asshole to me then I reciprocated. If you had given a response of “I don’t want to discuss that right now” or made other polite refusals then I would have let it go. Instead, you played asshole. And it’s not my fault that you decided to be an asshole, so don’t whine at me for calling you what you are.

          Now, do you want to discuss “serious logical defenses of Christianity” or do you want to continue to be an asshole? Your choice.

        • Chris Nandor

          “You … refused to discuss what I wanted to discuss with the excuse (and it was an excuse) that it was off topic.”

          Because it was off-topic. Right. And … ?

          “If you had given a response of “I don’t want to discuss that right now” or made other polite refusals then I would have let it go. Instead, you played asshole.”

          You’re lying. What actually happened is I responded to another person, pointing out the fact that it was off-topic. You then responded to me — prejudicially saying you would be “surprised” if I could respond, so certainly not being polite yourself — asking that I engage in the off-topic conversation.

          I then asked if you missed the part where I said it was off-topic, because it seemed like you did. You persisted.

          For you to put your behavior on me is laughably dishonest … almost as bad as your continued insistence that the original post is about the specifics of logical defenses of Christianity, when it clearly is, rather, about when such defenses can be reasonably employed, and by whom.

        • Michael Neville

          This is a thread about religion and reason. Therefore it’s obvious to the meanest intelligence (but obviously one greater than yours) that a discussion of the logical defenses of Christianity is on topic. You keep insisting that it isn’t. That tells me you’re continuing to be an asshole. You continue this assholery by pretending I’m the one that’s dishonest.

          As for being surprised, I said that I would be surprised if you did give a logical defense of Christianity. So far you’ve given multiple posts explaining why you won’t deign to have a discussion on the topic you brought up. That tells me that not only won’t you have that discussion but you can’t and you know you can’t. Yet somehow it’s my fault that you can’t present logical defenses of Christianity. No, I’m not surprised at that.

          You’ve become boring. You may have the last word. I shan’t respond to you.

        • Chris Nandor

          “This is a thread about religion and reason.”

          No, it’s a thread about whether religious converts can use reason.

          “… a discussion of the logical defenses of Christianity is on topic.”

          In fact, it’s not.

          “So far you’ve given multiple posts explaining why you won’t deign to have a discussion on the topic you brought up.”

          You’re lying again: I didn’t bring it up. And my reason from the beginning has remained the same: because it’s off-topic.

          “That tells me that not only won’t you have that discussion but you can’t and you know you can’t.”

          False: it tells you no such thing. All it tells you is that I won’t discuss something that is off-topic.

          And you know this. You’re just lying.

        • Michael Neville

          Still boring.

        • Joe

          I think that’s odd, since there’s been many serious logical defenses of Christianity

          I don’t agree.

        • MNb

          What’s the difference between a serious logical defense of christianity and a non-serious one? What’s your standard? Your personal preference?
          I mean, it’s not so hard to maintain that Ken Ham’s (the hardcore Young Earth Creationist from Kentucky, born in Queensland) defense of christianity is logical. But what makes you say that he’s (non-)serious?

        • Joe

          Ken Ham’s (the hardcore Young Earth Creationist from Kentucky, born in Queensland) defense of christianity is logical. But what makes you say that he’s (non-)serious?

          The fact that he looks like an extra from Planet of the Apes notwithstanding.

        • Chris Nandor

          For the sake of this discussion, I don’t really care, since the topic isn’t about that.

          That said, any serious logical defense of anything is one that holds up to the standard and well-accepted rules of logic and reason. A non-serious one would be one that doesn’t.

          I don’t know Ham’s views well enough to comment on them, because I don’t care about his views at all.

        • Joe

          Of course that’s not true. I believed 2+2=4 because someone told me.

          That seems like a strange example. At least early in my education, I was shown the basics of mathematics. From then on, I was encouraged to apply these basics on my own to come to conclusions. I can’t remember many maths classes where they just told me the answer to questions. What would be the point of going to class?

          Furthermore, did this person have a track record of being trustworthy, or were the a known liar? We sometimes make logical decisions at a subconscious level.

          On a basic level you are correct, I suppose. It’s just not the defeater of the argument you believe it to be.

        • Chris Nandor

          “That seems like a strange example. At least early in my education, I was shown the basics of mathematics.”

          Sure. But at the *very* beginning, no. I was simply told 2+2=4. I believed it. Soon after it was demonstrated to me … but that I believed it before it was demonstrated doesn’t undermine my math credibility today.

          We could pick more complex examples. Irrational numbers is a good one: almost all of us are taught that numbers never repeat — and almost all of us believe it — before we are shown the *demonstration* that the numbers never end nor repeat (because it’s highly complex). And even if we are shown that demonstration up front, very few of us understand it the first time … yet we still believe it.

          This is just an extremely silly line of reasoning: that somehow we have to logically accept something before believing it, else we have no credibility on the subject later. That’s not how our minds work. Our minds come to belief for all sorts of reasons, and we can alter our reasons for belief at a later time.

          I understand the point that if someone is biased, their arguments could reasonably be viewed with more skepticism. But to say they have no credibility because of bias is pure nonsense … and certainly cuts both ways, including against those who disbelieve.

        • Paul B. Lot

          Our minds come to belief for all sorts of reasons, and we can alter our reasons for belief at a later time.

          I sort of agree….

          My caveat would be that “all sorts of reasons” aren’t really “all sorts”, they’re merely unconscious.

          No one, that I’m aware of, comes to [a belief in xyz] for a sort of reason which is [not logically valid]. “Gut feelings” and “trust” are merely subconscious, and therefore poorly-understood/analyzed, truth-discernment processes.

        • Chris Nandor

          “My caveat would be that “all sorts of reasons” aren’t really “all sorts”, they’re merely unconscious.”

          The reasons can be conscious, or not. And they can be all sorts.

          “No one, that I’m aware of, comes to [a belief in xyz] for a sort of reason which is [not logically valid].”

          It depends on what you mean by “logically valid.” If you mean it is actually logically coherent and consistent, I’d disagree.

          If you mean it makes sense to them at the time, I’d mostly agree (humans have the ability to convince themselves to believe things they really think are wrong, because the cost of unbelief is too high … I’m think of Stockholm Syndrome and the like).

        • Paul B. Lot

          The reasons can be conscious, or not. And they can be all sorts.

          The reasons *could* be conscious and they *could* be all sorts – I’m arguing that they’re not.


          It depends on what you mean by “logically valid.” If you mean it is actually logically coherent and consistent, I’d disagree.

          By “logically valid” I mean “logically valid” in the strict sense: formally accurate. Ie. a chain of logic where true premises would yield true conclusions.

          Something which is “logically valid” is coherent and consistent.


          If you mean it makes sense to them at the time, I’d mostly agree (humans have the ability to convince themselves to believe things they really think are wrong, because the cost of unbelief is too high … I’m think of Stockholm Syndrome and the like).

          I do mean that, although I’m not sure you grasped the importance of your re-phrasing “it makes sense”.

          That’s my whole point: no one (that I’ve encountered) believes things which are, in the strictest definition of the word, “nonsense”.

          Let me re-cap, the bit of your original post to which I was replying was this:

          This is just an extremely silly line of reasoning: that somehow we have to logically accept something before believing it, else we have no credibility on the subject later. That’s not how our minds work. Our minds come to belief for all sorts of reasons, and we can alter our reasons for belief at a later time.

          I read that and assumed that you were advocating for the existence of epistemologies where [beliefs are arrived at] without any sort of [logical process].

          Perhaps you meant that there is sometimes no formal written/conscious/syllogistic process going on. In which case we don’t disagree at all.

          But *it seemed to me* that you meant that there is sometimes no logical process at all, and that I think is mistaken.

        • Chris Nandor

          “The reasons *could* be conscious and they *could* be all sorts – I’m arguing that they’re not.”

          Sometimes they are conscious. Of course they are.

          “Something which is “logically valid” is coherent and consistent.”

          Then I can’t agree at all. I’d say *most* of our beliefs are not logically valid.

          “… I’m not sure you grasped the importance of your re-phrasing “it makes sense”.”

          I do.

          “no one (that I’ve encountered) believes things which are, in the strictest definition of the word, “nonsense”.”

          On the contrary: *everyone* does. They believe it because they don’t understand it is nonsense. Humans are the masters of embracing inconsistency.

          “I read that and assumed that you were advocating for the existence of epistemologies where [beliefs are arrived at] without any sort of [logical process].”

          Nah. There’s a definite logical process: it’s just highly flawed, because we either poorly grasp the consequences of our views, or we convince ourselves to ignore them, because we value other things (such as survival) more.

          I might truly believe those glowing dots in the woods are a predator’s eyes. But I do so not because it is a coherent and logically consistent belief, but because it is in my best interests to believe it, so I stay alive just in case they are.

        • ClayJames

          This is just an extremely silly line of reasoning: that somehow we have to logically accept something before believing it, else we have no credibility on the subject later. That’s not how our minds work. Our minds come to belief for all sorts of reasons, and we can alter our reasons for belief at a later time.

          Not only that, but it makes everything that a child believes, before the age where they can truly understand how logic works, logically invalid because ¨one cannot throw logic to the back burner in favor of faith and then simply pick it up later to defend oneself with.¨

          This article has so many blatant errors that I am surprised it was posted.

        • Pofarmer

          An awful lot of what children believe IS logically invalid. Children mimic adult behaviors and beliefs as a survival instinct.

        • ClayJames

          Which is not at all what I wrote. Accordig to this article, ALL THINGS that a child believes before the age when they can understand logic, are logically invalid.

          So if a 3 year old believes that the earth is round, according to Chad DeVillier, the belief that the earth is round is logically invalid because. This is ridiculous.

        • Pofarmer

          It’s not ridiculous. The 3 yr old believes that the Earth is round because an authority figure told her that. It’s not a belief that was come about logically. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong…….

        • Joe

          Then there’s a chance for flat eathers to have their beliefs logically supported.

        • Chris Nandor

          Of course there is. If they can provide a rational argument … why not?

          I hope you and I agree that’s extremely unlikely, but having a scientific and rational mind, I won’t reject the possibility.

        • Paul B. Lot

          Then there’s a chance for flat eathers to have their beliefs logically supported.

          Yep!

          But just ask them to actually do it, and then point out the mistakes as they go.

          We cannot dismiss them out-of-hand, but we can show the flaws in their hypothesis – of course, the later takes much more time. 😛

        • Chris Nandor

          And it’s perfectly fine to simply say, “I reject flat-eartherism because I’ve studied it before and I see no reasons to accept it, and I don’t have time to engage you for no reason.” But it’s not entirely logical. Logic dictates we give them opportunity to defend the case we’ve rejected with new evidence or argument.

        • Paul B. Lot

          But it’s not entirely logical. Logic dictates we give them opportunity to defend the case we’ve rejected with new evidence or argument.

          I don’t necessarily agree.

          It might be the case that there is no new evidence/argument. Given our finite life-spans, it is not illogical for humans to apportion their time in a Bayesian manner. If the prior probability of [a fruitful/educational conversation] is low enough, I don’t think that [refusing to engage] is susceptible to being labeled “not entirely logical”.

        • Chad Courage DeVillier

          That is a strange way to learn, indeed. I learned that 2+2=4 by being shown 2 of something and then 2 more of it, and counting the total. All of my education was in a manner similar to this– being shown from an education board-approved textbook (highly credible source) or physically demonstrated by a teacher (observable evidence from a highly credible source). Again I say, a belief not reached by logic is not objectively logical.

          You are entirely entitled to defend your beliefs with logic regardless of how you came to it; you’re just not entitled to credibility. Think about it: whose word would you take on a subject– person “A”, who has no vested interest in the subject, or person “B”, who, prior to telling you about the subject, pledged their undying allegiance to the fact that it and it alone is the truth, willing to dedicate their entire life to that belief? Who will be more objective here– person “A” or person “B”?

        • Chris Nandor

          “Again I say, a belief not reached by logic is not objectively logical.”

          And I pointed out the fact that this is false. I proved it. I don’t care if you think you learned nothing this way: it’s simply and obviously true that it is irrelevant *how* you arrived at a belief; what matters is why you believe it *now*.

          “being shown from an education board-approved textbook (highly credible source)”

          Heh. That’s pretty funny. I’ve read far too many textbooks to believe they are highly credible. I would examine my textbooks and question them.

          “You are entirely entitled to defend your beliefs with logic regardless of how you came to it; you’re just not entitled to credibility.”

          False, obviously.

          “whose word would you take on a subject– person “A”, who has no vested interest in the subject, or person “B”, who, prior to telling you about the subject, pledged their undying allegiance to the fact that it and it alone is the truth, willing to dedicate their entire life to that belief? Who will be more objective here– person “A” or person “B”?”

          You are *completely* undermining your own argument here. Totally and entirely. The word *I* would believe is the one that provides the more convincing *argument*! That is the premise you’re starting from: that we should arrive at beliefs based on logic and reason. But then you say that we should, instead we should look to the credibility of the person *making* the argument!

          Any case you make that says we should consider the person making the argument, instead of the argument itself, is *definitionally* fallacious. What matters is the arguments … that’s the principle you base your entire argument on, and then you just abandon it.

        • Chad Courage DeVillier

          You make a good point. Even though I stand by the fact that a religious convert’s ability to be objective plummets and that true objectivity is not possible for those who forewent logical arguments in favor of subjective reasoning, the source of an argument is not the whole story– the logical veracity of the argument is what matters in the end.

          And, predictably, those whose minds are given to subjectivity tend to put forth arguments that you’d expect from such minds– convincing to those who already believe, wholly unconvincing to those who don’t. That is why they’re not permitted a seat at the table of credibility; their arguments are neither objective nor compelling.

        • Chris Nandor

          “a religious convert’s ability to be objective plummets”

          That’s the same with everyone who takes a position on a subject, including atheists. Once you are invested in a side, you become less objective about it.

          “true objectivity is not possible for those who forewent logical arguments in favor of subjective reasoning”

          True objectivity is not possible for humans. But again, once you become invested in a side, even if it is for logical reasons, your ability to be objective is decreased. You have additional pressures on you to maintain your viewpoint, apart from the arguments themselves. That’s how humans work.

          For example, many of the folks in here identify as atheists. That means to change your viewpoint is to change a part of your identity that’s significant to you. You’re invested in maintaining that viewpoint. You tend to become less subjective.

          All of us are like this, unless you have no ego at all.

          “those whose minds are given to subjectivity tend to put forth arguments that you’d expect from such minds– convincing to those who already believe, wholly unconvincing to those who don’t”

          I might be so bold as to say the case here in this article is an example of this. It was a fallacious argument, but was applauded by many of the atheists here because it supported their view.

          “That is why they’re not permitted a seat at the table of credibility; their arguments are neither objective nor compelling”

          If someone demonstrates, on multiple occasions, an inability to give or receive rational arguments, then feel free to rationally ignore what they have to say. But that is not about their identity as a theist or atheist.

        • Chris Nandor

          “While it is true that no one can be completely free of bias because of the mind’s overwhelming tendency to employ them, I think it’s fair to say that a religious person who has based their entire life, hope, and future on an ideology is vastly less capable of being objective than someone whose entire source of purpose and hope does not depend on faith in their beliefs”

          I don’t think that’s fair at all. People have all sorts of motivations for their beliefs, and all sorts of pressures. You correctly identify some for many religious people, but I see no reason to believe that someone whose entire career and public identity is wrapped in being an atheist has any greater freedom from bias than a typical religious person.

          “and subscribers to a religion that demands f aith capable of moving mountains are much too far removed from the reach of reason to plausibly claim that they are daily willing and capable of suspending that immovable faith in order to ask and answer uncomfortable questions impartially”

          The nice thing about logic is that impartiality isn’t required. So even if you were right about “them” being more biased, it still doesn’t mean anything in the end, as you conceded.

          But I still reject that your assertions of one type of person being more biased than the other are baseless. I know you have faith that this is true; but I’ve seen no serious argument or evidence to support your belief.

        • Chad Courage DeVillier

          I don’t know why you’re pretending like I haven’t thoroughly explained my reasoning for this; I’ve shown why objectivity is particularly impossible for the religious convert using the nature of the doctrines that they convert to themselves, both in the article and throughout all the comments. Either counter one of the actual points I made or don’t (this is growing tedious, so I don’t mind if you don’t), but please stop playing the “nuh-uh” card. It’s not constructive.

        • Chris Nandor

          “I don’t know why you’re pretending like I haven’t thoroughly explained my reasoning for this”

          I’m not. I am asserting that you didn’t make your case.

          “I’ve shown why objectivity is particularly impossible for the religious convert using the nature of the doctrines that they convert to themselves”

          Except it obviously isn’t impossible. Even if everything else you claim is true, this could only be true if you assume what we know can’t be true: that humans don’t change the way they think over time.

          Further, you only attempted to show that religious converts are biased: what you did *not* show is that atheists are any less biased. You simply asserted and assumed it. You hoped that the force of your argument against religious converts would be enough to convince us that they are more biased than other folks; but that is no argument.

        • Chad Courage DeVillier

          Data set A: The religious. Religious text calls for acceptance of subjective evidence and faith in order to believe in the religious doctrines.

          Data set B: Atheists. Atheism– the simple rejection of the claims of theism based on insufficient objective evidence– requires absolutely NO subjective evidence or faith.

          Therefore, by definition and within the confines of logic, those in “data set A” are vastly less able to be objective.

          Humans can change the way they think over time all they want; the religious doctrines do not change– religious doctrines that require belief in the supernatural (for which no objective evidence exists), belief in biblical stories (for many of which no objective evidence exists outside of the one Bible, which I’ve argued and defended is nowhere near a trustworthy source), and willingness to forego reason in favor of faith. Unless religious doctrines change, at no point will those who accept them be considered more logical than those who observed that they clearly lack in evidence and reject them… unless objective evidence somehow surfaces for them, of course. Few millennia in and we’re still waiting, so I’m not holding my breath.

          You seem a very rational person. I think your intellect would be spent much better elsewhere than defending nonsensical dogmas.

        • Chris Nandor

          And BTW, I can’t counter the point that I assert you didn’t make: again, that non-religious converts are not as highly biased as religious converts.

          You said religious converts are “vastly less capable of being objective than [others].” That means you have data set A, and data set B. You only provided evidence for A, but assert a wide gap between A and B. I can’t counter your claims about B because you didn’t offer them. You merely assumed them.

          And I don’t think it needs saying, but I think it’s pretty obvious from this discussion that I am not clearly more biased toward my position than you are to yours (or anyone else here is to theirs).

        • Chuck Johnson

          Believing that 2+2=4 is true is an argument from authority.
          Seeing a demonstration that 2+2=4 is logical evidence.

          Arguments from authority have some logical persuasive power.

          Demonstrations providing logical evidence have some persuasive power.

          When taken together, the argument from authority and the logical evidence have more persuasive power than either one alone.

        • adam

          When taken together, the argument from authority and the logical evidence have more persuasive power than either one alone.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/86effa5e2bc761ae95f687bf44f1632c13ebd40a54b07502d779f242a887cc3e.jpg

          Therefore, slavery is a good and noble thing.

        • Chuck Johnson

          You show us an argument from authority here.
          Can you show logical arguments that modern people should follow this advice concerning slavery?

        • adam

          “Can you show logical arguments that modern people should follow this advice concerning slavery?”

          Greatly reduced labor costs.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Only at first glance.

        • adam
        • Chuck Johnson

          Within modern societies.

        • Chris Nandor

          “Arguments from authority have some logical persuasive power.”

          If you mean rhetorical power — that is, that it is logical that it persuades us — I agree. I disagree that they have logical power. Logical power necessarily requires that we focus on the strength of the argument independent of who is making it.

          I am uninterested in rhetorical power. Convincing lies can have rhetorical power. Rhetorical power has no direct relationship with the truth or logic of the claims.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      I am waiting for him to demonstrate how he came to the belief that one must come to a belief logically before having that belief, or else logical reasons supporting that belief are invalid. And then, for him to show how he came to this belief simply by logic.

      Cut to the chase. How would you do it?

      • Chris Nandor

        I wouldn’t. I don’t believe anyone can come to any of their beliefs through strict application of logic. We all start with *some* unproven assumptions, including about reason itself. Almost all of us learn the scientific method without fully understanding its philosophically necessary underpinnings.

        My point is simply that humans don’t work this way, and that it’s simply illogical to demand that someone first came to their viewpoint via a certain means in order to be able to argue for it using those means, as it puts the focus on the person instead of their argument.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          It sounds like you would accept certain kinds of reasoning or conclusions that I wouldn’t. Expand on this with an example or two so I can see your point..

        • Chris Nandor

          I gave one example: the scientific method. The idea that observing and repeating something means it is more likely true, than not. That is an idea that cannot, itself, be verified through observation, since that would be question-begging (at best). We derive the scientific method from philosophy, and very few people actually delve into the philosophy behind the scientific method before trusting and engaging in it.

        • Joe

          Is there anything that is not ‘question begging’ if we apply your definition?

          You’re sounding like another poster in this blog, Ed Dingus, who’s beliefs sound remarkably like solipsism/postmodernism: “We don’t know if anything is real”.

          Except you’re not a solipsist, are you?

          I, for one, accept things as probably true, based on my experience. I don’t know of a single person outside a mental hospital that doesn’t do this at some level. Theist and atheist alike.

        • Chris Nandor

          “Is there anything that is not ‘question begging’ if we apply your definition?”

          Yes.

          “I, for one, accept things as probably true, based on my experience.”

          Sure. And there’s nothing wrong with that at all, obviously. My only point is that if you believe in something without fully evaluating it logically — rather, you come to the belief through means other than a full application of logic — this does not mean you can’t credibly support that belief with logic later.

        • Joe

          Yes

          Please, elaborate.

          Sure. And there’s nothing wrong with that at all, obviously. My only point is that if you believe in something without fully evaluating it logically — rather, you come to the belief through means other than a full application of logic — this does not mean you can’t credibly support that belief with logic later.

          Like I’ve agreed, it’s technically correct, but pretty useless in terms of the discussion. Guessing your way to belief completely randomly and having it confirmed later can apply to any belief.

        • Chris Nandor

          “Please, elaborate.”

          2+2=4 isn’t question-begging. A belief in the power of observation isn’t question-begging. But a belief that science can prove the validity of observation, merely through observation? That’s question-begging.

        • Joe

          Why isn’t 2+2=4 question begging?

          A belief in the power of observation isn’t question-begging.

          Why not?

          But a belief that science can prove the validity of observation, merely through observation? That’s question-begging

          How is that different from the above? Especially since you ‘believe in the power of observation’?

        • Chris Nandor

          “Why not?”

          Because it doesn’t assume its premise. You can demonstrate it without assuming it.

          “How is that different from the above?”

          Because it assumes its premise. You can’t demonstrate it without assuming it. It *explicitly* relies on itself to prove itself, which is the actual definition of question-begging.

        • Joe

          So, you can demonstrate 2+2=4, but you can’t demonstrate an observation being validated?

        • Chris Nandor

          “you can’t demonstrate an observation being validated?”

          Of course I can. I just can’t do it *via* observation. No one can.

        • Joe

          That’s exactly how you’d do it.

          How do you demonstrate 2+2=4 without doing maths?

        • Chris Nandor

          So what is “2”? What is “+”? How do you know that, even if you can derive those things with pure observation and no logic, that it is repeatable? How can you purely *observe* these things, and know them to be true?

          You can’t.

          As I mentioned in another comment, a more clear example might be irrational numbers, especially since you literally *cannot* directly observe those.

        • Joe

          So what is “2”? What is “+”?

          I don’t know. Show me without using mathematics.

          How do you know that, even if you can derive those things with pure observation and no logic, that it is repeatable?

          You can’t.

          How can you purely *observe* these things, and know them to be true?

          Same for math, you can’t.

          As I mentioned in another comment, a more clear example might be irrational numbers, especially since you literally *cannot* directly observe those.

          So how do you support the fact they exist?

        • Chris Nandor

          “I don’t know. Show me without using mathematics.”

          Well, you’d *have* to. That’s the point.

          “You can’t.”

          Exactly.

          “So how do you support the fact they exist?”

          You prove it using logic. You can’t observe it, but you can prove it.

        • Joe

          You don’t observe somebody doing logic, or working it out yourself?

          It gets transmitted, Matrix style, directly to the brain, I suppose?

          How do you know the logic will work the same way next time you use it?

        • Chris Nandor

          “You don’t observe somebody doing logic, or working it out yourself?”

          Yes, you do. And? You can observe someone praying; does that mean prayer is science?

          “How do you know the logic will work the same way next time you use it?”

          Through basic philosophy. Science can’t tell you that.

        • Joe

          You really don’t grasp the basic concepts here, do you?

        • Chris Nandor

          Does that line *usually* fool people into thinking you have an argument?

        • MR

          Right? Who, after all, ever questioned reality before the Matrix came along? Seems to me the only thing his Philosophy has done here is to try to throw reality into question so it can answer a question that no one was asking. It’s Ed D revisited.

          “What if reality isn’t real!!?” Well, I’ll believe they believe that when they stop typing on the keyboard expecting such actions can lead to words that get disseminated into the wider world. Meanwhile, the rest of us….

        • Greg G.

          There were solipsists before the Matrix. It just gave them another form.

        • MR

          I didn’t mean to put the horse before Descartes, I just meant Matrix kind of popularized it.

        • Chris Nandor

          So demonstrating that the main point of the article is incorrect, is “splitting hairs.” Gotcha.

        • Chris Nandor

          “Like I’ve agreed, it’s technically correct, but pretty useless in terms of the discussion.”

          Since I was directly responding to the post that claimed it WAS NOT correct … no, it’s not useless in terms of the discussion.

        • Joe

          It really is just splitting hairs.

        • MR

          “It is acknowledged, I think, that even these can enter into this system only in their most speculative hours, when they soar so high in pursuit of those self-existent ideas as to lose sight of all other things. But when they condescend to mingle again with the human race, and to converse with a friend, a companion, or a fellow-citizen, the ideal system vanishes; common sense, like an irresistible torrent, carries them along; and, in spite of all their reasoning and philosophy, they believe their own existence, and the existence of other things.

          Indeed, it is happy they do so; for, if they should carry their closet belief into the world, the rest of mankind would consider them as diseased, and send them to an infirmary….

          …for this philosophy is like a hobby-horse, which a man in bad health may ride in his closet, without hurting his reputation; but, if he should take him abroad with him to church, or to the exchange, or to the play-house, his heir would immediately call a jury, and seize his estate.” –Thomas Reid

        • MNb

          In the end nothing can be verified by observation. Things can only be confirmed. Everything is tentative. So shrug.
          Yeah, very few people do that. Very people learn into detail how a car works before they start learning to drive it as well. So shrug again. Still every time they do drive a car they confirm that science works. But sure, I won’t rule out the possibility that at some point in the future a car won’t drive and science fails to find out why.
          What does religion have that even remotely compares? Nothing as far as I can see and that’s the point.

        • Chris Nandor

          “Very people learn into detail how a car works before they start learning to drive it as well. So shrug again.”

          My point isn’t about learning to drive, it’s about believing that the car will go when you press one pedal, and stop when you press the other, without understanding the reasons why.

          My point is nothing more or less than that the claim — that we have to fully logically evaluate something before we believe it, else we have no credibility when we try to back it up logically — is silly. You’re just agreeing with me, as best I can tell.

        • Michael Neville

          I spent many years in the Navy serving in nuclear submarines as a “non-nuclear trained radiation worker”. Most of the non-nuclear trained sailors’ knowledge of the reactor was on the level of “there’s a hot rock in the reactor core which boils water.” While we were taught a great deal about radioactivity* we were taught nothing about basic nuclear physics. But we believed the hot rock ultimately pushed the submarine through the water because that’s what experience told us happened.

          *There are four radioactive cookies on the table, one is an alpha emitter, one a beta emitter, one a gamma emitter and one a neutron emitter. Which cookie can you eat, which one can you put in your pocket, which one can you leave on the table and which one should you throw as far as possible?

        • Joe

          I think our friend is missing the point that people have seen a car, or the effects of a nuclear before.

          If a native emerged from the Amazon jungle, having never encountered technology, saw a car and thought: “I bet that will start when I turn the key”, then of course, his beliefs would be correct in hindsight.

          Pretty unlikely though.

        • Chris Nandor

          “I think our friend is missing the point that people have seen a car, or the effects of a nuclear before.”

          No, I am simply responding to the assertion in the article that if we didn’t originally come to a belief using a full logical analysis, then we have no credibility later if we try to use logic to defend that belief. That assertion was incorrect, in my view; you appear to agree with me in this.

        • MNb

          And my point is not that I disagree with you, but that you’re point doesn’t argue for what you think it argues for. Which I told you in my previous comment. As you meticulously neglect it I can only repeat it.

          Every time they do drive a car they confirm that science works. But sure, I won’t rule out the possibility that at some point in the future a car won’t drive and science fails to find out why.
          What does religion have that even remotely compares? Nothing as far as I can see and that’s the point.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Philosophy didn’t give us the scientific method; trial and error did (unless you want to call trial and error “philosophy”).

          Long ago, someone said, “Hey, by following the evidence, experimenting in a repeatable way, and being skeptical seems to be delivering results. Let’s keep on doing that.” And this approach was formalized.

          No, no question begging required.

        • Chris Nandor

          “Philosophy didn’t give us the scientific method; trial and error did (unless you want to call trial and error “philosophy”).”

          Nope. See my response below to MNb. Philosophy is the entire underpinnings to the scientific method. Without philosophy telling us “that reality is objective and consistent, that humans have the capacity to perceive reality accurately, and that rational explanations exist for elements of the real world,” the scientific method is, obviously, of no use.

        • MNb

          “See my response below to MNb”
          to which you should have added

          “and don’t forget to neglect MNb’s point like I did.”
          That point is science (ie reason) works, religion (ie faith) does not. That is not coincidentally reflected in the title of this very article.

          Anyhow, this

          “Philosophy is the entire underpinnings to the scientific method.
          is so simplified from a historical point of view that it’s irrelevant. Chinese and Indian science developed just fine without philosophical underpinnings, not to mention Babylonian proto-science.
          And before you start cherry picking again because you don’t look far enough: I’m not saying that philosophy is worthless. It’s just not nearly as crucial for science as you want to make it look.

        • Chris Nandor

          ‘to which you should have added “and don’t forget to neglect MNb’s point like I did.’

          It’s bizarre that when I respond *directly and explicitly* to what you say, somehow you interpret that as neglecting your point.

          “That point is science (ie reason) works, religion (ie faith) does not.”

          And *I* pointed out the fact that this is *not* the point at all. This discussion is about whether someone who comes by a belief without a thorough examination of logical implications is a. entitled to use logic to defend that view, and b. capable of using logic to defend that view.

          “is so simplified from a historical point of view that it’s irrelevant”

          Well, no, it’s not. He said observation is sufficient to logically support the use of observation to come to conclusions; it clearly isn’t.

          “Chinese and Indian science developed just fine without philosophical underpinnings, not to mention Babylonian proto-science.”

          False on all counts. They all *rely on* — are useless apart from — the same basic philosophical notions, as I described.

        • MNb

          “This discussion is about …”
          I refer you to the title of this article.

        • Chris Nandor

          I refer you to the text of the article.

        • MR

          If one is saying that our reality is not at all what we think it is, fine, they need to show that. If one is saying reality might not be what we think it is, that is, it might be, or even parts of it, then we can’t say the scientific method is of no use because as far as every person on the earth is concerned, yourself included, the scientific method has most certainly been of use.

          [Editing out the ‘yous.’ because I know that is not what you are saying (leaving, however, ‘yourself included.’)]

        • Chris Nandor

          “If one is saying that our reality is not at all what we think it is, fine, they need to show that. If one is saying reality might not be what we think it is, that is, it might be, or even parts of it, then we can’t say the scientific method is of no use because as far as every person on the earth is concerned, yourself included, the scientific method has most certainly been of use.”

          OK. I don’t understand how this is related to the discussion, though. My point is only that science isn’t logically self-sufficient. It requires philosophy to support it; and therefore, on the post I am responding to, one cannot logically defend science unless one came to believe in science after full examination of the nature of physical existence: it’s consistency, it’s rationality, our ability to perceive it accurately, and so on.

          Now, the author has already conceded this point of his post is flawed; that one does not need to be able to come to a view by a full examination of the logic in order to be able to logically defend that view. But that was the point I was making when I brought it up.

        • MR

          It requires philosophy to support it….

          I know what your saying, but I’m not really buying it. It’s not “philosophy.” You have a chicken and egg problem there.

        • Chris Nandor

          It is philosophy … and the far worse chicken-and-egg problem is with those who would use the scientific method while claiming that it can be derived from mere observation, without philosophy.

        • MR

          Phht! If philosophy means, “I observed the world, thought about it, and reality appears to be (not is) objective and consistent, that humans (appear to) have the capacity to perceive reality (with a fair amount of) accurately, and that rational explanations (appear to) exist for elements of the real world. I still don’t see how that’s any different than observation.

        • Chris Nandor

          “I still don’t see how that’s any different than observation.”

          Observation is simply gathering information. The rest is a process for doing something with that information.

          What’s more, you *cannot* observe that we accurately perceive reality; that’s a textbook question-begging error.

        • MR

          …reality is objective and consistent, that humans have the capacity to perceive reality accurately, and that rational explanations exist for elements of the real world

          I dunno, children figure this stuff out pretty quickly without taking Philosophy 101. The scientific method is simply more careful, detailed observation.

          Seems to me like you’re confusing philosophy with “thinking about it.”

        • Chris Nandor

          “I dunno, children figure this stuff out pretty quickly without taking Philosophy 101.”

          Of course. I never implied otherwise. So what? I am not sure what the point is. Maybe you think I am saying that science can’t be figured out unless you have some deep philosophical insights that take years of study? No, I am merely saying science cannot logically substantiate itself, that the scientific method logically relies on things other than science. And I have given some examples.

          “The scientific method is simply more careful, detailed observation.”

          The scientific method *uses* observation to make claims about the natural universe. It doesn’t matter how detailed and careful your observations are if you can’t analyze them. Observation is not analysis.

        • MR

          I am not sure what the point is

          I’m not sure what your point is. I still don’t see that Philosophy does shit.

          Observation is not analysis.

          I disagree, observation is not simply looking, but your definition may vary.

          I just go back to:

          …reality is objective and consistent, that humans have the capacity to perceive reality accurately, and that rational explanations exist for elements of the real world

          Philosophy doesn’t show us that either, so, back to “I am not sure what the point is.” Interaction with the world, observation. Don’t need Philosophy. No one, not Science, not even Philosophy promises us that is 100% cert-certain, so I don’t know why you keep going back to that.

        • Chris Nandor

          “I disagree, observation is not simply looking, but your definition may vary.”

          Fine, include “analysis” in your definition. But that analysis cannot be *demonstrated* to be valuable merely on scientific terms. We’ve already gone through several specific things science cannot tell us are true, that science relies on.

          “Philosophy doesn’t show us that either”

          It doesn’t *prove* it, but it does give us a reasonable answer to the question, while science does not. It cannot. Science has *literally* nothing to say one way or another about whether humans perceive reality accurately, for obvious reasons.

          “so, back to “I am not sure what the point is.””

          Huh. I have been very, very clear about that: I am saying science cannot be defended on a purely scientific basis. Which is obviously true.

          “Interaction with the world, observation. Don’t need Philosophy.”

          Except, of course, you do, because science can’t even tell you that you ARE interacting with the world. Philosophy can.

          “No one, not Science, not even Philosophy promises us that is 100% cert-certain”

          I never implied anything of the sort. Having 100% certainty is not a factor in anything I’ve said.

          “I don’t know why you keep going back to that.”

          I never did.

          Maybe you think that by saying science can’t tell us X, that I am saying science can’t be 100% certain of X? No, I am saying science is incapable of saying anything at all on the matter of X.

        • MR

          Dude, when they said, “Hit the books,” I don’t think they meant with your head.

          You said: Without philosophy telling us “that reality is objective and consistent, that humans have the capacity to perceive reality accurately, and that rational explanations exist for elements of the real world”

          Then you say:

          It doesn’t *prove* it, but it does give us a reasonable answer to the question, while science does not.

          So a) your first statement is false and also, your second statement is false since it can’t prove it about reality either, b) we don’t need philosophy to give us a reasonable answer to the question, every day experience can.

          A baby from the moment it opens its eyes begins to notice the world, dare I say observe, and interact with it, dare I say experiment? Daily experiences are what tell us that “reality is (likely) objective and consistent,” not Philosophy, “that humans (appear to) have the capacity to perceive reality accurately,” not Philosophy, and that “rational explanations (appear to) exist for elements of the real world.” Not Philosophy. Those observations, interactions and experiences are what lead us to those conclusions, and science is nothing more than a more detailed and disciplined approach to those things. Nowhere do I see the need for a baby to utilize “Philosophy.” Where does this fit in?

          Besides, neither “Philosophy” nor “Science” are “things”; they’re labels to describe a complex set of thoughts, observations, interactions, etc. Why the obsession to reify these things?

          No, I am saying science is incapable of saying anything at all on the matter of X.

          As far as I can see, neither can Philosophy.

        • Chris Nandor

          “your first statement is false”

          Based on what? You didn’t actually give any argument or evidence for that conclusion.

          “your second statement is false since neither can prove that about reality”

          So my statement is false because what the statement said is true? I said philosophy doesn’t prove that. You said the statement is false because philosophy doesn’t prove that.

          “we don’t need philosophy to give us a reasonable answer to the question, every day experience can.”

          That’s like saying, “we don’t need science to tell us that when I drop an apple it falls; observation can tell us that.”

          “Nowhere do I see the need for a baby to utilize “Philosophy.” Where does this fit in?”

          ALL of it. You’re trying to make it seem like science is something we’re born doing, while philosophy is not. when clearly *both* are.

          I am not into trying to define philosophy … but you clearly have no idea what it is. Read up on the philosophy of science; what I am saying here is not even remotely controversial, it’s just basic stuff.

        • MR

          “Philosophy tells us ‘x’; it can’t prove it.” Well, then philosophy doesn’t tell us ‘x’, does it?

          If anything, Philosophy has called reality into question.

          Again, just sounds to me like you’re labeling “thinking about it” as “Philosophy.” You’re relabeling observation and analysis as “Philosophy.” I could just as easily label it “Science.”

        • Chris Nandor

          “Well, then philosophy doesn’t tell us ‘x’, does it?”

          Science proves nothing, obviously; so you’re saying science doesn’t tell us anything? I hope not, but that is a necessary conclusion from your argument.

          “If anything, Philosophy has called reality into question.”

          Not really; rather, it deals with the question of whether what we perceive as reality *is* reality, which is something science has literally nothing to say about.

          “Again, just sounds to me like you’re labeling “thinking about it” as “Philosophy.””

          Only in the same way “looking at it” is “Science.”

          “You’re relabeling observation and analysis as “Philosophy.””

          No, I’m not. I am saying analysis fundamentally requires philosophy, because it necessarily relies on assumptions about reality and perception and reliability etc., things that cannot be proven or even seriously demonstrated using mere observation and experimentation.

        • MR

          Science proves nothing [about that question]

          And Philosophy proves nothing about that question, in spite of the fact that you said that philosophy “tells us that….” It doesn’t.

          …the question of whether what we perceive as reality *is* reality, which is something science has literally nothing to say about.

          In fact, science has demonstrated that parts of our world are in fact illusion. So, I guess science does have something to say about that.

          I am saying analysis fundamentally requires philosophy, because it necessarily relies on assumptions about reality and perception and reliability etc., things that cannot be proven or even seriously demonstrated using mere observation and experimentation.

          Assumptions that are based on observations, experience and experiment. So, without your science, your philosophy is nothing. Analysis doesn’t require philosophy, philosophy requires analysis. Science also uses analysis.

          And, I certainly don’t see you demonstrating that philosophy tells us “that reality is objective and consistent, that humans have the capacity to perceive reality accurately, and that rational explanations exist for elements of the real world.” Especially when you then turn around and tell us it can’t “prove that,” which is the same thing as saying that it can’t tell us that.

          I think you’re enamored by your philo-woo.

        • Chris Nandor

          “And Philosophy proves nothing about that question”

          Correct.

          “in spite of the fact that you said that philosophy “tells us that….” It doesn’t.”

          Of course it does. Science doesn’t *prove* the Big Bang, but it has a lot to say about it.

          I’m sorry, you’re just being completely unserious.

        • MR

          I just see you carving a role for “Philosophy” that is unwarranted. Science includes the “thinking about it” part. You don’t get to claim that part for Philosophy alone and say science is only about observation and experimentation. Analysis is a tool for both. Science analyzes facts, Philosophy analyzes it’s belly button.

          Not completely serious would be a better characterization, but not unserious. But I’m happy to drop this woo-fest.

        • Chris Nandor

          “Science includes the “thinking about it” part.”

          How do you know?

          Show me! … using only science.

          Of course, you can’t, and that’s the point.

        • MR

          Because science doesn’t contract out to philosophers to do the dirty work.

        • Chris Nandor

          Huh? You’re saying that the reason you can’t use science alone to answer the question is because science can do it alone?

        • MR

          You’re simply defining the analysis part out of science. Nobody else does.

        • Chris Nandor

          False. I even pointed out that analysis is part of the scientific method.

          But analysis is not owned by science; and more to the point, science cannot demonstrate the validity of analysis.

          And I am not doing something nobody else does. Literally, there is a whole field, Philosophy of Science, and most people in that field recognize what I am saying.

        • MR

          But analysis is not owned by science

          Nor by Philosophy. You do realize Philosophy isn’t a thing, right? People think about things. People interact with the world. People experiment and think about the experiments. People think about if reality *is*. You apply a label “Philosophy” to the thinking people do, but there is no woo of Philosophy that tells us anything. It’s people. People thinking about things. When they think about sciency things, we call it Science. When they think about woo, it’s Philosophy. When they think about dinner, it’s dinner. It make no sense to say Philosophy tells us… anything. People think about things. Woo, experiments, dinner. But it’s all just people… thinking.

        • Dee McCoy

          no, I am seeing pretty clearly it’s you that swims in denial. I said nothing of bringing anyone down. People fear of looseing an advantage is pretty clear in their defensive stance, and the symbolism of prosperity is crass.

        • Chris Nandor

          “no, I am seeing pretty clearly it’s you that swims in denial. I said nothing of bringing anyone down. People fear of looseing an advantage is pretty clear in their defensive stance, and the symbolism of prosperity is crass.”

          Shouldn’t this reply have been on a completely different discussion?

        • Dee McCoy

          yah but, it closed as I was trying to say you know you _ _ _ _ with your _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Idea of the universe and your oreintation of yourself in it’s center. I mean dat wit da utmost respect, but you _ _ _ _ with your delivery timing is way off for comedy or were you being serious? Read it again slower and move your lips when you do it.

        • Chris Nandor

          Please try posting your comment again, but this time make it legible and on-topic, and then I will reply to the substance of it.

        • Dee McCoy

          you got the drift of it that’s enough.

        • Chris Nandor

          All I got is that you don’t understand economics *or* philosophy.

        • Dee McCoy

          sure genius. stroke your beard and puff your pipe. your ego precedes you, or is that reputation socrates?

        • Chris Nandor

          You literally haven’t made a single actual argument in any of your comments to me.

        • Dee McCoy

          whose argueing? I was just saying when you judged me.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Without philosophy telling us “that reality is objective and consistent, that humans have the capacity to perceive reality accurately, and that rational explanations exist for elements of the real world,” the scientific method is, obviously, of no use.

          And what tools does philosophy use? Why are its pronouncements accurate?

          If our discussion is simply about the definition of “philosophy,” define it however you want. I don’t care. But if you’re saying that there’s another route to knowledge that doesn’t use evidence and experiment, I’m curious to hear about it.

        • Chris Nandor

          “And what tools does philosophy use?”

          Logic and reason and observation and more.

          “Why are its pronouncements accurate?”

          They aren’t necessarily accurate, obviously.

          “… if you’re saying that there’s another route to knowledge that doesn’t use evidence and experiment, I’m curious to hear about it.”

          Well, obviously there is: again, the scientific method *cannot* be derived from mere evidence and experiment. It’s not possible for observation to conclude that observation is valid. That’s literal nonsense.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          “And what tools does philosophy use?”
          Logic and reason and observation and more.

          Sounds like science.

          Is this just a discussion of what “philosophy” means? If so, let’s identify that up front so I can ignore future comments on this.

          “Why are its pronouncements accurate?”
          They aren’t necessarily accurate, obviously.

          I’m still at a loss to see what philosophy is good for. As a foundation for something like science, OK. Is that it? Do philosophers provide new insights today?

          “… if you’re saying that there’s another route to knowledge that doesn’t use evidence and experiment, I’m curious to hear about it.”
          Well, obviously there is: again, the scientific method *cannot* be derived from mere evidence and experiment. It’s not possible for observation to conclude that observation is valid. That’s literal nonsense.

          You haven’t explained this other route that doesn’t use evidence and experiment.

          And I’m missing your point. A thousand years ago, proto-scientists were discovering that evidence and experiment were pretty good ways of finding out truths about nature. Where’s the nonsense?

        • Chris Nandor

          “Sounds like science.”

          Huh. No, it actually doesn’t. Science isn’t logic and reason; science *uses* logic and reason. I use logic and reason in everything I do. Not everything I do is science. Literally, logic and reason are philosophy.

          “Is this just a discussion of what “philosophy” means?”

          You seem to be trying to turn it into that, but no. It’s a discussion first about whether religious belief can be justified on a logical basis if it wasn’t arrived at initially on a logical basis (it can), and secondarily whether most other beliefs we have are arrived at a purely logical basis (they aren’t, as the irrational numbers example demonstrates).

        • Rudy R

          That all being said, Christian or not Christian?

        • Greg G.

          Without philosophy telling us “that reality is objective and consistent, that humans have the capacity to perceive reality accurately, and that rational explanations exist for elements of the real world,” the scientific method is, obviously, of no use.

          Did philosophy tells us that or did the earliest stages of the scientific method find that out and build upon it so successfully that philosophy had to accept it?

        • Chris Nandor

          “Did philosophy tells us that or did the earliest stages of the scientific method find that out and build upon it so successfully that philosophy had to accept it?”

          It is, of course, likely that observation helped give evidence to the idea that reality is consistent, that we perceive it accurately, and so on. But no, science is literally incapable of making those claims. It *cannot* tell us that. That’s like saying math can tell us that a flower is beautiful. It can’t. It can give evidence (“this flower fits the golden mean,” for example), but it has no concept of beauty. It can’t say that. And science can’t say things outside of the purview of science, which is what you’re trying to make it do.

        • Greg G.

          Beauty is subjective and not an intrinsic property of an object. It is in the eye of the beholder. We can get an explanation for it from science. What is perceived as beauty would have an effect on reproductive success. Those that find healthy and fit mates as beautiful and attractive will have greater reproductive success and the trait will be passed on more than those who have an affinity for unhealthy mates.

          A natural appreciation for trees with beautiful flowers creates a stronger memory which gives a leg up when it comes to finding fruit later. This is more successful than searching for food at random for subsistence.

          We can create mathematical models of a universe with curved geometries. But we need science to tells which degree of curvature that our universe has. Likewise, philosophy can describe many possible realities but it needs science to say which description is our reality. Philosophy can tells us why the universe is consistent or why it is inconsistent. Science tells us how consistent it is.

          A system of thought that is self-explanatory is circular and independent of reality. One that requires input from reality is dependent on that reality. A philosophy that does not need science is independent of reality and doesn’t give us reliable information about our reality. A good philosophy needs a reality check.

        • MR

          A good philosophy needs a reality check.

          When the woo philosophers start treating reality differently than everyone else, I’ll believe they believe it. Every time they sit down at a keyboard and with each press of a key imagine they are generating letters and words and communicating a message of woo to the rest of the world, they belie their own feverish philosophizing. Giant WHAT IFs aren’t very convincing when you treat the world like everyone else. It’s all so much mental masturbation.

    • Chuck Johnson

      I am waiting for him to demonstrate how he came to the belief that one must come to a belief logically before having that belief, or else logical reasons supporting that belief are invalid.-Chris

      Well, of course, it is possible to believe something for less-than-logical reasons, and then later on, discover that that belief is well-supported logically.

      Is that what you mean?

      • storm777

        Yes but that’s what he said was not possible.

        • Chuck Johnson

          I don’t think that Chris said that was not possible, but you would have to ask him to clarify.

          I’m noticing that he did not even bother to answer me.

        • storm777

          Sorry I meant that’s what the author of this article claims. ,i.e. if you believe something for less-than-logical reasons, and then later on, discover that that belief is well-supported logically then your belief is still invalid.
          i.e. it is NOT possible to believe something for less-than-logical reasons, and then later on, discover that that belief is well-supported logically.

          To be precise the author said:
          One: “What was the primary factor behind your conversion?”
          If the answer is anything other than rigorous, objective research into many ideologies, independent of and only later followed by subjective reasons such as “feeling God” or faith, they have failed the test of potential for objectivity.

        • Chuck Johnson

          You have presented a quote from the author (Chad) which is unclear as to what he means.

          Next, Chris Nandor made an unclear comment.

          Your most recent comment to me is also very unclear as to what it means.

          Without clarifications from Chad and Chris, this puzzle can’t be worked out. So if you want to tell me something else, just stick to what YOU think about the logic and philosophy that is being discussed.

  • RichardSRussell

    Sort of vaguely related to this topic is the latest bit of evidence in support of my tenet that “hypocrisy is the saving grace of religion”. Religionists may claim that they believe in all the crazy shit in their holy books and traditions, but how do they, in day-to-day practice, actually behave?

    Well, for Muslims in America, pretty much like ordinary Americans. Living in a free, civilized, educated, industrialized, diverse nation has sanded the sharp edges off of their prickly faith and put them no more than a couple of centuries behind the Jews and Christians in terms of being “cafeteria Catholics”, cherry-picking only the relatively benign parts of their mulligatawny dogmas to emphasize and live by.

    Anyway, here’s the link to the most recent study on the beliefs of Muslims in America:
    http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/26/us/pew-muslim-american-survey/index.html

  • Matt Cavanaugh

    All that you accuse the believer of — emotion-driven reasoning, confirmation bias, suspension of logic — holds true for many non-believers, too. For many secularists believe in pseudoscience and woo, or zealously adhere to dogmatic sociopolitical beliefs unsupported by evidence.

    Rejecting religion does not automatically lead to embracing skepticism.

    • RichardSRussell

      Absolutely 100% true. As I am frequently at pains to point out to religionists as well as my fellow atheists, the term “atheism” simply means “without” (a-) “god” (-theos-) “belief” (-ism). And that’s all it means, nothing more.

      Doesn’t say squat about how you got there. Maybe you were molested by a priest as a child and have hated the whole idea ever since. Maybe you went from being a lackadaisical Christian to an indifferent atheist because your spouse led you that way. Maybe you’re just pissed off at the world in general and don’t want to feel like anyone’s bitch. Maybe you’re disgusted by the corrupt televangelists and their never-ending (and never fulfilled) promises of wealth and glory.

      But, most likely, you never believed in God because you were never exposed to the concept. I know that seems hard to believe if you’re reading this in the religion-drenched USA. “How could anybody possibly avoid that kind of exposure?”, you may well ask. Well, think more broadly. There are about a billion Chinese people who really don’t get exposed much at all to even the concept of gods, let alone ardent support for the idea.

      All of these people qualify as atheists, because they meet the basic definition of not believing in gods, for whatever reason.

      And the rest of the story about atheism is that knowing that somebody is an atheist also doesn’t tell you squat about anything else they might believe. It most certainly doesn’t imply that they’re rationalists. Thus those billion Chinese also fall for such idiocies as ancestor veneration, traditional Chinese “medicine”, numerology, feng shui, chi force, reincarnation, and too many superstitions and pseudosciences to mention.

      So if you’re a reflective atheist who hangs out with other organized atheists, all of whom have arrived at that stance via careful thot and analysis and spend time discussing it with each other, you may think that yours has been the typical path of atheists everywhere. Not true.

      • Matt Cavanaugh

        To expand on your etymology, I’d say I’m an a-theist — lacking belief in god(s); as opposed to an athe[os]-ist — adhering to a belief system built around godlessness. My atheism is merely an answer to a question, not a dogma or philosophy; that answer derived by application of my skepticism.

        When believers accuse atheists of adhering to their own ‘religion’, they miss this important point.

        • RichardSRussell

          Exactly. Atheism is the destination. Knowing where you’ve arrived says nothing at all about the route you took to get there.

          And, as you’ve said, once you’ve arrived, there’s not a whole lot of tourist attractions to occupy your attention. No dogma. No rituals. No funny hats. No sacred books. No talking snakes. No rituals. No shibboleths. No symbolic jewelry. No bodily contortions. No sappy music. No need to wake up way too early on a nice Sunday morning. Really, just kind of nice and quiet and peaceful.

        • epeeist

          You didn’t get your copy of the Atheist Handbook then, nor the key to the secret volcano base?

          You’ll need to tithe a good percentage of your earnings before you get to ride on the monorail though.

        • Otto

          Or the hat….hats are important

    • Chad Courage DeVillier

      Rejecting religion does not automatically lead to embracing skepticism– no one implied it did– but embracing religion does automatically lead to a lack of objectivity, for the reasons I pointed out in the article.

      • Matt Cavanaugh

        Are you arguing that embracing religion leads to a lack of objectivity in all areas?

        • Chad Courage DeVillier

          No, only in the areas in which they are asked to be objective about matters they cannot be. They only accept their dogmas by faith; they don’t accept everything that way. Though the tendency to accept things illogically and without sufficient proof does oftentimes spill over into other areas– people who aren’t very objective don’t tend to make very objective decisions.

        • Matt Cavanaugh

          Of course most believers compartmentalize their various beliefs, applying reason to the bulk while granting a pass to questions of faith. But I agree that, as with belief in woo, the tolerance of religious faith — both in an individual and in a culture — tends to open the door to all sorts of evidence-free decision-making. The same holds for a dogmatic mindset.

  • Paul

    “You cannot talk objective reason with someone who is not willing to seeing things through a lens other than their own.”

    True. Most of the atheists I talk to can’t do this. They’ll end up examining other worldviews through their own worldview instead of examining each worldview individually.

    “Would you, hypothetically, be willing to completely abandon your
    faith and beliefs if you received undeniable evidence that you were
    wrong, and if so, what evidence would you need that to be?”

    This makes no sense in light of your previous statement which I noted above. We all have the exact same evidence (same universe, galaxies, planets, mountains, oceans, animals, insects, plants, etc.). But we examine evidence through a worldview lens. It’s not the evidence itself that will change one’s mind. The real issue is: which worldview provides the best explanation of the evidence?

    • Otto

      >>>”True. Most of the atheists I talk to can’t do this.”

      Most atheists I talk to were Christians so I don’t agree. Certainly some cannot but ‘most’ is a stretch.

      >>>”The real issue is: which worldview provides the best explanation of the evidence?”

      This isn’t exactly true for many atheists who were formerly theists, for me I rejected Christianity purely on the evidence that Christianity is internally inconsistent long before I identified as an atheist. In other words atheism didn’t win the argument, Christianity lost the argument.

      • Paul

        “Certainly some cannot but ‘most’ is a stretch.”

        I didn’t say “most atheists”, I said “Most of the atheists I talk to”
        There’s a difference.

        “In other words atheism didn’t win the argument, Christianity lost the argument.”

        OK, so the Christian worldview (or your understanding of it anyway) didn’t offer the best explanation. But did you ever examine the atheistic worldview (a worldview without a belief in God) on its own merits? Does that provide the best explanation of the evidence?

        • Otto

          >>>”But did you ever examine the atheistic worldview (a worldview without a belief in God) on its own merits?”

          My point was Christianity failed on its own merits, it had nothing to do with as you put it…

          “which worldview provides the best explanation of the evidence?”

          Christianity failed on it own, there was no comparison of worldviews at that point.

          Currently I am an atheist because no theistic worldview has met its burden of proof for their claims, that could certainly change with more information.

        • Greg G.

          I was a Christian and saw the world with that view. I really wanted to stay a Christian but actual logic showed that worldview to be wrong after it had showed other Christian worldviews were wrong.

        • MNb

          “Did you ever ….”
          I did – the first time I was confronted with the god question I declared myself an agnost, ie “I can’t know”. That was my starting point.
          “Does that ….”
          Yes, because no single version of god offers an explanation of the evidence at all. That’s because it’s impossible. Evidence is always derived from our natural reality, while god is defined as a supernatural entity. Hence from evidence to god is always a salto mortale, ie impossible to justify.
          However even that is not enough for me to conclude “there is no god”, but for now I’ll leave it at that.

        • adam

          “Does that provide the best explanation of the evidence?”

          Of course:

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/831e274b356c03b8778b1d9672b8ab244560e2fda7a4cd57b0436d5bda02694f.jpg

      • MR

        I’ve often said it was never atheism that convinced me Christianity was wrong. It was Christianity. [I should have clarified that I was a Christian.]

    • Chad Courage DeVillier

      Many people– theists and atheists alike– choose not to see things through other perspectives. That is not the point being made. The point being made is that– because a Christian converts at least primarily through emotion-based reasons and then attempts to backtrack and pretend logic is on their side– they cannot be considered objective and therefore don’t have a seat at the credibility table. While anyone can be biased, the religious are moreso by far than any other.

      We do not all have the same evidence. Christians cling to many accounts of events that appear only in the Bible as evidence, while the rest of the world rejects this, meanwhile the rest of the world cites empirical evidence that shows the highly-inaccurate nature of the Bible, and Christians reject this. Christians employ arguments like the Teleological Argument and the Cosmological Argument as if they were compelling, while the rest of the world pokes gaping holes in those arguments and regards them as unconvincing. Christians are not capable of having all the evidence because their worldviews doesn’t allow them to objectively consider it; their minds are mind up.

    • Joe

      But we examine evidence through a worldview lens.

      Not all of us.

      The real issue is: which worldview provides the best explanation of the evidence?

      The one that actually explains, and can be used to make useful predictions.

    • adam

      ““Would you, hypothetically, be willing to completely abandon your
      faith and beliefs if you received undeniable evidence that you were
      wrong, and if so, what evidence would you need that to be?””

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3641484758a605f709b7a067bee6bed3f832a3ee135e160e4a32b93e19bfabd3.png

  • Paul

    ” …I submit that the religious don’t have a seat at the logic table
    because logic was never the driving factor behind their conversion…”

    I disagree. Logic and evidence were a part of it whether they realized it or not. Did someone share scripture with them? Then they relied on the eyewitness observations and descriptions of the apostles. They heard the eyewitness testimonies and made a decision.

    • Greg G.

      No, they gullibly accepted testimoies as eye witness accounts and swallowed it hook, line, and sinker without using logic at all.

      • MR

        I think what happens is we replace our loved ones’ testimony as a kind of eyewitness account. “My family (friends) believe this and they wouldn’t lie to me. What they feel must be real.” Of course, we don’t stop to consider that everyone in every religious tradition is thinking the same thing. Trust becomes belief and then confirmation bias takes over from there.

        A challenge to believers. Whatever your religious tradition, go spend the next month visiting a Jehovah Witness hall, or a Mormon temple, or some Protestant or Catholic tradition that is not your own and ask yourself if those people are just as sincere in their belief as the people in your own religious tradition. Then ask yourself, if their sincere belief is wrong, could the people in your own religious tradition be wrong, too?

    • Chad Courage DeVillier

      Greg G. is right– hearing an eyewitness account is indeed compelling… unless it’s not an eyewitness account. Most of the NT accounts about Jesus were written several decades after the events they describe by people who weren’t there after the accounts had been passed around by word of mouth for generations. To accept them immediately as compelling, eyewitness accounts is quite illogical.

    • Joe

      Then they relied on the eyewitness observations and descriptions of the apostles. They heard the eyewitness testimonies and made a decision.

      They didn’t hear a single testimony. That’s not logical.

    • Rudy R

      Exactly where in scripture are the eyewitness observations and descriptions of the apostles?

  • storm777

    “one cannot throw logic to the back burner in favor of faith and then simply pick it up later to defend oneself with.”

    Your honor, the alibi for the defendant is his mother. The detective first asked her if her son had killed the victim. She said: Of course not, my son could not do anything like that. But later she testified that her son was with her and 2 friends in a car at the time of the murder. Because she came about his innocence first based on her emotional connection to him and had thrown logic on the back burner indicates that her later verification of his innocence is invalid. She can’t simply pick up logic and reason to defend him with later?

    This concept is so faulty everyone should think about it: My own Master’s Thesis in Electrical Engineering and Solid State Physics, that I had to defend before a group of Professors, started by my Thesis statement. It was basically of the form of “I thought that xyz was caused by abc” and I set out to do the research to prove that very point. Using this logic I’d bet 80% of all PhD and Master’s Theses in the sciences are according to this author not possibly rational.

    This by the way is what we call a Genetic Fallacy. Look it up.

    The holes are huge here. How did you come to believe 1+1 = 2? Did you calculate it for yourself the very first time? Or did in fact a teacher or a parent tell you that and you took it on faith initially. Did the fact that you first blindly believed it have anything to do with the later verification. Unless you cite thorough research and objective reasoning as the primary reason for your belief that 1+1 = 2, you are not at liberty to pretend that your intention was to side with the most well-reasoned side.

    It’s completely immaterial how you came to an initial belief about anything if you subsequently were able to find the reasoning and logic to prove what it was you believed was true. Ever have a gut feeling about a person that was later verified? How about misgivings about a restaurant? Or a car that you were about to buy?

    “What was the primary factor behind your belief that the earth orbits the sun?” If the answer is anything other than rigorous, objective research into many models of the solar system, independent of and only later followed by subjective reasons such as “My first grade teacher seemed to know what she was talking about,” or “It was in books that made other claims some of which I could see were right,” or “After I thought about it, it did seem to make sense to me,” then it fails the test of potential for objectivity.

    “What was the primary factor behind your belief that 7 * 7 = 49?” If the answer is anything other than rigorous, objective research into multiple ethnic systems of mathematics and deviant logic, independent of and only later followed by subjective reasons such as “It was in my math flash cards that I was told to memorize,” or “I tried counting some pebbles in rows and columns and I got the same result,” then it fails the test of potential for objectivity.

    Please. No man ever parted with anything but his religion on so flimsy a pretense.

    Furthermore, how many atheists grew up in atheist homes influenced emotionally by an atheist parent and later decided they wanted to remain atheists, would not this then indicate that atheism is false?

    I understand that far too many people don’t go back and study the logic of a belief, but this post is illogical. And ask yourself, how many people reading this post accepted this reasoning because they “wanted” to believe it and they themselves didn’t arrive at it by logic – I’d say all INCLUDING the poster because we’ve just shown that the argument is a genetic fallacy and illogical.

    I agree Christianity maybe false, but this is not the way to argue against it. Stick to the facts and logic, after all it maybe true.

    Kudos to Tim M, Andrew C, Chris N and others..

  • Prof_M

    Philosophically speaking: Why science?