That Looks Quite Circular…

break-the-cycle.jpg

Gotta break the cycle somewhere…

(via The Frame Problem)


[tags]atheist, atheism, Christian, Christianity[/tags]

  • Mriana

    It’s giving me a headache just looking at it, but if you notice, the Sun of god is at the middle of the circle illuminating the world. :lol:

  • Daniel Hoffman

    I have a hard time believing enough Christians reason that way for this to be funny or a legitimate criticism.

  • nowoo

    Christians don’t reason this way all at the same time. That would be too obviously irrational. Maybe they only apply one third of the circle at any given time, as necessary.

  • http://onotheo.blogspot.com/ Onotheo

    Yes this is a true message and logical. If I remember dictionary defines logical as something circular in nature, right?

  • Cade

    You call it circular reasoning. I call it a ring of power.

  • Samuel Skinner

    Sadly I am currently encountering this combined with “were do atheists get their morals” and the Nuremburg defense. That’s right- it is okay to kill- you were only obeying orders.
    http://scottthong.wordpress.com/2007/06/26/communism-atheism-relative-morality/#comment-22955

  • James

    I’m an atheist, but even I think this is lame and sophomoric. Looking at this makes me cringe in the same way as when I hear atheists bring out juvenile arguments about teapots and flying spaghetti monsters.

  • Richard Wade

    I have a hard time believing enough Christians reason that way for this to be funny or a legitimate criticism.

    I have encountered this many times. The ones I have met tended to not have much education. They don’t read or write much, so you won’t meet many on the internet.

    Christians don’t reason this way all at the same time. That would be too obviously irrational. Maybe they only apply one third of the circle at any given time, as necessary.

    It all depends on how long the conversation goes on. If you point out the circularity they see that as the self-evident perfection of the argument. Once you realize that you are running alongside the hamster in his treadmill, you should leave lest you end up looking just as ridiculous. Some discussions are simply not worth the effort.

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    I have a hard time believing enough Christians reason that way for this to be funny or a legitimate criticism.

    Some do, but not any that have taken the time to think carefully about their beliefs. And I don’t know any serious theologians that would make anything like this argument, even the conservative ones.

  • Miko

    Looking at this makes me cringe in the same way as when I hear atheists bring out juvenile arguments about teapots and flying spaghetti monsters.

    I imagine that’s because you’re seeing those arguments as being against the existence of god rather than as being against the validity of a certain class of justifications for the existence of god. Counterexample is a fundamental logical principle and the teapot arguments do this admirably.

    That said, all epistemic systems are necessarily circular at some level. Since by definition they set up standards by which to assess truth, any attempt to justify them must presuppose that they are already true. It’s more obvious in the faith-based epistemology, but the claim “Science works. [Many examples of good things science has done]” is also circular, since the idea that examples from the past are pertinent to the present or future requires one to already accept large parts of the scientific method, so the rational epistemology really suffers from the same circularity problem. One disadvantage (from the rationalist perspective) unique to faith-based epistemology, on the other hand, is that propositions within it can be simultaneously true and false.

    I have a hard time believing enough Christians reason that way for this to be funny or a legitimate criticism.

    The “Bible Verses to Read When You Need Help” section at the beginning of many Bibles obligingly lists verses in which the Bible explains its infallibility (often under a subheading such as “Doubt”). Either no one actually uses this guide (in which case a lot of ink is being wasted) or Christians are (implicitly) accepting this argument.

  • BZ

    Mleh, it is too easy to pick out the worst of christian arguments and do them in, or even worse: setup a strawman and do that in. I’ve seen christian apologetics pull the same trick on atheists a lot, and we always get mad about it (legitimately), but we ourselves do it a lot more than we’d care to admit. What we really need is intelligent christian thought talking with intelligent atheist thought.

  • Nick

    Mleh, it is too easy to pick out the worst of christian arguments and do them in, or even worse: setup a strawman and do that in.

    http://boards.live.com/Lifestyleboards/thread.aspx?threadid=512043&boardsparam=Page%3D4

    To say the Bible was written by men and may contain inaccuracies completely contradicts the word of the Bible.

    We all know that most Christians are better at hiding their circular reassign then that, but to often it’s still there. Simplifying what somebody is saying to show whats wrong with it isn’t necessarily a stawman, and what is really wrong with picking out the worst? Isn’t that the direction a debate should go?

  • Aj

    Of course that’s not how Christians operate! Clearly they will see how absurd this is and reject it. Sensible Christians would never attempt to justify their beliefs.

    I’ve weighed the possibilities…
    …if she weighs the same as a duck, then… then… she’s made of wood!

    Seen a frozen waterfall in three streams, thought of the trinity…
    …but it was the yellow snow that spelt out “WORSHIP ME” that settled it.

    You don’t need evidence to believe in God…
    …you just have faith that it’s true, and that unicorn is real!

  • Craig

    What we really need is intelligent christian thought talking with intelligent atheist thought.

    You believe in “Intelligent christian thought”!?

  • Sarah H.

    James said:

    Looking at this makes me cringe in the same way as when I hear atheists bring out juvenile arguments about teapots and flying spaghetti monsters.

    Regardless of the “followers” the FSM letter spawned, it’s still an elegant argument demonstrating that if intelligent design is going to be taught in science classes, multiple versions – not just the Christian creation story – should be given equal treatment. It brings the ridiculous nature of the demand out into the open.

    And please read more Bertrand Russell if you think his orbiting teapot argument is ‘juvenile’ – I think you’ve probably just heard atheists wielding these arguments clumsily or trying to use them improperly (i.e. to somehow disprove God’s existence).

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff

    Most religious people I’ve met have not ever tried to justify their beliefs causally. Since our culture is pro-religion and pro-faith, it is simply easier to be part of the majority (in-crowd) and identify as being Christian. Most people have never even thought that not being religious was even an option. It is probably the atheists that have forced some Christians into a corner in trying to get them to give a rationale for believing. Of course, you can’t justify the supernatural causally… If you could, then it would no longer be supernatural… it would be part of the natural world. It is also human nature that the more strange (supernatural) the beliefs, then the more tightly held the beliefs.

    bible word of God, original sin, virgin birth, divinity of Jesus, miracles, Jesus dying erasing original sin, resurrection, Holy Spirit telling us God’s purpose, Heaven for Christian believers, Hell for everybody else, etc…

    I find value in all these beliefs as useful metaphors in your life, but not to be taken literally. A religion based on purely metaphoric interpretation of these myths will not have zealous fanatical followers… because the new beliefs will not be that strange (or supernatural)…

  • http://www.sunandsmoke.com Robert Nevin

    Some years ago I encountered a fledgling street evangelist, who fearlessly strode right into “the circle”. When I pointed his predicament out to him, he seemed truly perplexed that no matter how many times he opened the Bible to show me a verse, he couldn’t escape circularity.

    After a while, I let him go. My guess is he likely sought counsel from a more experienced Christian, who then introduced him to the field of apologetics.

    Christian apologetics is the fine art of obscuring the essential circularity of Christian beliefs.

  • Siamang

    They don’t use that circle much anymore.

    Instead what we get is:

    1: Belief in what our senses relay is properly basic
    2: I sense God
    3: God would want our senses to be accurate in sensing him goto 1
    4: Profit!

  • http://merkdorp.blogspot.com J. J. Ramsey

    Siamang: “God would want our senses to be accurate in sensing him goto 1″

    So that’s why goto is considered harmful! :)

  • Siamang

    Notice that loop keeps you from getting to profit!

    Time for a nested loop:

    for n = 1 to 100
    Sell book
    build megachurch
    profit!
    scandal!
    write book of contrition
    next n

  • Daniel Hoffman

    Coming from inside the Christian community, I can tell you that a lot of Christians today, especially American Christians, are pretty ignorant of what Christianity has historically believed and confessed about the Word of God. That’s why you often get silly arguments. But in the end, I do admit the argument is somewhat circular. I think though, also, that every argument for a worldview is ultimately going to be circular. Atheism is circular in that it always goes back to the presupposition of naturalism. “There’s no God -> because there’s no evidence -> THAT’S not evidence, it must have a natural explanation!”

    Anyways, here’s a statement from a confession of faith from the 1600′s about the Word of God, if anyone’s interested:

    “Question 4: How does it appear that the Scriptures are the Word of God?
    Answer: The Scriptures manifest themselves to be the Word of God, by their majesty and purity; by the consent of all the parts, and the scope of the whole, which is to give all glory to God; by their light and power to convince and convert sinners, to comfort and build up believers unto salvation: but the Spirit of God bearing witness by and with the Scriptures in the heart of man, is alone able fully to persuade it that they are the very Word of God.”

    One thing to keep in mind, is that if God does in fact exist, He can’t be subject to the scientific method, because God by definition is not subject to anything and has a reality and authority far above any human experiment. That may be one reason this confession doesn’t rely on that type of argument.

  • Richard Wade

    Daniel, you have been around here for a while, but with respect I think you misunderstand what 99.9% of the atheists in the world think. They don’t say “There is no god because there is no evidence.” They say they have no belief in god because there is no evidence. Until you see the huge difference between these two statements you will not understand the vast majority of atheists. Here is a concise explanation. Having no belief in gods is not at all the same as having a belief that there are no gods. They are utterly different.

  • Daniel Hoffman

    Richard, I do understand that.
    In an attempt to simplify I wasn’t as careful as I should have been. Sorry.

    *“I don’t believe in God -> because there’s no evidence -> THAT’S not evidence, it must have a natural explanation!”

  • Richard Wade

    Daniel, I’m sorry to have underestimated your understanding. I trust you know I meant no slight. Sometimes I jump in too quickly.

  • Daniel Hoffman

    It’s all good.

  • Aj

    Daniel Hoffman,

    THAT’S not evidence, it must have a natural explanation!

    What does that mean, are you saying there is evidence for God? I’d like to hear it. I don’t think atheists are metaphysical naturalists, they’re not going to say there must have a natural explanation. If they value the scientific method they’re going to use methodological naturalism, and aren’t going to take a supernatural explanation from you.

    One thing to keep in mind, is that if God does in fact exist, He can’t be subject to the scientific method, because God by definition is not subject to anything and has a reality and authority far above any human experiment.

    You say that, but I doubt you can explain anything about it. I’d be pleased if you could give me a definition of “reality” and “authority” as I’m unfamiliar with the way you’re using the words.


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