Who’s Being Indoctrinated?

Perhaps you’ve heard of Mason Crumpacker, the 9-year-old girl from Dallas who had a tete-a-tete with Christopher Hitchens last month at the Texas Freethought Convention (details here).  Dallas Morning News reporter Tod Robberson later interviewed her (long version here) and Dallasites were in for a surprise. Yes, there are children who say things like this–

I personally think the story of Adam and Eve doesn’t really make sense. What proof is there of a Garden of Eden? What proof is there of God creating man and woman and giving them a tree of knowledge [whose fruit] they were not supposed to eat? It’s like saying this to a kid: OK, don’t eat the cookie on the countertop. You know what they’re going to do. They’re going to eat the cookie!

And like this–

Why do you think we’re here? How did we get here? By evolution. We evolved from tiny little microscopic cells, which formatted into bigger cells, which created the first fish, who slowly evolved into lizards, who became the dinosaurs. And then [they] kind of started over again but took a different path to becoming the first mammal, which became the chimp-like creature we call Australopithecus afarensis, who slowly evolved into Homo habilis, who evolved into Homo erectus, to Neanderthals and Cro-Magnon people who slowly gave way to who we are.

But never fear, she’s a kid and she knows it–

Is there anything that Hitchens has said or written that you don’t agree with? I haven’t read Christopher Hitchens. I’m 9.

It turns out not everyone in Dallas is impressed. Apparently the reporter has received complaints.  “Some think she has been indoctrinated by her parents and that she’s simply mouthing everything that they’ve told her to say.”  His reply is to say– no, it’s just a question of influence, and all parents influence their kids.

Surely secular parents can indoctrinate their kids.   In fact, I sometimes wonder if I’ve been guilty.  When my kids (boy-girl twins) were in afternoon kindergarten, we did science projects at home in the morning.  The first topic was evolution, one of my thoughts being that I’d better inoculate my kids against creationism as early as possible (we live in Dallas, like Mason). 

Since I was deliberately teaching them evolution when they were very young and impressionable, should I plead guilty to indoctrinating them (in some pejorative, objectionable sense)?  On further reflection, no. There are lots and lots of ideas that undeniably have to be taught early, when they’re most likely to stick. For example, moral education just cannot be delayed until a person is fully mature and rational. 

So teaching isn’t indoctrination, just because it’s deliberately undertaken very early.  Now let’s skip over to the other side of the secular-religious line.  When my kids were seven, they started religious school at a reform Jewish temple. I had no religious education as a child, despite being given a strong sense of Jewishness, so I had no idea what to expect. My goal was to impart familiarity with things Jewish, not to inculcate belief.

My kids very quickly rebelled and I decided to go and watch the class, to see what was so disturbing to them.  The teacher prompted the kids with questions like “What does God want us to do?”  and “What do you do when you want to feel close to God?’   There was obviously no option whatever of saying “What are you talking about?”  When they were told about God talking to Moses on a mountain top, they simply couldn’t admit this sounded really implausible. The message conveyed to my kids was that their minds were out of order, since they had doubts that had to be kept a secret.  Now, that really is indoctrination, I think. (If you’re wondering–yes, I let them quit.)

When I was teaching my five-year-olds about evolution, needless to say they didn’t have to keep any doubts they had a secret. I was not delivering indubitable truths from on high.  No message was imparted that it’s wrong to wonder what’s true and false.

So what about Mason?   I won’t presume to know the full story, but from this passage, it certainly seems as if she’s being encouraged to use her own mind–

So which are you, an atheist, an agnostic or a freethinker?  I wouldn’t say I’ve decided my religion yet. I’m going to kind of experiment around and see if there’s any religion I like in particular. But if I do decide to be a freethinker, the chances are very high. … I just want it all to make sense.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    My oldest daughter and I argued about the existence of God when she was just three years old.

    I don't recall her exact words, but she said something like this: "People make cars and houses, but who made the moon and the trees? Did a man make them? I don't think so! God must have made them."

    She also had a pragmatic argument for belief in God: "If there is a God, and nobody believes in him, then he will feel very sad and lonely, so we should believe in God, so he won't be sad."

    I expressed a couple of objections to her arguments, but did not press the issue. It was delightful to me that such a young child would take an interest in the question of the existence of God, have an opinion on the matter, and express reasons in support of her opinion. I was happy to be the father of a thoughtful theist, which is better than being the father of an unthinking atheist.

    As it turns out, my skepticism rubbed off on her, and she will soon be graduating from high school, viewing the world as a thoughtful, independent-minded atheist.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03742591775992266574 Harbinger888

    It's story like these that rekindle the little spark of hope I keep close to my chest. Maybe, just maybe, the future isn't so bleak looking after all.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    Its worse of course when you consider what the word actually means. Indoctrinate means to Instil Doctrine into someone, and the word Doctrine only means Teaching. Basically, to Indoctrinate is to Teach. If you teach your Child anything they will be Indoctrinated. Indoctrination is unavoidable and inevitable, and even Healthy. Just because we give it a Scary connotation as a word doesn’t alter the Fundamental Reality.

    I mean seriously, the only difference between a Rational, free thinking Secular child and an indoctrinated Religious one is that they are taught different things. Its all rather disingenuous as a distinction and acts to merely promote the mythology that somehow the Religious are Mindless Zombies whilst Atheists and Agnostics do all their own Thinking. Its an utterly Synthetic Mental Construct though.

    Then again, as I’ve said before, so is the Secular-Religious Divide. I have always maintained that there is no such thing as a Non-Religious person and I mean it. Secularism is not the opposite of Religion, as the word is now employed it encompasses a clearly definable Philosophy that has a traceable History that exists to explain the world. Secularists tend to broadly agree on Moral Issues and on the Nature of the world. Secularism also addresses all the same topics as Religion and covers all the same Ground, serving the same function. Yet somehow its not a Religion itself? What’s the real difference? That Secularists don’t believe in God? Since when does belief in God define Religion, though? Religion is not a Synonym for Theism.

    The distinction is only maintained because Religion is defined as the enemy to strive against, as it were, the thing you have “Evolved past’ or whathaveyou. Its there to create an intentional distinction that doesn’t naturally exist. In the end its just people with one set of beliefs contrasting themselves to others with different beliefs.

    The worst part though is that the Secularists will even praise this 9 year old for obviously parroting old drizzle that’s been around for ages, right down to the mistakes. By the way its not “The Tree of Knowledge”, but The Tree of The Knowledge of Good And Evil. Its not like the Tree was meant to teach them Algebra. Its clear the girl is just mimicking rubbish she’s been taught, and is not actually thinking all of this up on her own. I’ve read 150 year old books that say the same thing and these claims are still common on the old Internet and roundabout.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    As to you and your Children, I don’t really think it’s the fault of Religion yet again preventing free Inquiry, I think that’s how you frame it as that’s part of your own religious Mythology, albeit one that denies it is a Religion. Rather, your Children felt uncomfortable and rebelled because they had absorbed your beliefs both via direct teaching and osmosis, and this has come to define who they are, and was being threatened. Rather than see yourself as a Secularist thus with no such analogous Beliefs as religious people to instil, see yourself as I do, as someone who is Religious and has a clear Religious Belief system, which you have imparted onto your Children. This is all they have ever known. They know they aren’t suppose to beleive in God and are instead suppose to choose Science. They know that they are supposed to believe in natural materialistic explanations and not Mysticism and those who do believe in such are just wrong. The difference between you and they though is that you are a Mature Adult whose been exposed to others before, and they are Children who haven’t.

    Dropping them into this environment contradicted their very sense of Identity. It violated the very core of their being. Hey are taken from essentially being told its silly to believe in God to being surrounded by those who do, and are told to pray to God themselves. All they believe in is now being contradicted by that act alone. This is especially True if they believe that Science and Religion are polar opposites and this would be made even worse if this school taught Science even undermining that aspect of how they Understood the world. How would this be compatible to their expectations? How would they relate to it?

    As Children they want the world to fall into the expected patterns they have built in their Minds and flow along their general expectations, and this school doesn’t.

    Its not because the School was Religious thus discouraged free Thinking, its because your Children had a very different Religion and were facing Cognitive Dissonance and Confusion at the contradictions between the two views, and lack the Maturity to really handle this sort of thing.

    The same thing would actually happen if Ayn Rand followers ran a School and took in a Student from a dedicated Socialist Family who sang “The Red Flag’ every day, whilst reading Marx and similar Socialist ideals. Rands free market Capitalism and Selfish Best Interest Philosophy would directly contradict the Socialist ideal and thus undermine the very narrative that defines how the Socialist Reared Child see’s the world, and he would likely rebel as well. For the same Reason.

    The problem is not in the inability of the school as its religious, its in the conflict between the Two religions you offer.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07469622832845033996 Not My God

    Is it really "indoctrination" to teach kids to think freely? Anyways, lots of religious people *deny* that they force religion on their kids. I'm sure.
    This kid is very articulate beyond her years. Her parents should be proud. I didn't read how she had the opportunity to chat with Hitchens, but I'm sure he was impressed.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    NMG- The real question is, do Atheist actually think freely? Is it really being a Feeethinker to simply parrot Atheistic talking points that have been around for years? Why is it that Religious people aren’t seen as free Thinkers?

    And did you even read my post? The Truth is, Modern Secularism is not the abandonment of Religion in favour of Reason, it’s the embrace of an Alternate Religion and calling that reason. You can’t go about thinking all “Religious people” are mindless zombies who have never given critical thought to their ideas and just slavishly obey, whilst all Atheists are Freethinkers with their own ideas and expect that to be a reflection of Reality. Most Atheists I’ve encountered simply don’t think for themselves.

    The girl isn’t thinking for herself either, she’s simply repeating what she’s been taught. If a Christian Child ( Dawkins be damned0 did the same thing, quoting at lengthy rather impressive arguments for Christianity, he’d not be commended here as “thinking for himself”, he[d be seen as “Indoctrinated’, but what’s the real difference?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    ZAROVE said:

    Its worse of course when you consider what the word actually means. Indoctrinate means to Instil Doctrine into someone, and the word Doctrine only means Teaching. Basically, to Indoctrinate is to Teach. If you teach your Child anything they will be Indoctrinated. Indoctrination is unavoidable and inevitable, and even Healthy. Just because we give it a Scary connotation as a word doesn’t alter the Fundamental Reality.


    Did it occur to you to perhaps check a dictionary of the English language before dictating to others what the word 'indoctrinate' means?

    Apparently not, so let me help you out here, with my American Heritage Dictionary. There are TWO meanings of 'indoctrinate':

    1. To instruct in a body of doctrine.
    2. To teach to accept a system of thought uncritically.

    So, you were partially correct, in giving ONE of the two meanings of 'indoctrinate'.

    Which sort of indoctrination do you think atheists and skeptics and freethinkers oppose? Isn't it obvious that we oppose indoctrination that involves teaching 'to accept a system of thought uncritically' ?

    Please learn the English language before attempting to teach others the correct meanings of words, especially important words like 'indoctrinate'.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Or, in other words, remove the beam from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your neighbor's eye.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    Mr. Bowen, I do not think ATHEISTS OPPOSE Indoctrination if you define it as accepting a belief system uncritically. After all, Mason pretty well blindly follows her parents relgion of “Freethinking”, right down to the “I haven’t decided yet but there’s a high chance Ill be a freethinker too” jingle. The truth is that freethinking is an oxymoron in these discussions. To be a freethinker means you must be an Atheist and also assumes other specific beliefs that you can’t go past. Dan Barker said Free Thinkers are free to arrive at any conclusion provided it remained in the bounds of Humanism. That’s not really Free is it? I mean, as soon as the Freethinker decides he believes in God he’s bounced, he’s told he’s no Longer a free Thinker.

    The word is just a Euphemism attached to Modern Atheistic Humanism and in the end doesn’t really indicate that people are actually free to arrive at whatever conclusion they happen to find more Rational. We all know that Atheists do, in fact, have more beliefs than just “lack of belief in a god” in common, and that organisations and clubs and affiliations now exist to promote that specific belief system. Most Atheists tend to brand their beliefs as reason and act as if they have some sort of Monopoly on it when they belong to such organisations. (though that may not be all or Even most Atheists in general. Just a note)

    Masons parents don’t want her to grow up and decide to be a Christian and have already guided her down the path to acceptance of their own beliefs. The whole “Freethouight’ angle is just for show.

    I’ve been in this game too long to really think of the adherents of Modern Atheistic Movements and Philosophies as all that open, they still want others to share their ideas and still want their beliefs to be those that shape society.

    When you have men like Dawkins saying Faith schools should be closed and then prompting the idea that religious Education is Child abuse, and insisting that Schools teach only his own view on nature, drop RE, and to make sure children learn to “think rationally’, by which he means like himself, then its too obvious to deny that all that’s really happening is that he’s proselytising.

    Many Atheists what you to question religious beliefs like Christianity contains, but don’t want you to be critical of their own claims. They simply want you to be critical of “Religion’ then blindly accept their beliefs as “the alternative to Religion’. I know, I’ve questioned Atheistic beliefs before, and I’m not usually welcomed when I do. I have been here surprisingly and thus regret a few posts that may sound harsh I made over the last two days, but tis a combination of no sound and word choice, and a lack of Time to better choose my words. Still, I’ve been outright banned off some places like Debunking Christianity for merely challenging the supreme rationality of John Loftus. I’ve had Atheists remove me from mailing lusts or ban my emails for challenging their assertions. I’m not rude or course or stupid, I’m just not going to buy that their claims are Logical and rational and the truth just because they said so.

    IF they want me to question my Christian beliefs, something I have already done but for some reason people think Inever have, why not ask them to question their own beliefs? But we both know the Answer, don’t we? Its becauae Atheists aren’t as detatched and Logical as they claim themselves to be, and are just as much products of subjective Philosophical beliefs as anyone else. They often don’t like those things to be challenged.

    By the way, telling me to learn English is rather bad form. I speak it well, and stand by what I said. Indocternation is just a scare word, and is as equally meaningless as Religion, Faith, or Freethinker. Just phrases bandied about to artificially strengthen an artificial point.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    ZAROVE said…

    By the way, telling me to learn English is rather bad form.
    I speak it well…

    I can see that you know how to write fairly well.

    But I didn't need a dictionary to see that what you were saying about the meaning of 'indoctrinate' was incorrect, because I'm familiar with the English language.

    I agree it was a hasty generalization to infer from your mistaken understanding of one word that you are less familiar with English than I. But it isn't like the word 'indoctrinate' is an unusual or infrequently used word.

    It is a commonly used word, so my inference was not completely unreasonable.

    ZAROVE said…

    I…stand by what I said. Indocternation is just a scare word, and is as equally meaningless as Religion, Faith, or Freethinker. Just phrases bandied about to artificially strengthen an artificial point.

    OK. So, in the face of clear evidence that you had a mistaken understanding of the meaning of 'indoctrinate' you refuse to acknowledge your error.

    That makes you not just ignorant, but invincibly ignorant, which is a mark of being an uncritical thinker.

    I won't hastily infer that you are an uncritical thinker from this single example of refusing to acknowledge the plain facts about the meaning of 'indoctrinate', but the evidence here is not in your favor.

    If you want people to take you seriously as a critical thinker, then you need to deal with facts, and to acknowledge when the facts contradict your opinions.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15695566521145946785 Evergreenrain

    Mr. Bowen you still didn't address the meat of ZAROVE's argument which is the hypocrisy of Secularism/ Atheism with regards to free thinking. Are you willing to let the argument stand?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Evergreenrain said…

    Mr. Bowen you still didn't address the meat of ZAROVE's argument which is the hypocrisy of Secularism/ Atheism with regards to free thinking. Are you willing to let the argument stand?

    Perhaps I will, but the invincible ignorance that ZAROVE displays makes me reluctant to enter into a 'discussion' with ZAROVE.

    If ZAROVE is unable to grasp a simple dictionary definition, I don't see much hope of having an intelligent conversation, so I would prefer, in this case, to simply point out ZAROVE's stupidity and move on.

    However, for your sake, I will make some brief remarks on what you take to be the question at issue: "the hypocrisy of Secularism/ Atheism with regards to free thinking."

    Are there atheists who are uncritical thinkers? Yes, of course there are. Are there Christians who are uncritical thinkers? Yes, of course there are. Are there Jews and Muslims that are uncritical thinkers, obviously there are.

    Are there atheists who are critical thinkers? Yes, of course there are. Are there Christians and Jews and Muslims who are critical thinkers, obviously there are.

    What's the real issue here? Is it a question of the proportion of religious people vs. non-religious people who are critical thinkers? Are most atheists critical thinkers? I doubt it. Are most Christians critical thinkers? Not as far as I can tell.

    Most people are not critical thinkers to any significant extent. That goes for atheists and theists alike.

    However, I do believe (or hope?) there is a difference between atheists and religious people here. Atheists are more interested in promoting critical thinking and independent thinking than Christians and Jews and Muslims. That is not to say that there are no believers who want to promote critical thinking and independent thinking, but they appear to me to be in the minority, while among atheists and freethinkers, critical thinking and independent thinking are generally put forward as important and worthy of being promoted.

    Atheists are more supportive of critical thinking and independent thinking than are religious people, even if atheists are not especially or markedly better at being critical thinkers and independent thinkers than religious people.

    I'm not a sociologist, so my opinions about what 'most' atheists believe or value, and about what 'most' religious people believe or value, must be taken for what it is: a subjective opinion based on my personal experiences.

    If you want to know the truth about what 'most' atheists believe and value, you will need to study sociology, or consult experts in that field. My thing is philosophy, not empirical study of human behavior.

    That is why I jump on stupid comments about the meaning of important words like 'indoctrinate'. Philosophers care about the meanings of words, and we don't take kindly to the abuse of language by fools.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    Mr. Bowen, it should become apparent by now that the technical definition of the word Indocternate isimmaterial to the fact that its not even used that way by the Secularists who so derde Religion for it. its not liek the Secularists are all that willign to actually allow peopel to think for themselves and the truth is, they want to impose their own Religion onto all, though its not called that.

    it's rather like the word "Monarchy" in Amerian politics. Being from an Actual Monarchy it baffles me how Americans think Monarchy means the Crown has absolute power and the King must inevitably be a Tyrant wo denies them of their Rights, just as its odd to see how every president thats not liked is refered to by his Opponants as a Monarch. EG, "King George' for Bush or "King Obama", the current evil no good tyrant in the White House.

    The word "Monarchy' has no real meanign inthese discussions. When Mitt Romney called Liberals "Neo-Monarchists' he didn't even seem aware that Monarchism in and of itself is a Conservative Ideal, because such thinkign is Anathema to Americans in genral.

    The word means "Dictator who doesnt care about us and takes away our Rights" irresppective of what the actual word "Monarchy" means. The word "Indocternate" means "Brainashed and incapable of thinkign for yourself" and is tied tot he other scare word Religion, which somehow means "beleif in God' which in turn means "rejects Science snd critical thinking".

    Its all twaddle and no substance and a gross abuse of words to begin with.

    its obvious Secularists just want everyone else to be Secular liek them, not actual free Thinkers.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17668854596329493360 ZAROVE

    its obvious Secularists just want everyone else to be Secular like them, not actual free Thinkers.

    The use of these words exists to frame the discussion and lend both Intellectual and Moral Authority to the position, nothing more. The use of the words thus forms a special use that defines how things are perceived and its all about controlling the Narrative so the discussion goes in your Favour.

    I really don’t think that it works after people become accustomed to it though, since people will begin to see thought he labels. It will be harder to identify people as free Thinkers when you realise they all say exactly the same things and sometimes quote each other verbatim. It will be really difficult to maintain the charade that Secularists want everyone to think for themselves if they persist in attacking anyone who disagrees. Its already impossible to say Atheists don’t proselytise without someone snickering because we have the ridiculous “Good Without God” campaign and people like Dawkins going about actively recruiting new Atheists. Once you have written a book with the sole aim of convincing people who believe in God to become Atheists, created clubs that distribute tracts and preach on street corners like the FFrF, and even put signs on the sides of buses and put up Billboards, its obvious that you are, in fact, proselytising. Its also clear that the rest of the rhetoric is simply not True either.

    Its all just talk.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15695566521145946785 Evergreenrain

    Mr. Bowen, I appreciate your intellectual honesty. I also like the fact that you point out pictures of Jesus are always wrong by your screen name. How can we possibly know what the Man looked like! Why is He always a white guy with perfectly combed hair? I think He was too busy with other things to look that good.

    However, as a "born-again" Christian, I agree that all Atheists, Christians, Jews, etc. must be willing to critically assess their faith and beliefs. J.S. Mill was absolutely right! Allowing my faith to be challenged has made it stronger on so many occasions (Jesus regularly challenged the faith of his followers and oftentimes I get the impression God himself is challenging my faith!). Critical thinking is essential to proper understanding of God. We are made in the image of God, and it is obvious from what we know of God that He is a critical thinker and wants us to be critical thinkers (see Psalms 7:9, Jeremiah 17:10, Romans 12:2, just to name a few). We do Him no favors by not thinking as He does. Given the Bible's focus on the intellect, it is clear to me that God wants us to engage the world with everything we've got in our search to know Him.

    When it comes to answering the metaphysical questions of who we are, where we came from, and where we are going, I am an old earth creationist. Right now there are just too many holes in evolution and young earth creation for me to fully commit to either. For me the issue of metaphysics is bound up in the miracle of the Resurrection. There is simply too much irrefutable evidence to deny that it happened. Because of that event, there has to be a God.

    Given the widely accepted historical facts of the Resurrection by scholars of all persuasions, which are 1) the actual death of Jesus, 2) His known burial location, 3) the fact that the tomb was/is empty, 4) His various postmortem appearances to hundreds of people, 5) and the changed lives of the apostles and other early church members, the miracle is more than plausible.

    I understand from your bio that you are a former evangelical. I would like your impressions of Jesus, the Resurrection and what ultimately led you to reject your faith.

    I hope you will have the time to respond, but if not, I wish you the best in your search for answers. Let me know if I can ever be of assistance to you.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Evergreenrain said…

    I understand from your bio that you are a former evangelical. I would like your impressions of Jesus, the Resurrection and what ultimately led you to reject your faith.

    I have a lot to say about those topics, but will give a quick reply for now (tonight).

    I admire Jesus's moral integrity in standing up to religous authorities and leaders, and in pointing out and opposing hypocrisy in the words and behavior of those authorities and in the words and behavior his fellow believers, and I admire his openness to diverse people (women, children, gentiles, prostitutes, tax collectors, soldiers, etc.).

    I think of my rejection of Christianity as not a rejection of Jesus, but as following in the footsteps of Jesus, at least following what I see as good and noble in his life, especially his independent-mindedness and his unblinking moral critique of his own culture and relious traditions.

    In firmly rejecting Jesus as my savior, I believe that I am honoring him and his life much more deeply than the "sheep" who pretend to follow him as their shepherd.

    I prefer Geisler's approach to the question of the resurrection of Jesus:

    1. Did Jesus die on the cross on Friday of Passover week?
    2. Was Jesus alive and walking around on Sunday (after that Friday) of Passover week?

    There is some evidence for (1) and some evidence for (2), but since the conjunction of (1) and (2) implies a physical impossibility (if we add the assumption that Jesus remained dead for several hours), the evidence for both claims must be very strong (following Hume's skeptical argument on miracles).

    The evidence for (2) is very weak, but if we grant, for the sake of argument, that (2) is true, then we must have very powerful evidence in order to rationally accept (1). But the evidence for
    (1) is weak, and nowhere near what is required to establish a physical impossibility.

    Thus, even if I am extremely generous and grant half of what needs to be proved, i.e. (2), the case for the resurrection still fails, because the evidence for the death of Jesus is weak in relation to the sort of evidence required to establish a physical impossibility.

    I will respond to your third question some other time.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    One more point about the resurrection. It is clear to me that Jesus was not God incarnate. So, if there was a God (an all-knowing, all-powerful, and perfectly good person), God would not have raised Jesus from the dead, for an all-knowing God would have forseen that this would lead to the mistaken belief that Jesus was God incarnate, and God, being perfectly good, would not be involved in promoting such a seriously mistaken (false) belief.

    So, to the extent that I have good reasons to believe that Jesus was NOT God incarnate, I have good reasons to believe that God (if there was such a being) would not have raised Jesus from the dead (nor allowed some other being to raise Jesus from the dead).

    I do have good reasons to believe that Jesus was not God incarnate, so I have good reasons to believe that Jesus was not raised from the dead by God.

    So, not only does the case for the resurrection fail, but there are positive reasons for believing the resurrection claim to be false.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Evergreenrain said…

    I understand from your bio that you are a former evangelical. I would like your impressions of Jesus, the Resurrection and what ultimately led you to reject your faith.

    What led me to reject Christianity?

    I studied philosophy for the first time at Sonoma State University. My intention was to get a BA in philosophy there, and then do graduate study in theology and apologetics at Trinity Evangelical Divinity school, learning from Dr. William Lane Craig. But I rejected Christianity before graduating from Sonoma State Univ.

    Study of philosophy in general and philosophy of religion in particular led me to doubt the strength of traditional arguments for the existence of God, and to doubt the validity of scientific creationism, which had been a part of my basis for belief in God and the Bible.

    As a teenager I frequently read and studied the Bible, and even led Bible studies at school. My familiarity with the Bible led to various intellectual issues with the belief in the innerrancy of the Bible.

    One of my biggest issues was the doctine of eternal punishment. I could not reconcile that with the idea of a perfectly good God. So, I tried to interpret the Bible and the teachings of Jesus as not implying the doctrine of eternal punishment, but could never fully persuade myself that this was a reasonable interpretation of the Bible.

    The problem of evil also gave me a great deal of concern, and an independent study of this issue led me to seriously doubt the existence of God.

    The cumulative weight of evidence indicating that the Bible contained errors, that human beings evolved from non-human species by natural processes, that Jesus and his disciples believed in the doctrine of eternal punishment, and that there was no good justification for an all-knowing and all-powerful deity to allow the variety, extent, and depth of evil that exists in this world, led to my rejection of Christianity.

    At one point I felt it necessary to choose between science, rationality, and critical thinking on the one hand and religion, faith, and submission to religious authority, and I chose to side with science, rationality, and critical thinking.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    "One person's modus ponens is another person's modus tollens".

    That sums up the positive reason I mentioned above for rejecting the resurrection of Jesus.

    The resurrection apologetic argument can be summarrized as a modus ponens:

    R: God raised Jesus from the dead.

    I: Jesus is God incarnate.

    1. If R, then I.
    2. R.
    3. I

    But a skeptic can accept (for the sake of argument) the first premise, and turn the argument into one against Christianity:

    1. If R, then I.
    4. It is not the case that I.
    5. It is not the case that R.

    If there are good reasons for rejecting the claim that Jesus is God incarnate, then (assuming the correctness of premise 1) there are good reasons for rejecting the claim that God raised Jesus from the dead.

    Swinburne is correct in pointing out that the probability of the resurrection depends on both (a) the probability that God exists (prior to consideration of evidence for the resurrection of Jesus), and (b) the probability that God (if he exists) would raise Jesus from the dead – which in turn depends on what motivations a perfectly good person (who is all-knowing and all-powerful) would be likely to have had in confronting the decision of whether to bring Jesus back to life.

    If God had good reason NOT to have raised Jesus from the dead (such as that this would mislead many people into a false belief that Jesus was God incarnate), then we have good reason to believe that the claim that God raised Jesus from the dead is false.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16428187448851279866 Daily Coffee

    I am theatre instructor at a local fine arts academy. My students range in age from 9-18 and they consistently make such inquiries. I encourage them to do so within the guarded confines and boundaries provided by the classroom. For most of them, their parents would discourage such inquiry and I find such inquiry essential to one’s development of personal convictions and belief system. I want my students to be able to think on their own and not simply parrot their parents’ beliefs or even my own. To be productive members of contemporary society, I yearn from them to become well-read intellects, able to defend whatever beliefs they may hold and I will do anything within my power to help them in such a quest

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