First comment: anonymous is illogical.

I’m getting an influx of religious readers to the blog.  Cool.  Welcome to all of you.

These religious readers are leaving comments.  Cool.  I’ll spend today responding to some of them.

The first comes from anonymous:

as a Christian myself, your comment gave me goose bumps. It is true. We Christians tend to make fools of ourselves by contradicting what we preach. Still, when all is said and done, God…not religion ….. is still ….. well, he still takes my breath away. Yes, it’s all so illogical but so is love, so are the animals…so is the sun rising and setting. It’s all very illogical but it’s there. We cannot raionalise it away. In Southb Africa, I experienced the occult first hand. Saw, felt and heard many things. If only I did, I would have thought i am crazy, however, others did too …..why am I mentioning this? Well, i know there are demons/evil spirits call it what you want, so, what else is out there that we find hard to believe? But it’s there.

This is what leaped out to me:

Yes, it’s all so illogical…

Yes, yes it is.  What’s more, if you must open with “my beliefs are illogical, but I’m going to believe in them anyway” then just how seriously do you take those beliefs?  If god wanted people to believe in him, why make a world where being logical makes everything better (you open your door by twisting the knob rather than by constantly trying to walk through it, for instance) and where being illogical usually hurts or at least makes you look like an idiot (try being illogical on tests in school), and then make belief in him illogical?  This seems like a god who is trying to open up doors to hell, not shut them.

…but so is love…

No, it’s not.  Love is a state of the brain not unlike happiness or sadness.  We know happiness or sadness exist because people behave in particular ways when their brain is in that state.  When people are happy, they smile and laugh.  When they are sad, they frown and cry.  And when someone is in love, they behave in a way that reveals that state of their mind.  That state of the brain may move us to do irrational things, but love is not irrational in the least.

Likewise, belief in god is a state of the brain, and no logical person (read: the people who care if they’re right…read: the opposite of illogical people) will deny that belief in god exists.  People clearly behave in a fashion that confirms their belief in god.  Of course, the belief in god says nothing to the existence of that god (otherwise every Muslim you came across would convince you).  Only logic applied to reason and evidence can accomplish that, otherwise people would be running around saying “Love is illogical, therefore unicorns!” or “Love is illogical, therefore a guy 2,000 years ago stacked 50 horses one on top of the other and carried them to Antarctica.”

In fact, think hard about that last one and tell me, honestly, if someone rising from the dead is more probable.

…so are the animals…

First, are you suggesting we should emulate animals?

Second, I’m not sure what you’re getting at here.  How are animals illogical?  Do you mean they have limited cognitive faculties so that they sometimes engage in sub-optimal behavior?  If so…yes, but that’s animals doing illogical things.  It doesn’t mean the existence of animals is illogical.  In fact, we have a whole discipline of science (biology) which makes sense of animals.

…so is the sun rising and setting.

No, it’s not.  The earth rotates on its axis, so from our vantage point it looks like the sun is rising and setting.  It’s actually very logical.

I feel like you’re equating logic with purpose on this one.  They’re not the same thing.

We cannot raionalise it away.

Nobody is trying to rationalize away the rising and setting of the sun or love.  We know it’s there.  What we want is to explain these things, which we would’ve been unable to do without logic.  Logic is how we distinguish what is true from what is false.  People who cast logic to the wind are going to be wrong far more often and easy to take advantage of.

Logic gave us the heliocentric model of the solar system.  It has helped us to understand much of the psychology and neurochemistry surrounding love.  Logic produces the most reliable of all human claims to knowledge.  Conversely, abandoning logic has given us every folly.  It’s clear into which category your god placed his existence.

In Southb Africa, I experienced the occult first hand. Saw, felt and heard many things. If only I did, I would have thought i am crazy, however, others did too

And yet you can provide no details, the way a person likely would if they really saw something that defied the laws of the universe.  You didn’t say “I saw a person grow a third hand after muttering the proper magic words.”  Your claim is very ambiguous, just “I saw the occult.”  There are videos on youtube of preachers healing “someone” somewhere in the country of some malady, and their congregations looking on wide-eyed.  Each would assure me they saw a miracle, when all they really saw was a guy saying that somewhere someone was being healed.  Praise Jesus.  Clearly the threshold for what constitutes a miracle can be pitifully low for those who already want to believe.

I am not one of those people.  Instead, I want my beliefs to be accurate.  I want to avoid being tricked into believing something false.  I would argue, anonymous, that this is precisely what you should want.  And the only way to make sure my beliefs are as accurate as possible is to apply critical thinking (read: logic) to everybody making a truth claim, because often times they will be wrong.

I find it far more likely you saw something easily explicable and are now reporting it to me as “the occult.”  Why?  Because we know people do this already.  But we’ve never seen someone grow a third hand after the proper incantations.  What’s more, even the people who claim specifics on this type of thing can never reproduce them.  Strange that.

I grew up in the 1980s, which were rife with claims of UFOs, always accompanied by fuzzy pictures or videos taken at night and lacking any real detail save for a strange shape and some lights.  Then video and picture-taking technology improved.  In fact, where once upon a time having a camera on a random person was pretty rare, now everybody has a smart phone that can take pictures.  And yet, claims of UFOs and pictures of them have decreased sharply, even though cameras are everywhere.  It’s clear that people were embellishing on things they saw and counting on the lack ability of other people to investigate to prop up those claims.  The people who eagerly believed them without further evidence, we know now, were suckers.

This is how I look at your claim of the occult.  You don’t even have a fuzzy picture, you just have a sketchy claim with no real evidence.  In an age where lots of people can take video on their phones, why do we have no videos of the occult?  I mean, we have videos of the most improbable, unlikely things.  Why not the occult?  Like with UFOs, I don’t wish to be a sucker.  Neither should you.

Well, i know there are demons/evil spirits call it what you want, so, what else is out there that we find hard to believe? But it’s there.

No, you don’t know that.  You have no evidence for that, and where there’s no evidence there is no knowledge.  And where you open by saying your beliefs are illogical, there’s surely no knowledge.  You are someone who has asserted (not admitted) that his beliefs are all-but-certainly wrong from the get-go, and that you somehow still believe you can advance them as truth.

This, of course, is the very nature of faith.  That is why it’s ugly.  It makes people illogical, wrong, and proud of it.

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