How do you define truth? How do you determine it?

How do you define truth? How do you determine it? July 9, 2012

This was my one-on-one conversation with ‘Randy’, the deeply-indoctrinated creationist whom I met while he was protesting the Reason Rally.  Yes, he was protesting reason.  So it is not surprising that he seemed to have no education in science, and no understanding of the applications of logic, or the fallacies thereof.  It seems he has never had his blinkered world-view challenged either.  He is a minion of Ray Comfort’s, and a disciple of Kent Hovind, and he still says that they are honest and admirable men.  So this was –I thought- an opportunity to take someone who innocently believed the nonsense he had been fed, and show him what incredulous frauds and charlatans his mentors really are.  Because we’re not just talking about opinions or beliefs here.  We’re talking about things we can easily prove –or disprove- conclusively for certain.  In the process, I hoped to reach many others stooged in his same situation.

Sadly however, as so often happens when I invite the faithful to examine their beliefs with me, I encountered resistance in the form of posturing, bluffing, and excuses.  He even demanded conditions set in ultimatum.  Why?  Because he knows I will show him things he is unwilling to accept and forbidden to acknowledge.  Like a cornered animal, he didn’t seem to know whether to puff up or try to escape. This is not how I would ever respond were I in his situation.  If someone says they can prove that something I believe is wrong, I would listen.  Even if a creationist says that, I would still listen, but I would expect there to be a punch line too.  Due to past experience in this topic, I wouldn’t expect him to have any substance.

That’s why Randy’s shoe could never be on my foot.  I have real confidence in my position, where defenders of the faith clearly don’t.  I sincerely believe that my perspective is the more accurate –where my opponents are plainly pretending.  If I did turn out to be wrong, -in whole or in part- then it is to my benefit that I find that out.  Why would I want to continue believing something that is wrong?  Why do they?  So I would never refuse that challenge.

Whenever I have ever offered to prove evolution to a creationist, they usually refuse or even flee.  One guy told me he would rather take a bullet in the ear than to give up his belief.  That’s how honest he was not.  Another removed our entire discussion from his message board.  He gave the excuse –in a post that I wasn’t expected to find- that he had to delete it because [he said] my argument was starting to make sense to him.  He’s not allowed to reconsider his conviction; whether they believe it matters more than whether any of it is true.  Many other times I have seen excuses to the effect that “we don’t care what the facts are….”  Well, if you don’t care what the facts are, then you don’t care what the truth is, because they’re one-and-the-same.   The truth is what the facts are.  If it can’t be objectively verified, meaning that it can never be shown to be ‘true’ -to any degree at all- by any means whatsoever, then you simply cannot call it ‘truth’.

It seems to me that faith is a very precious assumed delusion, one which must be preserved and protected against any critical analysis or inquiry.  It is a matter of make-believe, and on some level many of these willful believers seem to know that already.  I had hoped that this boy had enough sincerity left in him that maybe he could still be reached, but such was not the case. He already knows that both of his mentors have knowingly lied in public media, but somehow that doesn’t to matter to him.  Truth does not seem to matter to him.  Whatever he wants to believe takes precedence over whatever the truth really is.  I can’t even relate to that mindset.

When I told him I could prove my point to his satisfaction, he should have challenged me to do it.  Instead he ducked and dodged and demanded equal time to present his side.  He only accepted because he thought I would give him an opportunity to proselytize.  So he insisted that I respect his faith-based position as equal to my fact-based position.  That’s already impossible.  It was also inappropriate since the onus was entirely on me, and he was the sole judge of my success in that endeavor.  Worst of all, once we began, it became obvious that he was reciting lines texted to him by his puppet-master, a professional presuppositionalist.

After just a couple first-hand encounters, I think I have heard all the best arguments of presuppositionalism, the desperate defense of floundering fundamentalism.  I am confident this recently-revived remnant of irrationalism will wane again within a year.  Why?  Because it amounts to no more than a word game, one which depends on the ‘mark’ providing desired answers to certain loaded questions, and the tactic still can’t meet its goal even then.  Randy said he had only six questions for me, but it seems they all depended on my first answer being along the lines that we can’t really know anything for sure.  Then he would pretend to know things that no one even can know.  However, the answer I gave him was not the one he expected.  I never even heard his other questions because my first answer ruined all his remaining arguments -not just for this discussion, but for any others he’ll ever have on this topic.  So I doubt I will ever have another chance to reason with him again.  I certainly won’t get the meaningful meeting of the minds I had hoped for, not with him, not while he is still a wanna-believer.

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