Facts Should Change Your Beliefs

Facts Should Change Your Beliefs May 31, 2014

Hemant Mehta shared the above image. I obviously agree with the sentiment. No one should think that this stance is an atheist one. Certainly, many atheists are committed to being rational. But if you have talked to an atheist who is an anti-vaxxer or a Jesus-mythicist, then you realize the two are not synonymous. Likewise there is a long and rich history of liberal religion that was at the forefront of pioneering the changing of beliefs when facts and evidence required it.

But perhaps most importantly, if you are a religious believer who thinks all atheists are evil, or an atheist who thinks all religious people are delusional lunatics, then you are an example of someone refusing to allow facts to change their beliefs.


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  • Adam

    All atheists are sinful and evil, though. Just like all people are without the Holy Spirit living in them through Jesus Christ are sinful and evil. That’s the point of Jesus. None of us are good in the eyes of God.

    • Brian Westley

      Not everyone believes in your abusive god relationship.

      • Domush

        I believe in his abusive God relationship. I just don’t believe it exists outside his imagination.

    • Jerry Wilson

      That’s the trouble with the Christian belief; everybody is sinful and evil without the sky fairy’s son to step in and ward off evil. So little kids in fundy families grow up believing they are not good without God. It’s ludicrous. Everybody is as good or evil as they want to be. Neither God nor the devil has anything to do with it. If you believe that then you take responsibility for your own actions. Personal gods are all myths; it just pains me to believe that there are still a lot of modern day people who still believe in them.

    • Are you fake?

    • I find it ironic that someone pretending to be “Adam” wrote this. While there is often a lack of honest realism about human capacity for evil, this view of people denies both the Biblical teaching that humans are made in the image of God, and the experience that I hope everyone has had of human goodness as a reality alongside human badness.

    • Don’t worry, Christians. I know you’re not all as small-minded as Adam, here.

  • “But perhaps most importantly, if you are a religious believer who thinks
    all atheists are evil, or an atheist who thinks all religious people
    are delusional lunatics, then you are an example of someone refusing to
    allow facts to change their beliefs.”

    I like that James. I think we have good grounds for concluding that the New Atheists are most often former fundies.

    We really should strive for a society where tolerant and rational discussions replace the hatred of the culture war. I find it challenging but quite pleasant to engage friendly non-believers who disagree with my faith. But the folks at “FriendlyAtheists” are not that by any means, there is a huge amount of bullying going on there.

  • George Friesen

    Back in the late 1500’s a well-known churchman named Cardinal Baronius made the point that religion teaches us “the way to go to heaven, not the way the
    heavens go.” Science, on the other hand, addresses the physical world and “how
    the heavens go.” This simple but important distinction, which was later
    incorporated into the writings of Galileo, reminds us that science and religion
    are objectively compatible with each other since they have distinct and unique
    domains. The problems arise when science brings its findings to religion, and expects those findings to impact belief. We need to remember that science explains the stage, the setting of the play; religion and philosophy interpret and explain the drama.

    • Lars

      The main difference is that people of all beliefs can, for the most part, measure that stage and come up the same values independent of their beliefs. But there’ll be very little agreement on the dramas that occur there. I’d much rather science impact belief than belief impact science (see Francis Collins, Ken Ham).

      • George Friesen

        Exactly, and exactly. As they should, thanks to the scientific method, they come up with the same results and measurements. And that is good. But, science has no business extending its parameters to dictate the meaning of it all. The meaning and the message(s) are the provinces of religion and philosophy. The discoveries of science are no threat whatsoever to the message of the church, and the church does not have to bend its beliefs to accommodate the exploration of science. In the end, I think we can say that faith and science walk hand in hand, with neither presuming to step in front of the other.

        • Domush

          Nice attempt, except religion asserts deities which interact with the physical realm. A single word which demolishes your entire apologist argument, prayer.

          • George Friesen

            Yes, well, in the end, I guess we all just simply “attempt.” I attempt, you attempt, and who is to say your thoughts are conclusive? While religions asserts deities, these deities are not subject to scientific analysis, so it comes down to a matter of faith, which one may or may not have. We believe in a multitude of verities that cannot be proven or demonstrated. And the single word that demolishes my argument is…?

          • Domush

            “And the single word that demolishes my argument is…?”

            Seriously? The word is prayer, as clearly stated the first time.

            You either willingly fail to comprehend my statement or you lack understanding that science encompasses all things natural. If a deity is asserted to interact with the natural world there would be evidence of it. The second the natural universe is effected the claim enters the domain of science and scientific analysis. Theism, by definition, tries to override science, logic and physical reality itself making it scientifically testable at best and utterly irrational at worst.

            While we both attempt, the importance comes in the result. Your attempted argument is factually false and, subsequently, a failure, mine is factually correct and, subsequently, a success. Save your false equivalence fallacies for your homeopath.

          • George Friesen

            Since I don’t willingly fail to comprehend what you are saying, it’s quite clear that I can’t possibly match your brilliance in all matters of both faith and reality. I can’t remember ever meeting or corresponding with anyone so informed in all matters of consequence. I was expecting your rudeness, and will withdraw from this discussion, saving my false equivalence fallacies. At least I tried to keep it civil.

          • Domush

            Your new focus on the presentation of my argument rather than the argument itself highlights you have conceded it is correct but you are too pig headed and irrational to change your beliefs. In logic this is a typical red herring fallacy and a tactic of a person lacking in intellectual integrity.

            In reality the presentation of my argument has zero effect on the accuracy of it. You are simply too dishonest to stick to debating the claims and too rude to accurately read the responses. Civil indeed.

          • George Friesen

            I am rude, pig headed, irrational, unwilling to change my beliefs, lacking in intellectual integrity, and dishonest. I accept. Truth is, I am even worse: I am ignorant, and actually a total idiot. You, on the hand, are intellectually honest, open-minded, willing to change your beliefs, honest, learned, intelligent, brilliant. passionate, and without blemish. I respect and admire that, in fact, shamelessly envy you. You are an exceptional human being and I should be well advised to follow you. Thank you, and I am honoured to have been taught by you.

          • Guest

            I actually tend to side more with Domush on this argument, though having seen the way he/she interacts with people like you, George, I think your sarcasm is justified. What an egomaniac. He’s clearly in the business of trying to make himself feel smart, not engaging in productive dialogue. I really dislike people who spend huge chunks of their time trying to humiliate anyone they disagree with, even if they’re right. As if the world needs their shining brilliance to set everyone straight, civility and compassion be damned. Get over yourself. Congrats, Domush, you sound smart, but at the cost of losing everybody’s respect (or at least mine), though I’m sure you couldn’t care less.

          • Gary

            ” And the single word that demolishes my argument is…?”…
            Don’t know the magic word. But what immediately comes to mind when I think of, say, Bart Ehrman’s agnosticism, and the 2nd century Gnostics, is “suffering”. I think prayer is irrelevant. Reality of the real world is a tough argument to go against.

    • Domush

      Your analogy is flawed. Religion claims a non physical man who isn’t in the auditorium has direct control over everything which happens inside it. That is a scientific claim. The gods of theism, by definition, interact with the physical universe, the domain of science, making evidence, logic and the laws of physics all applicable, proving the gods of theism incoherent at best, impossible at worst.

      • Your point as articulated about “theism” has a certain force to it, but broadening it out to encompass all “religion” makes it off target, since not all religions are theistic or accept the idea of anthropomorphic deities.

        • Domush

          Fair enough. If you can find a religion which does not make claims regarding the natural world I’ll happily concede it is a religion which is irrational to believe rather than one which directly overlaps, and likely conflicts, with science.

      • George Friesen

        All analogies are flawed, when it comes right to it. An analogy is simply an analogy. The control a Creator God has over creation, is not empirical and therefore not a scientific claim. It is a faith statement, and therefore of no concern to the scientific community. It is outside the domain of science. Science should concern itself with science, and not bother itself at all about the assertions and claims of religion and philosophy.

        • Domush

          You may wish to re-read my response as you are simply repeating the same false assertion I have already disproven.

          What you refer to as “creation” is the natural world, the exact domain of science. Any interaction in the natural world is empirical, whether by direct testing or by observing for expected results. If I’m a Christian who prays for my dog to turn purple and my dog never turns purple that is an empirical test, well within science.

  • arcseconds

    Is anyone else raising an eyebrow at the fact that the atheist movement nowadays seems to be led by comedians?

    I’m not sure this makes for good atheism or good comedy.

    • Domush

      When speaking of ridiculous things it is best spoken about by those well versed in ridicule.

      • George Friesen

        And you, Domush, would be the one who is well versed in ridicule and all things pertaining to the life of humanhood.

  • Lars

    It was the lack of facts that ultimately changed my beliefs. I was simply unable to point to any acts of divine intervention that couldn’t also be explained as pure random chance. Horrible and wondrous events occurred to good and bad people with purposeless regularity. For years, however, I saw every good thing that happened to me as a gift from God and every bad thing as evidence of not being in God’s will (and, of course, as a direct result of The Fall).

    That philosophy almost drove me insane before I eventually abandoned it. And good and bad things kept right on happening to me, only I now understood that that’s just life. Good people die in floods and get cancer, bad people abuse children and murder innocents and live long lives, and since God refuses to get involved in these tragedies, it’s up to us to do what we can. As soon as I see evidence to contrary, I’ll be happy to reassess this belief.