Some time ago, I wrote about how frustrating Logical Christians are to me. Logical Christians are believers who have evolved super-complicated (but ultimately hilariously off-base) PROOF YES PROOF of their beliefs. Not content with just having faith in their god, they must have a good, sound intellectual reason to believe. Today, let me show you one of the worst ways they go about establishing one. Yes, everyone, they’re trying to use metaphysics.
Seriously, I wish Christian apologists would leave string theory, the multiverse, and all those other totally bizarre and out-there physics concepts to the folks who are best trained to talk about them. It’s not much different from Creationists’ evolutionary-theory denial. It’s just a little more convoluted, which is why it appeals so much to logical Christians.
Well, any sufficiently-advanced science is indistinguishable from Jesus to some folks.
Needing a Reason to Believe.
Pretty much everyone desires to have a solid reason to hold any belief.
And that’s not a bad thing in and of itself. I’m sure most folks want to believe only things that are objectively true. But when people start suspecting that their beliefs aren’t based in reality, then they start feeling uncomfortable amounts of cognitive dissonance. In response to that dissonance, if the need to believe continues to outweigh the desire for truth, then they may create ever-more-complicated explanations supporting their cherished belief.
These explanations soothe their minds–but make sense only to believers and those who are either already sympathetic to their ideas or too ignorant of critical thinking to adequately assess the claims being made. And Logical Christians care a lot more about being correct and soothing that cognitive dissonance than they do about anything their Savior is supposed to have actually told them to do.
Unfortunately, they don’t know how to do that–or else they put that knowledge on hold for this one topic.
The Invasion of the Logical Christians.
I suspect most non-believers have run into at least one Logical Christian. In atheist/freethinking blog posts, one is sure to show up any time Christian beliefs get challenged or criticized. It’s like playing “Bloody Mary” in a way.
I seriously don’t think these kinds of Christians realize how much damage they do to their religion’s credibility when they trot out their conspiracy-theory-level ideas. Because yes: “Logical Christians” are the 9/11 Truthers of the religion. They get a rush out of taking and spinning any possible tendril of information into a huge, ponderous “theory.” (I used scare quotes here because they don’t normally even understand what a scientific theory is, much less have one to share.)
Logical Christians use these conspiracy theories to both convince themselves that their religious beliefs have validity and to convince others to persuade them to join the belief system. At best they come off as desperate and ignorant; at worst they come off as self-deluded nuts who want to feel important.
Oh, and now we have to add metaphysics into the mix. I don’t even think Christians really understand what it is, but quite a few of ’em seem to have decided that metaphysics is the Sorcerer’s Stone that turns no evidence whatsoever into OMG TOTALLY IT’S TRUE GUIZE.
What They Accidentally Reveal.
When a Christian has to drag metaphysical stuff into an explanation, it is because he or she doesn’t have any real observations to back up the real-world claim being made. Christians who talk in vague, nebulous terms are doing so because using real observations wouldn’t help them out at all. They want to have it both ways: a real live god who is really and truly meddling in the world in very concrete, tangible ways, but arguments supporting this god’s existence that use absolutely no concrete or tangible evidence.
Indeed, such apologists seek first to instill deep distrust of real science in their audiences.
Oh, they’ve got this thing covered.
They know it’s real, and they know how it’s real.
They have proof.
Sometimes if you’re lucky they’ll even have diagrams.
And yes, they’ll share it with the world. Sort of.
Making You Work For It!
But don’t imagine they’ll dole out that proof on demand. No, they want to be sure you’re really ready for this mind-blowing experience. They’ll tease you for days about it first. They’ll want to be sure. They’ve been burned before, you see. They’ve prematurely shared their deep wisdom with randos online and gotten laughed at and rejected by minds that just aren’t open to the truth.
When you finally draw them out–assuming you do, of course–then they lay down these walls of text that they think prove, irrefutably and beyond all doubt, that THEREFORE JESUS IS TOTALLY FOR REALSIES, YOU GUIZE.
Except that’s not ever what actually happens.
One such fellow once told me a few years ago that IF he told me his argument, nothing would ever be the same for me again and I’d simply have to convert because it was that powerful. He said it like it was some kind of super-secret weapon he was hesitant to unveil because he was just such an awesome guy that he didn’t want to up-end my whole life.
Why They’re So Coy.
His world-altering theory turned out to be a warmed-over Pascal’s Wager dressed up with a little more physics.
When I pointed out the problems in his ideas, he got quite flustered and angry. It reminds one of that Monty Python skit about Anne Elk’s theory on brontosauruses! These theories and ideas are so obviously new and amazing to the wide-eyed folks who come up with them. It’s almost sad to burst their bubbles.
When we read their walls of text and remain unpersuaded, they retreat into their mountaintop caves. There, they mutter to themselves about how they were wrong about us. And they await the next opportunity to trot out their mangled pseudoscience. They love acting like grand gurus who’ve found some unutterable truth nobody else has. They take those opportunities where they can.
When Logical Christians Turn Out To Be Emotion-Driven.
People don’t convert to religions like Christianity because they find the arguments involved to be intellectually compelling. They convert because they ache to fill some emotional need. They think Christianity will do the trick. Then they go look for–and remarkably always find–some mental contortion that they think provides support for the emotional decision they’ve made.
And that is totally okay by me. It’s not my thing, but okay. I’m actually totally fine with people making emotional decisions. If that’s what they want to do, I only ask to be left out of it. Where I draw the line is such Christians trying to convince me that I should make the same decision they did by accepting the same pseudo-intellectual rationalizations that they did.
Lacking the same emotional needs that they suffer, I’m under no obligation whatsoever to buy into the same rationalizations. Moreover, I couldn’t forget what I know about reality even if I tried.
Assessing Logical Christians’ Ideas.This is part of the process I use to assess logical Christians’ ideas:
1. Objective claims need objective evidence.
We’re not even getting into extraordinary claims. I’m just talking about claims, period. If someone denigrates, dismisses, or derides the process of discovering factual truths about our world–the scientific method chief among these–but wants to claim something about the real world, then that person already operates under a near-insurmountable burden of proof. There just isn’t another way of knowing that we’ve ever discovered.
3. If an explanation of a real-world phenomenon resorts to metaphysics or astronomy, the argument fails.
Christianity is supposed to be a real, in-your-face, objectively-true religion about a real, in-your-face, objectively true god who can and does meddle in human affairs, who constantly participates in his followers’ lives, and whose presence permeates the whole world. If Christians want a god like that, then they have to show me evidence from the real, in-your-face, objectively-true world.
4. Christians should read up on the classic (and discarded) apologetics arguments that have gone before to avoid looking silly.
Logical Christians seem totally unaware of just how many apologists have traveled the roads they’re trying to take. I gave a link at the beginning to a Christian who clearly has no idea that he’s just retreading ideas from several old-school arguments. That’s pretty par for the course.
5. If a Christian must painstakingly prepare a target before relaying an argument, it fails.
No, I am not going to spend days dealing with self-important blather from a pseudo-intellectual aching for validation. If it takes days of emotional manipulation and grooming before someone’s argument starts sounding halfway plausible, that doesn’t speak very highly of the argument. The longer it takes a Christian to pony up their pet argument, the less likely that argument is going to be legit.
Logical Christians Will Not Be the Source of Any Evidence For This Religion.
If proof for any supernatural idea ever does come about, it
probably ain’t coming from a comment thread on a blog post from some weirdo spouting warped quantum physics.
Every time I run across a Logical Christian, I’m thinking about this very fact.
If we ever discover that the supernatural is real and that ghosts exist and that gods and angels and demons and goblins really influence the world in any way, evidence for that claim absolutely will not come from some shoddily-self-taught physicist, homebrew theologian, or metaphysics-loving navel-gazer stumbled onto an argument he or she thinks sounds really compelling.
As busy as this subset of Christians are online, they’re not taking their ideas to any serious journals or groups. It ain’t hard to figure out why.
The Real Appeal of Christianity (Even For Logical Christians.)
Christianity’s appeal to people has nothing to do with whether or not its supernatural claims are objectively true.
Now, I stopped believing in Christianity because its claims aren’t true. The truth matters to me.
But if I found out its claims really were true (which at this point would be like people discovering that Paris, France is really in New Zealand–possible, but astronomically unlikely), I still would not rejoin the religion.
Like I mean, sure, I’d stop saying that its god isn’t real and that none of its supernatural claims are true because I’m intellectually honest that way. But I doubt I’d ever become a Christian again. Its various groups are just too dysfunctional of a culture.
In the same way, plenty of Christians accept that the religion’s claims are to some degree or another untrue and still muddle through as Christians–and there doesn’t seem to be a limit on how much of it a Christian can decide is metaphorical and still be fervently, passionately Christian.
Weird, isn’t it?
Real ideas based in reality can be explained and supported in real ways. We are right to be distrustful of ideas that can’t say that about themselves.
In the end, the really big problem with logical Christians is that they idolize objective truthfulness, but have latched onto a belief that isn’t objectively true. I left Christianity rather than spend my finite lifetime figuring out how to square that circle and make true something that wasn’t true. It was the right thing to do for me. But I do wonder sometimes what might have happened if I’d ended up in a religion that didn’t keep stressing the objective truth of its supernatural claims–or one that gave itself room to be wrong about its supernatural claims.
It’s hard to imagine a Christianity that completely shies away from stuff like that. Even the really liberal ends of Christianity do it here and there.
I still remember a friendly conversation with a popular Christian blogger who was proud of his realization that fundamentalism was childish and ridiculous. But he still ached to believe that Jesus had really existed as a divine being who had incarnated in the Ancient Near East, been crucified and then resurrected, and subsequently could and did do miracles all over the place.
Sure, he knew that the ideas of the Rapture, the Flood, and Creation were obviously mythic. But this other thing? Oh, 100%. This other thing totally happened! Except he couldn’t prove it at all.
Our Common Thread.
All the same, part of me is well aware that I share an uncomfortable amount in common with logical Christians. Like them, I want whatever I believe to be objectively true and to have a real and valid basis in fact. I don’t see the point of getting involved with a religion that is only true from what Obi-Wan Kenobi called a “certain point of view.” I have a certain amount of friendliness toward the idea of supernatural stuff. And I can be very stubborn and have to watch out for a black-and-white, either-or tendency in my thinking.
But unlike logical Christians, I reject weird, metaphysical explanations to rationalize my beliefs. I eventually noticed that the methods humans have developed of finding out what’s true and real simply don’t support the idea of supernatural entities who care very deeply about what humans do with their genitals.
Logical Christians’ response to making that realization is to toss those methods out the window and grasp at other ones that are more supportive of their claims.
That’s the Rubicon I could not cross with them.
I’m not willing to discard the methods humanity has come up with to assess the validity of truth claims. They’re good methods and nothing else has come along that does the job better. If someone wants to make a truth claim, then that truth claim has to survive the exact same process of establishing its validity that every other claim must survive.
It’s that simple and that easy.
And, if I may be so bold, it’s that logical.
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Cassidy tidied up this post on March 18, 2019.