Thursday, October 15, 2009

How does a hardcore believer in Christ reject the message?

This might be pretty meaningless my fellow atheists, most of whom did not start out from a fundamentalist Christian belief (The Chaplain being a bit of an exception, but even for her, it was hardly the hardcore born-again religion of many Americans).

I find people like this quite interesting. They can speak the language of fundamentalists - in tongues! And that, I would think, makes them a bit harder to dismiss than someone like me. I'm sure many will just attribute his words to him being lost to Satan. Others might have to give them a second thought.

This is also interesting in light of the rather extended discussion many of us were involved in (for weeks, it seemed at the time) over at Spanish Inquisitors blog, regarding "miracles" and "evidence of god/s".

25 comments:

cl said...

Well, I was excited, except that within the first 120 seconds, we get more of the same. I've got no problem with kids thinking out their opinions online, but for Pete's sake these arguments are terrible. I'd say the same thing to this kid that I'd say to anyone who relies on arbitrary and unfounded assertions to make points: your arbitrary assertion is no better than anyone else's.

He goes on to cite various supernatural experiences he claims to have had, and I'll go ahead and grant that every one of them was genuine - which should effectively preclude any worries of replying with claims of "backsliding" or "no True Christian." As he rightly points out, we can't share each other's experiences, so who is anyone else to dismiss his former faith experiences as not real? "No true Christian" replies are nothing more than arrogance masquerading as argument. So I won't go that route in "dismissing" him (Evo's choice of words, not mine).

However, I will gladly dismiss his naked assertions. The crux of his reasoning is that "for every spiritual experience he found a natural explanation that made more sense." Again though - that such makes more sense is simply an assertion of his experience - and since we can't share each other's experiences, I'll need something more than an assertion of somebody's experience.

While I realize he's thinking this out aloud, he contradicts himself left and right. He warns against "accepting specious claims without evidence," then expects us to swallow his claims about the Bible's "contradictions" and "internal inconsistencies" without evidence, instead focusing on the ways in which Christians often deal with such claims. He closes by suggesting we "accept the fact that the Bible was written by a bunch of different people who didn't know what they were talking about," yet offers nothing that would substantiate his point - and omits boatloads that would equally challenge it.

Around minute 8, I see what reminded you of SI's, I think. He says, "If you have evidence, bring it, I'll srutinize it." Now here is where this young chap might have SI beat to a pulp: SI's position as actually practiced is, "If you have evidence, bring it, and I'll misunderstand it while I assert victory and mock you for hundreds of comments while claiming you're avoiding."

Anyways, this was a perfect post for illustrating something I said to MS Quixote earlier: fundamentalist deconverts tend to simply repaint their intellectual shortcomings Scarlet Red.

metamorphhh said...

Good video, John. I can't speak for all deconverts, but for myself and the few others I've met, the realization comes somewhat quickly. That is, once the blinders come down. It really is like when you're a kid, and somebody tells you Santa Claus isn't real, and all the pieces start falling into place. It can come as a cascade! LOL!

I remember talking with a believer at work about this stuff. One day, he simply walked into the kitchen where I was varnishing some cabinets and said, rather nonchalantly, "I don't believe in the bible anymore". My eyebrows raised a bit, and I said something like, "Oh, yeah?"

After that, he came by every day. I'd hang around after work, and we'd talk for hours about our Christian experiences, and how ridiculous they were. About how we'd been blinded by such obvious nonsense. It was an exciting time, seeing those same bulbs light up above his head as they had above mine, once upon a time. Being intellectually honest is a wonderful thing. Very freeing.

metamorphhh said...

Btw, I enjoy your video contributions. That is, when my GODDAMNED WIRELESS IS WORKING!!! grrrrrrrr.......

PhillyChief said...

Epileptics have hallucinations and experiences too, and I have no reason to doubt them when they say they felt real to them. However, the fact that an experience felt real or that after experiencing something you immediately believed this or that about the experience has virtually no bearing on the reality of the experience. This is why it's necessary for evidence to be corroborated and demonstrable, or else you're left not only without the means of verifying the reality of what you experienced, but also without the means or warrant with which to convince anyone else of what you think is the reality of that experience.

Now he states his initial beliefs about certain experiences being evidence for the supernatural changed because after later reflection, he could come up with natural explanations for them. Although that doesn't prove absolutely that those experiences weren't supernatural, it does make believing that they were unwarranted. Why? Because we know the natural world exists, whereas we have no reason to believe the supernatural does (see above about the ability to verify your beliefs concerning experiences and having the warrant to convince others of those beliefs). Furthermore, without knowing it exists, we also can't know how it behaves, so that really undermines the ability to credit the supernatural with anything, ESPECIALLY in light of already having a natural explanation.

The contradictions within the Christian bible are demonstrable, as are internal inconsistencies. Anyone can crack open a copy and see them for themselves. Now naturally this is a troubling thing if your beginning presumption is that it's all the inerrant word of a god. The fundamental (I couldn't resist the pun) problem with Christian explanations for this, also known as apologetics, is they all work from a position that the initial hypothesis, that the bible is the inerrant word of a god, can't be wrong, therefore they must figure out the "mystery" of why it appears things are contradictory or inconsistent. That's simply illogical, and flies in the face of what's known to be the best way to gain knowledge of reality, which is hypotheses must stand up to testing BEFORE they can be accepted. If they fail testing, then acceptance of them is unwarranted. Also, in lieu of a better hypothesis, an unwarranted hypothesis doesn't magically become warranted. That's the basis of the infamous 'god of the gaps'. So the hypothesis of the Christian bible being written by a bunch of guys who didn't know what they were talking about may not be true, and it could be possible that it is the inerrant word of a god, the former hypothesis is far more warranted for acceptance than the latter. This is yet another example of earlier, where if a natural explanation exists for something, it's immediately a more probable explanation than a supernatural one.

My biggest objection to the video is that damn "lack of belief" line. Again, do we lack the desire nations like Iran have to wipe Israel of the map? Do we all lack the desire to rape children? Do we lack the desire to kill our neighbors and eat their hearts? Hopefully none of us have these desires, but would you ever say you lack these desires? If not, then why would you ever say you lack the desire to ignore everything I explained above concerning how to verify one's beliefs and gain true knowledge about reality? That's PRECISELY what you are saying when utter those ridiculous words "I lack faith" or "I lack belief".

mud_rake said...

Perhaps 'cl' realizes that those coming out of Bible brainwashing are just as brain damaged exiting as when in utero. I'd imagine the outing experience must be similar to a cocaine addiction: the foul-up is permanent.

Clearly, early and continual exposure to bible propaganda has long-lasting effects on brain function which cannot be repaired. One is never completely 'out' of the syndrome, one is merely in recovery.

PhillyChief said...

mud_rake: A Barb of a different color, that's all. You're advice concerning her is applicable here as well for the most part.

Cephus said...

Good video, although I doubt it would ever convince a true believer because they are simply not open to evaluating their beliefs honestly.

I've had similar experiences to metamorphhh where someone I knew who was undeniably religious went through a slow change in their beliefs, followed by a catastrophic failure of their faith and an acceptance that it's all silly nonsense that shouldn't be believed in the first place. I think that's how it was for me when I finally rejected Christianity as well. I kept having to reject more and more parts of it until the whole came tumbling down.

That's why we all need to keep chipping away at religious nonsense. You can never tell when you're tapping on that linchpin piece that holds up the whole house of cards.

cl said...

In general, it's funny to me how silent some of you "rationalists" can get when other "rationalists" blatantly fumble. This video was literally chock full of claims that should offend any "rationalist." It's almost like the quality of the arguments doesn't matter, so long as they're against God.

mud_rake,

"..those coming out of Bible brainwashing are just as brain damaged exiting as when in utero. I'd imagine the outing experience must be similar to a cocaine addiction: the foul-up is permanent. Clearly, early and continual exposure to bible propaganda has long-lasting effects on brain function which cannot be repaired. One is never completely 'out' of the syndrome, one is merely in recovery."

I'm not sure why you directed your comment to me in the first place, but what part of "I'll need something more than an assertion of somebody's experience" didn't you understand? No offense, but I don't care about your opinions of religion or the Bible.

PhillyChief,

"..we know the natural world exists, whereas we have no reason to believe the supernatural does.."

Well, it's good to see that at least you're consistent, but I'll always point out that your assertion is no better than anyone else's. That you claim no reason to believe in something does not make it unwarranted. Stop implying that everybody else should live by your rules and get over yourself.

"The contradictions within the Christian bible are demonstrable, as are internal inconsistencies. Anyone can crack open a copy and see them for themselves."

After all your smarmy talk about evidence and justification and what's warranted, you're gonna stand there and give us naked assertions without evidence - exactly the same thing you were just crying and huffing and puffing about - when believers do it? Please. Quit being such a hypocrite, and let us know when you've actually come up with an argument to support your assertions.

Next time save yourself some work and just type, "I'm right," instead of 585 words that basically assert the same.

Cephus,

"Good video, although I doubt it would ever convince a true believer because they are simply not open to evaluating their beliefs honestly."

Yet clearly, you no longer believe, so, were you never a true believer? I imagine you'll have fun with that, knowing your penchant for avoiding simple "Yes" or "No" answers.

ildi said...

muck_rake:

Clearly, early and continual exposure to bible propaganda has long-lasting effects on brain function which cannot be repaired. One is never completely 'out' of the syndrome, one is merely in recovery.

Maybe there is a skeptical mindset that provides an inoculating effect? A sense of curiosity that survives the carrot/stick, encounter group brainwashing techniques? At least in parochial school some skeptical thinking was taught, even if it was only in the context of "why protestants are wrong".

His key statement to me was "once you realize how the human mind works..." Yes, many "supernatural" perceptions have natural explanations once your understand human perception and memory.

Reminds me of Dawkins' story about hearing voices and realizing upon further investigation that it was the wind in the keyhole. Scientists investigate further.

cl said...

Nice comment, ildi, and I'm prone to agree. Where I disagree are the cases where rational explanations (like Dawkins' in TGD you allude to) absolutely fail. In those cases, in my experience, atheists are just as prone to slothful induction and denial of evidence as they claim of creationists.

ildi said...

where rational explanations (like Dawkins' in TGD you allude to) absolutely fail

"I don't know" is always a more viable option than "supernatural causes."

John Evo said...

cl - in my experience, atheists are just as prone to slothful induction and denial of evidence as they claim of creationists.

In your endless quest to demonstrate that atheist are just as irrational as theists you have, countless times, remonstrated against those who have talked about "my experience" or even "what I believe". The bottom line is, no matter what you think about atheists as a group, you have not shown good reason(s) to suspect a "god/alien" being at the root of the universe we all experience.

I might be the most irrational person you have ever encountered, but that doesn't change the fact that there is no warrant for the existence of a god.

PhillyChief said...

"It takes a master to serve oh-toro, whereas any douchebag can serve red herring." Japanese proverb

"Dance around in the town square naked and shouting with a tomato on your head, but 2 o'clock is 2 o'clock for you as it is for me." Swiss proverb

ildi said...

Ok, Philly, the Swiss are too deep for me... or maybe they just drink way more.

cl said...

ildi,

I don't share your opinion. "I don't know" doesn't preclude provisional hypotheses, nor does it advance the scientific body of knowledge.

Philly,

Just back up your arguments. That's all I'm asking for here. If you back them up well enough, I might even agree. But I don't care if you simply assert contradiction and internal inconsistency. Your job as a rationalist who claims argumentation is an art, is to get painting.

Evo,

I just think you swallow things from atheists that you'd rightly decry if they came from believers. That you're touting the positives of this video, while ignoring the many negatives, suggests as much.

"The bottom line is, no matter what you think about atheists as a group, you have not shown good reason(s) to suspect a "god/alien" being at the root of the universe we all experience."

1) How would you know? It's not like you participate in the arguments at my blog at all.

2) Of course not. No matter what I show, all you have to do is deny and dismiss. All you have to do is say, "Nope, not good enough!" That's why I pretty much think these things are futile.

"I might be the most irrational person you have ever encountered,"

Not at all. In fact, when it comes to rationality, you've got most of your crew licked.

"..but that doesn't change the fact that there is no warrant for the existence of a god."

If you want to be rational just don't say stuff like that. What you really mean here is, "There's no warrant that you find suitable." I just wish you'd provide rational explanations for some of the incidents I've documented, instead of just handwaving them.

Gideon said...
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Gideon said...
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John Evo said...

cl -

1. From literally hundreds of comments from you on many blogs concerning this very topic.

2. Yes, that's true. In the same way Gideon simply waves off all facts about evolution, I could do the same. And I get that you are making that implication. So, yes, maybe I'm just like him and others. Anyway, you seem to want to think so, and I can't stop you from doing that any more than you can stop me from waving off your evidence.

I'm not here to satisfy you that I give your evidence enough of a look so that I can be thought of by you as being open-minded and rational. I'm completely satisfied that you have not provided evidence that would give warrant to a likelihood of a god. Whatever you think of my methods for arriving at that conclusion - well, that's what you think.

Understand something though. When I ask you for evidence (and you *have* indeed provided some) I don't mean "show it to me - exclusively - and I'll decide". Of course, ultimately, I will do exactly that. But I'm also asking that the evidence be put forth to the *world*, because part of my thought process involves hearing what others have to say about what I'm seeing.

It's one reason that if I saw something I couldn't explain with my own eyes, I wouldn't proclaim it to be a ghost (or whatever) without some major reinforcement to that opinion from *the world*. And, of course, a big part of what I'd be looking for would come from the scientific community.

They have also seen your evidence (well, maybe not the CDs but I am safe in saying that one is beyond researching) but things like spontaneous regression of tumors. There is not even so much as a vigorous *debate* that these are indicative of "a" god, let alone "your god". That I agree, is almost irrelevant (except to you and me).

Me personally delving deeper into that particular phenomenon is of no value to me. If by failing to do so I meet your definition of irrational or lacking in reason - then so I am -- in your eyes. I'll have to live with that, and I'm entirely comfortable doing so. I'm not trying to tell you what *you* should think about the evidence or how hard of a look you should give it. That's up to you.

Gideon said...
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cl said...

"From literally hundreds of comments from you on many blogs concerning this very topic."

When I'm on other blogs, I'm challenging their arguments, not presenting my own. It's a pretty simple concept really, but somebody like yourself would rather shirk the intellectual heavy lifting required to really get to know the other side. Now, I do believe that if what I believe can be made to make sense to you, that your opinions on things would change quite a bit. As far as actual evidence and scientific data goes, I'm just getting started my friend. The heat's getting turned up big-time in upcoming weeks. I'm just trying to get used to posting once daily first. Point being, I don't have that much interest in presenting evidence to you here or on other blogs, as you simply handwave without sufficient counter-explanation.

"Yes, that's true. In the same way Gideon simply waves off all facts about evolution, I could do the same. And I get that you are making that implication. So, yes, maybe I'm just like him and others. Anyway, you seem to want to think so,"

In the sincere interest of a better future between us, let me correct you here John: no, I don't want to think you flatly deny evidence and filter out that which doesn't fit your pre-existing worldview. I really do want to think otherwise, because we could have far more productive conversations if you would try as opposed to just deny.

"I'm not here to satisfy you that I give your evidence enough of a look so that I can be thought of by you as being open-minded and rational. I'm completely satisfied that you have not provided evidence that would give warrant to a likelihood of a god."

I respect that you don't bow to the expectations of others. However, your satisfaction is premature and overconfident. Also, realize my strategy is to do this in layers or steps, the first of which is establishing the reality of what people refer to in various words: paranormal, psi, spiritual, etheric, etc. One case study at a time, my friend, whether from personal experience or the annals of scientific literature.

"Understand something though. When I ask you for evidence (and you *have* indeed provided some) I don't mean "show it to me - exclusively - and I'll decide". Of course, ultimately, I will do exactly that. But I'm also asking that the evidence be put forth to the *world*, because part of my thought process involves hearing what others have to say about what I'm seeing."

John, that's exactly what I'm doing on my blog: putting forth my evidence and arguments to the world. I'm about to publish another book about my beliefs for (?)'s sake. What more can you ask for? Get in some of the discussions at my place. We've had some good ones the past few weeks. There's not a drop of the negativity you're used to here and on the Team Scarlet A blogs.

cl said...

"It's one reason that if I saw something I couldn't explain with my own eyes, I wouldn't proclaim it to be a ghost (or whatever) without some major reinforcement to that opinion from *the world*."

Of course not John, neither would I, and that's not what I do by any means. Unfortunately though, it seems to be what you think I do. When I invoke these strange phenomena, it's for a two-fold purpose: to establish the reality of this "other-world" and to utterly demolish dogmatist skeptic claims that there is no evidence for the supernatural.

"And, of course, a big part of what I'd be looking for would come from the scientific community."

That's what you'll get from me. I've got all kinds of scientifically-supported arguments on my blog, John, in a wide range of topics that relate directly to several tiers of these arguments. And most of them are what I'd call teasers, or warm-ups, introduced to progress in simpler to more complex context.

"There is not even so much as a vigorous *debate* that these are indicative of "a" god, let alone "your god".

Of course not, and don't you think it's a bit foolish of you to expect otherwise? Honestly. Why would scientists sit around and have vigorous debate over which God(s) did it? Further, that's not the point: I'm not talking about proof, I'm talking about evidence, and the specific evidence of Kayla's case is consistent with what we'd expect if the Christian God were true. This consistency is strengthened by the genuine ways in which the case doesn't conform to typical spontaneous regressions. You have not justified your refusal of those facts.

"Me personally delving deeper into that particular phenomenon is of no value to me."

If you're referring to Kayla's case, don't worry about it. I was over that when you first waved it away. My only real complaint about the way you waved it away was your knee-jerk appeal to spontaneous regression, and your lack of a decent response to me pointing out anomalous features of Kayla's case that weren't the norm for spontaneous regression. You stopped, whereas those who were really searching for truth would press on.

cl said...

Gideon,

"I, also, have seen those 'miracles' and 'healings' and seen people "slain in the Spirit", and it's mostly crap! If I based my faith on shit like that, I'd have been gone years ago, and that's where most of them that do embrace that crap end up... GONE! At least, the thinking ones, anyway."

EXACTLY, my friend, and I really hope your detractors give you the credit you deserve for that most outstanding remark, which pays total credit to a certain subset of deconverts who see through precisely the "emotionalism" and straw-based belief the Bible condemns.

Gideon said...
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Gideon said...
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cl said...

"..yet lifeless dust seeking it's own identity, isn't [ridiculous]?"

Right on, Gideon. I tend to agree that lifeless dust seeking it's own identity is not an intellectually satisfying claim. But that's just my opinion.