Sunday, January 9, 2011

FacePalm of the Day #45 - Debunking Christianity: "If I Am Wrong...I Want to Know"

John Loftus recently quoted Articulett whom evidently he agrees with. I think it would be instructive to look at the argument and see why it leads to multiple facepalms. 

Now there's a statement I endorse. What's more likely, that a believer or a skeptic wrote it?
When it comes to supernatural beliefs, there is just no error correcting mechanism-- you have no way to tell if you are wrong-- you just keep making excuses or trying to have more faith or writing it off to mystery. If I am wrong about something I think is true, I want to know--- and I trust reality to correct my errors. But what is there to correct the error of someone who has a wrong supernatural belief?

I'd like to know why Articulett thinks people who believe the Bible don't want to know if what we believe is true. The reason why we are Christians is because we know the Bible is true. I think its just as important  to be able to tell if you are right as it is to be able to tell if are wrong. Again we see the misconception of contrasting "faith" and "reason" as if they are in conflict. Who said that "faith" does not and cannot correspond with reality? Just believing something doesn't make it true. External evidence can and should be used to correct any errors in what we believe. Unfortunately, external evidence is not enough to get all information about reality. How can you completely trust you own reason and thought processes? Why should you? In all honesty, everyone knows what it's like to think something is true and then come to find out that it's not. To apply the kind of skepticism that people like Articulett and John Loftus claim we should level against Christianity, makes me question why aren't they skeptical of their own conclusions?

Believers are not even able to imagine what the world would look like or how it would be different if all gods were an illusion, but the non believer can ask themselves what would they expect if there was a real god-- and they could answer-- For example, a real god should have left some scientifically prescient information for it's favorite creatures. Or a benevolent god would stop suffering or refuse to allow it to exist and so forth. Praying to a real god (who wanted to be believed in) should bring different results than wishing on a star or praying to a jug of milk. Praying to the right god should bring different results than praying to the wrong god if there was a real "jealous god" who didn't want there to be "other gods before him". Why would a good being need to be worshiped anyhow? If there were a real heaven/hell test then how could a god be so cruel as not to give a clear rubric and equal access to "passing"? What would be the point of punishing anyone forever? Wouldn't it be better never to have existed? Why wouldn't he clear up conflicting beliefs and cruelties in the various texts people imagine he inspired? If souls were real, then we should be able to get real and ready information about any afterlife or where missing bodies are and so forth. People should be eager to die if they really believed they were going to "happily ever after", right? Why shouldn't NDE's produce data where we could learn more and devise better tests? How would a soul interact with a brain-- as it must-- since we know the brain is intimately involved with consciousness-- feelings, memory, thought, wants, urges, perception, belief, etc. We should have some evidence-- something so that souls were distinguishable from an illusion of the brain. Why aren't true believers devising such tests? Are they afraid they will fail? Think of how rich and famous they'd be if they'd succeed? And the evidence should help us gain more knowledge... our tests should work every time the way X-rays work every time-- it shouldn't need excuses-- if souls are real. How can people claim to know about such things when science cannot even substantiate their existence? At what point do serious humans stop believing in illusions because they want them to be true? When you are on the right track, more information is discovered (see DNA)-- but when you are on the wrong track, you get mired in semantic games like Kalam.
I think the whole discussion on the nature of the soul is indeed interesting. Even more interesting is that Articulett seems to have forgotten that at the beginning and in the midst of the 20th Century, DNA was discussed much the same way as Articulett has discussed the soul. There were serious scientists who laughed at the concept of DNA and proposed structure. Just like more evidence surfaced and validated and solidified what we know of DNA, I am sure we will learn more about the human soul. There is already evidence that the mind and brain are not the same thing and we are only beginning to understand that. On top of that we are only beginning to coin the language we need to discuss such concepts. We are still trying to understand ourselves.

Sometimes it takes a long time to find out if a perception is mistaken. I find it amazing that Articulett does not seem to know that everyone starts out as an unbeliever.We know what it is like to not know there is a God. Becoming a believer means having a change in mind. This mean you thought one thing and now you think something else. There must be a difference. Do you really think that people just wake up one day and say, "I think I'll believe that Jesus rose from the dead"? Nope. Most believers I know have reason why they believe God. Just because they are not scientific or something someone else will accept it was good enough for the believer to accept. All of this - the prayers and trust in God - comes from having a relationship with God himself. I think everyone agrees that "we know the brain is intimately involved with consciousness-- feelings, memory, thought, wants, urges, perception, belief" - it's not the complete picture. The brain might be just as much involved in what makes you you as computer hardware is in making a PC Windows-based or Linux-based. More study is definitely needed.
If I'm wrong about something, then the evidence should correct my misperception. Science has built in error correcting mechanisms. With supernatural beliefs, all you have is word games and the mental manipulations of believers-- the same sorts of arguments cults use-- known logical fallacies.... confirmation bias. There is no means of correcting any errors-- you are told that it's good to believe without or despite evidence-- or that it's a "mystery" and science can't test the "supernatural" or that it's "arrogant" to think you can know the mind of god. A complete lack of evidence can mean god is testing your faith-- ha! So many mind games.
Just because something is beyond natural perception does not mean it can't be real. As far as we can tell there is no reason at all to think that there is not more than what we can scientifically examine. Take the sense of sight for example. Ever stop to think that we know live in a 3D (in Spatial) reality and most people even think we see in 3D? We know (from science) we don't. You can't project a 3D image on 2D surface (our retinas). Our minds fills in the missing information using information from both eyes. Also given that current theories in Physics points to even more dimensions than that, I'd say that our abilities to perceive all there is of reality is very much lacking. I think Articulett is special pleading - a more accurate statement would be:  "There is a lack of evidence of the God that I am willing to accept." It's not right to say that there is a complete lack of evidence (but of course what atheism is truly asserting is that there is no evidence). It pays to remember what Jesus said regarding this at the end of His parable of Lazarus and the rich man

    29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’
   30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
   31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”  - Luke 16:29-31



If one wants to believe as many true things as possible and as few false things as possible, then I'd suggest rejecting the supernatural-- I trust that if something is real and can be understood, the evidence will accumulate. All humans have a vested interest in what is real. The skeptic is always right whenever we are able to test these claims. Just like the skeptic will be right on 12-21-2012 when some believers in the supernatural think the world will end. The skeptic has always been right when it comes to Jesus returning or the world ending or anything else we can test (see James Randi's million dollar challenge). The skeptic is always right when we subject prayer or psychics or souls to scientific testing.
If you can't prove something is false then it is much more honest to say that you don't accept evidence in its favor. The truth is that God must reveal Himself in order to know Him. The skeptic may be right until it becomes obvious that they are wrong. The skeptic cannot know if he/she is right about Jesus returning until either they die or He does return. Too late then. The comment raised in the comments is important to think about. Jesus' return is too late to find out you was wrong. There is nothing wrong with scientific testing. The thing is that the stakes are too high if you reject Christ. It's far worse to be wrong about Jesus than it is to be wrong about psychics and souls. The good news is that God wants us all to know Him.

1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.
 3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
 4 By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.
 5 By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.- Hebrews 11:1-6

Debunking Christianity: "If I Am Wrong...I Want to Know"
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1 comment:

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