The Fallibility of the Human Experience

Amongst all of the disagreements, both theists and secularists can generally agree on one proposition; human beings are eminently fallible and imperfect creatures. Given the limitations of human beings, is it a wonder that we crave infallible knowledge from an infallible source?

One of the truly pioneering aspects of the scientific method is its acknowledged fallibility as a way of knowing. All conclusions in science are held as provisional, and open to reinterpretation or outright rejection upon receipt of future data. Indeed, even such time-honored and central ideas such as the principle of causality and the nature of time and space have undergone relatively recent drastic changes. This is in outright contrast to previous metaphysical paradigms of naturalism, where the philosophy was central and the observations only valuable as ways to demonstrate the central metaphysical paradigm (for example, the idea of humorism, or the various ideas of elementalism). Science admits that people lie and cheat for personal reasons, and even well-meaning people can be deceived, deluded, or just plain wrong; therefore, science always leaves open the possibility that maybe it's conclusions are wrong. Unlike most human endeavors, science thrives on self-criticism (indeed, the regular ego-crushing I receive in my professional life make the attacks on this blog seem like affectionate nips), and is constantly changing itself.

Some theists have suggested that the provisional nature of scientific knowledge is, in and of itself, a weakness; such ideas can often be seen in the comments here at DC. They argue that the provisional nature of science prevents man from ever truly knowing anything (which is often expressed as "science can't prove anything). They further argue that religion offers "absolute truths" that are not subject to future changes, while science is always in flux. As such, they argue that the truth offered by religion is of inherently more value than the truth offered by science.

The trivial response to this argument is that the absolute assertions of religion are only of more value if they are completely true; otherwise, they are absolute falsities (or anti-truths, if you will) and are active hinderances in the search for truth, as they not only fail to be true, but discourage further searching for the truth. This powerful defense leaves the burden of evidence upon those advancing their "absolute truth" and points out the harm in "absolute falsities", but some may find it viscerally unsatisfying, as it leaves intact the potential superiority of religious absolute truth.

However, I wish to proffer an additional argument against the superior value of absolute religous truth, even in the case most favorable to the theist. As I mentioned earlier, the human mind is inherently fallible; this is something that both theists and secularists agree upon (e.g. 1 Corintians 1:17-25). We all agree that mental delusions exist; if a man claims to speak to Napoleon, both theists and secularists agree he is delusional (with the exception of a small number of spiritualists who may be open to the possibility). However, if a man claims to speak to God, we may differ on his mental state. Even most theists, however, will probably agree that not everyone who claims to speak to God actually does; some may be lying, others may be delusional. If you think you may disagree with this premise, then all I must do is claim God spoke to me and told me Jesus wasn't His son, and you must accept it as true. Notwithstanding these objections, we have established that most theists and secularists agree that people who think they have a revelation from God may be wrong; our knowledge as to the validity of personal revelation in and of itself must be fallible.

Now let us turn to the other source of God's revelation to Christians, the Bible. As I said before, we all agree that people's perceptions and minds are eminently fallible. Both theists and secularists have readily admitted that we cannot measure the world with complete accuracy; indeed, there is a physical principle to that effect. Now, I think we all agree that the Bible is a natural phenomenon. I'm not talking about God's Word here; I'm talking about whatever physical book or books (or CDs or other vessel) entitled "The Bible" you use, whatever physical manuscripts people wrote those translations from, etc. We have agreed that we cannot examine the physical world with 100% reliability. This means that our readings are suspect, the translations are suspect, the copies are suspect, etc. as all are based on our understanding of physical reality, and therefore, fallible.

The standard response to this line of reasoning is that God's divine personal revelation to the translators, scribes, and the reader prevents the introduction of meaningful error. However, we have already agreed previously that not everyone that claims to have a revelation from God really does. How can we know if the author AND the scribe AND the translator AND you, the reader (or whoever does your reading and interpretation for you) truly is a recipient of God's revelation?

The typical Christian response: the Bible assures us that it is so. However, remember that we have already established that there is no way to know if the authorship, copying, translation, and interpretation of this passage is correct and divinely inspired. Our understanding of Christianity is either based on personal revelation to a human agent (which is fallible) or a reading of a physical document (which is also fallible). In the end, even the theist must admit that all the foundations of their faith are, at their core, fallible.

Even assuming that God exists, and assuming that he tries to impart absolute truth to humans, the bottleneck is that the recipient is fallible, subject to self-delusion, trickery, deceit, and flat-out error. Therefore, even divine "absolute truth" must be accepted as provisional, as the media through which it is transmitted is eminently and demonstrably fallible, and at best of no greater worth than science. However, so long as religous revelation claims to represent absolute truth, it actively discourages the search for alternative truths, and so still retains the drawbacks of "absolute falsity" without the real benefits and reliability of "absolute truth".

The explosion in naturalistic knowledge occurred primarily due to the development of a method for examining the natural world that insisted upon not only acknowledging but embracing the provisional nature of knowledge and the fallibility of the human experience. I argue that the philosophic understanding of every person can only improve after that person is not only willing but eager to say "I may well be wrong, and I look forward to finding out."

26 comments:

zilch said...

Yes indeed. Well done, shygetz.

John W. Loftus said...

What you wrote should be obviously seen as non-controversial by everyone. And yet religious believers still will disagree. Strange, isn't it?

A. Thinker said...

I'm no religious believer, but I can tell you how some would argue against this: "What you're arguing is that you can't really ever KNOW anything, so your own interpretation and the very statements you make are self-contradictory."

When I was in college, one of my English teachers was not very bright. She claimed that, "There are no absolute truths." I used the above argument to crush her, though obviously she still persisted in her ignorance. "There are no absolute truths" is itself an absolute truth, so it's self-contradictory. Similarly, logic offers us numerous absolute truths, although I'm not sure about whether or not they apply on a minute scale (I'm talking about the Law of Identity, etc). It's interesting to think it is apparently only philosophy which gives us real absolute truths at all. Do you think that's the case?

Shygetz said...

It's interesting to think it is apparently only philosophy which gives us real absolute truths at all.

No, I disagree with this statement, in that I require "absolute truth" to refer to something reflected in the real world. Philosophy (and mathematics) can only demonstrate "absolute truth" within an artificial framework; when this framework is applied to reality, it suffers from the same fallibility as everything else. As an analogy, it is an absolute truth by definition that in chess, a bishop may only move on the diagonal. However, if I were to attempt to apply this artificial framework to real bishops, I would fail to have an absolute truth about the real world.

"What you're arguing is that you can't really ever KNOW anything, so your own interpretation and the very statements you make are self-contradictory."

Oh no, you'll notice that my argument relies centrally on an appeal to belief (indeed, the first paragraph states the central appeal to belief; the belief that human beings are fallible), and as such can only be inductive, not deductive. I fully acknowledge that I may be wrong--but I don't think I am.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi shygetz,
great post, it underscores another of the untenable principles of christianity. The doctrine of original sin guarantees the doctrine of inerrency is false.

A. Thinker said...

Philosophy (and mathematics) can only demonstrate "absolute truth" within an artificial framework; when this framework is applied to reality, it suffers from the same fallibility as everything else.

I disagree here. 1 + 1 is always equal to 2. This is not an artificial framework. My boss, who is an insane Christian, would certainly even argue that numbers (and math) are real things, i.e. platonic ideals. He always asks, "Where do we get these ideals, if not god?" I just want to laugh. In any case, you still haven't really convinced me that the absolute truths that we find from logic are not indeed absolute. Are you saying that in reality, an orange could be an apple? I don't get it.

As an analogy, it is an absolute truth by definition that in chess, a bishop may only move on the diagonal. However, if I were to attempt to apply this artificial framework to real bishops, I would fail to have an absolute truth about the real world.

Aside from possible equivocation on the word "bishop", this is one of those "duh" statements. However, it doesn't represent the argument. An absolute truth from logic here would simply be: A bishop is a bishop and not a king (law of identity). Or: A chess piece, B, is not a pawn, king, queen, rook, or knight, so B is a bishop (law of excluded middle, kinda).

It's these truths that apply to reality, although I admit I don't know much about quantum physics, where I've heard such properties may not actually hold.

We may be a bit confused here. Your disagreement was with a statement I made about philosophy giving us absolute truths. My point was not that every "truth" of philosophy was an absolute truth in reality; just that some of them are. If you would say that nothing is absolute in reality, then that statement itself is self-contradictory and so can be dismissed as invalid.

I think I know what your point is overall, though, and I pretty much agree with it. I just disagree with your statements about logic/math/chess, partly because I am a mathematician, and partly because I'm a chess player. ;)

B H said...

I disagree here. 1 + 1 is always equal to 2. This is not an artificial framework.

At the elementary level, it depends on what you're adding in the real world. Large volumes of matter don't add so neatly, due to gravity. And there's certain inherent problems in expecting some subatomic particles to behave so neatly. Of course, with more complete mathematics, we can account for that.

At the more theoretical level, it is possible to create theories of mathematics that have no direct correspondence to our world. I find the best examples are in geometry. If you take a look at Euclidean Geometry and its alternatives, you can clearly see how some mathematical "truths" can either apply or not depending on the theory's appropriateness for the system its applied to.

A. Thinker said...

b h:
This is true. I agree completely. My point is not that all mathematical/philosophical truths are always true in reality; just that some must necessarily be, or there's no point to doing anything at all ever.

This is somewhat related to the Munnchausen trilemma, which just came up over at the richarddawkins.net forums. That trilemma still seems absurd, but I'm having trouble disproving it.

Shygetz said...

It's these truths (logical laws of identity and such) that apply to reality, although I admit I don't know much about quantum physics, where I've heard such properties may not actually hold.

It is true; such properties often do not hold at the quantum level. As such, they cannot be absolute truths about reality, but they can (and are) very useful and accurate approximations about the world of moderate size, moderate speed, and moderate time scale that we live in. Moreover, these laws are based solely on human experience, which results in flawed interpretations of reality (which is why, every so often, a previously held "law" is found to be violated).

My point is not that all mathematical/philosophical truths are always true in reality; just that some must necessarily be, or there's no point to doing anything at all ever.

I disagree with that assertion on several levels. First of all, your argument is solely an appeal to consequences; there must be absolute truth, else everything is pointless. The universe doesn't owe you (or me) meaning.

Second, useful approximations persist because they are useful. The fact that they are approximations does not eliminate the fact that they are useful.

If you would say that nothing is absolute in reality, then that statement itself is self-contradictory and so can be dismissed as invalid.

It can only be dismissed as an absolute truth (one that is wholly true at all possible times, places, and situations). I never claimed it was an absolute truth, and freely admitted that I may be wrong; however, I maintain that it is a useful approximation.

And I would hope that, as a mathemetician, you can appreciate the fact that mathematical models, when applied to reality, always carry error (albeit often VERY small). Heisenberg's uncertainty principle has not yet been violated.

Shygetz said...

I misstated my working definition of "absolute truth"; it should NOT read "one that is wholly true at all possible times, places, and situations".

Rather, it should read:

a truth in which one may have complete certainty

My apologies for the error.

A. Thinker said...

Hmm. I like your point there, shy. I think I just missed a few inbetween steps before. I know my uber-Christian boss would still argue against it, but you've convinced me.

Although, as a mathematician, yes, all models carry error, but does math always represent a model of reality? I guess this only means that math could only be certainly true within the framework of mathematics.

Shygetz said...

Hey, I convinced a mathemetician; it's been a GREAT day!

Although, as a mathematician, yes, all models carry error, but does math always represent a model of reality?

Perhaps not; but when it does not, what is the purpose of math (other than the rather important purpose of aesthetic beauty)? I can fully accept that some branches of mathematics may serve as models for aspects of reality not yet probed (e.g. string theory); however, if a branch of mathematics is purposely divorced from reality, then how could one ever gather evidence that it was true outside of the artificial framework of mathematics?

B H said...

I think its a shame we only have one word for truth. It would be much easier to have these discussions if we could talk about truth within a formal language being separate from truth as accurate statements about physical entities.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi bh,
I agree,
so far in the past week I have had two christians default to "we can't know" about babies and mentally incapacitated getting salvation and whether god is good is good or not with relation to the problem of evil.

pretty sad for a religion boasting about ultimate truths.

Dillie-O said...

Just because the foundation is potentially falliable doesn't make it falliable by default. I think you're trying to push Christianity into that box because of it.

Even Christianity as a whole has gone under its own scrutiny. The concept of the trinity, while alluded to in the scriptures, wasn't fully fleshed out (and continued to until this day) through a series of ecumenical councils where they hashed out what was going on in the scriptures. This doesn't seem too terribly different than a bunch of scientists working on figuring out the mechanics of black holes. We now know the black hole exists, now how does it actually work. And if we make this conclusion, how does it reflect in some of the consequences of our universe. I was watching something just the other day about Stephen Hawking completely reversing his own theory of black holes for a new one, which he is still trying to prove today in intricate detail.

Unless I'm misinterpreting the dialog Shy, you make the comment "The universe doesn't owe you (or me) meaning." when referring to an appeal to consequences. Does this become an appeal to "mystery"? We don't know how something works, but since the universe doesn't have to tell us, it just "works" and we'll figure it out later? I can flip this statement around to our good friend Problem of Evil and say that god has the grand scheme worked out and he doesn't owe you an explanation right now and you'll accuse me of appealing to mystery. What am I missing?

The problem I have with science as a whole is that it can't answer all the questions we have. I can't scientifically prove that my dead father once existed. I can use historical documents, bills he paid, photos I have, my own testimony to the things he did, but I can't reproduce his life. How do I scienficially define "funny"? If a guy walks up to a state with a ray gun that triggers brain nerve B and makes people laugh, does that make them funny? How does science answer all these questions, ESPECIALLY when we're dealing with the big picture here of life, love, and the universe?

So humans are falliable and can't ascertain things to 100% truth (with some objections) then is it considered valid to come to a "useful approximation" of how the universe works and let the absolute truth work out the details?

Shygetz said...

Just because the foundation is potentially falliable doesn't make it falliable by default.

Yes, it does, and you of all people should know that. Isn't your religion the one with the parable of the house built on shifting sand?

This doesn't seem too terribly different than a bunch of scientists working on figuring out the mechanics of black holes.

That is part of my point. Christianity cannot claim an absolute truth for the same reason science cannot; they both depend on the meidation of human minds and senses. The difference is that Christianity DOES claim absolute truth, and by doing so discourages further exploration for other explanations, which is to its disadvantage.

you make the comment "The universe doesn't owe you (or me) meaning." when referring to an appeal to consequences. Does this become an appeal to "mystery"? We don't know how something works, but since the universe doesn't have to tell us, it just "works" and we'll figure it out later?

You misunderstood, and you misunderstand Appeal to Mystery. The comment you quoted was in response to the objection that, if absolute truth cannot exist for humans, then human endeavors become pointless. That is an Argument from Consequences (in addition to my other objection to this argument); the fact that premise A would make human endeavors pointless does not argue either for or against the truth of premise A.

As for Appeal to Mystery, in order to commit this fallacy, I would have to claim that things are unknowable. You'll note that I am careful not to say that; I say that absolute truth is impossible, but I specifically mention the value of useful approximations. Were I to Appeal to Mystery, I would say that reality is inherently unknowable at all levels, and therefore should not be studied. In case you can't tell, I am vehemently against such a proposition, which is one reason why I rail so heavily against religions that suggest we do just that.

The problem I have with science as a whole is that it can't answer all the questions we have.

Then you must hate everything. Stupid knife, can't open my garage door. Stupid garage door opener, can't cut my steak.

I can't scientifically prove that my dead father once existed. I can use historical documents, bills he paid, photos I have, my own testimony to the things he did, but I can't reproduce his life.

And that is the worst example of science's failures that I have ever seen. You can't prove that not using science, assuming "prove" means to establish with absolute certainty. That's the whole point; you can't establish anything with absolute certainty, whether you use science, religion, or dowsing. But, using science, you can be extremely darn certain while still remaining open to further evidence. With religion, you either believe completely (and therefore stop looking for other explanations) or you burn.

How do I scienficially define "funny"?

Science does not define; science measures, catagorizes, and explains. Science could determine if something was funny given a definition of funny; defining is an artificial framework, and as such, not subject to science (although necessary for scientists to communicate effectively).

How does science answer all these questions, ESPECIALLY when we're dealing with the big picture here of life, love, and the universe?

How does science define what is funny? It doesn't; everyone must decide for themselves. Then, people will gather together in social compacts that share similar compatible (yet subjective) definitions of funny (a process which linguists and some socialogists study). Science can't answer "what is my favorite color" either, which is really the same question; it is what you define it to be, and nothing else.

So humans are falliable and can't ascertain things to 100% truth (with some objections) then is it considered valid to come to a "useful approximation" of how the universe works and let the absolute truth work out the details?

Man, you love anthropomorphizing "absolute truth". Truth does not "work" anything, much less whatever "details" you are talking about.

You seem stuck in a mindset where some being must know the absolute truth with complete certainty. Why? How do you know? And most germane to the issue, how certain are you?

When it comes to describing the universe in which they live, humans muddle by as best they can. All in all, we've made great progress in narrowing the error in our useful approximations, and working out the details in our models. But, the only way we have been able to do this is by acknowledging that they ARE ONLY useful approximations and models, and MUST be subject to revision and review.

Religion seeks an exception, claiming absolute truth with absolute certainty. As I demonstrated, this is impossible, as all known avenues of knowing for humans must be fallible, including divine revelation. Therefore, religion (even if wholly true) makes a false claim of certainty, and pays only in a false sense of security.

Dillie-O said...

Then you must hate everything. Stupid knife, can't open my garage door. Stupid garage door opener, can't cut my steak.

My point exactly, but for a different reason. We use the wrong contexts too many times as the source or engine of proof. Applying the proper context makes a world of difference.

I think the rest of the discussion takes a back seat at the moment only because I do believe there is absolute truth. Call it the platonic forms, call it the laws of physics, call it god, but not having absolute truth seems to make your claim even less valid. 2+2=4 remains true even if I believe that you're supposed to carry a 8 so that it equals 7. I may not be able to see it 100% of the time, but the laws of universe function beyond what I can or cannot discover.

zilch said...

Then you must hate everything. Stupid knife, can't open my garage door. Stupid garage door opener, can't cut my steak.

Depends on how they're applied. My mom's garage had an outdoors switch mounted in a locked box, but you could slip a knife in the box and trip the switch. Likewise, I'm willing to bet that with imagination, you could find a way to cut a steak (albeit messily) with a garage door opener. :lol:

Shygetz said...

I think the rest of the discussion takes a back seat at the moment only because I do believe there is absolute truth.

Oh, I also believe there is an objective reality that is the absolute truth. The point of the article is that I cannot know it with certainty due to the fallibility of the human mind and senses.

Look at it this way; it is commonly acknowledged that one cannot disprove solipsism (or last-Thusday-ism, or any other silly norm). If you cannot prove something as trivial as that, how can you claim to be able to grasp any truth with certainty?

2+2=4 remains true even if I believe that you're supposed to carry a 8 so that it equals 7.

Are you completely certain that this is always true? If I take two particles in a void and add two more particles, will I always have only four particles?

akakiwibear said...

Wow, what a lot of verbal and logical gymnastics to establish the obvious!!! If there were absolute proof that God did/not exist then we would know with absolute certainty and there would either be no theists or no atheists (perhaps a few 'flat earth' equivalents).

What seems to have prompted shy’s rant is the obviously mistaken belief that With religion, you either believe completely (and therefore stop looking for other explanations) or you burn. .

Shy, you could have saved yourself a lot of futile mental gymnastics if you just got your basics right!

akakiwibear said...

Wow, what a lot of verbal and logical gymnastics to establish the obvious!!!
If there were absolute proof that God did/not exist then we would know with absolute certainty and there would either be no theists or no atheists (perhaps a few trapped in their tea cups).

What seems to have prompted shy’s rant is the obviously mistaken belief that With religion, you either believe completely (and therefore stop looking for other explanations) or you burn. .

Shy, you could have saved yourself a lot of futile mental gymnastics if you just got your basics right!

Shygetz said...

Wow, what a lot of verbal and logical gymnastics to establish the obvious!!!

And yet you still miss "the obvious."

If there were absolute proof that God did/not exist then we would know with absolute certainty and there would either be no theists or no atheists (perhaps a few 'flat earth' equivalents).

Then this thread, where Dan Marvin he was 100% sure that Christianity was true must not exist. And yet, evidence suggests it's there. So, if my conclusion that nothing can be known with certainty is so obvious, why do so many of your fellow theists have such a hard time admitting that they are not 100% certain in their religion?

Are you 100% certain that Christianity is true?

What seems to have prompted shy’s rant is the obviously mistaken belief that With religion, you either believe completely (and therefore stop looking for other explanations) or you burn.

That is shorthand for literary effect. The complete exposition of my idea is in the original post; that the false certainty encouraged by revelatory religion, the explanations that explain everything and yet explains nothing, even in the best case offers no more certainty than empirical knowledge. And yet, even though it offers no benefit of certainty, it offers the drawback of preventing further exploration by claiming to have an unassailable monopoly on truth.

Plenty of people understood the post, yet you seem to be having trouble. This suggests that perhaps the trouble isn't with my writing...

akakiwibear said...

Shygetz, you choose to misunderstand my point, which, if you had chosen to recognise it, in part supports your position that you/Christians cannot know the existence or otherwise of God with absolute certainty, the 2+2=4 uncertainty argument above.

Clearly Dan's view exists (he seems to be as certain in his religious views as he would be that 2+2=4), and yours that he is wrong exists = my point there is no absolute proof = your point Christianity cannot claim an absolute truth for the same reason science cannot Take a breath from your rhetoric and read that I have agreed with you.

It is however interesting that your logic leads you to the classic agnostic position - cannot know - but it seems as if you have the faith and fervour of a reborn atheist.

More specifically you fail to substantially address my main point (and that of dillie-o) that your premise Christianity DOES claim absolute truth, and by doing so discourages further exploration for other explanations is false. Do you reject the parallel that both theology and science are developing fields of study i.e. neither field of study is fully known and explained? If you do you should look into theology a bit more, if not then your premise is mistaken and your lengthy argument, while interesting, is mere verbal gymnastics to state the obvious – there is no absolute truth.

Shygetz said...

akaki, the relevant passage from my post is:

"However, I wish to proffer an additional argument against the superior value of absolute religous truth, even in the case most favorable to the theist."

You can see that I am limiting my critique to claims of absolute religious truth, not to all claims of revealed knowledge in which the believer expresses doubt. I fully admitted that the phenomenon of absolute certainty in revealed knowledge was limited to some theists, not all theists. I then pointed out Dan as an example of the existence of unjustified absolute certainty; an example which you apparently accepted. So, I take it you agree that absolute certainty in Christianity is unjustified, and that it is a problem that does exist within Evangelical Christianity (although I do not claim it is ubiquitous).

Do you reject the parallel that both theology and science are developing fields of study i.e. neither field of study is fully known and explained?

I reject that all religions see themselves as developing fields, although I strongly support that they all should. Indeed, some religions loudly boast of how their religion is the one that hasn't changed and is unchanging. Whether or not their claim of unchangability is correct, it is effective in discouraging further exploration for truth, as they unjustifiably believe with complete certainty that they already have it.

It is however interesting that your logic leads you to the classic agnostic position - cannot know - but it seems as if you have the faith and fervour of a reborn atheist.

I am a weak atheist and a weak agnostic (I could be considered as leaning to strong agnosticism, but I cannot know with certainty that I cannot know); I do not know if god(s) exist, but I have a strong statistical argument against any particular incarnation of god(s) that is proferred without evidence to support it, especially those that exclude the existence of other gods. However, my certainty even in that belief is not absolute; I fully admit that there is some infentesimally small chance that the Flying Spaghetti Monster exists.

If you can point out any area where I demonstrated "faith" in atheism, please point it out to me; both I and my critics would enjoy seeing it. I have repeatedly asked for evidence and refused to believe in the absence of it; however, I don't think I have ever stated that god(s) cannot exist.

akakiwibear said...

shy - good reply.
My "faith and fervour" comment is a response to the general tone of your posts and comments.

There are a number of exaggerations/generalisations that you freely make without apparently questioning them – is that faith? This post where you wrongly attribute to Christians as a whole - not a specific group - views that are not even vaguely main stream is an example of what I see as akin to “blind faith” in the often inaccurate antitheist rhetoric of some prominent atheists evangelists.

It is sad that some atheists appear to see Christian bashing as a necessary part of justifying their position.

Firstly it is destructive in a human sense, negative stereotyping, sowing division and denigrating polemic cannot be construed as helping to create a harmonious society – but then perhaps atheists feel obliged to be seen to be actively working against the core message of main stream religions – peace.

Secondly it suggests that they are insecure in their belief and rather than seeking to truly validate their position they seek to indiscriminately attack the holders of a contrary view. Even sadder for them when the specific view they attack is not representative of the contrary position. If you disagree with the specific views an individual expresses challenge them.

Before you say it – yes my criticism is equally true of a lot Christian evangelists. Mostly I see little to differentiate the style and reasoning of atheist and fundamentalist religious evangelists.

I take from tone of your above reply that you can see beyond the rhetoric and certainly you can deliver some valid points.
Peace be with you

Shygetz said...

There are a number of exaggerations/generalisations that you freely make without apparently questioning them...

Then you should have no problem naming just one specific example. Yet you haven't.

This post where you wrongly attribute to Christians as a whole - not a specific group - views that are not even vaguely main stream is an example of what I see as akin to “blind faith” in the often inaccurate antitheist rhetoric of some prominent atheists evangelists.

Where did I attribute absolute certainty to Christians as a whole? As I pointed out, I specifically said "some theists" believe in the absolute certainty of their religion, and state that science's uncertainty is a flaw. Third paragraph in the original post--don't take my word for it, read it yourself. Yet you persist in attributing arguments to me that I didn't make, stating that I claimed "Christians as a whole". Since when did "some theists" become "Christians as a whole"? I must have missed that day.

It is sad that some atheists appear to see Christian bashing as a necessary part of justifying their position.

Where did I "bash" anyone? I didn't (at least, not in this post).

but then perhaps atheists feel obliged to be seen to be actively working against the core message of main stream religions – peace.

Need I remind you of your religious history (or even the current news)? "Peace" is hardly the fruit of mainstream religions.

It is sad that some theists appear to see atheist bashing as a necessary part of justifying their position.

Secondly it suggests that they are insecure in their belief and rather than seeking to truly validate their position they seek to indiscriminately attack the holders of a contrary view.

And yet you offer not one single example of where I "indiscriminately attack(ed) the holders of a contrary view." Why? Because you can't. It never happened, and any interested readers can see for themselves.

If you wish to discuss my views, please discuss them, and not what you want them to be or how they made you feel. I know it is often easier to attribute false views to me and then attack them, but it hurts your reputation more than my argument, as the real text of my argument is right here for anyone to see, including yourself. If you find you are unable to attack my actual view, then agree with it or declare your uncertainty (or maintain silence), do not demean yourself by repeatedly setting up false arguments to rebut.