More Christian Heuristic Analysis

I'm a big fan of argument analysis, and in William Lobdells post he listed several common Christian heuristics for dealing with the problem of apostasy. In the comments section of his article you can see one of our christian guests using some other common heuristics which I've taken a moment to analyze. I welcome William, and I hope he'll consider joining DC as an author.

This is a list of some of the heuristics William handled in his post:
Criticism: You’re anti-religious or anti-Christian.
Criticism: You are trying to lead people away from God and/or Jesus Christ
Criticism: You’ve confused the sinfulness of man with a perfect God.
Criticism: You were never really a serious Christian, so you didn’t really lose your faith, you never had it.
Criticism: You’ve consigned yourself to an eternity in hell

In the comments section of that article one of our guests used quite a few common heuristics laying them out nicely for an opportunity for analysis. In my view these heuristics are the result of various cognitive biases and unskilled thinking. A couple of Good books on that sort of thing are "How We Know What Isn't So" by Thomas Gilovich and "How To Think About Weird Things" by Theodore Schick and Lewis Vaughn

"no you have not lost your faith – just exchanged it. "
This depends on belief being a voluntary action. Try believing that the sun won't come up tomorrow, or the sun will not set around the time its forecast. I can't do it, and I don't think anyone else can either. One can commit to an idea, but that is completely different than having a belief or an emotional investment in it. I can say "Sir" or "Ma'am" completely independent of whether I think its deserved or not.

One practical test of whether belief is inherently "rational" is to look through trivia game cards and choose the right answer from four or five options. Sometimes there will be one that the observer thinks right away could be the answer, then see another that the observer "feels" more likely to be the right answer. Then the observer is wrong and it was the one the observer thought before but didn't feel right. This kind of thing happens to me all the time. Belief, for the most part, is not consciously controlled, if at all.

"Without proof absolute either way to believe there is no God is as much of a leap of faith (more in my opinion) as to believe there is a God."
A lack of proof of something SHOULD cause a belief that a real world state is not being accurately described by the data. The commenter seems to say that the belief that the datum is unlikely given the lack of evidence is EQUIVALENT to believing it without evidence. The quality of the evidence is relevant only to the observer. The evidence may foster a belief in some people but not in others.

It is appropriate to doubt a datum that lacks support, it is NOT appropriate to commit to a datum that lacks support. The commenter faults the apostate for appropriately doubting the datum on the grounds that the evidence does not nurture, support, cause, sustain or warrant his belief. Therefore the commenter faults the apostate for not ARTIFICIALLY sustaining his emotional investment.

"I really think you are taking cheap (and intellectually weak) shots at the religion that has not met your expectations – by the way, did you meet Christ’s expectations of you?"
This depends on the apostates expectations being inappropriate. Were the apostates expectations inappropriate? If the apostates expectations were based on sound principles in support of the apostates value system then how can it be inappropriate? What expectations does the apostate have that is inappropriate? I think its safe to say that apostates are apostates because the evidence doesn't nurture, support, cause, sustain or warrant their belief. If the only definitive proof is some inner knowing about God, then if God is of One Mind, this inner knowing should be consistent across people and multiple denominations of Christianity are evidence that its not.

"But why should we expect more of Christians and their institutions than of secular organizations?"
"Secular organizations do it too!"
Is it inappropriate to fault something because other things exhibit the same behavior. But it can be appropriate to fault things even though the behavior is exhibited by the speaker. Should I NOT reprimand my child for vulgar language even though I do it too? My child has every right to reprimand me, and to further reprimand me for not being consistent. In this case, how Secular organizations behave has no bearing on how Christian organizations should behave.

"it is rational to expect Christianity to attract more than its fair share – where else would they go in an unforgiving world?"
This presumes Christians are in a constant state of "recovery" from their sin. The guest concludes that there are more "sinners" in church exactly because "sinners" see church as place they can go to help overcome their "sin". Therefore it should be expected that one would find "sinners" in church. After all, people that go into an Ice Cream shop have a desire for and are lacking ice cream, so we would expect to find people lacking ice cream in the ice cream shop.

The missing qualifier in that reasoning scheme which disconfirms it and which is the qualifier that breaks the circle is the effectiveness of the ice cream shop in providing Ice Cream. People do get their ice cream because the ice cream shop is effective at selling it to them. So if customers of ice cream never left the store, we should see more of the customers that have had ice cream, and can get it anytime they want and less of those that want it, do not have it and have not had it.

I'll concede that we are all in constant state of recovery from undesirable human behavior. That is what education and learning how to associate in a society is all about. But this leads to the question of HOW EFFECTIVE CHRISTIANITY IS at dealing with undesirable Human Behavior (Sin) compared to other methods. When you assess the effectiveness and efficiency of Christianity on dealing with undesirable human behavior, its evident that it has no advantage.

"[the apostate says] 'I indeed was a serious Christian' Well you certainly went through some of the motions!"
This asserts that though the apostates behavior was consistent with a true believer, his apostasy proves that he never really believed at all. This missing qualifier which disconfirms the statement and breaks the circle is the intent behind the actions. What benefit would the NON-BELIEVER have in ACTING LIKE A BELIEVER? Obviously to act like a Christian is a result of believing oneself to be a Christian or believing their is some benefit to pretending to be a Christian. To say that someone pretended to be a Christian for over a decade and then decided to renounce it and advertise it requires some forethought and premeditation to what benefit? To put oneself into an undesirable minority? Not bloody likely.

"have fallen into what seems to be a common atheist trap on giving up religion – finding in the literalistic interpretation of the bible anything that can be criticised."
The guests seems to be saying that though the Bible is the revealed word of God, it shouldn't be taken at face value. Its only accurate so far, but they won't define any parameters. Bring some parameters for how to measure what is an accurate representation of a real world state and what is not to the table and there might be a case for a non-literal interpretation. As it stands, it is not clear that the author of the scripture did not intend for it to be taken literally except where there is an obvious use of metaphor such as in the case of parables.

"Given the social context of His time there were many things Jesus did not directly seek out against – capital punishment etc."
This seems to presume that it was somehow inappropriate for God on Earth to speak out against slavery, or not killing witches. If Jesus was God on Earth, then in order to Qualify as God he must have been the ultimate authority, so how would it have been inappropriate? Is it NOT a sound principle that the most qualified should lead, or that the authority should exercise that authority, or that beings should be prevented from intentionally or otherwise harming themselves or others? To make the guests claim tenable the criteria for appropriate behavior in an authority and the criteria for appropriate behavior by the observer of suffering must be modified.

"The problem you seem to have faced was that when you realized God was not in the beliefs you held you seem to have decided there is no God rather than that God might be different from what you believed or wanted Him to be."
This is the old "I Got Mine, Why Can't You Get Yours?" argument. If the apostate understood Christianity the way our guest understands it, the apostate would still be a believer. Meaning that if the Apostate would ignore disconfirming qualifiers in the standard Christian reasoning schemes, then they would still be a believer. I Agree.

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