"One of the surprising discoveries of modern psychology is how easy it is to be ignorant of your own ignorance.”

I had started in September with what I call the Argument From Ignorance, Part I of which can be found here. This is Part II, the final part. Sorry it took me so long.

We are all prone to believing lies. We all believe what we want to believe. We believe what we prefer to believe. We defend lies. We are all ignorant about most things. We lie to ourselves. And we lie to others. All of us. We must candidly all admit we just don't know what we claim to know given our failings as human beings. It’s the human condition.

Don’t believe me? Then I challenge Christians to look into psychological studies and brain research to see such things as how the brain is woefully inadequate to be objective about the facts. We skew the evidence in favor of conclusions we want to be true all of the time. Dan Dennett summed up the results: "One of the surprising discoveries of modern psychology is how easy it is to be ignorant of your own ignorance.” [“Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon,” page 31]

Read through these links to learn why:

Who's Ignorant?

Some Thoughts on Science and Religion

Revealing the Reasoning of the Believer.

Christian Belief Through the Lens of Cognitive Science.

A Review of Valerie Tarico's Book.

There are many books dealing with this topic too, as seen here.

Let me illustrate from personal experiences. As a teen I found an interesting book by Frank Edwards on UFO’s. I read it and then several like it. So I became convinced there were UFO’s because what a person reads or experiences shapes what he thinks. Later, having graduated from Great Lakes Christian College, I was a conservative in every respect. But I had not yet studied the Biblical feminist arguments. A graduate from Emmanuel School of Religion presented the case and recommended some books which convinced me of that position even though I was a conservative in every other area. It was because of his influence and the books I first read on the topic that convinced me of that non-conservative position which was inconsistent with everything else I believed.

How does this relate to our debates? What is the argument from ignorance?

Since it is so patently obvious and non-controversial based upon scientific studies of the human brain and psychology that human beings are ignorant about their own ignorance then we should not believe what we prefer to believe without plenty of scientific empirical evidence for it. This leads intellectually honest people to skepticism about that which they want to believe. Period. All of us.

Since we are so prone to believing based upon hunches and guesses and ignorance we should do what prosecutors do when deciding whether or not to prosecute a person for a crime. Prosecutors cannot decide this on hunches and guesses. They need evidence; hard evidence. And when it comes to circumstantial evidence they need a lot of it. Notice here I’m not suggesting what a jury must do in deciding the case, for they must decide whether or not the person did the crime. My standards are more relaxed than that. It’s whether there is enough evidence to move forward with prosecution itself. Prosecutors must think they have a case.

In my opinion one of the biggest lies of all is Christianity. It's a self-delusional one that Christians refuse to admit is a lie just like the story of the Emperor with no clothes. The people all pretended he had clothes on despite what was obvious to them all.

So while I don’t think subjectivism is the case I do think we are all far less objective then anyone wants to admit.

So I’m not claiming we do not strive for objectivity. I’m claiming emphatically that we human beings all fail in being objective when there isn’t a mutually agreed upon reliable test to adjudicate our differences. We’re all woefully inadequate at being objective. Dismally inadequate. That's why science is the best antidote to wishful thinking.

My main thrust is that believers cannot be sure they are right. After all, they are making affirmative knowledge claims about God, the Bible, Jesus, the church, and so forth. I deny these claims. That's basically all I do. When someone claims they saw something, anything, I have a right to question whether the person saw this. Usually I don't question most claims if they are what we would expect to find in the natural world, since such claims told by a sincere, honest person, with no axe to grind, are so to speak, on the boards. But the number and range of the affirmative claims by Christians is vast, many of which must be right for their faith to be probably true.

Debates take place between us about many issues from the nature of Biblical slavery to the resurrection. Just looking at how confident Christians are in these debates is amazing to me. There are plenty of other reasonable conclusions someone can come to about such issues, but no, they act like answer men--they have the right answers that any reasonable person should see as the truth about them, even people in the past! They ignore for the most part the fact that many other professing Christians, the only kind we see, disagree with these conclusions.

Christianity, the kind I criticize here, claims that God will judge us based on what we believe. We must believe certain things to be saved. If we don't, then to hell we go. And so in the Bible are many warnings not to be led astray by false teachers. My point is that we are all easily led astray. We know this from psychological studies and brain science. Again, we know this. This science cannot be disputed. So I find it incomprehensible to think human beings will be judged by the content of what they believe. And I find it likewise ignorant for someone to claim s/he knows the truth; the whole truth with a kind of certainty believers express. That's literally impossible. Doubt and skepticism about that which we claim to affirm is clearly required of beliefs which have no mutually agreed upon scientific test for them, which again, is the best method we have for sorting out that which we can know with any degree of assurance.

Isn’t it obvious to any well-traveled, well-read, highly educated, and any deep thinker today, that this universe is religiously ambiguous capable of being rationally understood in a number of different and even mutually exclusive ways? If you think otherwise you have not done much traveling outside your small world, nor read very many diverse books, nor gained any advanced degrees, nor do you think very well. There is a great amount of religious diversity on every continent and each religious sect has its defenders who can and do defend what they believe very intelligently.

This is a fact. It is obvious and non-controversial. Let me say it again but as a statement instead of a question. It should be obvious to any well-traveled, well-read, highly educated, and any deep thinker today that this universe is religiously ambiguous capable of being rationally understood in a number of different and even mutually exclusive ways.

If you think differently you live in a proverbial cave. The default position which is the intellectually honest position, is therefore, is agnosticism.

And agnosticism isn't much different than atheism, since an atheist is a non-theist and by extension, a non-believer. Agnostics are non-believers just like atheists. But the fact is that Christians are non-believers too. They do not believe in other gods or goddesses. I merely reject one more religion than they do FOR THE SAME REASONS!

-------------
This is a re-posted, edited version of the argument.

43 comments:

gustavolk-swagen said...

Brian Brushwood, a magician and skeptic advocate, recently featured on "Skeptic's Guide to the Universe" (Steven Novella and others), had this to say about the veracity of testimonials:

"False Memory and Eye-witness Testimony"

Originally, the lecture was done at Ouachita Baptist University.

He speaks quite a bit about brain research, so it relates directly to the last two paragraphs, starting with "Christianity, the kind..."

Bluemongoose said...

I completely agree that people are ignorant of their own ignorance. Did you know that the word agnostic comes from the same Greek root word as ignorant????

Teleprompter said...

"Did you know that the word agnostic comes from the same Greek root word as ignorant????"

Bluemongoose,

And your point is?

As John stated so clearly in this post, why would it be loving for a God to judge us upon the basis of our beliefs, if our beliefs are so prone to distortion?

I'm not impressed: do I have to be agnostic about that concept of God? I'm not buying it.

Bluemongoose said...

You're missing the most important part about God and His judgment. What if I said that because God is such a loving God and He didn't want us to drive ourselves crazy with the whole frustrating karma school of thought, that He gave us a way to have our slates wiped clean? He sent Jesus to take all our blame. The Son was forsaken so that we would be completely forgiven. So you see, you were so focused on the first part of the "good news" that you forgot about the last part.

"You spin me right 'round baby, right 'round. Like a record baby..."

Eric said...

Is it easy to be ignorant of your own ignorance? Absolutely. However, with respect to the Christian and the skeptic, this cannot but cut both ways. Why? Because a skeptic cannot even merely question a Christian without presupposing a host of claims. There's no such thing as a presuppositionless question. Hence, the skeptic, by way of the act of questioning, is himself making a number of claims that must be right if the question is to have any force.

The skeptical razor is the most difficult of all to wield -- it rarely leaves its user, even the most skilled (e.g. Rorty), unscathed.

Jeff said...

John, just keep in mind that atheists are not immune to this ignorance about ignorance. I am sure you have thought about it, but I think it is worth mentioning. Moreover, this is closely tied to our own biases (or worldviews, if you like). We all see a skewed version of reality, which means we should take everything with a grain of salt - even the naturalist worldview.

Just something to think about - I'm not making an accusations :)

John W. Loftus said...

Eric it MUST cut both ways! It cannot be otherwise given the science of what we know to be the case. Read the books before you comment further, please. See for yourself.

I'm not disagreeing that we have assumptions at all, nor does the science. I'm saying there is every reason from what we know to question our assumptions, and that lacking a better method, the scientific method is the best we have to go on.

You and I agree on a host of things--things too numberous to mention--although we may differ at how we justify some of them, okay?

So get out your weight scales for a minute. The scales show us to have the same weight about the things we agree on. Now on my side place the claim that God doesn't exist and on your side place the claim that God does exist. Again, the weight is the same. Give that equal weight we should all be agnostics. That's what we should do when the scales are the same.

But wait! You do not just believe in a creator God. You believe in a whole host of additional theological views stemming from the Bible and the church that are simply bizzaro--check out the link!

Since I also agree with you in rejecting all other religious answers, then by rejecting your particular answer there is more weight on my side of the scales.

Geonite said...

Bluemongoose said "Did you know that the word agnostic comes from the same Greek root word as ignorant????"

Wrong.

Does ignorant bluemongoose know what gnostic means?

Geonite said...

In response to the post:

Of course we don't know. That's why Agnosticism is the only sane position to be in,

Teleprompter said...

Bluemongoose,

Why are you dissing karma? I see a lot of merit in a karma system.

Christians sometimes argue that suffering exists to help us perceive the good. But if we only go to hell or heaven after we die, what is the benefit of learning that? If we are reincarnated, we can put that knowledge to use for many generations. It seems very practical to me. Don't diss belief systems just because they may be foreign to you.

Also, you did absolutely nothing to answer my question. You didn't answer it: you pretended that you did, but you didn't.

You say, Jesus wiped our slate clean. What good does that do for the billion Muslims? Or the hundreds of millions of Hindus? If belief is somewhat dependent on uncontrollable factors, how could a loving god judge us merely upon the basis of beliefs? Are you telling me that salvation should be dependent upon chance?

But God does not play dice, no? ;)

Geonite,

I'd like to add that agnosticism and atheism need not be contradictory stances: one can hold both positions to be valid at the same time. I can say that I am agnostic in that I cannot *know objectively* that a god exists, but I can also be atheist in that I *believe* that no gods exist (or that I live in such a manner as I would if no gods existed).

Geonite said...

Teleprompter,

Saying that you believe no god exists but are not sure means you are an agnostic and not an atheist.

I struggle with it all the time. My reason and logic tell me that there is no god but I can't totally rule out the possibility that god is beyond human reason and logic.

I'm a scientist and if I can't prove it I have to say I don't know.

Geonite said...

Eric said,

"However, with respect to the Christian and the skeptic, this cannot but cut both ways. Why? Because a skeptic cannot even merely question a Christian without presupposing a host of claims. There's no such thing as a presuppositionless question."

I'm going to throw your own logic back at you and tell you that Christians presuppose a host of claims. Christians are even less capable of presupposing than non-believers are.

Your entire argument is a moot point.

Teleprompter said...

Geonite,

"Saying that you believe no god exists but are not sure means you are an agnostic and not an atheist."

Saying that I believe no leprechauns exist but am not objectively sure means I am agnostic to leprechauns? No thanks.

Geonite said...

Technically you are.

:-)

Geonite said...

Not liking the truth doesn't make it any less truthful.

Embrace the bizarre of the universe we live in. It's fascinating.

Eric said...

"I'm going to throw your own logic back at you and tell you that Christians presuppose a host of claims."

Geonite, read it again. I began with, 'it cannot but cut *both ways*.'

Both ways means, both ways.

And I wasn't talking about presuppositions per se, but about the claim that it's easy to be ignorant of your own ignorance. My point was, the atheist can't say that by merely questioning the theist, he's making no claims, and hence isn't open to the charge of being ignorant of his own ignorance. This is where the presupposition part comes in: every question contains presuppositions, and any question has only as much force as the extent to which its presuppositions are true. Hence, to merely question is to presuppose the truth of a host of claims, and thus to remain just as open as anyone to the charge of being ignorant of one's ignorance.

"Christians are even less capable of presupposing than non-believers are."

Less capable? Are you sure you mean that?

John, I agree with much of what you wrote, but I'm not sure about this:

"The scales show us to have the same weight about the things we agree on. Now on my side place the claim that God doesn't exist and on your side place the claim that God does exist. Again, the weight is the same. Give that equal weight we should all be agnostics. That's what we should do when the scales are the same."

If you only mean that the weight is the same because we're both making claims, then the conclusion of agnosticism doesn't follow. But, if 'weight' is analogous to 'justification,' then I disagree with the premise: as I see it, the weight isn't equal. Also, if by justification you mean only evidence, I disagree that if the weight is equal, agnosticism follows (think about Plantinga's thought experiment concerning the man who knows he didn't commit a crime but in which all the evidence points to him). So, if by 'same weight' you mean 'is making a positive claim,' 'justification' or 'evidence,' then I disagree. If I missed the point of the analogy and you weren't referring to any of these three things, I'll have to see what you meant before I can comment further.

"Since I also agree with you in rejecting all other religious answers, then by rejecting your particular answer there is more weight on my side of the scales."

I don't see how this follows, since I reject your denial.

Also, you're considering this in a vacuum. Imagine this: We both agree in rejecting a host of possible conceptions of morality, but I accept one specific conception of morality, while you reject it as well (I'm not saying you in fact do; I'm assuming it arguendo). Does it follow that the 'weight' is in your favor simply because you reject what I accept, and since what I accept isn't in any sense amenable to scientific verification? I don't think that it does, especially if both my moral experience and my ratiocination give me no good grounds for doubting the veridicality of my moral conception. As I see it, the same is true with respect to belief in god. This isn't to say that I shouldn't vigorously question my beliefs, or that I shouldn't pay attention to robust cases against them; I think I should. I'm just saying that I don't see why, given everything I just mentioned, it's the case that the weight is on your side.


That said, thanks for the book recommendations. I'll check them out as soon as I get the chance.

Sabio Lantz said...

Being an atheist, I am amazed at all the cognitive illusion my brain is vulnerable to daily. It is for this reason that we have the scientific method, it is one check on our foolishness -- on MY foolishness !

But the trick is to still love our foolish selves -- because we ain't gettin' another !

Alan said...

I find it rather amusing that under the website title of "Debunking Christianity" is the text, "We are now freethinkers..."

Evolutionist William Provine from Cornell understands as an evolutionist that there is no free will since you are nothing but a product of random particle motion and chance. Click here for the wonderful hope and encouragement Provine is offering to those like-minded.

Alan said...

Purpose
To illustrate that much supposed “scientific objectivity” is subjective. Science is often tainted by human pre-conceptions. One cannot pursue science while disconnecting themselves from presuppositions, experiences, and an a priori belief system.

An adult may see a brown rabbit at 50 meters in a field of brown dead grass whereas a 2-year-old child may fail to locate it. An adult may see a green frog on a lily pad but a 2-year-old child may fail to locate it. Even though the child may have 20/20 vision, the child fails to locate the hard-to-see animal. Why? An adult has knowledge that the child does not. The adult has learned and memorized attributes of the rabbit and frog that the child has not. The adult has learned to differentiate between near-same colors. The adult has learned to be more patient and persevering than the child. The varying theories of cognitive development illustrate that the actual mechanisms are little understood. For example, the following link explains how multiple theories are supplanting Piaget’s traditional theory of cognitive development:

Theory of cognitive development

Instead of a child simply knowing where to look because the rabbit was previously in “that place”, the child may have a built-in “core knowledge” which gains them success in locating any object where previously first discovered. What has this got to do with an evolutionist deciding that men and monkeys have a common ancestral relationship because of homological and sequential similarities? It has everything to do with it. The Wikipedia link states: “Recently Piaget's theory has been falling out of favour for a new theory called Ecological Systems Theory. This is based on the contextual influences in the child's life like his/her immediate family, school, society and the world, and how these impact the child's development.” If this is true, and I believe it is, then we can readily see that one’s interpretation of a fossil or DNA sequence is HIGHLY dependent upon family, school, society and the world. Is looking at a fossil and drawing a conclusion a simple matter? The required mental processes are far more complex than what many assume:

Congitive Learning Theory
Information Theory

Is it possible for an adult to behold an object without drawing upon previous experience? If one thinks he is objective and free from prejudices when evaluating evidences, then that person is blind to his own inner-workings. I often hear the amusing words, “My interpretation is based solely on the evidence.” Something must be learned before one can analyze an object. Some people have a knack for finding 4-leaf clovers while others do not. Some can see the hidden objects in 3-D art prints whereas others cannot. People who suffer brain damage in an accident are more apt to understand that previous mental faculties were taken for granted.

Who is more “scientific”?

1) Theists who consider natural causes.

2)Atheists who consider ONLY natural causes.


Conclusion
If God is exchanged, ignored or denied prior to pursuing “science”, then one’s interpretation of evidences may be far removed from the actual truth, if he indeed exists. Reality as seen through naturalistic science alone may be nothing more than an illusion.

“Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.” - Richard Dawkins

“Evolution is the greatest engine of atheism ever invented.” - William Provine, Cornell

Teleprompter said...

Geonite,

"Not liking the truth doesn't make it any less truthful.

Embrace the bizarre of the universe we live in. It's fascinating."

No disrespect, that's still b.s. to me. When you have some potential for evidence of leprechauns, then I'll be agnostic about them, okay? Geez, this is silly and pedantic in the worst way possible.

Alan,

"If God is exchanged, ignored or denied prior to pursuing “science”, then one’s interpretation of evidences may be far removed from the actual truth, if he indeed exists. Reality as seen through naturalistic science alone may be nothing more than an illusion."

If a rational, logical system of removing cognitive biases through repeated experimentation in an attempt to arrive at inter-subjective truth is exchanged for the words of a book of legend that is thousands of years old, then one's interpretation of evidences may be far removed from the actual truth. Reality as seen through Bronze Age dogmas may be nothing more than a delusion.

Right back atch'ya, Alan.

James B said...

Thought I would plug the book by Dr. David Comings; Did Man Create God?. Comings, a behavioral and molecular geneticist, put together a great book for the layperson explaining the dynamics of both the rational and spiritual brain...case studies etc. Worth the read! Great reference.
Thanks

Alan said...

Teleprompter wrote: If a rational, logical system of removing cognitive biases through repeated experimentation in an attempt to arrive at inter-subjective truth is exchanged for the words of a book of legend. . .

What “rational, logical system” do you subscribe to? agnosticism, atheism, nihilism, empiricism, materialism, supernaturalism, etc. I suspect you favor empiricism because of your words, “repeated experimentation in an attempt to arrive at…” From history we know that empiricism has failed multiple times because the methodology of how the experiment was conducted was flawed. Take for instance Willard Libby’s method of using C14 to date carbonaceous materials. He got consistent, repeatable results but they were consistently wrong because his assumption that atmospheric C14 was in a state of equilibrium was wrong. As a matter of fact, I can’t think of any experiment that doesn’t rest on a priori assumptions. As much as you dislike the notion, everyone takes a leap of “faith” at some point whether atheist, agnostic, theist, or ?? My guess is that you’re gambling on the idea that you’ll never be accountable after death.

All of our reasoning ends in surrender to feeling. – Blaise Pascal

edson said...

"Christianity, the kind I criticize here, claims that God will judge us based on what we believe. We must believe certain things to be saved. If we don't, then to hell we go."

I think you are confusing between believing and trusting. Christianity emphasize faith system in the sense of appreciating and trusting what God has done to his people in the past and promised He'll do in the future, and not a mere believing, the one you got in your mind - makes somewhat that you have almost forgotten everything you were taught prior to your new faith!

Now the kind of Christianity you criticize here is the Evangelical Christianity, which according to the best of my knowledge (since I'm myself an evangelical)emphasizes on believing/trusting the right biblical theology as taught by the Apostles and early church fathers. Assuming that you also criticize what the Apostles taught or wrote about God's judgement and about Hell, it's better of you if I give you a hint of how the Apostles thought about this:

" As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame....for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved....[but] How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?.... [Obviously], faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. But I ask: Did [John] not hear? Of course [he] did! - Paul (Exercepts from Romans 10; emphasis mine).

Well, John, the rest are left in God's hand. I'm with you that no any christian, not even Bill Graham, has any knowledge of what it is about Christianity and its teachings. All we do is to trust on what is taught by the bible, just like lil children. As for those who do not fall in the apparent saved category, that's non of my business. Don't tell me I should be complacent and shun the free gift of salvation and eternal blissy life, just as not to look ignorant (to you). And that's my view.

God bless ya'll..!

John W. Loftus said...

Eric said...I don't see how this follows, since I reject your denial.

To reject one's denial of a claim is to affirm a claim. Anyone affirming a claim has the burden of proof. That burden is hard to meet for anyone given that we know the brain deceives us.

Let me state it this way: Even though we can see nothing wrong with what we believe and every reason to believe it, we also know from science that we ought to be.

John W. Loftus said...

See what Shermer wrote: Science is the best answer.

Bluemongoose said...

Hey, Geonite. Glad to see you join in. The earliest time the word "gnostic" pops up is about mid-1500s. By contrast, ignorant, agnostic and their Greek root are older. So riddle me this: what is the favorite mantra of agnostics? "I don't know" (if there's a God, how everything started, etc.) What does ignorant mean? Basically that one doesn't know. Uh-oh.
Geonite, when you resort to calling names, you give your debate opponent more credibility. Why? When people are losing their argument, then tend to unfairly hit below the belt. But by all means, keep on keepin' on with your status quo. I enjoy the boost in ratings.

Bluemongoose said...

Teleprompter:
Why do I diss karma? B/c one gets wrapped up in the dizzying cycle of "does this good deed cancel out this bad deed" and "how many good deeds does it take for me to be considered a 'good person'". Very frustrating.

Notice how you prefaced your second sentece w/ "I see", indicating you're using yourself as some sort of moral foundation. But why if you "see" something should the next person "see" it too, if we abide by relativism and no absolutes?

Benefit of ultimate punishment and reward: Good behavior derived from fear of punishment and unspoiled kids without entitlement issues. You're leaving out the age-old practice of the older generation passing on knowledge to younger generations. Also, the young can visually see mistakes made by their elders and learn that way. You limit things too much. Also notice how you again say, "It seems practical to me." The use of "to me" indicates you use yourself as a measurement of morality. But with all your peccadillos, why should you be the moral standard?

Don't diss belief systems b/c they may be foreign to you. I could flip that around on you. But this implies you assume I haven't studied any other schools of thought, and you know what happens when you assume...

Not answering your question. Boy, you atheists are quick to jump to conclusions. I was merely trying to get some more background on why you believe what you believe so I could better understand where you're coming from.

Uncontrollable factors. If we believe God is not a human and, therefore, doesn't have the same limitations we humans do, why do you believe reaching millions of Muslims is too hard for Him?

P.S. Riddle me this: Maybe He is limited by our free will????

Teleprompter said...

Bluemongoose,

I am not a psychic, but I knew that you'd flip that "don't diss belief systems unfamiliar to you" charge upon me. The answer, of course, is that I was a Christian for my entire life up until the last year, and for most of that year, I have been engaging many Christians such as yourself in discussions about religion. So I do know the territory.

As I have discussed in another thread, I believe that morality is conditional, not relativistic. That is, the conditions can be close to absolute. If an outcome is desired for a certain scenario, the action will most likely be the same for me and for someone else.

"Benefit of ultimate punishment and reward: Good behavior derived from fear of punishment and unspoiled kids without entitlement issues."

What? If we end up in hell for one finite life of mistakes, with no chance to apply those lessons, then what exactly have we learned? Then the whole project is just futile, isn't it? One life of mistake, bam, then you're damned. So such learning wouldn't really matter in the end if ultimate punishment and reward is the outcome.

Also, it is better to have people act because of fear of punishment, or is it better that people act out of deeply rooted ethical principles or from universal concern and empathy for others?

Christians love to ask, how can you look at Martin Luther King Jr. and not be inspired by his Christian faith? The thing is, he recognized that he had solidarity with all of humanity. He acted not because of reward and punishment, but because of his tremendous empathy for humankind. His moral principles were even deeper than those ascribed by his religion.

"You're leaving out the age-old practice of the older generation passing on knowledge to younger generations. Also, the young can visually see mistakes made by their elders and learn that way. You limit things too much."

What does that have to do with the idea of ultimate punishment/reward? This is tangential - you're changing the subject on me. Does the older generation passing on concepts to the younger generation really have *anything* to do with what we were talking about? There is nothing I said which opposes the idea that moral precepts should be shared between generations.

However, the morals that are shared between generations are imperfect - our morality is constantly being revised. A European elder of today might say that all killing is wrong, even capital punishment. A European elder of the 18th century might argue that it's legitimate to hang someone for stealing a loaf of bread. This point is tangential at best, but it still works better for my argument.

"Uncontrollable factors. If we believe God is not a human and, therefore, doesn't have the same limitations we humans do, why do you believe reaching millions of Muslims is too hard for Him?"

Quick to judge, eh? I don't believe "judge not, lest ye be judged". I believe "apply your discernment to everything". You've got to judge and be judged - or how do you function? But I should've given you the benefit of the doubt here. I apologize.

Why do I believe that reaching over a billion Muslims is too hard for God? Could it be that more Christians converted to Islam than the reverse? Whatever he's doing, it doesn't appear to be working, so that is a practical justification for you.

Also, if belief is somewhat determined by who your parents are and where you are born (even if the chances are only slightly greater that you will not be a Christian), then it is not loving to judge that person who has even a slightly greater chance of not believing due to uncontrollable factors on the same level as someone born elsewhere.

Riddle (me) this: maybe God is limited by our free will?

Free will, eh?

Then riddle me this: did you choose to be born where you are? Did you choose your parents? Did you choose what country/society you were born in? Just a thought.

Bluemongoose said...

Whew! Teleprompter, I'm glad you enjoy my company b/c we're going to be on this subject for a while.

Important questions. Close to absolute still means it's not absolute. Conditional, subjective, relative -- same thing. The telling part of your argument is your use of the words, "most likely", indicating the possibility for error in your statement.

Punishment. What if I told you that where you spend your eternity is not based on a lifetime of mistakes, but rather whether or not you made one cognitive choice in your lifetime -- however long that lifetime is?

Fear of punishment. You've submitted an either/or scenario. What if there was a 3rd option?

Why do you assume MLK recognized he had solidarity w/all of humanity? Surely white supremacists or the person who murdered him didn't agree w/that. Now, let's break the empathy thing down further. Why should MLK have had empathy for any individual at all?

So what does my "age-old" illustration have to do w/the ultimate punishment and reward subject? In your original bid for karma, you implied that the best way to impart knowledge from the older generations to the newer ones is through reincarnation. I was just showing you another scenario.

Constantly revised morality. If this is so rampant, wouldn't it make sense to have a scribed moral doctrine to pass down through the generations?

Judgment. I see you are slightly soured to the taste of "judge not lest ye be judged". What say you to "judge righteous judgment"? I agree that kicking judgment out of the moral arena definitely carries high stakes.

Conversions. No. 1: Where do you get this comparison from? No. 2: Are you implying b/c in one venue or another it "seems" Muslim conversions are higher than Christian ones, that that negates Yahweh's (God of the Bible) validity? Just out of curiosity, are you also factoring in forced conversions to Islam? "..it doesn't appear.." Again, evidence you're not so sure.

Uncontrollable factors. Again, you're listing factors uncontrollable to humans. Why do you think these factors have any bearing on God? Or perhaps that is the juicy center of this argument: Is God a liar, or is He who He says He is?

Geneology. Nope, didn't choose any of those factors, but neither is God hindered by them. Recall that Yahweh is no respector of persons, and He has a habit of using "untouchables" to do His wonders.

Geonite said...

You couldn;t be more wrong Bluemongoose.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gnosticism

Geonite said...

Teleprompter,

I think you need to forage into Quantum Mechanics.

If you've never seen the movies "What the bleep do we know" and "Down the rabbit hole" I'd like to suggest them as an introduction.

Geonite said...

Alan, you're right I screwed up that sentence. Sorry.

Steven said...

Geonite,

I don't know anything about "Down the rabbit hole," but "What the bleep do we know" is complete garbage and is definitely not a good introduction to thinking about quantum mechanics. It's a veneer of pseudoscientific pablum over vacuous mysticism.

Geonite said...

I disagree Steven. The scientists in that movie are tops in their fields and highly respected in the scientific community. I think they know what they are talking about. And some of them are Quantum Physicists. If the movie was garbage they wouldn't have agreed to participate.

Steven said...

Geonite,

The only physicist in that movie that could be considered "at the top of his game" these days is David Albert, and he disavows everything in that movie and says that his interview was selectively edited to appear to be the exact opposite of what he said.

The other guys, particularly Tiller, Hagelin, and Goswami are not considered to be mainstream scientists at all. Tiller and Goswami were good in their day, but have gone off the deep end, and Hagelin was a nut case from the very beginning. As for Fred Wolf, his physics is good, but he has been roundly criticised for attempting to present is unjustifiable metaphysical musings as something truly scientific. In other words, they are not at the tops of their fields any more and they are not highly respected.

The only one of them that had a reputation to lose disputes how they portrayed him, and says that his interview was conducted under false pretences.

For purported documentary, that's pretty much the very definition of garbage.

Bluemongoose said...

Geonite, that tidbit of info is all well and good. However, if you look at Gnostic's Greek root, you'll see something odd. Gnostic comes from the root "gnosis". In contrast, agnostic and ignorant both come from the Greek root "agnosis". "Gnosis" means knowledge. And we all know that the "a" at the beginning of the word means without. So if we put two and two together, we find out that I was right.

Thank you! Thank you! Don't forget to tip your waiter. Try the veal...

Geonite said...

Steven,

Do you have the link where he says that?

I've heard him speak and he spoke very fondly of the movie.

Geonite said...

Bluemongoose,

Sources please.

Steven said...

Geonite,

This Salon article is one example. But, really, you don't have to look very hard to find a lot of criticism of the film's premises by mainstream physicists. I'm just one of large crowd of people that have been blowing the whistle on this film.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Blue,

You are a stupid idiot.

Theism and Atheism deal with belief. Agnosticism deals with knowledge. An Agnostic does not claim belief but surrenders to the position that their is not sufficient knowledge to support mystical belief. You should learn that an idea to be valid demands point of view (which unfortunately you don't suffer from) AND context. The contextual meaning of agnostic relates to the belief claims of theism and atheism and as such says it is ignorant when it comes to belief. It is not pejoratively ignorant as you suggest.

You are an arrogant little girl. Now, go run to your hubby and tell him the playground bully is picking on you.

Bluemongoose said...

Geonite:

This isn't hard. Just look at the word theism, which means belief in the existence of God. Now, what word means the opposite of theism? Atheism. How did we get an opposite? By adding the prefix a- to the word. Same thing with the word gnostic, which means knowledge. If we put the prefix a- on the front of the gnostic, we get agnostic. The definition of which is the opposite of gnostic (without knowledge).

Bluemongoose said...

Chuck:

Is that the best you can do: add a derrogatory adjective to your name calling? But please continue on if you believe your arguments cannot stand on their own merits without being propped up by mudslinging.

Atheism, theims, agnosticism. Did you actually read your comments here? B/c they're absurd. Atheists are definitive that they know there is no God; they make no claims about belief, as that implies they are not sure. Your definition of an agnostic means just what I said it did. You just reworded it. They claim they ultimately don't know and stay true to the definition of the ignorant/agnostic root word: agnosis.

Perjorative. There you go assuming again. This is case in point that you've never heard my arguments before. How about you ask why I post the way I do before you start assuming motives...

Arrogant little girl. I've seen in another forum at this blog that either you or someone else mentioned I created a user profile that revealed my gender, and I then subsequently changed the status from public to private. However, I will say again that I have created no such profile. So that leads us to these conclusions: Either you're not being forthright about having seen the alleged profile or someone is feeding you misinformation.

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

"One of the surprising discoveries"etc....If you had trusted what Jesus said in the first place, you could have been spared all of this.

Then this: "Since we are so prone to believing based upon hunches and guesses and ignorance we should do what prosecutors do when deciding whether or not to prosecute a person for a crime. Prosecutors cannot decide this on hunches and guesses. They need evidence; hard evidence"

What if the evidence is held in contempt? and scorned?? and rejected??? Jesus didn't promise the kind of evidence that enables ppl to perpetuate pride or conceit. The primary evidence of faith is exemplified in the lives of human beings who have softened their hearts and increased their capacity to care beyond territorial boundaries. So,reject, insist, demand, prosecute and villify if you must, but by doing so, you are blindly and ignorantly cooperating with the cycle of contempt.

Then, "They do not believe in other gods or goddesses. I merely reject one more religion than they do FOR THE SAME REASONS!"

Are you talking about repentence when you talk about religious ppl rejecting idolotry?? I have found a way to leave behind and withdraw my cooperation with systems that perpetuate the cycle of contempt for humanity. If one studies various religions, there is justification to deal with those deemed unacceptable w/o offering salvation for them - that is because ppl project and express their humanity into the supernatural. However, I am impressed by God's invitation through Christ of peace and love for both victims and victimizers. Even if one hasn't heard about Christ, they can desire the same thing (I think Jesus called it thirsting for righteousness) at a heartfelt level. The advice and role model for "Loving the enemy" is soley assigned to Jesus.

This kind of peace seems like a pretty universal need to me since the roles of victim/victimizer transcend the divides/diversity of religion, nationality, race, gender, education, social status, financial status, political, etc. etc. etc. .

And about this: "Christianity, the kind I criticize here, claims that God will judge us based on what we believe. We must believe certain things to be saved. If we don't, then to hell we go."

I admit that this can be a translation of the scriptural idea of god --- but, per Jesus, He doesn't condemn, but allows ppl to perpetuate the cycle of destruction if they find His terms of peace objectionable. I must admit, that at times, and I can now confess that I do not have the faith to love ppl as Jesus does, but I am hopeful that I will continue to grow in that vein.

As far as hard evidence, the kind you desire, when ppl share their stories of personal experience, those are denigrated and rejected here. For me, on a subliminal basis, I held contempt (but was too terrified to let it come to light), for an authority figure in my life. By faith, I no longer harbor those feelings, but I had previously expressed them towards God and believers by summarily dismissing any claims of the supernatural. God enlightens and guides out of darkness - He offends the territorial nature and self defensive goal to prove ourselves right. That is good news.

bye,
3M