My Sister-in-Law: "John, I Prefer to Be Ignorant"

She's a great gal, don't get me wrong. But as a good Lutheran with a family that's what she said over the holiday season about the religious questions I raise. She prefers to be ignorant. Ignorance is bliss, right? It's not that she isn't intelligent, because she is. It's not that she isn't educated, because she's a Nurse Practitioner. She knows enough to know that if she were to question her faith it could lessen her faith. She knows enough to know that she doesn't have the time to investigate her faith given her busy life. She knows the struggle it would produce in her to believe. She knows enough to know that. I don't think this position is defensible at all, but at least she's honest. I wonder how many other believers have an ostrich type head-in-the-sand approach to their faith and what would happen if they all decided to become informed?

55 comments:

Howard said...

I can't imagine anyone with a brain sticking to Christianity once they know both sides. It's that damn hell doctrine. Makes people loose their collective shit and not even consider the weaknesses to their religion. Also, you have that anything that is against Christianity is the devil mentality.

Ginx said...

I sometimes wonder if staying busy is part of the whole religious schematic. The less time one has to think about it, the better off for religion.

But then... how do so many of them have time to be skeptical of evolution or the Big Bang?

vjack said...

I have a feeling that she's actually in the majority here. Just look at our 24-7 entertainment culture. Thinking is hard work, and many would rather not do it unless they absolutely have to.

James said...

I believe this a quite a common attitude--more or less consciously shutting out assertions and arguments that might disturb one's faith.

But I'd like to know just how widespread this shutting out process is. Is there data? I suspect it's maybe a third of believers--but that's a pure guess.

And I'd like to know how much substance and importance there is to a "faith" that requires to be unquestioned.

Leah Elliott Hauge said...

Ignorance is not bliss. Questioning everything I'd always "known" was scary, yes, but realizing it was all a lie was also the most liberating and empowering experience of my life.

Lynn said...

Christianity brings them many good things. Why would they want to give those up? They don't want to rock their world.

The being busy factor is also huge. I had time to study it all because I had quit my job, and the kids were in school. I read one guy who said he'd probably still be in it if he hadn't taken a sabbatical.

People are going to go on being busy and enjoying the bliss of ignorance.

All Prairie said...

Christianity is such a huge part of our culture that it is difficult to even consider thinking outside it. And so many people with doubts do not actually KNOW another atheist because it is easier for us to sort of hide it and pretend a bit. Before I saw the "Freethinkers" billboard in Madison a few years ago, it never occurred to me to look for like minds on-line. And people just don't know how to handle 'coming out' - things such as : No you don't have to tell everyone. No you don't have to have answers to all their questions. Yes you can still celebrate holidays with your family. No you will not lose all your morals and ethics. So the pervasive culture, the lack of knowing others, and the lack of information of how to live without Christianity all keep people from pursuing their doubts. That's why sites like this are important!

Houx said...

It seems to me that when you use arguments alone you're left with agnosticism. Different people looking at the same arguments on both sides weigh the evidence differently and assign different probabilities to the evidence. There's no agreement over the issues. Reason isn't neutral. It doesn't stand without bias overlooking the evidence on matters of fundamental human concern. Here's an example of two intelligent rational philosophers who look at the same evidence and come to two different conclusions.

First the theist Richard Swinburne:

A similar pattern of argument [as I use in my discussion of the cosmological argument] from various other phenomena of such as the existence of concious beings, the providential ordering of things in certain respects, the occurance of certain apparently miraculous events in history and the religious experiences of many millions is....available to establish theism (when all the arguments taken together) as overall significantly more probable than not.


Then on the other side you have the atheist J.L. Mackie:

all the evidence that they can muster is easily explained in natural terms, without any improbabilities worth taking into account. Conciousness and the actual phenomena of morality and valuing as a human activity are explained without further improbabilities, given that the natural world is such to allow life to evolve, so the only improbabilities to be scored against the naturalistic kind of explanation are whatever may be involved in there being causal regularities, the fundamental laws and physical constants being as they are, and there being any world at all...In the end, therefore, we can agree with what Lapace said about God: we have no need of that hypothesis. This conclusion can be reached by an examination precisely of the arguments advanced in favor of theism, without even bringing into play what have been regarded as the strongest considerations on the otherside, the problem of evil and the various natural histories of religion. When these are thrown into the scales, the balance tilts still further against theism....The balance of probabilities, therefore, comes out strongly against the existence of a god.

Two reasonable people looking at the same set of evidence come to two different conclusions.

We are stuck within ourselves and the world as it presents itself to us. We are finite, and limited creatures and all that attends to this fact. We cannot stand outside ourselves and grasp the Divine Reality. I personally believe in God because I've experience Him.

Corky said...

People believe because they want to believe and if they want to believe badly enough, they have religious experiences.

They may speak in tongues or even see visions and have "revelations".

They mostly will have an emotional connect, a tear-jerker empathy for poor ol' Jesus hanging on that rugged ol' cross.

Whole church congregations getting all sad and weepy - just before the alter call, of course. The mind can do strange things when manipulated in that way.

Weeping for Jesus always reminded me of the women weeping for Tammuz in the Old Testament. The thing is, Tammuz wasn't real either.

christophermencken said...

I have a lot of sympathy for where Houx is:

It seems to me that when you use arguments alone you're left with agnosticism. Different people looking at the same arguments on both sides weigh the evidence differently and assign different probabilities to the evidence.

But I think if more people really spent time with the arguments, we would not have a country that's 95% believer. I would bet that it might be a lot closer to 50/50.

Larian LeQuella said...

If ignorance is bliss, I am surprised many believers haven't suffered a seratonin overload!

Vinny said...

I drifted into agnosticism several years ago because belief in God just did not seem particularly important. However, prior to that time when I still professed to be a liberal Christian, I did not spend a lot of time trying to connect to God or agnozing over my inability to do so. I also did not spend any time whatsoever trying to shove my religious beliefs down anyone else's throat. Had some atheist told me then that he did not consider my position "defensible," I would have been completely indifferent.

Al Moritz said...

I can't imagine anyone with a brain sticking to Christianity once they know both sides. It's that damn hell doctrine. Makes people loose their collective shit and not even consider the weaknesses to their religion. Also, you have that anything that is against Christianity is the devil mentality.

You've got it all wrong, Howard.

1. I have used my brain a lot, have investigated the tenets of my Catholic faith and all the relevant things science says (I am a scientist myself), fully accept mainstream science including evolution, and conclude that the evidence leads me to keep my theistic faith -- also the evidence from science, among it the fine-tuning of the laws of nature that make evolution possible in the first place. I know all the atheistic arguments inside and out, and have thought more about them than the vast majority of atheists themselves will ever do. So if you can't "imagine anyone with a brain sticking to Christianity" after pondering all the evidence, then this is simply the good old argument from incredulity.

Knowledge can never be the enemy of faith -- on the contrary, it is its best friend, because knowledge informs us about God's revelation and, through science, about God's awesome creation.

2. A relationship with God is about love, not about the avoidance of hell. The latter comes as a bonus, but cannot be the main focus of mature faith.

Of course, people coming from a religious fundamentalist background may see things differently, and I understand that. However, since I do not come from such a background, I don't have the associated problems.

Faithful Centurion said...

Good Day to All,

What an interesting and timely post, for it was actually a substantial amount of time off that permitted me to conduct an in-depth investigation/inquiry and eventually return to Catholicism from what could best be described as agnosticism/paganism. And it was all thanks to Prof. Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion," where I first realized that: The arguments for atheism could not be this bad, could they? This, in turn, prompted the detailed investigation and eventual conversion. Although I am sure that this simply occurred because "I do not have a brain."


And to Howard:

Hell is actually a quite desirable place to those that wish to be free of God and the requirement for obedience to Him, although this entails the acceptance of pain as a consequent.

christophermencken said...

I'm an agnostic/mainly atheist and I think Al Moritz reveals a problem with believers:

I have used my brain a lot, have investigated the tenets of my Catholic faith and all the relevant things science says...A relationship with God is about love....

My guess, Al, is that your claim that you've studied stuff like fine tuned universes has nothing to do with your belief. It's that you believe God is about love.

My guess is whenever you feel love, this powerful emotion we all have, is that you feel you've just proved God to yourself. That's feeling a buzz, not a scientific proof.

As an atheist, I think that's nuts (how about that intellectual atheist proof---and they call us "shrill"!! :-) and love has nothing to do with invisible sky fairies. Love is (completely atheistic) passionate caring to me.

But as long as you link it to God, your sophisticated intellectual arguments will go nowhere. You've got the "LOVE" argument---who needs anything else? It's like you believe God is about water, and everytime you sip a glass, you say "Wow, ain't God great? How can they not believe?"

christophermencken said...

Hey Faithful Centurion

Um, none of us believe a friggin word you just said about converting to Christianity because you read Dawkins's "God Delusion."

Don't lies help put you on the road to the Hell you talk about?

Faithful Centurion said...

Good Day christophermencken,

1) Please read my comment carely. I did not state that Prof. R. Dawkins' book converted me, but rather that it was the catalyst for the further investigation which led to conversion.

2) I will assume that you acted in good faith and it was due to a misunderstanding that you would call me a liar, but your immediately jumping to conclusions, without asking for further clarification, raises certain questions about your possession of a fully reasoned and rational thought process suitable for discourse. I hope, however, that I am mistaken in this assessment, as I likely am.

3) Your statement to Al was poor and easily reversible against the atheist:

My guess, Chris, is that your claim that you've studied stuff like fine tuned universes has nothing to do with your unbelief. It's that you dislike and hate the idea of God.

My guess is whenever you feel hate, this powerful emotion we all have, is that you feel you've just disproved God to yourself. That's feeling a buzz, not a scientific proof.

As a believer, I think that's nuts and hate has nothing to do with the denial of the divine. Hate is passionate uncaring to me.

But as long as you link it to God, your sophisticated intellectual arguments will go nowhere. You've got the "HATE" argument---who needs anything else? It's like you believe God is about poison, and everytime you sip a bit, you say "Wow, ain't God horrible? How can they believe?"

Take care.

Al Moritz said...

My guess, Al, is that your claim that you've studied stuff like fine tuned universes has nothing to do with your belief. It's that you believe God is about love.

Nonsense. If you could see inside my mind when I rationally ponder arguments for or against the existence of God, you would be surprised how emotionally detached, even 'cold' I am in the process. And if there would be no rational arguments for the existence of God to convince me, I would simply walk away from faith. Considerations about death do not enter the process either.

My guess is whenever you feel love, this powerful emotion we all have, is that you feel you've just proved God to yourself. That's feeling a buzz, not a scientific proof.

Two fundamental mistakes here.

1. You seem to confuse love, which is, yes, passionate caring, but primarily an act and commitment of the will, with 'feeling', 'feeling a 'buzz', and with 'being in love'. This is the type of confusion that causes many couples to divorce after the initial chemical firestorm in the brain ('being in love') has worn off. Long-lasting love is not dependent on that. Certainly, with a lasting commitment of love there usually comes a constant renewal of emotions, but this has little to do with 'feeling a buzz'.

I love God, and at times I do have emotional experiences from faith, but I am not 'emotional about God', and I don't feel 'a buzz' -- I even was never 'in love' with God. And trust me, I would not even have prayed to God for making me keep my faith, if rational arguments would have led me away from it.

2. There are no scientific proofs for or against God. Thinking that would be a confusion of science with philosophy. Yes, there can be philosophical arguments from science when it comes to the existence of God, but this is not science proper -- neither on the theistic nor on the atheistic side. And even when it comes to philosophy, there are no 'proofs', but 'merely' arguments based on reason, reasonability and probability.

As an atheist, I think that's nuts (how about that intellectual atheist proof---and they call us "shrill"!! :-) and love has nothing to do with invisible sky fairies.

Agreed. God is not a sky fairy.

Al Moritz said...

Faithful Centurion,

interesting posts and good points.

Gandolf said...

Al Moritz said -->"2. A relationship with God is about love, not about the avoidance of hell. The latter comes as a bonus, but cannot be the main focus of mature faith.

Of course, people coming from a religious fundamentalist background may see things differently, and I understand that. However, since I do not come from such a background, I don't have the associated problems."

Al Moritz -->"also the evidence from science, among it the fine-tuning of the laws of nature that make evolution possible in the first place"

Hi Al Moritz.

As you are a scientist id be very interested to hear what answer you conclude that there is.For reasons why these god/s of supposed love and inteligent design with fine tuning, supposedly allow certain folks to get born into abusive cults or to families of African witch hunters etc.

Lots often seems very random to me .Where do you actually conclude the fine tuning bit starts and stops?

Al Moritz -->"A relationship with God is about love"

A loving relationship includes, creating a flawed design,that then goes haywire causing mega suffering?

Just wondering ..Cheers!

Chuck O'Connor said...

Al a few questions:

Do you hold all forces constant when estimating your theory of fine tuning?

How do you counter Hawking's refutation of his own theory of singularity?

What authorative advantage does the study of biochemistry give one in the realm of cosmology?

As a biochemist and Catholic would you trust a simple test to authenticate differing properties in pre vs. post blessed Eucharist hosts and authenticate the theory of transubstantiation?

Thanks

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

christophermencken wrote this wonderful thing: "Love is (completely atheistic) passionate caring to me." And, of course, I presume he is speaking about the love he shares with Christians as well as atheists because love is not territorial. And on top of that, I am willing to bet that Christopher would go to the mats for we believers if we were being attacked by an angry mob of atheists. Thanks, Christopher! You're an absolute doll!

3M

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

John wrote, "She prefers to be ignorant. Ignorance is bliss, right?" No, she probably didn't really feel like telling you to shut up and enjoy dinner. I'll bet she loves you anyway.

3M

christophermencken said...

from MMM:
And on top of that, I am willing to bet that Christopher would go to the mats for we believers if we were being attacked by an angry mob of atheists. Thanks, Christopher! You're an absolute doll!

Uh, you I'm not so sure. :-) Angry mob of atheists? All 17 of us in the U.S.? We can't even show up for John's blog at the same time.

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

christophermencken: "Uh, you I'm not so sure. :-) Angry mob of atheists? All 17 of us in the U.S.? We can't even show up for John's blog at the same time."

Lol! So many times, I think 'atheism' and "Christian" can be misnomers. What counts is love and loving beyond territorial divides.

take care,
3M

Larry Tanner said...

Wow. I had a sister-in-law experience recently that has some similarities, http://larrytanner.blogspot.com/2009/12/i-get-email-family-edition.html

When her own head isn't buried in the sand, she is busily trying to bury the head of her son.

feeno said...

Hello John and others.

This is actually a pretty weak argument. Christians could say the same thing, and actually do. "Those damned Atheists just want to bury their head in the sand and ignore all what God has done for them".

Atheists would like Christians to stop what they are doing and go full time into Atheist indoctrination. Then when we do consider the arguments and aren't impressed it's only because we are brainless or to "busy"(?)

And since when is being happy a reason to look for something else. And why is having a life a bad thing. If you Atheists would move out of your parents basement and see the sunshine now and then it might do you some good? There's more to life than a computer and Role Playing.

To Howard, If there is a Hell it does sound kinda scary.

Happy New Year to you all.

feeno

Double A said...

I don't think 'ignorant' is the right word for what she prefers. It's more like 'faith as a child'. When you let all the intellectuals steal your unquestioning faith with wordly reasoning based on human experience, you no longer have the aptitude to open your heart in the way which is necessary for allowing God's love to reign there. The atheists will love this because it plays into their hand that believers are somehow duped, so 'like a child' to them will mean a much different thing than what it means to me. But that's just the way it is.

Al Moritz said...

Gandolf:

As you are a scientist id be very interested to hear what answer you conclude that there is.For reasons why these god/s of supposed love and inteligent design with fine tuning, supposedly allow certain folks to get born into abusive cults or to families of African witch hunters etc.

Lots often seems very random to me .Where do you actually conclude the fine tuning bit starts and stops?


I don't think that has anything to do with physical fine-tuning for life. It does have to with two things (at least if I interpret your question correctly), that is with the problem of evil and with the question who comes into heaven and who not.

For the problem of evil, I like what Wood has to say (articles about the Loftus-Wood debate by Wood and Sharp):

http://www.answeringinfidels.com/answering-skeptics/edward-tabash/

I find one example that he brings to the table unfortunate (I'll let you guess which one), and I do not agree with his stance on the origin of life, but other than that, while his views do not provide all the answers (only God can), they make sense in my opinion -- and I think he effectively refutes, or strongly weakens, John's points.

Interestingly, when I told my father about the 'argument from evil' he said, "what nonsense, I'd rather use the argument from good as an argument for God's existence".

As for who goes to heaven, also non-Christians can, see:

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

heading "Roman Catholic interpretation".

A loving relationship includes, creating a flawed design,that then goes haywire causing mega suffering?

What do you mean by flawed design? Natural selection takes care of adequate design, working according to the laws of nature that God has given. Or do you mean plate tectonics and tsunamis?

Or do you expect 'perfect' design? What is 'perfect' then? According to which standards? Or do you think that a perfect God should have created a world that is 'perfect' according to our human standards? Or is it perhaps that God has plans with this world other than to make it 'perfect', and instead we will have a perfect world in the next life? I believe it's the latter.

Al Moritz said...

Chuck:

Do you hold all forces constant when estimating your theory of fine tuning?

I guess I know where this is going. I have debunked Stenger and point out the limited scope of Fred Adams' star study in my article:

http://home.earthlink.net/~almoritz/cosmological-arguments-god.htm

How do you counter Hawking's refutation of his own theory of singularity?

You mean the non-boundary proposal?

I don't buy the imaginary time argument for one moment. Just like imaginary numbers, it is a useful mathematical construct, but its relation to reality is highly questionable (even though imaginary numbers can be used to describe reality, their ontological status is dubious).

Hawking admits, "Only if we could picture the universe in terms of imaginary time would there be no singularities . . . . When one goes back to the real time in which we live, however, there will still appear to be singularities." (Brief History of Time, pp. 138-39).

He states, "I'm a positivist . . . I don't demand that a theory correspond to reality because I don't know what it is." (Hawking and Penrose, Nature of Space and Time, p. 121). "I take the positivist viewpoint that a physical theory is just a mathematical model and that it is meaningless to ask whether it corresponds to reality." (Hawking and Penrose, Nature of Space and Time, p. 3-4).

I am sorry, but as a scientist I want to understand reality.

What authorative advantage does the study of biochemistry give one in the realm of cosmology?

I don't know if I have an "authoritative" advantage, but my inside knowledge of how science works, especially from the viewpoint of an experimental scientist, certainly helps in evaluating things.

Furthermore, my knowledge of both science and philosophy helps with questions on the border between science and philosophy, and with recognizing when claims by scientists leave science proper and enter the territory of philosophy.

If you read my article (see above) carefully, you may understand what I mean.

I didn't intend to blow my own horn, but you asked me and I answered.

As a biochemist and Catholic would you trust a simple test to authenticate differing properties in pre vs. post blessed Eucharist hosts and authenticate the theory of transubstantiation?

No. Transubstantiation does not change the chemical make-up of the Eucharistic host. It is quite well explained here:

http://snipurl.com/tvsar

I don't think, however, that the writer's interpretation: "accidens accounts for changes in the created world", is correct.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Al

the post to your article was broken. can you repost it. thanks.

Al Moritz said...

Chuck,

when I paste the link as posted into my web browser, it works, at least on my computer.

But perhaps this works better for you:

http://snipurl.com/tw7ln

Chuck O'Connor said...

Thanks Al. I'm reading this on my handheld. I was able to find your article at your website. I also found Stenger's paper on the subject. I look forward to comparing the ideas.

Gandolf said...

1,

Hi again Al Moritz and thanks for your reply.

Hmmmm.Can i be honest and say i was a little surprised,im not quite sure why,but maybe most likely because you are a scientist, i was kinda expecting a very compelling reply that maybe might really shake my disbelief.I didnt find that, so maybe either im still missing the obvious, or its not so very obvious! which might suggest gods laws are maybe not really set up so well when keeping the layman in mind.

If its the latter, then obviously one then needs some educated guidence!,which then sets up the danger! of "wolves in sheeps clothing" taking advantage.Which once again seems to me to suggest in the least,gods plan really wasnt so very well designed or fine tuned afterall.

Interesting you follow the Roman Catholic interpretation.With the Baptism of Desire thingy.Makes me kinda wonder if its not just another way of saying,maybe folks would really be much better off forgetting all the different confusing theorys rituals and fancy handshakes.And concentrated less on bigoted faiths that divide,and more on learning to treat each other better we all might be a whole lot better off for it.

When i talked about flawed design im basically talking about the fact that the design god had in mind obviously hasnt really worked out that great,unless he always had in mind to design something that didnt work so well and could self destruct.

Maybe you suggest it might be like some kind of game plan set up to get us from A to B when heaven will be perfect.Im still wondering how i am expected to connect this to a loving relationship with a loving god,when it means for instance my family needed to suffer through the faith and even worse some folks need to suffer being treated as witches even getting tortured and killed etc.

You then might suggest the fall,but im still left wondering why the hell im to be blamed for the fall, when i never even asked to be designed and created in the first place.

Excuse me i might be wrong but do you kind of see it like this loving god was inteligently designing and creating and doing the fine tuning etc,and then something went down whereby man was tempted and happened to fall for what ever reason...Then this loving god packs a shitty forgets the fine tuning, forgets we were simple men and not gods, and simply disappears leaving us too it,making us all pay for adam and eves lack of inteligent design and fine tuning?.

Kinda a little harsh isnt it?.Al i just find it rather strange a loving inteligent designing god into fine tuning,suddenly at some stage seems to have just disappeared and stopped designing and fine tuning us.

Al -->"I find one example that he brings to the table unfortunate"

Well i didnt find much that Wood brought to the table so very compelling either,so im not sure what one it would be you find unfortunate.But was it his answer for animal suffering?.The reason we dont say horay the tigers are gone,is because we understand life is quite random.We accept its random we accept animal eat each other to survive,but that dont mean we then need to also accept there must be a god.

I had a quick look at both rounds of the Loftus-Wood debate seeing you suggested it somehow outlined reasons for belief.

I was wondering how did the argument get to start off as "that the extent of suffering in our world makes the existence of God implausible"

Seems to me Christians by belief and by being majority are already making a claim! so the debate should more likely read "that the extent of suffering in our world makes the existence of God plausible " .If this isnt what their claim already is,then i wonder how come atheist even have need here to be debating them?.

I agree the person making the claim should have burden to prove it,but disagree that the first claim is being made by the non believer.

Gandolf said...

2,
"Should pain and pleasure be our top priority?" argues "atheist’s opinion of what God “should” be",but yet i dont see how its really any different, when a theist argues what they think gods should be.

"If the atheist community really believes that this world is so bad, they’d be dying for nuclear war"Seems about the same as suggesting if heaven is so great,why then are theists so bothered about living.

With regards to the "utopian life in which peace, happiness, and health are maximized".Woods talks about "suffering such as the girl who doesn’t feel ‘pretty enough’ who wants to commit suicide. How would this situation be remedied in Loftus’s utopia? Would God therefore have to make every person look alike so as to avoid even the smallest amount of suffering?"

Yet there is so many factors that could have been "designed" and "finely tuned" different if god was really so involved in our creation and fine tuning, like humans not having defects of low self esteme or not being so naturally attracted to looks etc.

Of course faithful fall back on the idea of the fall,but this idea is still only a idea...And seems to me its a circular one.Some how we are left trying to match a all knowing all loving god designer come fine tuner,who suddenly gets shitty about "his creation" that goes haywire ..So he just drops the fine tuning and leaves us to it.

Woods argument about absolute morals existing therefore gods existed ..was a bit lame wasnt it?I mean does he really think without god humans would likely come to any different opinions of things such as murder doesnt really seem so great...My opinion is absolute morals exist in the situation of "murder" for instance,just by the very fact "absolutely" nobody really likely enjoys being murdered.

Al when you ask such things like "What is 'perfect' then? According to which standards?"

Im thinking well what choices do we really have here to go by for reference to such standards ?...There is either folks faith which can be so obviously seen to be about mega amounts of guess work and dreams etc, that history has shown us, has no real standard to go by and could be dreamed up to be almost be anything folks of faith wish to dream of ....Or we can use the same evidence of standards we do already use in our own lives every day of how we decide whats most likely perfect,that much of our lives are often even based around.These are proven standards we use,why would we drop proven standards that work,in favor of faith standards that in history have proved to often be so willy nilly.

Anyway thanks for taking the time to try to explain your reason for belief.However like i said i still find it hard to see that your faith is much more than faith.But i understand its not easy to discuss and explain this stuff in full measure, on blogs

courage said...

My wife was the same way. We're too invested in Christian fundamentalism. It didn't take long to make an agnostic out of her anyway.

Brad Haggard said...

John,

Does your family mind you throwing them under the bus just to make a point?

John W. Loftus said...

Brad none of them read my blog, okay? And I have several sisters-in-law. You could try making a substantive point rather than a personal attack if you had something better to say.

Brad Haggard said...

John,

I don't think you understand that your original post is a personal attack and not an argument. If it is somehow an argument, it could only be a straw-man because you know of Christians who do take the time to study.

Does it really make it ok that they don't read the blog? I think that would make it worse.

But that's just my two cents. Have a happy new year!

Al Moritz said...

Gandolf,

Anyway thanks for taking the time to try to explain your reason for belief.However like i said i still find it hard to see that your faith is much more than faith.But i understand its not easy to discuss and explain this stuff in full measure, on blogs.

You're welcome and thanks for your replies. I guess we are at similar points in our evaluation of evidence, but from different sides. We both find the evidence for our respective world view sufficient, and the alternatives less than compelling. With this state of affairs, it would take extraordinary evidence to convince either of us of the opposite. It is natural to be much more readily convinced by evidence for one's world view than by evidence against it. And you are right, talking about those things in private, and best in person, would be so much easier.

Gandolf said...

That "classical theism" thats discussed in the first round Loftus/Wood debate is kinda classic alright! aint it?.Seems to me anyway its atleast a classic way to suggest gods would probably/possibly likely be almost anything that happens to suit the classic imaginational thought thats doing the thinking.

Classic !.

No better way to explain it really.

This person feels "classic theism" includes absolute benevolence.

1,Transcendence
2,Omnipotence
3,Omniscience
4,Omnipresence
5,Absolute Benevolence

http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A1113445

"Classic" Absolute Benevolence :"whatever God does is good. 'Benevolent' implies a further meaning to this, namely that whatever God does is good for us, in contrast to being good for the planet, for example."

Classic !.

Seems maybe not every christian can even agree on what is actually defined as this "classic theism" though ?...Ohhh how classic is that.

This person seems to feel classic theism, doesnt include the absolute benevolence.This time its about whats "perfect".

1,All powerful
2,All knowing
3,Unchanging
4,Perfect
5,Eternal

http://www.theism.info/

Thats Classic !

God could even be the big bang ....((Real classic))

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

Yep i have to agree faiths are kinda classic,i doubt there is much doubt about that.

Gandolf said...

Brad Haggard said -->"I don't think you understand that your original post is a personal attack and not an argument"

Hi Brad i often say much the same type things about my own faithful family,here publically on blogs.I dont mention them personally other than talk about them as members of my family,who through being involved in ignorant faith have split and divided and caused each other no end of grief.Many of them are much the same as what Johns discribing,they just cant be bothered with the hassle of thinking to much about their beliefs or how it might be effecting matters.Its simply much easier to say, look i dont want to know ! go away ! dont talk about it !

Kinda like you and others do also in a certain way, i think Brad.Like when many here on these blogs try suggesting, if we dont agree with faith, we should just simply be forgetting about it, and mind our own business, and let others be faithful if it pleases them...Go away we faithful hate hearing the truth to much!

Personally i think you are very wrong in your accusation of the original post being about any personal attack.If Johns mentioning of a family member without using a name was a personal attack,then me mentioning my mother in the cult or brother in the cult must be a personal attack to then right?.

How absurd ..I go out of my way to protect my family from any "personal blame".I notice John states "She's a great gal, don't get me wrong", which i understand and i also feel the same way about the personality of my cult family whom i still have love for.

John is highlighting what is (honestly a very big problem).Its a big problem and history tells us its so very true,Johnstown type cults remind us the brain dead type thing that happens with many folks of faith.This brain dead effect is present with folks of faith who give their hard earned cash to the Benny Hinn types.I suggest its almost everywhere amongst faith to some extent.

The need to use somebody as a reference to how he came to be talking about this subject is obvious.It partly so folks know this has actually been an "actual experience",its so folks know this is actually a real problem! and is not just about some story thats being made up.

Brad are you honestly sure your accusations are not more about some sort of personal attack?.Do you honestly feel you are being guided by any supernatural holy spirit in this judgment of John? ...If you pray,should we be taking this as sign that prayer is likely really any good to folks who bother with it?

I realize we all make mistakes.I realize we should always try to be more careful in trying to make sure things we discuss dont have personal detrimental effects on people.Hey maybe it might have even been better to just say family member instead of saying sister in law,i dont know.

Non of us are perfect,but i still dont think it could be very fairly or HONESTLY said this was actually meant as any special personal attack.

What do you think Brad.

Al Moritz said...

I realize we all make mistakes.I realize we should always try to be more careful in trying to make sure things we discuss dont have personal detrimental effects on people.Hey maybe it might have even been better to just say family member instead of saying sister in law,i dont know.

Perhaps 'family member' would have been better.

Non of us are perfect,but i still dont think it could be very fairly or HONESTLY said this was actually meant as any special personal attack.

Probably it wasn't meant that way, no.

Scott said...

I too have a family member who actively chooses to remain ignorant regarding God's existence. She carefully filters everything she reads and hears.

If God doesn't exist, she doesn't want to know it.

This attitude also seems manifests itself in the way she forwards emails to a number of people without giving any thought to their accuracy. Her only criteria seems is that they agree with her political, religious or other particular view of reality.

What I find frustrating is that, In many cases, these emails have obvious "red flags" which make them suspicious and can be easily falsified should one take the time to investigate them.

While I rarely respond to the entire recipient list (she is a close family member) I do often reply with links that clearly illustrate inaccuracies in the messages she forwards. But this doesn't seem to have any effect on the frequency or quality of the messages she forwards.

As such, she also seems to prefer to remain ignorant about the messages she forwards, despite having the ability to verify or quality them before forwarding them to 15+ people.

Scott said...

@Al Moritz,

Having read your article, your conclusion seems to be based on intuition or a historical interpretation of what we observe. However, it seems clear we really don't know enough about the origins of universe to strongly support one conclusion over the other.

As such, It seems you've defaulted to God in the absence of any other explanation rather than doing so based on strong evidence.

Furthermore, it seems that whenever we actually do gain a thorough understanding of a particular domain, we find God either completely absent or his possible involvement retreats significantly. "God" seems to be a placeholder for things we find significant, yet do not understand.

To clarify, I'm agnostic about a supernatural being that is all knowing and all powerful, but has taken no actions. The existence of such a being could not be proven false by definition. But when theists make specific claims in which their God takes specific actions that have a specific impact on reality, we can can only evaluate these claims based on how well we understand these aspects of reality.

That you happen to walk up to the universe and conclude God "made it" doesn't seem to be a sufficient reason given how little we currently know about the universe. Especially since our intuitions about reality have been shown to be wrong on many occasions.

To phrase this as a question, why do you think our current level of understanding of the universe is actually useful in positing that God exists, rather than simply being inconclusive and a wash?

Why should we default to God?

Scott said...

To be specific, if God has the power and knowledge necessary create the universe with such precision, why is this precision absent in other areas? It seems that God is over qualified for the resulting universe we observe.

For example, while we do not have a thorough understanding of the apparent fine tuning of the universe, we do have a much stronger understanding of stelar evolution.

If God was the master architect of the universe, he intentionally decided to heat and light what will be his eternal kingdom via the fusion of hydrogen and helium. This source will eventually expand to may times it's current size when it turns into a red giant. The result will either make the earth far too hot for life or vaporize it completely. Why would an all knowing and all powerful being do this?

The process of stelar evolution began far before human beings existed, so claiming this is the result of "the fall" seems unlikely.

This is just one example of where God's existence seems unlikely in domains were we do have a strong understanding of phenomenon. It's only in areas that we lack a strong understanding does God's existence seem even remotely possible.

Brad Haggard said...

Gandolf, sorry it took a while to get back.

I wouldn't even have said anything if John hadn't already posted stuff like this before. (and to be frank, I didn't pray before I posted so I could be totally off on this)

It just strikes me that John is putting himself above his family, and he can talk about it publicly because they won't read it? What would his sister-in-law think if she actually read this post? I think it's worse because he is broadcasting it to lots of people "behind her back".

But the larger point is that this isn't any sort of argument. It would at least commit the hasty generalization fallacy. Survey evidence takes precedence over anecdotal evidence. So John is just venting, not actually making any sort of argument. I think it brings down the quality of the blog.

I can understand you wanting to vent, as well. It would pain me to see a cult like that split my family, but Christianity has brought my family closer, so it's a push as far as an argument. I think we all need to be more clear on what is an actual argument and what is an emotional reaction.

And I can't fault that lady for putting family priorities over "study". The truth is that not every one is interested or has the time to look into this. Would she do better by neglecting her children to "find the truth"? We all make ourselves out to be more important than we actually are. That's why it bothers me (on both sides) when someone with a blog talks specifically about someone not involved in the conversation in a condescending manner.

Al Moritz said...

Scott,

let me just answer this one.

To be specific, if God has the power and knowledge necessary create the universe with such precision, why is this precision absent in other areas? It seems that God is over qualified for the resulting universe we observe.

For example, while we do not have a thorough understanding of the apparent fine tuning of the universe, we do have a much stronger understanding of stelar evolution.

If God was the master architect of the universe, he intentionally decided to heat and light what will be his eternal kingdom via the fusion of hydrogen and helium. This source will eventually expand to may times it's current size when it turns into a red giant. The result will either make the earth far too hot for life or vaporize it completely. Why would an all knowing and all powerful being do this?

The process of stelar evolution began far before human beings existed, so claiming this is the result of "the fall" seems unlikely.

This is just one example of where God's existence seems unlikely in domains were we do have a strong understanding of phenomenon. It's only in areas that we lack a strong understanding does God's existence seem even remotely possible.


This example just shows to what strange excesses artificial pounding on the 'argument from flawed design' can lead. This is a clear non sequitur. Why should good design include an eternal universe? And why would you care anyway if in 5 billion years our sun becomes a red giant? Or for that matter, if in 2-3 billion years Andromeda crashes into our galaxy? Are you going to be around then, or any of your grandchildren? Or any of your grandgrandgrandgrandgrandetc. children? And by the way, none of the great monotheistic religion argues for an eternal universe with eternal and perfect happiness here on Earth.

Gandolf said...

Hi Brad.

Yeah well us humans are often so different.And everyone of us has room for improvement for sure.I have room for improvement in not letting faith piss me off so much,but you just said you understand we have different situations and we both have reasons that help explain who we have become.
Im not here to see anyone as perfect.But i think sometimes friendly encouragement in areas of possible improvement, does a whole lot more than misjudgement of somebody elses honest intention ever does thats all.

And ive been around and known enough people who it was obvious to see have been adversely (effected and formed by faith), to know that many of their downfalls that they continually deal with. Actually often have roots!! set within the old abusive faith they once experienced!.

How about we discuss the thoughtlessness,lack of compassion,selfishness,harsh nature,etc ..of these faiths! ......Before we (take it out) on those who ended up learning from it

Is that a little fair and decent, or not fair do you think Brad?.

The things how do folks of faith really expect humanity to experience the thoughtlessness,bigotry,selfrightiousness,and often lacking ammounts of human friendship and commassion within these abusive faiths.

And yet still somehow expect the pupils to end up any real different with the ammount of problem and downfalls the then need to try to continually deal with.

Abusive faith is often bound to help produce people with certain problems that continually need working on..Right?

Brad you could suggest me speaking on these forums is putting myself above my family too.But you would need to also try to argue slave protestors,were actually putting themselves above the rights of slavery...And yes they might have been but it was in hope of gaining justice.

You have got it all wrong in my opinion Brad...It can (sometimes) be (just as wrong) that people simply turn the other cheek!,because doing so allows abuse free passage to continue onwards totally unhindered.....And turning the cheek,means many other people must continue to end up suffering as well!.

Its your opinion its only a matter of generalization Brad.I happen to disagree with you....And i put it to you this way, if it is only a generalization as you try to suggest it is....Why is it then that it just happens to be, there is (so many of us around these days generalizing?).....Why is faith in general becoming such a important topic talked about almost everywhere globally? ...You think humanity all evolved into generalizing types in general all of a sudden?

No it is a decent argument,and there is plenty of evidence available.Evidence even shown up in how it takes 150 years for Dawin to even recieve a apology,they would just rather the problem went away and rather not hear it.Evidence is shown up in slow to come recognition and compensation for sexual abuse done by priests,they just dont want to hear it!they rather the problem just goes away.

Brad this is much more than just emotional reaction and a need to vent.....This is about justice,honesty,thought,understanding and commpassion and acknowledgement with some genuine positive action in working towards bringing about change A.S.A.P.

Brad--"The truth is that not every one is interested or has the time to look into this."

I agree that may be so Brad...I know my cult family couldnt give a damm whats happened with my family....I know that dont give a damm about those that sucided because of shit they did ...I know not even many of the (general public seem to really care or what to know to much) about it either.


But just because thats how it happen it is .....Doesnt do anything to prove its actually how it should be.Does it?

Gandolf said...

"Why should good design include an eternal universe? And why would you care anyway if in 5 billion years our sun becomes a red giant? "

We have need to care about it because we often see in life, survival actually depends on good design.

And if its got not alot to do with any good design thats been fine tuned etc...Then the sooner we actually understand,the sooner more people will start thinking about the types of things they always tend to do..Like wondering if they can figure out any possible solutions to the problem.

Al Moritz said...

Happy New Year!

Gandolf:

"Why should good design include an eternal universe? And why would you care anyway if in 5 billion years our sun becomes a red giant? "

We have need to care about it because we often see in life, survival actually depends on good design.

And if its got not alot to do with any good design thats been fine tuned etc...Then the sooner we actually understand,the sooner more people will start thinking about the types of things they always tend to do..Like wondering if they can figure out any possible solutions to the problem.


Again, this argument works only with a strawman version of God and of religion. Every monotheistic religion speaks of an end of time.

Scott said...

Al wrote: Why should good design include an eternal universe?

While our sun might be well suited for the role it currently plays in our universe, this doesn't mean it represents a precision part in an system intentionally designed to bring about God's supposed goals. (which the details of are highly disputed)

So, in regards to your question, If an eternal universe doesn't represent good design given God's goals and plan then how does a finite universe represent good design instead?

If all of God's creation was initially "good", creating a finite universe seems rather short sighted move on God's part. How can you have too much of a good thing? It's only if you assume God planned for human beings to fail that a universe which eventually ends might appear to be part of a "good design."

But this leads us to the question: was sending Jesus a contingency plan or was it part of God's plan all along? And if God's plan doesn't ultimately end with some kind of universe for our resurrected bodies, then why even create one at all?

However, I avoided this sort of argument as our knowledge of the kind of universe we live is really in it's infancy. Instead, I've focused on our sun because…

- It's critical for our survival as a species
- We have a strong understanding of stellar evolution
- We have observed a wide range of stars with different life spans and various outcomes.

As such, we have a strong indication that our sun will eventually make our planet inhospitable for human life - if not vaporize it completely - in the future.

We can also say the same thing about earth impact events which likely caused mass extinction of a number of species on our planet in the past.

Given that the earliest hominoid we have discovered is roughly 6 million years old, humans have appeared during a brief window between catastrophic events on earth that could have caused them to become extinct. Based on past impact data, the last three major events in the 100-170km scale have occurred at a frequency of aprox. 35 million years, with the last event occurring only 35.7 million years ago. It's not just a question of if such a future event will occur, but when.

Again, it seems odd that the same all knowing, all powerful being that can fine tune a universe would create a create a planet for his ultimate creation that has a past and future and even a present that that is hostile to life in general.

And why would you care anyway if in 5 billion years our sun becomes a red giant?

Unless I'm actually directly involved in this event, I should find it irrelevant?

And by the way, none of the great monotheistic religion argues for an eternal universe with eternal and perfect happiness here on Earth.

First, there are a number of Biblical interpretations that suggest we will have physical bodies that are incorruptible, as they will be like Jesus' body. If Jesus' body could exist in our universe, then why would we need a new whole new universe?

Nor would a new "age" necessary require a new universe. Again, if creation was "good" before human beings "sinned" why would the earth, let alone a universe that was created billions of years before we even existed, need to end?

It's necessary to explain suffering, which is exactly what the apocalyptic response was designed to do.

Scott said...

Al wrote: Every monotheistic religion speaks of an end of time.

And monotheistic religions appear to be the result of gradual change, which eventually gained a strong moral component. As such, It comes as no surprise that, given our current knowledge of the universe, you would expect a new universe would be necessary to right every wrong and do away with suffering.

But this doesn't mean the authors of the Bible actually associated a new "age" with some kind of end of the universe as we now know it.

Nor does this require us to overlook the huge gap between the kind of precision necessary for the universe to exist in this very specific form, and actual contents of the universe, as God supposedly created them in detail.

It's only when you assume that God intended to create this particular universe does God gain this sort of ability. With the exception of the origin of life, which we don't have a good understanding of either, nothing God supposedly has done comes close to this kind of accomplishment. As such, it seems that your trying to boot strap God in domains that we know very little about to compensate for God's absence and retreat in domains we have strong knowledge.

Again, why should we default to God in areas we know so little about?

Brad Haggard said...

Gandolf,

I think that I don't know enough about your history to comment on your family. If their beliefs have caused people to kill themselves, then I also think that is pernicious and should be confronted. Perhaps we have more common ground than I originally thought.

We all have much to work on, and the blogosphere is a great place to showcase the worst of ourselves.

Gandolf said...

Thanks Brad ...Put it this way i most certainly dont ever see you or any other folks of faith as my personal enemies.

My beef is with the faith,not the faithful follower.

Al Moritz said... "Happy New Year!

Gandolf:"

Thanks Al !

Happy new year to you and everyone