Who wants to believe without evidence?

This blog post (https://atheistforum.wordpress.com/2016/11/25/unbelievable-comments-about-philosophy/) echoes a Christian ‘yeah but..’ that I regularly encounter.

It comes in the form of a complaint about the demand for evidence and is typical of those who, having lost the argument about what the evidence indicates, resort to the final frontier, that which can’t be evidenced. It’s their safe space from those nasty horrid atheists that keep demanding evidence, how darest they!

The blog post I referenced above is commenting on an episode of the Unbelievable? podcast (http://www.premierchristianradio.com/Shows/Saturday/Unbelievable) it’s a weekly Christian radio show, here in limeyland,which features discussion on a range of subjects; usually two guests with differing view points, often one Christian and one not. I listen to it. In fact it’s the only podcast on the subject of religion that I habitually listen to. I like the format and I like the stimulation that I get from the discussions. Sometimes I get frustrated at the utter ridiculousness of Christian defence, which is why the linked blog post has prompted me to write my own.

The part I want to pick out is the final sentence of this section.

I tended to enjoy the debate and it provided much food for thought and further discussion. Yet the debate took a surprising turn right at the end (around the 1 hour 8 minute to 1 hour 10 minute). Jeremy Rodell made a surprising and almost unbelievable comment.

When it came to sharing final thoughts Rodell asserted that a person should base what you believe on evidence and ‘I don’t see any evidence for Tim’s worldview’.

However the problem with Rodell’s statement is that whilst it is intuitively appealing, it is actually philosophically flawed. The claim that you should base what you believe on evidence is self defeating, because this assertion itself is not based on evidence. Where is the evidence for that statement? That claim cannot be demonstrated through ‘evidence’, it must be assumed.

When faced with the challenge of evidence to back up belief in a god, the Christian responds with the retort that there is no evidence that we should search for evidence and then stands back apparently chuffed at having delivered a bamboozling come back. If I wanted to drop to this level of playground hair-pulling I’d retort with a request for the not evidence that demonstrates anything. Would the person who thinks they’re being clever in demanding evidence for the demand for evidence like to stand in a courtroom and watch a defendant come up with that? I bet they’d join the judge in laughing their wig off!

The simple fact is that everything that we know to be right and everything that we know to be wrong is known because of evidence. Evidence drives all knowledge. That is the evidence for the assertion that we should base our beliefs on evidence.

In my many discussions (well, arguments actually) with Christians, I’ve met the claim that the scientific method of evidence gathering, prediction and test is a philosophical position. Yet here there is a Christian saying it’s a philosophical failure to want evidence for a belief. How cute!

This is the rotten part of religion, it places pandering and wishful thinking above what can be shown and demonstrated.

The question ‘where is your evidence for the claim that we should have evidence?’ is not an honest challenge, it’s a diversion from an uncomfortable corner from which the Christian wishes to escape. The question I tend to ask back is ‘Why would you want to believe anything that you can’t demonstrate to be true?’, maybe one day a Christian will answer that one honestly ….

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Coming to Ontario – 2017

This is a request to those readers who might have knowledge to assist me.

The family limey will be holidaying in Ontario in the summer of 2017 and so I’m looking for hints, tips and suggestions on what to go and see / visit and maybe even what to avoid. The itinerary is not yet decided so your contribution could make a difference.

I don’t want to give too many specifics this publicly, but we’ve already committed to the dates and to the hire of a small motorhome. Any useful tips on experiencing Ontario in one will be greatly appreciated. Especially relating to useful stuff to carry and what to look for in places to book for an overnight stay.

Given the family includes one immature adult and one pre-teen, there will be a day or two of amusement park so which one please?

Also, which wow sites would you recommend? Somewhere we can hire bikes, go for a trek, hire a jet ski, all these things considered.

Yes, the trickle of water at Niagara is already penned in as a definite, I’ve been once before about 15 years ago and I am looking forward to seeing it again.

I would appreciate suggestions by email if you have my contact details, if not, just ask below and I’ll pass it out.

Finally, if any reader will actually be in the vicinity during our holiday, the sharing of beverages and food will certainly be an option.

Fallible Memories

I recently got in touch with someone who I haven’t seen for over 30 years. In fact the last time we spoke I was a pre-teen! During our early catch up emails I was about to remind this person that after my parents separated she and my mum shared a house for some time, about a year I think. I was halfway through typing out the sentence when I suddenly remember, it wasn’t this person at all, but somebody completely different! How could I make such an error?

As it turns out, quite easily.

It seems that each time we recall a memory, we change it, in fact we could even be  remembering the last time we remembered it and not the actual event itself (https://factualfacts.com/science-facts/when-you-remember-a-past-event-youre- actually-remembering-the-last-time-you-remembered-it-not-the-event-itself/) and (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/05/160517131928.htm).

Thankfully my embarrassment was saved before I hit send.

Unlike that time when a bunch of people I know were discussing past exploits when we were all younger and would regularly take our cars out racetracks or airfields for a day of fuel burning, tyre smoking, adrenalin fuelled, fun. During the on-line discussion a few photos of key events were posted and one such photos featured me on track in my Honda Civic VTEC with a Ford Escort Cosworth ahead of me. Someone sarcastically teased me saying I was inferior to let that happen. I confidently responded that I actually overtook the Ford on the next lap.

Imagine my surprise when a few days later I actually found a written report about that very track day that I’d prepared for the car club I was a member of at the time. I suffered a genuine moment of Cognitive Dissonance when I read that it was in fact the Ford that had overtaken my humble Honda. Oh the shame!

To anyone who knows their cars, the fact that my Honda was passed by that Ford should not be a surprise because the Ford is a much faster car. My own bias and wish fulfilment had led me to genuine believe the opposite of what had actually happened. The period of time elapsed was about ten years.

Yet Christians will continually promote the idea that the oral traditions which underpin many of the biblical narratives are accurate (http://reknew.org/2008/01/how-reliable-was-the-early-churchs-oral-traditions/).

How can they know? If they knew the truth of the original events, they could compare the actual event with the reported narrative. They don’t know the truth of the event, but they believe the narrative so they must create a scenario by which the original event becomes believable. This is essential in order to maintain their beliefs.

Yet the more we learn about how memory works, the more we realise that it is a constantly changing malleable process that will bend to satisfy our own wishful thinking.

If the strongest argument presented for something unexpected happening is that someone remembers it happening that way, then I’d suggest that accepting it without question is pretty much the worst thing you can do.

I Get Discussion Feedback

One of my recent posts (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2016/09/26/is-there-a-specific-event-that-turned-me/) had some feedback that I think is worth consideration and reposting so I can comment with greater detail.

Hi Limey I followed with interest your interchange with both James and ColorStorm. In defense of James I will say he did at least attempt to address your queries, as for ColorStorm, well….

I was interested in the points you raised with James. I thought they were very good and well considered.

I used to call myself a Christian, but no longer do so. One of the factors that led me out of the faith was studying theology at a post graduate level. I was troubled by how different theological views prevailed and how the alternative views both could be supported by the Bible.

In my own spiritual journey I wondered about matters like once saved, always saved. If God chose people for salvation then didn’t that mean God decided to send people to Hell. Whether the method of baptism was critical. If babies that die go to heaven then doesn’t that mean that abortion is loving not cruel. I could go on and on.

It is ironic that James talks about being confident he is ‘saved’ in the comments on the post when he talks about false confidence. The story of the ‘goats’ in Matthew 25 used to trouble me as I knew how unworthy I was. It is a great relief to conclude it is a man made myth.

I concluded that personality types make a huge difference. Christianity can be a terrible burden for an introspective person with low self esteem, as I am by nature.

First, thank you Peter for this compliment:

I was interested in the points you raised with James. I thought they were very good and well considered.

I will admit that a few of my responses to James were typed quickly and reactively and would probably have benefitted from a little more consideration before attacking the keyboard. That said, little of what James said to me was new, I’d heard it all before and so my responses were also not new responses, it’s a dialog I have had before in various guises.

Like Peter, I used to subscribe to the once saved always saved view. I was indoctrinated into this view but did ditch it in adulthood when I found that I could not square it with the Christian doctrine of free will. Something I failed to get James to admit there was a clash of.

On the subject of leaving the faith, Peter says this gem.

It is a great relief to conclude it is a man made myth.

This was my experience too. When the relief of leaving the faith is greater than the relief that salvation through faith provides, then that is an indication that the faith is a burden and does not bring the freedom that it so boldly claims it does.

Finally, this sentence should shine a light on how awful and shoddy the Christian faith is.

I was troubled by how different theological views prevailed and how the alternative views both could be supported by the Bible.

If the greatness and goodness of the Christian god is as self evident and wonderful as Christians would have us believe, then there would be so much more continuity of bible based assertions. When different believers get different interpretations from the bible, then that demonstrates that the bible is vague and the interpretations are being made by the human mind and not the spirit of their god. It shows that human bias is the source of all religious doctrine and the whole foundation is superstation not divine revelation.

It is the truly blind Christian that does not see this.