Philosopher Asserts: Discussing Evidence with Christians and Other Theists is Futile

Image result for image of evidence

Nearly all of the faithful suffer from an acute form of confirmation bias:  they start with a core belief first and work their way backward to specific beliefs.  For example, if one starts with a belief in Christ as divine, any discussion of evidence—tombs, witnesses, etc.—will almost always be futile.  Any piece of contradictory evidence one brings into the discussion will never be sufficient to warrant a change in belief.

Contradictory evidence will be discarded as anomalous, offensive, irrelevant, preposterous, or highly unlikely.

—Peter Boghossian, philosopher, author of A Manual for Creating Atheists, pp. 72-73

 

 

 

 

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19 thoughts on “Philosopher Asserts: Discussing Evidence with Christians and Other Theists is Futile

  1. Everybody has some type of confirmation bias. Boghossian thinks he’s saying something profound about “the faithful”, but in fact, the exact same thing could be said about about people of all kinds of beliefs about all kinds of things. In fact, the exact same thing could probably be said about Boghossian in one aspect or another. It can certainly be said about you, Gary.

    This post is a nothingburger to anybody who’s already familiar with confirmation bias. Boghossian himself is probably exhibiting his own tendancy toward confirmation bias in his writings.

    I really hope you don’t go quoting this guy or delving into his book as if there’s something new and “revelation-ish” in it. Man, you were into that hack Jewish writers stuff, and the guy doesn’t know squat… Hope you don’t go down the same path here…

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    1. Boghossian teaches that one should always be open to revising one’s views, even regarding the existence of God. He is against being close-minded.

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  2. Contradictory evidence can even trigger the backfire effect where the challenge causes the person to dig in to their beliefs, and they wind up believing even more strongly than before. This makes getting someone to the point of even being able to change their mind very difficult.

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    1. Ubi, Gary – The thing is, confirmation bias applies to you guys as well.

      If you’ll read up on it, and not exercise your own confirmation bias so that everything you read comes out looking to you as if it’s talking about “religious believers”, you’ll discover that virtually everyone employs confirmation bias — it’s the way humans are constructed.

      Boghossian is just taking a well-established psychological concept and using it to impress the uninitiated, as if he’s come across this “Big Explanation” that you should be impressed with.

      But the fact of the matter is that you guys are as susceptible to CB as anyone else. Those that are “non-religious” or “anti-religious” do the confirmation bias as much as anyone else.

      In fact, there are few situations in which CB is not employed, such as in scientific experiments, where data must be accessible and methods repeatable by scientists anywhere. And even then, scientists themselves, in their own personal views, succumb to CB like everyone else on the planet.

      It’s just the way the brain evolved to work. And it worked well when people were living tribal existences as hunter-gatherers. Unfortunately, “natural selection” hasn’t kept up with technological advances, like blogs, social media, TV – heck, even books… And, that’s why (partly) our human irrationalities are so extreme these days.

      So, whatever Boghossian is postulating (as if it’s some great new revelation) applies also to Boghossian and to you guys, equally…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I completely agree that atheists and other skeptics are prone to a bias against the claims of theists. We, just as much as theists, must be ever vigilant not to let our bias interfere with the examination of evidence. Both sides must look at the evidence first, and come to conclusions, second.

        What evidence would be sufficient to convince you that Jesus was not resurrected?

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        1. re: “What evidence would be sufficient to convince you that Jesus was not resurrected?”

          I’m not sure of exactly what evidence could convince me that Jesus was not resurrected, but I am absolutely positive that there could, in fact, potentially be evidence found that would cause me to conclude that Jesus wasn’t resurrected — at which time, I’d drop Christianity like a hot potato. I’d go straight to “hardcore agnostic” on the question of whether God exists or not. (I’ve said before that I’d go straight to Atheism, but, I think I’ve changed my mind on that: I wouldn’t want to even put myself in a position where I had to even think about “God issues” at all, and certainly wouldn’t want to expend energy to try to “prove” that there isn’t a God. I’d be too lazy for that).

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          1. You are unable to provide any example of how your belief in the bodily resurrection of Jesus could be proven (beyond a reasonable doubt) to be false?

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            1. re: “You are unable to provide any example of how your belief in the bodily resurrection of Jesus could be proven (beyond a reasonable doubt) to be false?”

              That’s exactly what I said. Why? Do you have a problem with that?

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              1. So your belief in the historicity of this magical (supernatural) event is unfalsifiable? If I told you that nothing would dissuade me from believing in leprechauns, wouldn’t you agree that is illogical thinking? So why is your belief in the reality of a resurrection that is unfalsifiable not illogical?

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                1. re: “So your belief in the historicity of this magical (supernatural) event is unfalsifiable?”

                  Nope. I didn’t say that.

                  you asked me for an example of the kind of evidence that would convince me that Jesus wasn’t resurrected. I simply replied that I couldn’t think of any specific examples.

                  You may consider that a deficiency of my imagination, if you like, or you may consider that perhaps I’m too lazy to think of an example.

                  But, don’t go putting words in my mouth. I didn’t say it was unfalsifiable.

                  If you want to come up with some examples of evidence & run them past me, I’ll tell you if I think they’re convincing or not…

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                  1. No, that is ok. The fact that you cannot think of anything that would falsify your belief demonstrates to me illogical thinking.

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                    1. To me, it just demonstrates my total lack of interest in doing so.

                      Ask me “what would it take to convince you that Bill Clinton was not a philanderer”, and my answer is going to be the same, and for the same reason: I’ve never thought about it because it doesn’t interest me to talk about it.

                      YOUR conclusion, though, strikes ME as entirely illogical and irrational… shrug

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                  2. Are there any considerations, arguments, evidence, or reasons, even hypothetically that could possibly lead you to change your mind about God? Is it even a remotely possible outcome that in carefully and thoughtfully reflecting on the broadest body of evidence that you can grasp, that you would come to think that your view about God is mistaken? That is to say, is your belief defeasible? If the answer is no, then we are done.

                    There is nothing informative, constructive, or interesting to be found in your contribution to dialogue. Anything you have to say amounts to sophistry. We can’t take your input any more seriously than the lawyer who is the master of casuistry and who can provide rhetorically masterful defenses of every side of an issue. He’s not interested in the truth, only in scoring debate points…

                    –Matt McCormick, American philosopher

                    Sound familiar, ft?

                    There is no point in further conversation with you. Good bye.

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  3. re: “Are there any considerations, arguments, evidence, or reasons,
    even hypothetically that could possibly lead you to change your mind
    about God? Is it even a remotely possible outcome that in carefully
    and thoughtfully reflecting on the broadest body of evidence that you
    can grasp, that you would come to think that your view about God is
    mistaken? That is to say, is your belief defeasible? *** If the answer
    is no, then we are done***.”

    My answer was clearly not “no”

    I very clearly stated “I am absolutely positive that there could, in
    fact, potentially be evidence found that would cause me to conclude
    that Jesus wasn’t resurrected — at which time, I’d drop Christianity
    like a hot potato.”

    I don’t know how you get a “no” from that. But, heck, you “read into”
    stuff like nobody I’ve ever seen before. At times, your level of
    irrationality is totally off the map.

    You asked me for “examples” of what might constitute proof, and I
    couldn’t think of any (because I’ve just never given it serious
    thought before), and I invited you to provide some examples. But,
    heck, YOU didn’t want to do that, so I don’t know how you can be upset
    that I didn’t either…

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    1. Why don’t you just tell Gary that it is Theoretically possible that GOD the Father, SON & IMMORTAL SPIRIT could definitely be born via an Earth Mother’s Magical egg-cell & a Father’s Magical DNA sperm-cell, just like they were. Although it’s almost impossible to prove immortality when in a mortal, Bio-gradable DNA, Bio-logical Computerized Earth-berth, birthday suit.
      Empathy & Affinity can & do live on in HIS Descendants’ Memory Genes, along with the horrors and Spoils of War sexually transmitted insanity GERMS.
      Anyway, according to Biblical stories, HE was born in the East where HE lived & Died in CHAOS. As for the West . . .

      I wish you all a Happy, Peaceful CHRIST-MASS’ Love
      Sibyl X

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      1. PS. I might as well add –
        We’ve come along way since ‘The Big Bang’s ” Let their be light”!
        I watched a program on BBC1 01.07.16 called ‘Forces Of Nature With Brian Cox.’
        TV blurb: Prof Brian takes us on a global journey to see how underlying forces affect our planet, and how these determine such things as why the sky is blue, why the Earth is round, and even the shape of snowflakes, and how the Earth’s beauty is created by just a handful of forces . . .

        ‘In the beginning was the word.’ And it wasn’t the written word.
        In a children’s space book I came across a blurb that stated,
        ‘DID YOU KNOW? Many of the elements that make-up the human body were forged in supernovae.’ (Our Earth berth, birthday suits).
        I Googled pictures of our Milky Way and came across one with an arrow pointing somewhere on the outskirts of our Galaxy, above it were the words, ‘You are here’.
        Here we are on a little ball in the VAST COSMOS breathing in it’s sparky, static electricity air . . . Every breath we take, every move we make . . . The Sibyl-line Prophets & Psychics have got to be getting their information from somewhere, haven’t they? And I’m a Modern-day Sibyl.

        I watched a Horizon program on BBC2 16.05.17 called ‘Strange Signals From Outer Space’.
        TV blurb: Documentary about Scientists and their search for extra-terrestrial life, such as husband-and-wife team Duncan Lorimer and Maura McLaughlin, who discovered a signal from space known as a fast radio burst, and researchers at the Green Bank Telescope searching for radio signals from a star so mysterious some believe it could be a vast energy collector built by advanced aliens.
        Advanced aliens? Why can’t they call them Celestial Beings/Deity? The words GOD & Gods have been known in even isolated cultures World-wide for a very very long time.
        It’s programmed into their psyche along with gut-feelings & in-tuition . . .

        Sibyl X

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  4. Oh, what like discussing evidence with an atheist for God’s existence?

    The thing is we DO have the evidence on our side as Christians.

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  5. Good God! What a battle of confusing words between two people who speak the same language so that discussing evidence with either of you could be futile.
    A Philosopher’s assertion perhaps?
    Anyway, a none religious Sibyl Theist might surprise & shock you all with her Revelations.
    Sibyl X

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