Logic’s Last Stand

August 1, 2008

Another Reason I Think Little of Religion

Filed under: Philosophy — Tags: , , , , — Zurahn @ 2:22 am

One of my favourite series of videos comes from Youtube user DonExodus2, who does a tremendous job both detailing the evidence of evolution and refuting the bloat of bizarre and absurd creationist claims. His videos exude and air of extensive knowledge.

It just so happens, he’s also a Christian. He’s mentioned this in multiple videos, and sorry Christians, but I couldn’t help but wonder how such a seemingly brilliant person could profess such a belief.

Well, here we are, and due to popular demand, DonExodus2 has released two videos (Part 1, Part 2) detailing his reasons. I was tempted to make a video response, but ultimately, he’s stated before, and at the outset that he was hesitant because he doesn’t like to talk about it (despite the cross tatoo on his arm), so I’ll instead write my response in blog form.

My main point as referred to in the title, before I get into it, is that this is a bit of an affirmation for me. That religion can create this sort of mental bubble that allows pseudo-logic to try and justify what is ultimately a desire or interpretation of a personal experience and absolutely nothing more. Now without further ado,

He starts with the much annoying questioning of “What is knowledge?” I’ll just ignore this, since it’s not a reason, and he eventually says something I agree with, which is that the concept of “god” in general is untestable because it’s not natural.

PREMISE 1: The supernatural is untestable

He mentions personal experience next, which fine, but that means nothing to the rest of us. I do question how you interpret that as
a) Something supernatural
b) If supernatural, a god
c) If a god, a specific god

Then we get to the claims that are just downright irrational. I’ll paraphrase:

There are so many claims of ghosts that I believe at least one of them has to be true, and a ghost implies a soul.

It naturally raises the question of believing in bigfoot, yeti, alien abductions, etc. but it’s irrelevant. There are investigations of these claims and none have held any weight, and they’ve been tested for a LONG time.

PREMISE 2: Ghosts are likely real because of claims of encounters

Aside from that, the concept of ghost encounters is in complete contradiction to the premise 1 that the supernatural is untestable. We see a certain range of wavelengths of light, and hear vibrations in the air. In order for something to be seen, it must be physical. Ruling out sight rules out almost every single ghost story and pretty much eliminates the premise of many claims.

You can also, in a way, test whether things move when they shouldn’t if it’s not a visible claim. If you’re going to posit that something is observable in nature and that supports a god, you now require evidence.

Then he stops here. There is a gap — how do we go from ghosts to god? This is unanswered. All that has happened so far is replacing the word “god” with “ghost.”

Part 1 ends on rejecting biblical literalism. I don’t really care if you write your own bible, I only desire justification. But there is one important premise to remember, that is he says that getting a proper interpretation of the Bible requires years and years of dedicated study.

PREMISE 3: Biblical interpretation requires years of study

This continues for most of part two. On thing that struck me was this (paraphrased):

Why are there such terrible things in the Bible? These get less the later in the Bible. We have a better understanding of God now. Even if you don’t believe in God, this is a rational conclusion.

Um, NO IT’S NOT. Premise 1: God is untestable. We know NOTHING about a god. If we knew anything, I’d LOVE to hear it.

Oh! He’s going to address why he believes in Jesus and not Thor; finally the good stuff.

Again, I’ll paraphrase:

Jesus’ disciples died for what they believed in and most people aren’t willing to die for something they know is a lie. Which I reject partly on 1 Corinthians where Paul says many people saw Jesus up and around after the ressurrection.

CIRCULAR LOGIC ALERT

Why is the Bible true? THE BIBLE SAYS IT’S TRUE. No contemporary historian thought to write down about a zombie outbreak? No contemporary historian thought to highlight Jesus ascending to heaven for all eyes to see? If you’ve got anything other than a partially forged document from Josephus who lived decades after Jesus allegedly died (which itself varies by a decade) that at best simply mentions a name “Jesus,” I think the entire world would be pleased to see this remarkable archaeological find.

Even beyond that, 9/11 ANYBODY?!

PREMISE 4: Jesus’ disciples died for him

And he concludes that the New Testament provides a better way of life and that the New Testament is about compassion. Anything I say about this, he’ll reject as allegory (such as Jesus supporting slavery or selling everything you own because God will provide for you). But you know what? Deciding that the teachings of Jesus as interpreted by you on allegedly allegorical stories that are hearsay from after you’ve already developed a secular set of morals is outrageous.

What have we got out of this?
-God isn’t natural, so evidence is impossible
-Ghosts are evidence of the god that can’t have evidence
-Interpretation of what should be the most important book of all time takes dedicated research just to interpret
-The justification of the book itself depends entirely on that interpretation that conveniently selectively removes the blatantly immoral sections
-Jesus exists because the Bible says he does

Short list of responses:
-OK
-No valid evidence of ghosts, no jump from ghosts to God
-“No true Scotsman”
-Despite the fact I am positive I can do better than the New Testament, that’s not evidence; but then again, that would be evidence of God again which by premise 1 is impossible.
-Jesus doesn’t exist until there’s evidence. But wait, wasn’t he supposedly God, which then can’t have evidence?

I’m obviously a bit frustrated, but it’s because he sounds completely ridiculous. I’ve wavered back and forth on the harm of faith. Recently I’ve leaned toward the idea that it’s compartmentalized and ignored and serious investigation would refute it outright. I’ll have to change my opinion (glad I’m not religious or I wouldn’t be allowed to do that); this video makes me think it’s much more dangerous. He made two 10-minute videos in which he justifies god with ghost claims, and the Bible with the Bible. Would you be able to separate that from the creationists he mocks?

That any intelligent person could be coerced by others or himself into such absurdity is genuinely disconcerting. My response is, however oddly, out of respect. If this were some random person, I would laugh and move on. Instead this is from the creator of this and this and many other videos that are incredibly informative, detailed and clear.

It also brings up a point I’ve wondered about several times, which is personal respect and religion. Ultimately, there’s a dip in respect for the person as soon as I hear a profession of religiosity, namely because this kind of crap is lurking somewhere in that mind of theirs.

If you can admit that your belief is based on either personal experience or faith, fine, good for you, but that means nothing to anyone else. As soon as you bring in logical fallacies and ghosts? Sorry, nomatter who you are, how much respect I may have for you, it comes across simply dumb, and I don’t even like to say it.

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3 Comments »

  1. “It naturally raises the question of believing in bigfoot, yeti, alien abductions, etc. but it’s irrelevant. There are investigations of these claims and none have held any weight, and they’ve been tested for a LONG time.”

    What makes me believe in:

    Ghosts – EMP, batteries and electrical devices going dead on the scene in most cases, photo evidence, consistent story of strong magnetic fields causing the phenomenon/being present in haunted locations, sheer number of cases

    Bigfoot – Extremely detailed castings with dermal ridges (“fingerprints”) that would be nearly impossible to fake / many primate experts have looked at and concluded is not a fake or known species

    UFOs – Mass sightings of 1 million + people all seeing and taping the same thing, which has happened on multiple occasions.

    Not in the same catagory of God. It’s an insult to bigfoot to compare it to God… we have much more evidence for these things :P.

    Comment by yarcofin — August 1, 2008 @ 6:18 pm

  2. I compared bigfoot to ghosts, not to a god. The point was take that line of logic, and you have to agree to a lot of excess baggage.

    I reject the concept of ghosts outright because it doesn’t make physiological sense. It implies a spiritual representation of a person, meaning some kind of spiritual brain interaction, which then doesn’t explain how drugs work to screw with it. Having something partially existent and interacting with a real world and therefore a physical manifestation that requires composition that absorbs and reflects light, and thereby composed of natural matter.

    I don’t really care about the rest, but answering UFOs with aliens is comparable to the god claim because it’s answering a mystery with a mystery. An unexplained object is explained with an unknown entity with no evidence.

    Comment by zurahn — August 1, 2008 @ 6:44 pm

  3. […] seemingly intelligent, attempt to argue in favour of, or at least rationally explain, theism and fail miserably. As goes the saying goes, if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. Despite not […]

    Pingback by Arguing for Theism « Logic’s Last Stand — August 13, 2008 @ 3:26 am


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