Indistinguishable from fiction

When we see thinking that is wrong we have to say, in the kindest and most helpful tone possible, perhaps, that it is wrong. For example, the earth is roughly 4 billion years old. If someone wants to claim it is 10,000 years old, they need to be told they are wrong. The writings of superstitious Bronze Age mystics can’t be taken as credible evidence for such a theory given the overwhelming evidence for a very old earth. The two theories are unequal by a long shot.

When I dismiss the Bible as “the writings of superstitious Bronze Age mystics” I am not trying to be disrespectful, I’m trying to be accurate. A depiction of the authors of the Bible as holy men in direct contact with god is fanciful in any rational sense. The same is true with the notions of heaven, hell, original sin, divine conception, resurrection, Doom’s Day, and so on. They are indistinguishable from fiction. None of it meets any of the standards that we have for considering something “believable”. Every religion has as much direct evidence as the ancient Greeks and Romans had for Zeus and Venus. I’m not trying to be unkind, I’m stating an obvious fact.

But I recognize that this fact still befuddles many people. They believe in god and they believe in an afterlife and they are not at all ready to listen to what I’m saying. That’s fine. I’m not on a mission of conversion. I think it is important that people think rationally — religion is a corruption of the mind in this sense. It helps keep the door open to dogmatic, arbitrary and wholly unsupported thinking. Furthermore, such beliefs are considered to be “off the table”. Under the guise of respect we treat fanciful mythology as perfectly acceptable.

Why? The more you think about it the more it boggles the mind.

I must add my standard atheist disclaimer: I don’t know if there is a god or not and I don’t know what happens when you die. I’ve calculated the odds of each and found the likelihood vanishingly small. My calculation is subject to change. There is no faith in my position.

(This started as a comment.)

Indistinguishable from fiction

15 thoughts on “Indistinguishable from fiction

  1. Elvore says:

    “I personally like to cite Pascal’s Gambit because the rewards for believing outway the risks of not believing.”

    I call BS. Pascal’s Wager is a complete false dichotomy, relying on the assumptions that there are only two true possibilities (i.e. that A) a benevolent god exists and punishes or rewards according to one’s belief or B) a benevolent god does not exist. It is also mathematically inconsistent. You can pray for a loved one to get better all you want but experiments show that they don’t get better. Peace of mind will be the only thing you’ll be getting.

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  2. LEVI says:

    Dogma is absolutely the antithesis of rational thought in that it is presented as absolute and un-assailable truth. see the dictionary definition; Dogma: An authoritative principle, belief, or statement of ideas or opinion, especially one considered to be absolutely true. Historically, dogma has not only discouraged rational thought, it has prohibited critical analysis of core doctrine as heresy. The core tenants of christianity require you to profess belief in dogma as a condition of salvation (or in the not too recent past to avoid being burned at the stake). i.e. 1. Christ was the son of god; 2. he performed miracles; 3. he died for our sins and was resurrected from the dead. Does it really get any more irrational than that !? The major problem I personally have with any religion is that it not only encourgaes irrational thought…. it requires it.

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  3. You seem to have an odd point of view — dogma may seem “well formulated and rigidly argued” from within but from the outside it is arbitrary nonsense. What I mean by arbitrary is that it is not supported by physical evidence. I presume you are familiar with the creed you are discussing? As I said above, none of it meets any of the standards that we have for considering something “believable”.

    Scripture and religious tradition are not proof of anything other than the collective kool-aid passed around by believers.

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  4. AlSmith says:

    My point is that dogmatism is neither the anti-thesis of rationalism or arbitrary and unsupported. Dogmatism is the how of what is held to be true and is well formulated and rigidly argued – as you yourself noted, many core Christian doctrines were not well formulated for at least 300 to 400 years after christ. Is taking 300 – 400 years of arguing out the basic tenets of Christian thought – and meeting to agree and codify them in a creed – suggestive of arbitrary behavior?

    I will agree that many Christians do hold arbitrary and unsupported beliefs but suggesting that Christian dogma is a source of it is almost by definition absurd and in itself irrational.

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  5. AlSmith says:

    I’m not on a mission of conversion. I think it is important that people think rationally — religion is a corruption of the mind in this sense. It helps keep the door open to dogmatic, arbitrary and wholly unsupported thinking

    You’re practicing rhetoric not reason, and to a degree hypocrisy; The purpose of rhetoric is to persuade. The sole purpose of dogma is consistency and the prevention of arbitrary unsupported thinking.

    It’s important to remember that western Christianity is inseparable from western philosophy. Western Christianity is a synthesis of Greek rationalism and Jewish faith and tradition. The Creeds and Councils of the early Church were as infused with the need to reconcile the Gospels with Plato as the scholastics of the Middle Ages were with Aristotle to Church teachings.

    It’s no mere coincidence that the first passage of John – written in Greek – binds the Christian concept of the Trinity to the “reasonable universe” of the Greek Logos (Word):

    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

    The most dogmatic of Christians tend to be the most concerned with logical explanations for their beliefs;. Perhaps this is why Sola Fide (By Faith Alone) is a core tenet of the Protestant Reformation not Catholic thought?

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  6. fishdweeb says:

    Then you do not dismiss the entire Bible…. but significant portions can not, even in an atheists realm, be called “historical fiction” any more than any other historical or scientific books of the same era….

    Current research on the “Dead Sea Scrolls” should be fascinating to scientists and historians (of course you have to dodge the insanity of the zealots on both sides)

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  7. I have no opposition to them as historical fiction. I don’t care if people use it as inspiration or reverence of any of that. My main objection to the Bible and religion in general is how it makes people do stupid things to the rest of us, like those things I mention in a previous comment.

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  8. fishdweeb says:

    In terms of their accuracy in describing the physical universe, all of them!

    so, if not all books deal with the “Physical universe” you are fine with them?

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  9. So what do you do when science fails?

    One thing that those with faith have is the solice of the church and their prayers to help them through those times.

    For example, your loved one is in the hospital and is feeling pain and has been for months. The hospital is filled with all the wonders that science has to offer both mechanical and medicinal.
    But science cannot determine the root cause of the pain and cannot cure them of the pain. The users of this science (Doctors and surgeons and specialists of all kinds) tell you that your loved one won’t make it through the night, there’s nothing they can do.

    With all the science at there disposal, there’s nothing they can do.

    So, now what? For those who practice their faith they can find peace with their loved one and the local chaplin to ease their pain and in fact hope and pray for a miracle (it does happen you know)

    Without those with faith the world would be a much worse place, in my opinion. The majority of those who practice (that I’ve personally met) do so to make themselves a better person. There are, in fact the extremists who ‘bible-bash’ and use religion as a basis for fear and discrimination and unfortunately they are usually the ones in the spotlight.

    My personal hope is that we can all peacefully co-exist and let me believe what I want to and you believe what you want to. I personally like to cite Pascal’s Gambit because the rewards for believing outway the risks of not believing.

    I admire your passion to your beliefs and even though we may disagree on certain topics, I do enjoy reading.

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  10. In terms of their accuracy in describing the physical universe, all of them!

    That is perhaps a key point. I don’t care what metaphysical nonsense people believe. My problem is when people argue with established scientific theories with it. Literally, children die from this shit when medical care is deprived and prayer is substituted. Contraception is denied to people. Science class is barraged with creation myths. You know the story.

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