Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Rational Response of the Week-15 June 2010
Here is my week’s rational response to a common Christian meme.
“God can’t be understood intellectually, only spiritually”
Or here is another permutation of that statement;
“You can’t use physical evidence to prove god, only spiritual evidence”
I have had recent encounters with theists who use this (along with many others) as a way to escape the burden of proof that is on the shoulders of every person making any claim. They use it as a way to show how they shouldn’t be expected to have evidence, and they leave it at that. With no evidence for THAT claim either.
What exactly IS spiritual evidence?
Is it anecdotal? Because you experience something, the explanation that you ascribe to that experience must be real?
It is pretty clear why that argument can’t be held as absolute truth.
Our experiences are affected in many ways, and sometimes they alter our perceptions of things in such a way as to affect the information that lends itself to our beliefs.
This creates a vulnerability to false beliefs.
“Elvis is alive”
“I was abducted by aliens”
“I saw a ghost in my room”
“I am the reincarnation of Napoleon”
These are all claims that we could all agree are based on misinformation of some sort. They are very often created by experiences that we misinterpret. Circumstance is also important when considering the level of delusion that we can enter into. So are mental state, emotional wellness and social factors as well.
These factors can be ignored if we just inject one more….
It is easy to ascribe fantastical explanations to certain experiences when we are in the company of those who will verify your belief by not responding with incredulity but with acceptance and relief that you see “it” too.
As comforting as that might be to accept, if the explanation doesn’t stand up to even the most basic scrutiny, or if your explanation defies the laws of everything that we know about reality, you should rethink your conclusion.
There is a saying;
“Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”
Doesn’t stand up to examination?
Then it’s back to the drawing board, just like any other claim or hypothesis.
Do you not even allow the possibility that your experiences could mean something else?
That is called confirmation bias.
Do you really think that you can develop theories on the nature of reality based solely on personal experiences and with absolutely no collaborating evidence in a universe so large?
Or do you believe that the commonality of your experience with others lends it enough credence to allow your claims to contradict all of known science?
That is called an argument from popularity, and it is just as false. Many people once believed the earth was flat too.
If it isn’t anecdotal, then is it perhaps there IS a spiritual plane in which things can dwell outside what we see as reality.
Can this explain things?
If something exists in reality, then it manifests in reality, if it manifests in any way then it can be observed and studied.
If something doesn’t manifest in reality, then it is either irrelevant (because it can’t affect us until it DOES manifest) or it is non existent. I have heard the answer to that, and it is even less satisfying.
“He only manifests in the hearts of his believers”
Not only would that STILL be a manifestation, but it is a cop out. It is akin to saying “You can only see this dragon if you believe he is there BEFORE you have any reason to do so.”
He exists as a manifestation of belief?
This explanation means that he is either a CREATION of our belief (and therefore us), or that he is simply a figment of the imagination of belief.
In the end it doesn’t matter where you say he manifests. You have to have a reason for believing.
If you don’t have a reason to believe, then that belief is just baseless superstition.
That is what we are looking for when we ask for evidence.
Something that will stand up as a reason to believe.
Something that will point directly at the existence of a creator being.
Something that is grounded in reality, and not just pretence of knowledge about something that you don’t understand.
We are open to hear your reasons, and to consider them in the interest of intellectual honesty.
If you don’t give any, then you can be comforted by knowing that you deserve all the ridicule that you get for making baseless and undefended claims.
If you don’t give any, then you can be comforted by knowing that you have entered into the realm of belief where Elvis sightings are regular, unicorns run the landscape, and you (or your friend) may just be the reincarnation of Napoleon.
People may laugh, and they might be right to do so.
So let’s try again;