Following where the evidence leads … unless it contradicts my holy book.

I really enjoyed this post by Nate over at Finding Truth:

This City Doesn’t Exist

Near the end he has a link to one of his previous posts that goes into much more detail:

Prophecy Part 6: Tyre

It reminded me of this post by Greta Christina:

A Selt-Referential Game of Twister: What Religion Looks Like From the Outside

That is a must-read for everyone.  But I want to focus on one particular part of it:

Scientists will certainly squabble with one another about the correct interpretation of data. But ultimately, they’re not just looking back at a pre-determined set of texts written thousands of years ago, and looking in their hearts to decide how to understand them. They’re looking out in the world. They’re gathering data, gathering evidence. They’re trying to figure out what’s true in the world by looking at the world, very carefully and very systematically, using a methodthat is specifically designed to screen out human bias and error as much as possible.

And when the data contradicting their opinion becomes too overwhelming, or the arguments against it become too compelling, they don’t twist their original opinion around in a series of apologetics explaining why the original opinion is still true and just needs to be interpreted correctly.

They say, “Huh. I guess I was wrong.”

Christians often claim that they use the same type of reasoning as I do but that we’ve just looked at the evidence and come to a different conclusion.  Even if I grant them this, let’s keep following the path.  Once they’ve decided that they think Christianity is the best explanation for the evidence (even though I think they are relying on extremely unreliable sources for their evidence) – then the next step is what I want to focus on.  The next step is that they now decide that the bible and its ideas are trustworthy and start building their worldview around this.  They start talking a lot about faith.

Greta says in her post:

 And one of the things science (or the philosophy of science, anyway) shows us about understanding life is that a theory that can’t possibly be falsified is useless. If a theory can be twisted around to explain absolutely anything that happens or that might conceivably happen, then it has no predictive power, no ability to help us understand how the world works.

Which brings me back to my point about the circularity of religious thinking. Take another look at Ebon Musing’s observation about theists, in his Theist’s Guide to Converting Atheists: “Ask any believer what would convince him he was mistaken and persuade him to leave his religion and become an atheist, and if you get a response, it will almost invariably be, ‘Nothing — I have faith in my god.’”

And ask yourself the question he asks: Is there anything that would convince you that you were mistaken? Is there any possible piece of evidence that could persuade you that God does not exist?

If the answer is “No” — if your answer is, “That’s what faith means, it means believing in God without demanding evidence and no matter what happens” — then you’ve pretty much proven my point. Religious belief is a snake eating its own tail. It’s a self-referential game of Twister. And it doesn’t help us understand or explain anything at all, about ourselves or the world.

So once you’ve decided that you trust the Bible as a reliable or even inerrant source of truth – you now have to live your life loyal to that book and its ideas.  Now you’ve crossed over from caring about the evidence to being required to explain away any evidence that contradicts the Bible or its claims.   As an atheist I am human and love to defend my current beliefs – we all do.  But I don’t claim loyalty to any book or person especially if that would require me to throw out or ignore evidence.


2 thoughts on “Following where the evidence leads … unless it contradicts my holy book.

  1. Hey there! I got here from Nate’s Prophecy Part 6 about Tyre. You make some good points.

    One other point that would be hilarious (as well as a useful point, in my opinion) is that once one accepts the authority of the bible (ostensibly based upon the evidence) then the real test is “how do I live by my Holy Book?” It is supposed to be the Inerrant Word of God–God’s instruction manual for mankind, yet you almost can’t find two people who agree on what, exactly, it says. Faith? Works? Keep the Sabbath or not? Refrain from Unclean Meats or not? Keep the OT Holy Days or not? Predestination or not? Christians in the Army or not?

    If bits of this Perfect Word of God can be used to support both sides of all the above questions and more…then it seems to prove the point you were making in this post even more!

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