The Definitive Answer to Who Has a Closed Mind

Doxastic closure is "belief closure." Doxastic openness is "belief openness." I'll use DC and DO in what follows to represent them. The person who has DC has a closed mind. The person who has DO has an open mind. Who has DC? Who has DO? That's the question I want to explore. It has been claimed by more than one Christian that atheists and agnostics have DC, whereas they consider themselves to have DO. The key premise is that it's better, more knowledgable, and virtuous to have DO. Having DO means someone is not closed-minded, is open to new information, and thus better able to decide what to conclude about matters of faith, science and truth itself.

The first thing to say is that agnostics, who do not think there is enough evidence to conclude much of anything about the origin of the universe and consequently suspend judgment on whether there is a god, most emphatically do not have DC. By definition they have DO. If any Christian disputes this then they are quite plainly ignorant. It might be argued agnostics are ignorant or inconsistent or not sufficiently scientifically informed, but they model the very essence of DO.

So the main issue left unresolved is the difference between agnostics and atheists. I think Peter Boghossian nails this. He defines an atheist as saying: "There's insufficient evidence to warrant belief in a divine, supernatural creator of the universe. However, if I were shown sufficient evidence to warrant belief in such an entity, then I would believe." Boghossian adds, "The atheist does 'not' claim, 'No matter how solid the evidence for a supernatural creator, I refuse to believe'" (p. 27). The problem with agnostics, Boghossian tells us however, is that "in the last 2400 years of intellectual history, not a single argument for the existence of God has withstood scrutiny. Not one...All refuted. All failures." [p. 28 in A Manual for Creating Atheists.]

I have found that even among the very best Christian apologists there is a woeful, and perhaps even culpable ignorance about atheism. This is remedied by Russell Blackford and Udo Schuklenk's excellent book, 50 Great Myths About Atheism.I plan on reviewing this book next.

The question over who has DC and who has DO might be answered by simply asking what legitimately closes a mind. No one thinks we should be open-minded to anything and everything. There are some ideas we have good warrant to reject out of hand. So what has the potential for closing an atheist or agnostic's mind? For us it is evidence, sufficient evidence, evidence that convinces rational people. That is, scientific evidence, empirical evidence, or the lack of it. [To Christians who say it's impossible to have this kind of evidence for a non-material supernatural deity, we should still have this kind of evidence if he acts in the world. If he acts in the world there should be evidence that he does.] I have good warrant for accepting gravity. I am close-minded to the idea of jumping off a roof in hopes I could fly. And while I suppose even then I still might remotely be willing to entertain the evidence to the contrary, I would absolutely refuse to test that hypothesis myself.

Now let's contrast this with all Christians to varying degrees. What closes their minds? Well, an ancient pre-scientific superstitious set of canonized sacred writings, as interpreted by one's trusted exegetes in today's world. Are they open to other pre-scientific sacred writings? No, not any more than atheists and agnostics are open to accepting them. In fact, despite the results of science they will usually mindlessly quote-mine from the Bible as having a much higher authority than empirical evidence. Just think of the many young earth creationists there are, as represented by Ken Ham's Creation Museum. While more informed Christians see this with regard to Ken Ham creationists, we atheists and agnostics see the same thing when it comes to their own theologies based on the Bible. Most Christians are even sure that their ancient superstitious set of sacred writings, as interpreted by one's trusted exegetes in today's world, have a higher authority over the results of science and the scientific method for investigating truth claims. They will even attack science and the scientific method without having anything to replace them, except private subjective experience, which is absolutely nothing by comparison. [If there is no scientific method then would someone please, please, tell me how science has produced a massive amount of knowledge without one?]

So the question of who is close-minded can be settled quite easily. Who is open to the results of science and the scientific method for investigating truth claims? People who have DO are. People who have DC are not. It just so happens that people who accept the results of science and the scientific method do not think there is enough evidence to believe. It didn't have to turn out this way. It just did. If a deity exists he could have produced this evidence. It just doesn't exist.

It's really that simple folks.

I have already said what kind of evidence would have convinced me, right here. If you think I am rebelling against believing in your deity then perhaps you can explain why this evidence just does not exist. Come on, give it a go.