Showing posts with label "Prefer to be True". Show all posts
Showing posts with label "Prefer to be True". Show all posts

The Psychological Pull of the Christian Story

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There is just something about the Christian story that makes me want to believe it. I know of no other story like this one. In fact, when I watch music videos of the Christian story I feel its psychological pull on me, and I'm a former believer who has rejected that story. So how much more does the story have a great amount of psychological pull on the hearts of others, especially believers, whose faith is confirmed whenever they ponder it. Case in point are the three videos below:

It's Time Once Again Boys and Girls for The Outsider Test for Faith

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[Written by John W. Loftus]
Let's try this one more time shall we? This time in short numbered points for the reading impaired:

The Science of Why We Don't Believe Science, by Chris Mooney

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We're not driven only by emotions, of course—we also reason, deliberate. But reasoning comes later, works slower—and even then, it doesn't take place in an emotional vacuum. Rather, our quick-fire emotions can set us on a course of thinking that's highly biased, especially on topics we care a great deal about.

In other words, when we think we're reasoning, we may instead be rationalizing. Or to use an analogy offered by University of Virginia psychologist Jonathan Haidt: We may think we're being scientists, but we're actually being lawyers (PDF). Our "reasoning" is a means to a predetermined end—winning our "case"—and is shot through with biases. They include "confirmation bias," in which we give greater heed to evidence and arguments that bolster our beliefs, and "disconfirmation bias," in which we expend disproportionate energy trying to debunk or refute views and arguments that we find uncongenial. Link.

People Don’t Know When They’re Lying to Themselves

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I've said these kinds of things before but I need to say them again and again and again, this time in reference to two notorious people in the headlines. The lesson of Muammar Gaddafi and Charlie Sheen is that they're lying to themselves and don't know it. They've convinced themselves they are right. But then, this is what we as human do, most all of us. It takes a special kind of skepticism to stop ourselves from doing this. And this applies equally when it comes to our religious debates. My claim is that Christians are delusional. They simply believe despite the overwhelming evidence against their faith. They are in denial just like Gaddafi and Sheen. We can see it plainly in others. What we cannot do is see the same thing in ourselves. So I'm against faith-based reasoning, which is best defined as "belief in search of data." Gaddafi and Sheen have a belief in themselves so they have found the relevant data and convinced themselves they are in the right. You cannot convince them otherwise. That makes skepticism, an adult attitude, a virtue. So I won't believe anything for which there isn't good solid evidence for it. And I won't believe anything for which there are no reasonable answers to basic questions. What's not to understand about this?

Jesse Bering on Klüver-Bucy Syndrome and Nymphomania

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This article is a very significant one by the author of two books I recommend, The God Instinct, and The Belief Instinct. He tells us: "Although Klüver-Bucy Syndrome is relatively rare, it's one of the most notorious neurological causes of a complete breakdown in one's ability to control sexual urges." Read both pages linked below and see what you think. Here is his conclusion:

Why Bad Beliefs Don't Die, by Gregory W. Lester

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Because senses and beliefs are both tools for survival and have evolved to augment one another, our brain considers them to be separate but equally important purveyors of survival information....This means that beliefs are designed to operate independent of sensory data. In fact, the whole survival value of beliefs is based on their ability to persist in the face of contradictory evidence. Beliefs are not supposed to change easily or simply in response to disconfirming evidence. If they did, they would be virtually useless as tools for survival....Skeptical thinkers must realize that because of the survival value of beliefs, disconfirming evidence will rarely, if ever, be sufficient to change beliefs, even in “otherwise intelligent” people....[S]keptics must always appreciate how hard it is for people to have their beliefs challenged. It is, quite literally, a threat to their brain’s sense of survival. It is entirely normal for people to be defensive in such situations. The brain feels it is fighting for its life....it should be comforting to all skeptics to remember that the truly amazing part of all of this is not that so few beliefs change or that people can be so irrational, but that anyone’s beliefs ever change at all. Skeptics’ ability to alter their own beliefs in response to data is a true gift; a unique, powerful, and precious ability. It is genuinely a “higher brain function” in that it goes against some of the most natural and fundamental biological urges. Link

We’re Not As Rational As We Think, A Review of “Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior”

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Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior is wonderfully written by two brothers that highlights several areas where we humans are not as rational as we think. It has serious implications for religious believers. Let me explain.

Professor James E. Alcock on "The Belief Engine"

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I was on CFI's Extraordinary Claims panel this Friday night with Dr. Alcock. He gave a wonderful talk which will be available online sometime in the near future. Here is an essay he wrote that goes right along with what he said, called The Belief Engine. It's a must read.
The true critical thinker accepts what few people ever accept — that one cannot routinely trust perceptions and memories. Figments of our imagination and reflections of our emotional needs can often interfere with or supplant the perception of truth and reality. Experience is often a poor guide to reality. Skepticism helps us to question our experience and to avoid being too readily led to believe what is not so.

Christian, if You Are Deluded Then What Would You Expect?

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If you are deluded then the evidence to the contrary, even if it is overwhelming, will not convince you otherwise. Just think of the Mormons. Perhaps you can explain to me why Mormons still believe even though it's been shown through DNA evidence that Native Americans are not descendants of Semitic peoples: Losing a Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA, and the Mormon Church. Come on now. Think about this. Like the Mormons you were raised to believe and you now defend what you were raised to believe in a Christian culture despite the evidence just like they do because they were raised in a Mormon culture. Or, at least consider this a real possibility.

The Implications of the Book Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me)

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From the description of the book we read:
Backed by years of research and delivered in lively, energetic prose, Mistakes Were Made but Not by Me offers a fascinating explanation of self-deception—how it works, the harm it can cause, and how we can overcome it.
I read it and loved it. Fascinating stuff here about cognitive dissonance and how we deceive ourselves to resolve it. The implications of this book are that we should all be skeptics and trust the sciences. Let me briefly explain.

The Best Way to Bolster Your Christian Faith is to Read Skeptical Books!

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I have a friend named Bill who was a member of a church where I preached and who recently read my books. Afterward he wrote me this: "The deeper I get into the 'meat' of your material, the more solidly grounded I get in my faith in God and His Son, Jesus Christ." Now I've heard that before. So maybe I should just accept what they're saying. Hey, why not? Surely they wouldn't be liars for Jesus, right? So take what they say as recommendations for my books. If you want to become more grounded in your faith then you need to read more of these types of books! If my books do this for some Christians then others should take the Debunking Christianity Challenge.

Or, they're fooling themselves. Fooling themselves? Could it be? Yep. This is exactly what social studies predict.

With Thinking Skills Like These No Wonder You Believe

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In a recent post I had written this sentence: "Joe, my goal is to change the minds of one person at a time, alone as they read my book." Then a Christian named Neal responded: "Man, your opinion of yourself is quite deluded. The idea that after Hume, Nietzsche, Comte, Marx, Engels, Popper, Russell, Sartre, Schopenhauer, Ayer, Chomski, and the list could be multiplied on and on now suddenly a second-rate atheologian like John Loftus has the arguments that will demolish Christianity once and for all is more than just hubris, it is outright self-deluded narcissism. Your estimation of your own abilities is quite exaggerated."

Does anyone know what a non-sequitur is? Neal's response is one.

People Believe and Defend That Which They Prefer to Be True
And the Facts Won't Change Their Minds

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It’s one of the great assumptions underlying modern democracy that an informed citizenry is preferable to an uninformed one....If people are furnished with the facts, they will be clearer thinkers and better citizens. If they are ignorant, facts will enlighten them. If they are mistaken, facts will set them straight. In the end, truth will [win] out. Won’t it?

Maybe not. Recently, a few political scientists have begun to discover a human tendency deeply discouraging to anyone with faith in the power of information. It’s this: Facts don’t necessarily have the power to change our minds. In fact, quite the opposite. In a series of studies in 2005 and 2006, researchers at the University of Michigan found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger.

People Believe and Defend That Which They Prefer to Be True

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I take it that the title to this post is uncontestable and undeniably true from what we know about human beings. The ONLY responses I have gotten from believers are these two: 1) The Ad Hominem Tu Quoque Fallacy which does nothing to address the point (see link); and 2) "No this does not apply to me when I assess the truth claims of Christianity because I am the exception to the rule." [How can all of them be the exception to the rule if this is the rule?]

What a load of bunk, oh but wait, what's the title to my Blog again? Ahhhhh, yes.

People Believe and Defend What They Prefer to Be True

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People believe and defend what they prefer to be true. This is an obvious and non-controversial fact. That's who we are as human beings. That's what we human beings do. That's what psychological studies have repeatedly shown us over and over.

More Proof People Defend What They Prefer to Be True.
Case in Point: Jim West Rants Against College Accreditation

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Jim (aka "Where's Waldo") West usually has the number one ranked Blog among SBL's Bibliobloggers every month. This is supposed to mean something I guess. In a post he submitted for The Bible and Interpretation West rants against the "exploitative" nature of college accreditation companies. But guess what? He has a degree from an unaccredited college and teaches for one too, oh my! Here we see a person who should know better arguing against that which he doesn't have simply because he doesn't have it. Why am I not surprised? I've never heard an educated person ranting against an education. Only the uneducated do so. And only an unaccredited person/teacher would do the same thing with regard to accreditation. I commented further there. Sheesh.

People Justify What They Prefer To Be True

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My wife took two of our grandchildren to see the newly released kids movie, "How to Train Your Dragon." The movie is in 3-D at select theaters but this one did not have 3-D technology. One grandchild asked the owner in the lobby if the movie is in 3-D and he went off for ten minutes telling them that watching movies in 3-D is bad for their eyes. This is a case in point for how people can justify whatever brings them money, power, or sex. Of course he thinks that. Why? Because his movie theater does not have that technology. Get it? Just imagine what he would think if he had that technology! Then he would change his tune. My contention is that Christians feel empowered by their faith. After all, they actually think God is their helper in times of need, and that they will see him and their loved ones when they die. So of course they'll defend their beliefs just like this theater owner does. One would think that precisely because believers prefer their faith to be true they should be skeptical of it, but no, they don't see this. Maybe they can learn something as outsiders listening in to that theater owner and get the point. But then probably not.

Do I Prefer to Live in a Godless Universe?

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It's argued that I reject Christianity because I prefer to live my life apart from God. Balderdash! Do I really prefer to live in a universe that is cold and uncaring, having only blind indifference toward me as a human being in which I can count on no divine help from outside of it, and no hope of an eternal life with my loved ones? Not a chance. Do I really prefer to reject the dominant religion of my culture to be ostracized by believers and hated for what I believe? No, not at all. Given the idealized version of Christianity that believers accept and defend (minus the ugly and incoherent stuff in the Bible) I would prefer the fantasyland of belief to the hard realities of life if given that choice. The problem is that I must be honest with the evidence and the evidence is that I live in a universe that is cold and uncaring, having only blind indifference toward me as a human being in which I can count on no divine help from outside of it, and no hope of an eternal life with my loved ones.

I was once a believer like most believers today. I did not want to lose my faith just like they do not. The evidence forced me to leave the fold against my preferences.