Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Children of the Lack of Objectivity


Joe Hinman raises an issue that is worth considering.  It is the question of how we can relate to something for which we have no familiarity and no experience.  It may not be easy to understand something that you've never seen or never experienced.  He asks the question:
How could someone born blind understand the difference in blue and green or yellow?
After calling atheists' theorizing about religious belief "simplistic an totally wrong headed", and "shallow and senseless", He sums it up this way:
Religion doesn't exist because people tried to explain why it rains. It exits because people sense the numinous. They sense this aspect of something, the sublime, the spiritual, the nether regions but something that is special and beyond our understanding.
What Hinman wants us to think is that atheists have no understanding of Christians' belief in God because they haven't experienced it for themselves.  Of course, this is the same old trope that we hear over and over again.  And it's just not true.

You can't understand what it's like qualitatively to see blue or yellow unless you've had the experience, but you can understand how those sensations are caused from a physiological perspective, and you can understand what kind of sensory stimulation causes them.  You can also understand how those sensations are associated with other ideas in the mind.  When we see red, we associate that with fire trucks and stop signs, and other things that are linked to the concept of danger.  There are different levels of understanding of the phenomenon.  We can talk about the quality or feeling of a sensation, or its physical cause, or what it means to us.  It is only the first of those that requires direct experience in order to understand it at that level.

But is it true that atheists have never had the inner experience of God that Hinman speaks of?  Not in the least.  Hinman ignores a couple of very key points:  One is that whether or not we believe in God, we are all humans and we all have the same kinds of inner feelings and experiences.  The other is that the majority of atheists are former believers. 

On the first of those points, there is no question that there is some kind of inner feeling we all experience that creates a sense of awe or spirituality.  It may be felt with more intensity by some, but we pretty much all feel it at some time in our lives.  In fact, Hinman makes this the basis of his pseudo-scientific claims about warrant for belief.  But as I said, this experience can be understood at different levels.  We all have some understanding of what it feels like because we all have felt it to some degree.  There is disagreement about what causes it.  Theists think it is caused by God, but science has shown that the same feelings can be caused by certain kinds of physical stimulus, or even by psychological manipulation.  And then there is the question of meaning.  How does the mind interpret this experience?  That depends entirely on what concepts and associations already exist in the mind.  We associate red with the concept danger mainly because that concept is culturally ingrained in us.  The same is true of religious experience.  The interpretation of a religious experience is based on concepts we already have in our mind.  No Christian would ever have a religious experience that causes him to become a Buddhist if he didn't already have some knowledge of Buddhism, and vice versa.  Nobody ever learns something new from a religious experience.  The religious experience only serves to reinforce what we already believe.

The other point that Hinman ignores is a common mistake among Christians who love to pretend that their understanding is so much superior to that of atheists.  Most of us have been raised as believers.  We do know what it's like to have a religious experience and interpret it as the experience of God.  We've been there and done that.  The difference is that the atheist who is an ex-believer has more ways to interpret the experience.  The atheist understands that God is not the only possible reality, and not the only possible way to explain what we observe and what we feel.  The atheist sees it from a wider perspective, because he knows what the Christian feels, and he can still take a more objective view that encompasses a greater body of understanding.

Christians like Hinman who say the atheist has a limited understanding of religious belief are arrogant and hypocritical.  It is they who don't have the perspective of seeing both sides of the question.  It is they who don't have the objectivity to examine the issue dispassionately, and arrive at a conclusion based on logic and reson.  Christians have been raised from the time they were infants to believe in God and the myths of the bible.  They can't imagine what it's like to have no belief in God, because that's something they've never experienced.  And all those so-called ex-atheists like CS Lewis never really abandoned their childhood beliefs.  All they did was keep it hidden for a while, and then allowed it to re-emerge.

I have to laugh every time I hear Christians making these claims about how blind atheists are, how limited their epistemological toolbox is.  We reject God belief, not because it is outside our understanding, but because our understanding is broader.  When it comes to interpreting our experiences, we have more than just one way to see everything.  We are not limited to always arriving at the same old conclusion that was instilled in us when we were children.  We can look beyond those childhood beliefs and see more.  Most of all, when looking at a broader range of choices in how to understand something, we can base our decision on objective evaluation, because we are not hemmed in by religious faith.

38 comments:

  1. Joe Hinman was an atheist in his teens and early 20's. You do know that, don't you? Or do you think he is lying about that? You did call him a liar at one time.

    Also, do you take turns in your bashing? You seem to do posts about the same people (Joe, Mikey, Victor Reppert, Crude, Don McIntosh). Is it because they banned you?

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    1. I comment on bullshit wherever I find it, whether it is from theists who have not banned me, or from atheists who say things that strike me as worthy of comment.

      The majority of the sites that I have been banned from are a result of your own desire to prevent me from speaking. (I believe you recommended it to Hinman, and then he banned me from a half dozen or so sites.)

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    2. Joe Hinman was an atheist in his teens and early 20's. You do know that, don't you?

      He and practically every other Christian warrior on the internet. This is a topic about which I have spoken. And I alluded to that in this post, too. Perhaps your reading comprehension needs a little work.

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    3. I just read that. It is a bunch of crap about how scientific knowledge will never let you go back to Christianity.

      Delete
    4. Btfsplk

      "It is a bunch of crap about how scientific knowledge will never let you go back to Christianity."

      {"....When someone arrives at this kind of understanding, it's rare to see them turn back to Christianity. If you have a scientific understanding of the world, you realize that this framework of understanding has a logical basis that is universal...."}

      Reading comprehension, son.

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    5. I'm afraid that any talk of a scientific framework of understanding is completely lost on JB. He buys into the pseudo-science of the cretionists, based on claims like "living things violate the second law of thermodynamics". He believes that miracles really do happen. If your framework of understanding has room to allow things like that to fit in, then it isn't a solid framework at all. It's just something that is built around a preexisting core of beliefs that has no logical basis, to present the appearance of intellectual acceptability. Just don't look beneath the surface.

      Delete
    6. JB Quote"It is a bunch of crap about how scientific knowledge will never let you go back to Christianity."Quote

      Super Troll: {"....When someone arrives at this kind of understanding, it's rare to see them turn back to Christianity. If you have a scientific understanding of the world, you realize that this framework of understanding has a logical basis that is universal...."}

      Reading comprehension, son.


      Oh, whatever. Gee whiz. What I said is pretty close to that.

      IMS: I'm afraid that any talk of a scientific framework of understanding is completely lost on JB. He buys into the pseudo-science of the cretionists, based on claims like "living things violate the second law of thermodynamics". He believes that miracles really do happen. If your framework of understanding has room to allow things like that to fit in, then it isn't a solid framework at all. It's just something that is built around a preexisting core of beliefs that has no logical basis, to present the appearance of intellectual acceptability. Just don't look beneath the surface.

      It looks like someone is heading into Ad Hominem territory. There's a shock.

      Delete
    7. Skep Yes I was 23 when I got saved so I was an atheist from 16-23 before that sort of eastern religion leaning agnostic, from 12-16.

      College age is old enough to think seriously about any issue, I am My brother and I were child precocious and we were precocious.We had IQ that stunned the shrinks when we were ih second grade, my brother was reading Goethe in 8th grade. I was reading Ghandi and the T Te Ching, and Bertrand Russell in high school.

      I know why I banned you, i did not ban you to silence you i wanted you there, I want commentators and people to argue with. I banned because you can't argue fairly.you were attacking my book without knowing anything about it. refused to listen you were being a troll.

      Delete
    8. Skep Yes I was 23 when I got saved so I was an atheist from 16-23 before that sort of eastern religion leaning agnostic, from 12-16.

      College age is old enough to think seriously about any issue, I am My brother and I were child precocious and we were precocious.We had IQ that stunned the shrinks when we were ih second grade, my brother was reading Goethe in 8th grade. I was reading Ghandi and the T Te Ching, and Bertrand Russell in high school.

      I know why I banned you, i did not ban you to silence you i wanted you there, I want commentators and people to argue with. I banned because you can't argue fairly.you were attacking my book without knowing anything about it. refused to listen you were being a troll.

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    9. by the way in third grade my brother and I tried to make a bomd from our chemistry set and blow up a bull dozer to stop themn cutting down our woods. We only damaged it,slightly just a ding. In fifth grade the 6th grade teacher asked us questions about the history of the Vietnam war (1967 we were taking about the French involvement in the 1950s. We told her the battle the French lost Vietnam in was Dien Bien Phu ,In 6th grade we were actively protesting war in Vietnam.

      we understood things in early life. so being an atheist by 16 was meaningful.

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    10. In my experience, people who go around proclaiming how smart they are usually aren't.

      Delete
    11. my answer on Metacrock's blog "Children of the lack of reading the material they criticize"

      Here

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    12. Oh, look at that. a delayed response from Bftsplk.

      {JB Quote"It is a bunch of crap about how scientific knowledge will never let you go back to Christianity."Quote}

      "Super Troll

      (Hilarious coming from a dip shit who only comes to this blog to troll):

      {"....When someone arrives at this kind of understanding, it's rare to see them turn back to Christianity. If you have a scientific understanding of the world, you realize that this framework of understanding has a logical basis that is universal...."}

      Reading comprehension, son.}

      "Oh, whatever. Gee whiz. What I said is pretty close to that."

      LOL
      Except for that little word "never", dumb fuck.
      Reading comprehension. It seems to be a lost art.

      {IMS: "I'm afraid that any talk of a scientific framework of understanding is completely lost on JB. He buys into the pseudo-science of the creationists, based on claims like "living things violate the second law of thermodynamics". He believes that miracles really do happen. If your framework of understanding has room to allow things like that to fit in, then it isn't a solid framework at all. It's just something that is built around a preexisting core of beliefs that has no logical basis, to present the appearance of intellectual acceptability. Just don't look beneath the surface."}

      "It looks like someone is heading into Ad Hominem territory. There's a shock."

      Yup, goober and calling something a "bunch of crap", that's a real cogent argument rather than an insult......oh......wait......


      I have to agree with I'M's assessment of your behavior.
      Exactly where is he wrong about you, Hinman fanboi?


      You are too funny, Bftsplk.

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  2. Btfsplk

    How is engaging a question thoughtfully and at length "bashing"?

    And do you actually believe Hinman was a studied atheist?

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    1. Yes. He did a lot more reading than you ever will.

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    2. Not by his early 20s he didn't.

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    3. And your refusal to defend your characterization is duly noted.

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    4. Joe reads a lot, but that doesn't mean he understands. Everything is filtered through his theistic belief system. He reads about physics and utterly fails to comprehend what the article says. Then he quotes that as support for his theistic arguments.

      JB, on the other hand, tends to believe whatever he is told, as long as it comes from a fellow theist.

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    5. Dude, all you do is spew BS. I don't believe everything I am told. And, you are not the science god like you seem to claim.

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    6. LOL

      Says the guy who believed Hinman had read more by his early twenties than someone he knows nothing about.

      Just because Hinman told him so.

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    7. Dude, all you do is spew BS. I don't believe everything I am told. And, you are not the science god like you seem to claim.

      You believe Poggie and you believe Stan, but you don't believe real scientists who actually know what they're talking about.

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    8. What real scientists? A guy who wrote a book talking about how life can come from non-life? That sounds like propaganda to me, not truth. And, while I never said that I believe everything that Pogge and Stan say, he seems to know more about science than you.

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    9. You believe whatever you please. That doesn't make any of it true. Forgive me for saying so, but you are obviously in no position to judge who understands science better.

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  3. I know you think that'w what you are doing but it's not, you are not listening,

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  4. About the over all issue i don't say atheist don't understand God I say no one does. some atheist are very ignorant they think it's a war they approach it like combat they are the stupid ones They are not all like that, There I are those I admire. I've been posting on Sec Outpost I've become friends with Loweder and Parson's Sontnac and Ryan M I like them and i admire them. you are not being like them. you could be but you wont pay attention, you should learn from them. The last Thing Rayan put on my blog was a word to an atheist was attacking me he said stop approaching it like as though its a war between Christians and atheists, try to learn from them. You need to do that.

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    1. yes in the article you site i said atheists have not experienced it,. That was a recycle long ago before I did the research I forgot to put in a foot note

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  5. But is it true that atheists have never had the inner experience of God that Hinman speaks of? Not in the least. Hinman ignores a couple of very key points: One is that whether or not we believe in God, we are all humans and we all have the same kinds of inner feelings and experiences. The other is that the majority of atheists are former believers.

    I never said that atheists have not had such experiences, I talk abut some having them in my book. this proves you have not read the book ,you are claiming to know what it says you have not read it,

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    1. I told you from the beginning that I didn't read your book. That proves you don't listen. If I can get a copy without buying it, I'll read it.

      I did question the justification for your so-called scientific conclusions based on the reference material you provided. I asked you repeatedly to provide a brief outline of your reasoning, or explain in a general way how you can base such conclusions on a bunch of studies that don't seem to be related in any substantial way, such as studies that correlate spirituality with general well-being. You never provided any such substantiation, and then you banned me. You claim that my questions constitute "trolling".

      Delete
    2. im-skepticalOctober 21, 2016 at 3:58 PM
      I told you from the beginning that I didn't read your book. That proves you don't listen. If I can get a copy without buying it, I'll read it.

      you still don't seem to get the drift about not criticizing things you don't know about

      I did question the justification for your so-called scientific conclusions based on the reference material you provided. I asked you repeatedly to provide a brief outline of your reasoning, or explain in a general way how you can base such conclusions on a bunch of studies that don't seem to be related in any substantial way, such as studies that correlate spirituality with general well-being. You never provided any such substantiation, and then you banned me. You claim that my questions constitute "trolling".

      Delete
    3. I did question the justification for your so-called scientific conclusions based on the reference material you provided. I asked you repeatedly to provide a brief outline of your reasoning, or explain in a general way how you can base such conclusions on a bunch of studies that don't seem to be related in any substantial way, such as studies that correlate spirituality with general well-being. You never provided any such substantiation, and then you banned me. You claim that my questions constitute "trolling".

      I linked to two different articles that I wrote explainable the issues and giving sources you did not read then and acted like I never linked to them,

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    4. Joe, you never answered what I asked. You only evade the question by pointing to more articles that don't answer it.

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  6. I will answer your piece on my blog on Monday I'll post your response

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  7. my answer on Metacrock's blog "Children of the lack of reading the material they criticize"

    Here

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    1. Joe has made some claims about me that are completely untrue. In particular, he claims that this article is "really an excuse to bash my book more." But as you may have noticed, My article doesn't even mention his book. It is specifically a response to his claim that atheists are ignorant of the real reason Christians have for their religious beliefs.

      Delete
  8. my answer on Metacrock's blog "Children of the lack of reading the material they criticize"

    Here

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    1. Before Joe deletes my comment at his blog in response, I'll repeat it here:

      Joe,

      I'll ask this question again: How does a study that correlates spirituality with general well-being provide any justification for belief? Sure, there may be dozens or hundreds off studies like that. But what do they tell us? Maybe we could conclude that well-being has a psychological component. That says nothing about warrant for belief, and the people who conducted those studies drew no such conclusions.

      What about your M-scale? Invented by a religious guy to try to distinguish genuine religious experience from non-genuine ones, based on the way people answer a set of questions. But how does he know which experiences are genuine in the first place? What scale did he use to measure the accuracy of his M-scale? I have asked you about this, and all I get is side-stepping. This is pseudo-scientific hucksterism.

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    2. I have taken the bold step of replying to Joe directly in his blog. Of course, he has turned it into a defense of his book, which I have called pseudo-science.

      One of my main points is that the M-scale doesn't objectively measure anything. It merely judges those who give similar answers to a questionnaire to be having a "true" mystical experience. But there is no basis for deciding what a "true" mystical experience is in the first place. So this is nothing more than the (subjective) judgment of the designer of the M-scale. Joe has shown that he is completely ignorant of how real science works. He replies to me:

      grow brains NOW, how are we supposed to know what they feel if they don't tell us,. grow SOME brains the fact the descriptions tally with each other when they should not tells us us they are experiencing a reality. If we were assessing a physical illness they would still have to tell us their own symptoms, there;s no scientific means of deducing if they feel sick or not. the little atheist fear of subjectiovity just gets in the way of learning,

      THINK ABOUT THAT AGAIN NOW HOW CAN YOU ACCOUNT FOR THE DESCRIPTIONS OF EXPERIENCE BEING THE SAME IN DIFFERENT TIME PERIODS, CULTURES AND RELIGIOUS TRADITIONS?


      Joe doesn't know the first thing about science, but he thinks he's a genius. (See comments above.) This is like arguing about the second law of thermodynamics with a creationist. All the science books in the world will not convince them that they are WRONG.

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