TO forgive creationists (and other musings)
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02-03-2015, 11:43 AM
TO forgive creationists (and other musings)
A few days ago, maybe a week, I had a talk with my dad. We had a few arguments, and some discussion.

My dad calls himself an agnostic. By my definition he is an atheist. By his I am an agnostic. I hold that the existence or non of god is a fact about the universe, and as such the theist has not put forward enough evidence to convince me. My dad believes that the problem is insoluble, that the universe is uncertain and even the existence or non is an insoluble problem and even that may be a false dichotomy. I don't understand that myself.

But then again we differ on many things. He is a moral subjectivist who says that no one can find a real justification for once moral decision or another. The example he gave was that if a man killed a small child and claimed he thought the killing of a child was a moral act there was no reason other than a personal decision on the part of another that the action was not moral. And that he was willing to enforce his moral judgements despite his inability to justify them. I find this distressing, since I view myself as a moral objectivist, meaning that there is a set of values based on objective reality that all people share and that we can refer to these to make moral judgements. But then again my dad doesn't believe in objective reality, he thinks that is too uncertain.

But we also talked about one other thing that came to me while flipping through youtube, which is why I am inclined to forgive creationists.

We often accuse creationists of stupidity or ignorance. We say to them, "if you only understood, you'd agree." This simply isn't the case. Many of them DO understand. They simply think we're wrong.

Some of them think the same way as my dad, that observations are not to be trusted the same way that I would trust them. They might think the universe is uncertain, and that we simply can't accept things just because they seem to be one way. They honestly think that they have revealed truth, and that since the universe is uncertain this is the only thing they can be certain of. They see their fight as one to promote what THEY think is the only way of being sure of anything. We, they claim, just don't get that they have the only method of being sure of anything. How can we justify anything if not for the revealed word of God?

Others might suffer from another human weakness, the failure to understand deep time. That's nothing to be ashamed of, no one REALLY gets deep time. We as a species aren't set up to conceptualize it. We live only about 100 years or so, and the span of millions is simply inconceivable. If I had to be honest to myself while I understand that this span of time happened conceptually, making myself fully understand it in more concrete everyday terms is somewhat beyond me. Just like I can't easily grasp the scope of the sun, or the size of an electron.

I honestly don't think it's worth it to talk to the dyed in the wool creationists as a result of these musings. They are literally unable to change. Now some of the people who have been indoctrinated are open, but a lot are not. They simply don't look at the world in the same way, they don't see the same thing I do when I look out at the universe. I can forgive them their folly, but I don't think it's worth it trying to convince them.
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02-03-2015, 12:08 PM
RE: TO forgive creationists (and other musings)
Nah!

Not only do I think it's worth it but I think the survival of our species depends on it.

Faith (authority, revelation and tradition) ... FART for short ... are simply shitty ways to determine what is true.

Regarding morality... it is subjective (well done, your dad) but as social creatures we need to define some kind of objective axiology / measurement scale (e.g. human well-being) to facilitate co-operating and collaborating to ensure our goals are met (e.g. survival, security, resource optimisation etc.).

Now, whether or not the survival of the species matters? Well, the universe doesn't give a shit... it's an objective non-shit-giver.

Big Grin

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02-03-2015, 12:18 PM
RE: TO forgive creationists (and other musings)
(02-03-2015 11:43 AM)natachan Wrote:  A few days ago, maybe a week, I had a talk with my dad. We had a few arguments, and some discussion.

My dad calls himself an agnostic. By my definition he is an atheist. By his I am an agnostic. I hold that the existence or non of god is a fact about the universe, and as such the theist has not put forward enough evidence to convince me. My dad believes that the problem is insoluble, that the universe is uncertain and even the existence or non is an insoluble problem and even that may be a false dichotomy. I don't understand that myself.

But then again we differ on many things. He is a moral subjectivist who says that no one can find a real justification for once moral decision or another. The example he gave was that if a man killed a small child and claimed he thought the killing of a child was a moral act there was no reason other than a personal decision on the part of another that the action was not moral. And that he was willing to enforce his moral judgements despite his inability to justify them. I find this distressing, since I view myself as a moral objectivist, meaning that there is a set of values based on objective reality that all people share and that we can refer to these to make moral judgements. But then again my dad doesn't believe in objective reality, he thinks that is too uncertain.

But we also talked about one other thing that came to me while flipping through youtube, which is why I am inclined to forgive creationists.

We often accuse creationists of stupidity or ignorance. We say to them, "if you only understood, you'd agree." This simply isn't the case. Many of them DO understand. They simply think we're wrong.

Some of them think the same way as my dad, that observations are not to be trusted the same way that I would trust them. They might think the universe is uncertain, and that we simply can't accept things just because they seem to be one way. They honestly think that they have revealed truth, and that since the universe is uncertain this is the only thing they can be certain of. They see their fight as one to promote what THEY think is the only way of being sure of anything. We, they claim, just don't get that they have the only method of being sure of anything. How can we justify anything if not for the revealed word of God?

Others might suffer from another human weakness, the failure to understand deep time. That's nothing to be ashamed of, no one REALLY gets deep time. We as a species aren't set up to conceptualize it. We live only about 100 years or so, and the span of millions is simply inconceivable. If I had to be honest to myself while I understand that this span of time happened conceptually, making myself fully understand it in more concrete everyday terms is somewhat beyond me. Just like I can't easily grasp the scope of the sun, or the size of an electron.

I honestly don't think it's worth it to talk to the dyed in the wool creationists as a result of these musings. They are literally unable to change. Now some of the people who have been indoctrinated are open, but a lot are not. They simply don't look at the world in the same way, they don't see the same thing I do when I look out at the universe. I can forgive them their folly, but I don't think it's worth it trying to convince them.

I agree. The vast majority of the time, you will have as much luck trying to convert a theist as I have in becoming the 2015 Mr Olympia...zero. Although, in my opinion, every theist has some level of inner doubt. It may be deeply buried, and the more they swig the kool aid, and surround themselves with like minded folk, the odds of them having to deal with that inner doubt is low....buuuuut there are a large majority (my personal opinion) that go through the motions to one degree or another, almost a living example of Paschal's Wager, who have a larger chunk of doubt wiggling away, and they continue to plod through life, enjoying the fellowship, and pretending to themselves they are good god-fearing Christian folk. THOSE are the ones I target, if I can plant a few seeds of doubt, help them turn introspectively and deal with their doubt....and perhaps start down the path to the truth...or at the minimum, turn away from the lies and deception...then it was worth my efforts.

"Belief is so often the death of reason" - Qyburn, Game of Thrones

"The Christian community continues to exist because the conclusions of the critical study of the Bible are largely withheld from them." -Hans Conzelmann (1915-1989)
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02-03-2015, 02:43 PM
RE: TO forgive creationists (and other musings)
(02-03-2015 11:43 AM)natachan Wrote:  [SNIP]
...even the existence or non is an insoluble problem and even that may be a false dichotomy.
[SNIP]

Ask him if he feels the same about the existence of unicorns. And if he says "No", ask him why the difference.

As Sam Harris and others have said, we (society) give much more respect to religious beliefs than we do to non-religious beliefs. If someone says "I believe in God", no-one bats an eyelid. But if the same person says "I believe Elvis is still alive", everyone rolls there eyes. I believe (personally) that God might exist. I also believe that Elvis might be alive. I don't believe for a second that either is true and I live my life as if neither is true.
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