You cannot argue againt the religious

I don’t intend to be offensive, but I am certain that my argument will offend. Regrets.

A religious person cannot be beaten in an argument about religion. This is not because the religious person is right. Nor is it because they use a different logic than the areligious (though that is a symptom of the actual cause).
In short, religion requires a closed mind. It cannot persist in a consciousness that entertains oppposing view points or considers them neutrally.
The evidence for this is that there are many religions, and they all make claims and propose explanations that are equally well founded, i.e. whose foundation is relavantly similar and whose claims are supported by relevantly similar evidence or proof.
An unbiased (and I hesitate to use the term, though ultimately I must admit that this is my cliam.) look across religions reveals them to be derived not from in depth consideration, but by cultural and familial norms.

The much stronger claim that I think follows from this is that, no matter the logic used to examine systems of belief, the agnostic position (and even more stongly the atheist-agnostic position) is found to be superior. Faith, the most common reply to such a claim (from my limited experience), is not a logical system, but rather a refusal to engage in logical thought, and a willful acceptance of ignorance.

Beyond this, Carleas, it must be admitted, is the choice that is deliberately made by a “religious” minded individual, an individual who may in fact recognize the limited nature of logic to arrive at a final, definitive answer regarding the ultimate source and substance of all reality, therefore actually REQUIRING a choice be made where a decision concerning a belief system is concerned or preferred…


Couldn’t have said it better myself.

A religious mind has already concluded and found ways to cope with the reality it is thrust within by using culturally defined concepts of the absolute and the holy.

Debating it would be like debating a child about Santa Clause.

Sure, we can say that gifts can be found at the store and that mommy and daddy buy it but, where does the store get them from?

We can say a factory produces them, but the child will challenge you by saying:

“Is your belief in the factory, and your faith that things are made there, any different than mine which believes elves produce them at the North Pole? Have you been to the factory? Have you seen this process of production? How then are you sure?”

A religious mind will interpret its very sacrifice in reason, as being proof of its faith.
The more absurd the belief, the higher the sacrifice in reason and therefore the stronger the faith.

At its core, a religious mind is governed by fear. Nothing can be said to make it give up its safety blanket.

Absolutely right!!!
I’ve found in attempting to debate religious minded persons that they have a fixed agenda which no rational argument can question. They submit that the problems one could raise about existence in a changing universe are all solved. It may be comforting to have such a belief, but it is, in the opinions of anyone who enjoys some freedom of thought, infantile, divisive, even lethal when one sees how those trapped in closed minds war against each other.

While I agree with your sentiment, I don’t think you’ve read much modern theology. Turner, for example, does a highly skilful job of “reasoning out” faith. The average religious person on the street is exactly as you say, but this is not charitable of us as philosophers to assume that to be the best example. The best examples of religious minds can come up with some truly remarkable and logical thoughts for postulations of some sort of “higher power”. I do not happen to agree with them.

How can one be charitable to those who want you to burn in hell and who make hell real here and now for disbelievers. I’ve read numerous exegetical texts with great interest–Buber, Berdyeav, DeSales, Wm. Law, Huxley in “The Perennial Philosophy” et., al. We don’t seem to be dealing here in these debates with well-read theological arguments. We are dealing with closed minds.

I agree that a fideist and a non believer have no common ground whatsoever. Some further considerations:

Faith does not consist in believing in the existence of that which religious traditions call "God"… we don’t need faith for that, metaphysics suffices to climb up to what Aristotle, for example, calls the “immobile motor”. It is a fact that metaphysics, which is a touch of intelligence beyond the physical world, appeared much earlier than the Jewish revelation. Faith does not consist in believing in the existence of a First being, but in believing in what it reveals to one or the other of what the “immobile motor” is about.

It follows that the “religious” dimension of man (in the sense of “what unites”) is not grounded in any revelation whatsoever but inheres to human nature, since pagan intelligence can climb up to what antique pagan metaphysics names the First being.

Needless to say that one must understand what metaphysics is, and this has not exactly been a fashionable subject matter over the past few centuries. In fact, it is hardly taught anywhere anymore, although it once ruled and that logic, politics, rhetoric, etc. where all at its service…

In short, to think that faith is to believe in “God” constitutes a twofold error, what’s more logical since we assimilate faith and metaphysics, and just as common amongst believers as agnostics, for this consists in erring on the subject of faith and on the capacities of natural and pagan human reason. In parallel we began to think that the soul is a religious concept, which it isn’t in the least since pagans had discovered it, and in a very accurate manner, as the principle of philosophy of life, a real principle, which resists to death in the case of the human soul. We can for that matter if not prove at least see a sign that faith does not consist in revealing what metaphysics enables on its own to attain, for in neither of the three monotheist revelations is metaphysics taught, which infers that man does not need a dogma in this matter. JC, for example, if he presents himself mostly under a metaphysical light (“I am he who is” or “Before Abraham was I am”, etc) does not give any lectures in metaphysics. Moreover, in Buddhism, if a compendium of metaphysical reflections exists, Buddha nonetheless decrees to his disciples more or less the following: “on the subject of metaphysics, forget it, you are too stupid”.

That said, in many philosophical traditions of the world and sundry wisdoms, the seven known human dimensions are as follows: the vegetative dimension, the animal dimension, the spiritual dimension (intelligence and will), work, love/friendship, politics and the religious dimension – that is to say the pagan discovery that man is created.

Historically, it is those who have “faith” who are the most guilty of insolence towards metaphysics, which is understandable since they have had a revelation, and are thus dispensed of “being intelligent”, and it continues on today… The reaction did not come too long in waiting, and one must remark that atheism and the contemporary ideologies appeared in the realm of Judaeo-Christianity. They could only come to being there, at the height of a scholastic decadence imbued with itself. In the contemporary period, Hegel is the one who lays the bed of atheist ideologies. And yet Hegel is not an atheist. Even so he is at the origin of the most mortal wound inflicted upon metaphysics. But that’s another story. :astonished:

Consider two types of Christian:

1: Christians who believe in Evolution and the big bang, but hold these beliefs with a compatible belief about a God. i.e. genesis was an analogy
2: Christians who believe Genesis is word for word true and that modern science is a big conspiracy by the devil

You ‘close-mindededness’ accusations can be levelled at type 2, but not at type 1. Extending that further, a belief that ALL religious people are close minded is a close minded belief in itself (unwillingness to accept alternative and possible views on the world).

So I would say no, religious people aren’t close minded. Would you call Newton, or even Darwin closeminded (as he was originally religious, and hence must have been closeminded at that point)?

Carleas, my only quarrel with what you are saying is that you are using the word “religious” when what you actually mean is “doctrinaire” and/or “dogmatic.” “Religious” is a broader term that includes, but is not restricted to, the doctrinaire and dogmatic.

I am a religious person myself. None of what you said applies to me. I understand exactly what you are saying and who you are saying it about, but you are using the wrong terminology, and I think you ought to be a little more precise.

They might very well be clever, logical, or even genius to say the least, but if not true, of course they are nowhere near as logical, clever, or genius as the counter-argument that disproves them.

Shouldn’t a distinction be made between religion and spirituality?

Religion, for me, is an organized, often institutionalized, conception of a particular theory and method of worshiping a particular interpretation of an absolute authority figure.

Spirituality is the recognition that one is helpless and insignificant in the face of the unknown.
A recognition of ‘self’ within the infinite probable.

Anyone who holds such beliefs must also accept the fact that they are contradictory. Evolution implies no designer and no God, at least in the Judao Christian sense. To believe in both is to ignore the contradictions.

Yes Satyr quite right, we should.

dorky- I’m not certain that Y is a more intelligent thing than X by virtue of Y being a refutation of X.

What is opposed to Evolution is Fixism. What is opposed to Creation is Primordial chance.

No, that’s not true. We have no evidence of a designer, but evolution doesn’t imply that in any way; the two beliefs are logically compatible. We cannot demonstrate that evolution is being guided, but the process is sufficiently complex and indeterminate that we also cannot demonstrate that it is not.

Purely in terms of scientific method there is no need for the design hypothesis and so it is not a part of evolution theory. However, there is quite a jump from that to saying definitively that it is untrue.

Navigator, you’re granting dorkyd00d’s argument too much credit. His argument is:

P1. If God exists he must have designed humans
P2. Humans evolved
C. God does not exist

Premise 1 is just wrong, designing humans is not a necessary condition of God existing.

dorkyd00d, as far as I know, most Christians (western at least) have adapted their beliefs to take Genisis as being an analogy, not a literal account of what happened in the formation of the Earth and Humans.

Perhaps I’m misunderstanding, but it seems you are suggesting that because evolution doesn’t rule out intelligent design, that there is an equiprobable chance of intelligent design being the guiding force behind evolution. This simply isn’t the case. It’s not a 50/50, or a 60/40. It’s more like the same chance of evolution being guided by intelligent design as there is a marble statue’s atoms will rearrange themselves randomly in a way that makes the statue appear to be temporarily waiving. That’s not a very large chance.

I’m not saying it’s definitively untrue, I’m saying we have as much evidence for intelligent design in evolution as we do that a giant mythical turtle with five horns is the cause behind evolution, which is none. So why even mention it? Why try to defend such a theory? There is no reason to, and therefore we abandon such notions. Why do so many cling to one specific concept that has as much chance of being true as me being Jesus Christ reincarnate?

Close, but not quite. I’m stating that most definitions of God, at least the Judao Christian God, assume that God had an intention in the design of humans, or that it was a preconceived notion for God. I am also stating that there is no evidence whatsoever in evolution to suggest such a thing. In fact, evolution gives us a way for humans to develop with no help from God at all that violates no logic, or science. Therefore, there is as much reason to believe in God as there is to believe in my mystical five horned turtle, since neither have physical evidence. Many argue the complexity and abundance of life as evidence of God and intelligent design. This is an invalid and illogical argument.

The real debates are: “Creation or Chance?” on my right and “Fixism or Evolution” on my left. These debates are well anterior to Darwin, for example, the second was already raging between Saint Ambrose and Saint Augustine. The first is frankly fixist, the second in a position which prepares evolution.

Moreover, there is a heated debate between evolutionists themselves. One school reproaches the other, and notably to Darwin, to expose themselves to a finalistic interpretation of evolution.

In the last analysis it seems to me frankly irrational to put chance at the source of everything, since any chance requires a previous determination. It is thus either Creation or the eternal existence of the Universe (some speak of an eternal Creation). Moreover, nothing excludes conciliating evolution and design, on the contrary. And that is the real debate.

The alternative to creation isn’t “chance.” That’s a misunderstanding of evolution theory. It is not a random process.

I have no idea what you mean by “fixism.” Can you explain that?

I don’t know of any “heated debate” going on among biologists about evolution. As with “fixism,” I don’t have any idea what you mean by “finalistic.” Please explain that term.

Navigator, you’re right. Non-dogmatic religions do not violate any logic. But an entirely non-dogmatic religion is hard to come by.

I’m sort of dismayed that this is degrading into an evolution argument. But it’s too late to turn back, and I need to address Harvey’s misunderstandings.

Let’s clarify the various aspects of the chance involved in evolution; I will discuss three major influences:
-Selection: By the simple process of selection (and I do not mean divine), complexity can arise with relatively little chance. There is a fairly conservative process of mutation at work in DNA, and that is where the chance comes in once the process is underway. Over a large number of generations, with the application of a fairly consistent selection pressure, the small chances fade to next to nothing, to near inevitability (and I mean that in the same sense as that it is nearly inevitable that a ball thrown against a solid stone wall will return). The only truly chance happening in the evolutionary paradigm is abiogenesis, and for reasons I’m about to elaborate, that isn’t really a problem either.
-Large Numbers: Though the odds of abiogenesis may be enormous, when considered against the scope of the entire universe, it becomes rather routine. If it a billion to one that life would spontaneously arise, and there are a billion billion planets in the universe, then the odds dictate that life will self-generate a billion times.
-Perspective: The odds of abiogenesis being unknown, it is helpful to remember one thing that we do know: even if the odds are so astoundingly high that intelligent life only developes on one planet in the entire universe, that planet must be our own. This frees up the odds to being preposterously large, while leaving our existence not only probable, but downright likely.

It is only misleading to label evolution chance, because that has the connotation of unlikely, which is far from obviously the case.