Examples of absurdities, fallacies and debate troubles with Christianity

Let us give some examples of usual Christian fallacies (among many; by the way, no fallacy at all should be tolerable from the part of an ideology that claims to represent the divine infallible truth above human mistakes):

The "No True Scotsman" fallacy

Let us recall this fallacy:
Imagine Hamish McDonald, a Scotsman, sitting down with his Glasgow Morning Herald and seeing an article about how the "Brighton Sex Maniac Strikes Again." Hamish is shocked and declares that "No Scotsman would do such a thing." The next day he sits down to read his Glasgow Morning Herald again and this time finds an article about an Aberdeen man whose brutal actions make the Brighton sex maniac seem almost gentlemanly. This fact shows that Hamish was wrong in his opinion but is he going to admit this? Not likely. This time he says, "No true Scotsman would do such a thing."

This fallacy is used by Christians in different ways:
So, what is a true Christian, finally ? The truth is that, Christians themselves don't have any clue what may really be the difference between a true and a false Christian. One of them confidently answered "A Christian is someone who believes the Bible" - that was a Young Earth creationist (also proudly claiming that there is no way to have any idea how distant from us are galaxies - he even refused to suggest any interval of possibilities). Often, as an act of "humility" they would say "only God knows" who is so, while they would not take the risk to judge anybody in this way by themselves. Nevertheless they have a strong faith in the idea that this undefinable difference must be something essential, so that, in front of any circumstance that would not oblige them to politely abstain from such a judgement, this gives them an easy automatic method to blindly dismiss (explain away) without any further examination, so many observations that they otherwise could not account for.

"Did you receive Jesus in your heart ?"

This is the next fallacy used to justify the one above, asked by Christians in reply to former Christians trying to explain their testimony of discovery of the falsity of the Christian faith they previously had.
Indeed this tricky "question" has the dialectic power of killing the chance of meaningful dialogue, by making it unpractical for deconverts to express their viewpoint, forcing the discussion into a false dichotomy.
Indeed, the answer "yes" would by itself imply that Jesus exists and can be received in one's life, and thus that Christianity would be in fact true true; the answer "no" would produce the impression that the person is not sincere and/or not qualified to make an informed opinion on the subject.
Of course, this "proof by dichotomy" is fallacious, as it ignores a third option: that nobody ever received a real Jesus in their life because Jesus does not even exist. Of course, the trick that makes this third option apparently hard to put forward, is the existence of all these thousands of people witnessing to have Jesus in their life. So how to explain these testimonies if Jesus does not exist ?

This requires to consider all those "witnesses" of Jesus in their lives, as highly delusional. Such a position might seem awkward, bold and somehow quite insulting towards these testimonies, their sincerity and other "qualities".
However, if considered more closely, there is no oddness in this position at all.
First because the Christian doctrine is itself even more deeply and unfairly insulting towards even more people (all those of another opinion, sometimes including other branches of Christianity, by its way of considering them sinners, revolted against God and deserving eternal hell (okay, not all Christians think that way, I know... especially today's Catholics, away from the violent intolerance often practiced by their Catholic church before modern times).
Second, because of the overwhelming independent evidence of the highly delusional state of mind of most of these Jesus friends, either in their denial of the scientific evidence on the age of the Earth, or in many other aspects of how they think and argue.

There is another problem, from the ambiguity of the phrase "receive Jesus in your life": who is supposed to be the actor of this decision, and responsible for its accomplishment ? Is that the person, or is that Jesus ? This ambiguity is again a source of fallacy by unfalsifiability. In a way, any disbeliever can always trivially be judged guilty of not having received Jesus, merely based on the observation of this disbelief, no matter the experience. Either by saying that he was not serious trying enough (no matter how dramatically devout his tries were). Or, if he tried really much, by saying that this was a mistake because he relied on his own efforts towards God instead of letting him come. Anyway, there has never been and will never be any clear method to follow with the insurance that it will bring God in one's life (and it is quite easy for Christians to produce all the best excuses for this fact). But this contradicts the other claim, that Jesus generously opens the way to heaven to anybody under condition of faith (or whatever you call the condition), and that this condition (whatever it is) is itself open to be followed and satisfied by anybody without discrimination.

Thus, Christianity wastes large parts of the lives of many people who tried to "receive Jesus" but did not "succeed", were deprived of the promised fulfillment, and then are again hurt (feeling guilty) by the false but unanswerable accusations made by Christians. Thus the victim-blaming machiavellian process, which turn the state of victim of a terrible disappointment and waste of dedication produced by the lies of Christianity, into an a guilt.

But there are also former Christians who lived the full experience of "receiving Jesus in their life" before discovering that this was mere delusion. (This series of videos also addresses other points). Here are other interesting cases.

So, what is this "relationship with Jesus", finally ? It is nothing but the relationship with the belief that the "belief in Jesus" is synonymous with "relationship with Jesus", despite the lack of evidence to support this claim.
Well, eventually, together with the real or inflated presence of some other "signs" such as a more or less mystical "feeling of presence", the observation of some strange coincidences and narrow-minded "help from destiny", some healing...

The arguments by absurdity - how the mere fact of being wrong suffices to confirm to them that they are right

There is a sort of upside-down argument used by some Christians, that is, if a belief is absurd, then it must be true.
Namely, it is the claim that nobody can believe in Jesus by one's own force, unless God gave him the grace to (because the Bible says so !).
So: if you happen to start believing something just blindly and stupidly for no clear reason, then you can take this as a sign of divine infallibility. What is that ?
The logic goes as follows:
  1. I claim that 2+2=5, or that @#$%^&.
  2. There is no rational explanation to 1.
  3. What has no rational explanation is a miracle, a mystery of God beyond human intelligence.
  4. If anyone finds it foolish, well, this just confirms what God revealed to us in 1 Corinthians 1: this is the expectable impression towards divine wisdom.
  5. Thus 1. proves that the spirit of God revealed itself to me.
  6. Whoever disagrees, show that the spirit of God did not reveal itself to him as he revealed itself to me.
  7. He thus does not know God and is not qualified to judge the value of a divine revelation such as 1.
Another usual argument by absurdity ("I am wrong, therefore I am right") goes through the reference to the supreme value of humility: telling nonsense leads to be continuously humiliated by contrary evidence, and humiliation is a virtue, therefore telling nonsense is a sign of virtue and must be praised; while the rational person that cared to perfectly discern the truth and avoid making any mistake is displaying his ego and "want of being right", and thus is a horrible sinner.
Indeed, I have the experience that every time Christians tried to defend the plausibility and defensibility of their views, it turns out to prove the exact opposite of what they think it proves. Indeed, it is always so amazing: what the hell could succeed to delude them enough to make them mistake this devastatingly blind and stupid shit they are saying, for a defensible argument ? Or at least, say, for a respectable reply (as they so often refuse to enter arguments and debate, under the excuse that arguments and debates are irrelevant and cannot properly express and defend their view, as if their conviction was ever based on anything else than arguments) ?
In front of devastating blindness and stupidity, I am logically forced to react and notice how stupid this is. But my reaction usually reinforces their conviction and their refusal to take me seriously. They mistake my reaction as an impulsive one (one based on feeling and emotions, disregarding that they themselves call for a faith based on feelings and emotion), ignoring that it is in fact based on years of experience and very careful examination behind me, where I already had so many opportunities to reliably check the worthiness of what they are saying now.
And they say : please come back to the discussion when you have calmed down. But the truth is that I am basically and naturally an extremeley calm, careful and shy person; Christians have already so deeply abused my natural willingness to trust, my shyness and my patience by teaching me their nonsense which I devotedly listened to and tried to believe and to follow for so many years, much more than they can imagine. But too much nonsense is too much nonsense, and I am not responsible for the devastating blindness and stupidity of the replies they are making. If they want me to "calm down" and stop these reactions of noticing how devastatingly blind and indefensible their position is, it's up to them to stop getting on my nerves by the pride of their foolishness, to come to reason: to stop defensing the indefensible, to stop fucking up all possible chances of mutual understanding by their unfair psychological pressure, their unanswerable fallacies, their way of spoiling the debate by stupid replies (like it takes half a second for a baby to splash and make something dirty requiring hours of work to clean it up), their many unfalsifiability tricks and their insulting judgements towards the idiot sinner that has nothing to do with me but that their God revealed to them I was. Otherwise they are expecting me to pretend something (the respectability of their position) which I clearly know to be false, which is not something I can humanly do.

Does this confirm 1 Corinthians 1, that divine wisdom seems foolish to human reason ? Well, the truth is that, while Christians do admit from experience the fact that their position often seems foolish to non-believers, they have no clue themselves why it is so, as they perceive their own position as quite reasonable, and, I would even say, very dull, very boring, very standard, and very normal, so that they cannot see what makes others disagree with them and perceive the Christian doctrine as so foolish (they assume it should be some sort of foolishness or aggressivity or human error, but they have no clue of the effective explanation). Only some (informed or clever or with some sorts of common sense...) non-Christians, are aware of a number of aspects of what is wrong with Christianity, and how foolish it is. Thus, it is the non-Christian understanding, that is more revealing, goes beyond the Christian one, and encompasses more extraordinary things.

The "God is sovereign" and "infinitely above human thoughts" argument

It is the argument that says: it does not matter how odd the religious teachings may turn to seem, either in themselves or as compared to experience, anyway God knows why things are so, he cares for everything and we have no authority to contradict him, so we must trust the teaching anyway.
It does not matter how much the experience contradicts the Christian claim that God and the Biblical doctrine are holy and do anything for perfection. It suffices to say that complains its falsity is using his own human thinking abilities and expected God to do one's human will and obey one's thoughts, while
God's wisdom and purposes are infinitely above all this.
The point is that, Christians have no clue, first of how serious, wise and justified were the disappointed expectations of non-Christians and former Christians: anyway it suffices to put forward the claim that the really wise, divine standards on the ultimate purposes, criteria of observations and expectations from God, are infinitely harder than whatever was done. But, in fact, while they put an infinite burden on the standard of wisdom (infinitely above whatever was tried whatever it may have been) of what they require their contradictors to have for daring to criticize the Bible or what God did for them, they allow for themselves very low standards of wisdom when it comes to see God's goodness and praise Him for something.
In fact, as explained above (in the section "More evidence against theism") ALL the millions of motives for praising God perpetually put forward by Christian, as evidences of His intervention and His infinite goodness and wisdom above human thought, have always been extremely selfish, short-sighted, narrow-minded, contradictory, sometimes pointless (such as winning a sport competition), often just sectarian (the success to convert many people to "save their souls"), and even sometimes completely irresponsible (such as putting more people on Earth to worsen the devastating overpopulation) - and the world is still going wrong in many ways despite these numerous interventions (done for purposes far better than our own, probably), as if there could be no way for an infinitely wise God above human thoughts, to do the good more efficiently - while science could.

The faith syllogism

We can describe faith by the following syllogism:

Whatever God says is true
God says X
Therefore X is true

Now consider another syllogism:

Any application of a syllogism is a rational act
Faith is the application of a syllogism
Therefore faith is a rational act

Interestingly, Christians are usually fond of applying the former syllogism, but not the latter. Why ? Maybe because faith would be an irrational syllogism ?
Indeed, there seems to be a consensus among both believers and non-believers, that faith is not a rational act. There must be some reason why. If it is not fully rational to accept the conclusion "X is true" of this syllogism, it should be because at least one of both premises is not sure. But which one ?
For disbelievers, the situation is clear: usually, they reject the conclusion by disagreeing with the premise "God says X". For example, Christians disagree with a claim in the Koran by considering it to not be God's word; and atheists and most other non-Christians disbelieve the Bible by considering it to be of fallible human origin, not from God.

However, Christians have another viewpoint on faith and doubt. For them, disbelief is evil because it is an act of distrust against God; and each of the internal struggles they may face, is focused on the heroism of trusting God against all evidence. But in order for the trust to someone to be at stakes when dealing with some question, it must be a priori well-established that this person is indeed the author of the considered claim. All the stakes of the exercise of faith, in Christian's eyes, is about trusting God. They can't figure out any other possible way of disagreeing with the Bible, than by calling God a liar, which seems not morally defensible.
But in this way, they just have the wrong analysis of the opposite view. Indeed, disbelievers don't distrust God at all, they just consider the Bible to not be God's word - and there should be nothing wrong in doing so, in lack of any evidence why the Bible should be considered as God's word. This way, disbelief in any sacred book, is never any real distrust against God.

Otherwise, anyone can write any book and claim this is God's word, and anyone who disagrees should be condemned as an ennemy of God, no matter the evidence, because God's view is above all human view so that no human can be qualified to argue against God's view.

This is a particular instance of a more general type of fallacy that consists in drawing the attention on the wrong parts of a reasoning: when a conclusion depends on several premises and deductions, there may be several ways in which it might be wrong, depending on which premise or deduction is at fault. A misleading feeling of reliability can be produced by focusing on some parts of the reasoning, giving the impression that these parts are right and the conclusion must thus be accepted, while in fact the biggest errors are in other overlooked parts of the reasoning, so that the conclusion is false while the points of focus would be in themselves acceptable.

Moreover (as I once read in some web site I forgot), we might even argue against the reliability of the premise "whatever God says is true". Indeed, if God's ways are not our ways, who are we, mere humans, to require God to only say the truth ? If God would consider it right to lie to us, after all, He is sovereign and more qualified than us to judge if it's right to do so. Our request that He should only tell us the truth, is a mere human desire, no more justified than so many other human requests that were as or more justified, but for which, whenever they don't happened to be satisfied, are automatically accused by the Christian propaganda to have been mere "impure human wishes" and God's ways are above our ways and cannot be questioned based on human wishes (no matter the absence of any clue how the dissatisfaction of the request might be of any good).

Moreover, ifever some Christian would like to come and pretend that "of course" saying the truth is a moral necessity and that a benevolent and competent God must necessarily always tell us the truth, I'd like to ask: are you serious ? Maybe you are, but I'd be quite interested to see some more serious care for the truth in this world...

Indeed, while the care for the truth officially seems agreed on in words by a large majority, the unofficial reality practiced by the same majority is often quite different. Look here and then come back and try to pretend again that "of course" you consider it an absolute moral duty to regularly say the truth (with no more that obvious and dramatic cases of exceptions). Okay, maybe you will. But then you'll have a lot of work ahead until you convince the rest of Christians about it.
about 40% of American adults tell public opinion pollsters that they attend religious services weekly. However, when nose counters actually try to verify this number, they find that about half of Americans lie about church attendance. Only about 20% actually go. Canadian statistics are similar: about 20% say they go; 10% do go.
17% of American adults say that they tithe -- i.e. they give 10 to 13% of their income to their church. Only 3% actually do.

Problem: if it is right for God to tell us the dirty truth of all the bad things He thinks of us (that we are horrible sinners deserving hell..) even unsupported by any evidence that we would be as bad as that, why is it always considered so wrong from our part to tell the dirty truth about many evils that can be found in the ways of this "God" so described, when this can be supported by overwhelming evidence ?

Not to mention the underlying anthropocentric hubris in the expectation that the divine truth would be expressible in human language, and easily enough understandable and acceptable by large numbers.

All this, of course, under the assumption that there would exist a decently wise God able to send us a message, which we refuted earlier.

The incompleteness theorem

Another way how Christians and other spiritual people can be experts at deceiving themselves, is by putting forward this "argument" from modern science: Gödel's incompleteness theorem, which would be telling that "reason has limits" (I once read this, though the expression must have been slightly different as I can't find the page back this way).

As this "argument" is claimed and believed by many people, I'll give here a detailed reply (based on my familiarity with the foundations of maths), completing what I already explained about this in Part II (section "Examples of false reasonings").

In the eyes of many, a claim such as "The incompleteness theorem says that reason has limits" may sound like a reasonable claim and a well-established fact. However, it is definitely not so in the eyes of anyone really familiar with the foundations of mathematics.
First, because the phrase "reason has limits" does not have any a priori well-defined meaning. Second, because whatever interpretation of this phrase is NOT what the incompleteness theorem says.
All it says, is that in any fixed formal system for mathematics, there is a claim that says "this claim is unprovable" (in the same system), and this claim is finally proven equivalent to "this formal system is consistent" (has no contradiction), making its consistence equivalent to the unprovability of this consistence inside the same theory. So, working inside some system somehow assumes that it is consistent (otherwise we would be doing nonsense) but this assumption cannot be included as an explicit "known" claim inside the system; if we do, we are switching to another system. But indeed this switch to the next system is what is naturally operated by reason during this study of the incompleteness theorem itself.
Thus, the "formally undecidable" claim that the incompleteness theorem considered, is being decided by reason (provided that we stay among formal systems which are rationally justifiable as a correct representation of some mathematical world with the true set of natural numbers). Thus the example provided, is indeed an example undecided by the formal system but it is not an example of what reason could not decide.

Admittedly, this systematic existence of examples of truths not formally provable, does strongly suggest that there should also exist other examples of mathematical claims that reason cannot decide by any means (though Gödel himself thought otherwise). But these are not the same examples, so that any claim that "the incompleteness theorem says" some truths are not accessible by reason, is technically false.

Moreover, the existence of mathematical claims that reason cannot decide, does not mean that "reason has limits" in the sense that religious nuts usually make use of this phrase. This way they mean that reason leads nowhere and we should stop using it and instead follow irrational ways to decide the truth on issues where we did not even try to use reason yet.
Such an all too common anti-rationalist position is definitely not supported, either by the incompleteness theorem, nor by the admission of the existence of rationally undecidable mathematical claims.

Instead, the situation in mathematics is that an infinite (but a priori unknown) list of rationally decidable claims, coexists with the infinite list of other claims (rationally undecidable). The undecidable claims do not prevent us from resolving more and more decidable ones as we keep working. Thus, in fact and as the experience of scientific discoveries has proven in many ways, reason can proceed its search for truth and keep greatly succeeding at it further and further without limits, as well in mathematics as in other fields.
Finally, this "argument" against reason, has nothing to really do with mathematics, but is a mere excuse fully produced by the ignorance or stupidity of "spiritual people" to falsely "justify" their ignorance and stupidity, their decision to proudly ignore and despise the knowledge of more intelligent people that may have already provided closed evidence against their articles of faith.
While, what is the incompleteness theorem, in fact ? It is a very fascinating work of though, that can be very interesting for people to exerciser their thinking abilities, make wonderful discoveries with it and play with paradoxes. What do religious people usually make of it ? They keep ignoring it, interpret it as something very dull and normal, an apology of mental laziness, an excuse to stop exercising one's thought. The exact opposite of what it really is.

Now, is there a more correct way to use the incompleteness theorem in the religious debate ?
Yes, there is.
A reformulation of the theorem is : "If a formal system claims to be itself consistent, then it is inconsistent".

But we do face a formal system that claims to be itself consistent. Even if it may not be explicit in the Biblical axioms, we can find many Christians who, merely based on them, come to have a strong faith they forcefully put forward, that from their biblical viewpoint, it is absolutely sure that the Biblical doctrine is compatible with reason, with no contradiction, and that nobody can ever refute it.

So, the incompleteness theorem says, since the biblical doctrine leads to the claim that it is itself consistent, this leads to the consequence that it is inconsistent.
Okay, while less incorrect than the previous case, this new use of the incompleteness is still not really correct, because... the Biblical doctrine is not exactly a formal system with which the proof of the incompleteness can proceed.
However, we are not far from it, as (experience showed me that) this doctrine is much more formal (more automated and less imaginative) than the proper use of reason anyway (despite its claim to the contrary).

Moving targets

(I forgot the reference of an argument in some web site, that Christianity behaves as a moving target when in front of scientists, apologists define their religion by rational arguments for the existence of some pointless abstract God as first cause in order to avoid criticism; then in their community they define it by much louder claims).

Someone commented about Islam - but the situation with Christianity is usually the same:
"The Muslim experts are very good in debating by giving us the moving targets to hit and hence confusing the debaters. By not sticking to the point and by constantly shifting the poles and the surface beneath the challenger’s feet and on top of that adding the covertly or overtly aggressive behaviors, they do not reason with the challenger but leaves him confused, dumb folded and repelled. It is a psychological theory of covert aggressive behavior – the behavior demonstrated by the non-reasoning and fixed thinking minds"

There is no consistency in the Christian viewpoint. While claiming to be the fixed and absolute truth, the effective contents of this truth is continuously redefined (while staying blind to the fact that it is redefined) so as to adapt to the piece of evidence and the debater in front of them.

In front of the ones (during sermons and when preaching to naive people), religious people are absolutists: they claim they have the absolute unshakable truth that nobody can refute.
But as soon a someone dares to come with a serious, strong opposite conviction and evidence against their views, they suddenly become absolute relativists, crying for tolerance towards the diversity of personal views and feelings, blindly but strongly denying any possible ability for any human (except themselves) to have any reliable evidence about any religious issue whatsoever.
Regularly I received requests of debates from Christians who, at the beginning of the discussion, claimed to have the indefectible light of God with them infinitely above my views, and the absolutely strongest evidence against my views; and at the end of the discussion, picture themselves as the kings of humility, with the moral superiority of admitting their lack of any clue of what might be the right replies to my arguments (where their conception of the "right reply" has somehow finally more to do with how powerfully it can delude me into being personally impressed or touched by God's grace, than with whether it would have anything to do with the truth); instead, they put forward their unshakable faith in the existence of better Christian apologists, either with a deeper guidance from God's spirit in managing conversations and making favorable impressions, or stronger rational abilities, that should be able to refute whatever arguments I might have - or just that I must not being serious by not having read those apologetic books, no matter whether the reference is specified or not. But this is usual. It is the unquestionable dogma of religious people that they have the exclusivity of access to the Absolute Truth, and that the rest of the world outside their own faith, is ultimately the world of absolute relativism made up of vain arbitrary opinions with no legitimate right to claim to discover any reliable truth whenever it contradicts dogmas. Eventually relying on the postmodernist gross misinterpretation of Popper's scientificity criterion as if it was saying that there is no reliable truth in science (while on the contrary it explains why and how science is the one way to trustworthy, reliable truths : that it is because science methodically adapts its claims to reality rather that holds them against it).

As someone else experienced:
"I get angry when believers say at the beginning of an argument that their belief is based on reason and evidence, and at the end of the argument say things like, "It just seems that way to me," or, "I feel it in my heart"... as if that were a clincher. I mean, couldn't they have said that at the beginning of the argument, and not wasted my fucking time? My time is valuable and increasingly limited, and I have better things to do with it than debating with people who pretend to care about evidence and reason but ultimately don't."

Another example is the usual way in which Christians pretend to have evidences of the historical reality of Jesus, put that claim in the titles of books and articles, but when we read the contents we see that they have no evidence whatsoever, but they are merely reviewing their favorite historical details, those which are pleasant for them because they do not show any obvious contradiction (in their eyes) between Jesus'life and historical data. But in fact this does not prove anything, and ignores contrary evidence that can be obtained by other considerations. Anyway there is no surprise of some appearance of consistency with history at first sight, because of course, the Gospels were precisely designed for this.

Other aspects of continuous redefinitions of Christianity's absolute truths : regular announcements of the end of the world; witch hunting, crusades and censorship finally no more part of Christianity; promises of God's blessings continuously turned into preaches of acceptance of the burden we are in as "God is testing our faith"; the division of Christianity into countless variations each claiming to be the one true version and dismissing any evidence against Christianity as reaching the wrong target (without any serious consideration of how different it is); we previously mentioned about geocentrism and creationism.

Despite refutations on these points as well as so many absurd claims on individual cases (that heretics or deconverts rejected God or are possessed by daemons and should be burnt...), Christians keep holding the Bible and their Bible-based faith as the only possible source of truth on other issues.

Distorting and playing with facts

Some Christians today would dismiss the above idea that the Jesus story with all its miracles could be mere invention (no matter that it is just a little extrapolation from a view of a very knowledgeable Christian, mentioned above), as crazy and insulting towards the honesty of the first Christians. However, what's the problem to suspect the first Christians of having done this way essentially the same thing that some of today's Christians are very proud of doing in the name of the spiritual highs of symbolism ?
Indeed, in a forum discussion (in French) about my remarks on the physical plausibility of some given stories of miracles, I observed Christians and other very spiritual people dismiss this question as unspiritual, insisting that God can't be found by this sort of physical analysis, and that to find meaning in life we should rather take great care to feed our relationship with for God by focusing on the highly symbolic value of stories and what Jesus meant beyond these miracles.
Then I replied the following:
The object of my analysis was not to discuss whether the tales of (some famous tale writer) may have some moral or educative value, and even less whether today's scientific knowledge can add or subtract anything to this value
The questions was to seek hints about a question, not about feelings on the sense of life, poetry and morality, but on a matter of lowly factual, material truth: is the story of Jesus anything more than a nice fairy tale to make us dream, we simple humans, but something really of the kind that it claims to be: the witness of a real fact, both historical and theological, a real incarnation on Earth of a divine entity that came to fulfill a unique, crucial and solemn mission in the universe, including: exclusive teachings revealed by the true God, the Creator of the Universe (just that!!! the whole Universe with its billions light years wide, its billions years old and who knows how long a future), and a redeemer sacrifice that would change forever the eternal fate of billions of souls !!!
What are we trying to discuss, then ? Dreams or reality ??
When reading some, it looks like they explicitly put the values of dream above all care for reality. That they call us to seek God in dreams, considering He can be found there and only there. They seem to consider that in a story of an incarnated God, it no more matters whether this incarnation is factual or invented, as it would seem, according to them, that we can as well (and even better) "meet God" by telling ourselves a nice tale that tells about a completely imaginary incarnated God, rather than to seek whether such an adventure could really, factually happen. In such conditions, the move of believing in the reality of such a story by caring to forget the possibly totally virtual character of its origins, is perceived as a spiritually positive value that helps people to meet God. By the force of caring for spiritual and symbolic values as much more essential than lowly factual concerns, claims on the latter end up to be completely blurred and shifting, until finally no more reliable trace remains of any possible initial facts.
The aim of my study is not to seek for which can be the most melodious poem in my ears with a better power to "bring me closer to God". My goal is to seek the truth, and even if somehow ideally we might expect that "God is truth" (ifever He could be reached somehow), I consider that practices of factual distortions, even arguably useful as a help to "meet God", cannot be a sane basis for discerning any divine truth.
All this, because life is not a dream but a reality, and, with the misfortune of being more serious, rigorous and deeply seeking than the average people in my quest for God and truth, I dare to have the horribly elitist will to care whether the information that comes to me (and to other serious people like me) about a claimed cosmic and solemn event where the Creator of the Universe would have come, acted and given us some revelations, information that claims to tell about a divine, absolute, revealed truth infinitely above human thoughts and errors... really is more reliable than the mere fruit of a collective fancy of a stupid humanity, that can only be moved by overly childish, naive and inconsistent fancies that would fit them and have the best power to delude them into the feeling of being "with God".
But, ifever the gospel writers had just invented a story of Jesus with all its miracles to better share what they saw as the most highly spiritual message, considering how in the past, the idea of a factual reality of this story has heavily served the geopolitical victory of Christianism that smashed on its way any other religion or culture by force of massacres of heretics, this is a serious phenomenon that it would be irresponsible to take lightly: a phenomenon that powerfully managed to mislead us about what is the absolute Truth of God and His wisdom infinitely above our human thoughts.
So, I don't care how spiritual is my study. My goal was to come back to the facts and which hypothesis can have been closest to the lowly factual reality. Could the Jesus miracles be real.

"I don't force you to believe"

Whenever they are facing strong contradiction, Christian preachers put forward the claim that they are anyway not intending to "force" anyone to believe, as if such an attitude gave them some moral superiority over anybody else.
Their view in this point can be described by the equations:

Rational evidence = force = brutality = sin

No evidence = no force = kindness (respect of freedom) = moral superiority (humility)

A similar fallacy (or another aspect of the same one), is the claim that "Everyone is free to join my religion" because "God loves all people, without exclusion". No force inwards, no force outwards. This pictures any movement of conversion or deconversion as a matter of choice, of taste. But if all opinions are a matter of choice and taste, then there is no such a thing as a reliable truth or evidence, or is there ?

At first sight, the above identifications might seem to go through. However, if we consider things more closely, it turns out that things are rather the other way round.
Indeed, who on Earth really desires (needs) to be mistaken ? Seriously, if you go and make a poll on the question: "On essential issues such as what is there after death, is there a true religion and which one, and what actions are right or wrong, would you prefer to know the truth or to be mistaken ?", people would answer that they prefer to know the truth, wouldn't they ? Isn't it normal to complete the concept of freedom into a concept of "genuine freedom" defined as "informed freedom" ? If the freedom of choosing what to buy, normally requires the correct information on what the merchandise is worth, how could a "freedom of belief" properly mean anything without the correct information on whether the belief is true or false ?
Thus, ifever there can be a reliable way to know the truth, which option is more respectful of people's freedom: to let them know about it, or to hide it from them ? Why do people usually assume that the respect of people's freedom and needs consists in letting whatever religious doctrine spread and recruit followers without contradiction ? Yeah, still an instance of the "Our Opinion on an Issue Is Based on How It's Worded" trouble mentioned above.

But, whenever a reliable evidence could be found of what is the truth on some issue, the most liberal attitude should be to publish this evidence so as to give people the opportunity to know the truth, and free them from the risk of being mistaken (ifever they are interested in evidences), shouldn't it ?

Well, such would be my opinion in theory. However, I must admit when I see some online debates, I feel sometimes amazed to see how some people behave all as if they did want to stay mistaken. It need not have anything to do with religion, for example in a discussion about modern physics, some made claims which they qualify as a very expression of a "critical mind" and high "epistemology", but that are a mere position of misunderstanding. But they would keep to their foolish position, no matter the ridicule and refutations they are facing, which they will reject as some sort of "dogmatism" (having no problem to call "dogmatic" or mock in other ways, the statement of some consensual meaning or character of the theories of modern physics, even outside the measurement problem in quantum physics, just because it does not fit their current understanding)...

Now, there is a misunderstanding about the use of the scarecrow word "force". If there is a reliable evidence for something, we might say people are forced to agree. However, is that really "force" ? No, that's logic.
However, there is a subtle difference that needs to be made between genuine and flawed arguments, between logic and mental manipulation.
Sometimes, it may happen that an argument seems reliable while its conclusion is false, and it can be very hard to guess where the error might be. Indeed it's a problem. But then it should be possible for some more clever person, or who has another experience, to point out where the error is. The explanation may take work to explain and understand, but ultimately, if only enough work and intelligence is dedicated, it should be possible to find out who is right, or maybe that there is no decisive evidence yet.

So this can be a difficult problem, however it would hardly make any sense to just reduce the opposition as an opposition between "force" and "openness". It is much more subtle than this. Ultimately, the consequences are that the truth probably freeds people while error probably harms them, but you can't properly discern the right way that leads to the right destination, by a caricatural description of how "forceful" or "open" each side of a debate may feel.

Indeed, the problem of the distinction between proper logic and flawed arguments, has its own laws that hardly have anything to do with how "forceful" or "open" a position may feel, especially in the eyes of those who don't yet have a lot of knowledge and experience of how proper logic works, what the risks of mistakes can look like and how they can be avoided.

Indeed, whenever someone discovered some very clear and reliable evidences for something, then he reaches certainty on the issue, so that his behavior may be seen as "forceful" and "dogmatic" by other people who have no clue yet about these evidences. Is "2+2=4" a dogma ? In the eyes of those who cannot count, it may sound so.

Then, is the question of openness in debates. In order for an open meaningful debate to possibly happen, precise arguments must be provided by each side. Without any candidate of reliable evidence on either side, what the hell could the debate be about ? "I don't know anything but I want to talk about it and explain how good it is to think like me and why you need to do so"?
If no argument can be made clear and reliable, how the hell could any convergence happen on whether or not some pseudo-argument is valid ? Wouldn't each person's view remain a matter of taste on whether they like to see it so ? Wouldn't the debate be doomed to remain vain and sterile ? Why the f**k would any reasonable person waste one's time in such ways ?
Well, I understand that it on some issues, is not always possible to find absolute evidence (for example, for the consistency of ZF set theory there is "good philosophical evidence" that is not formal proof). However, it is a duty to try to develop the most reliable evidence we can, in order to make debates meaningful.

Finally, the true identifications are:
Rational evidence
= chance of meaningful debate, mutual understanding and reliable discovery of the truth
= intellectual honesty = source of freedom
No clear evidence = impossibilty of meaningful debate
= sticking conversation to waste of time and personal attacks (for lack of anything else to say)
= doom to stay in illusion and error

Then, apart from the fact that the slogan of "letting people free to believe what they like" is a stupid nonsense, what collateral damages can it produce ?
  1. It provides an arbitrary feeling of moral superiority over "others" behaviors, "those who would want to force their belief upon you", so that "hey listen to me I'm better than those who would behave that way", as if there ever existed anybody that tried to use "force" to try converting people
  2. In front of someone who claims to know contrary evidence, this slogan is used to kill the debate and prevent it from happening: if all belief is a matter of taste, personality and arbitrary choice, and is not the effect of any necessity of facts and reliable evidence, why should we waste any time arguing about evidence ? There is nothing to understand about why others think differently: it's just their arbitrary choice. In these conditions, there is no room for trying to really understand each other anymore (what could happen, what piece of evidence, could lead someone to deconvert or not convert). So, believers of false doctrines with flawed or absent arguments, can use this slogan to cowardly flee any debate with serious contradictors, but meanwhile they would keep looking for naive people that may listen to their doctrine for lack of any clue of what's wrong with it; they may claim then that this doctrine is God's ultimate and undeniable truth, no matter that there may be indeed people who did find reliable evidence that this doctrine is false. But, someone who keeps teaching something to whoever may listen while systematically keeping a blind eye on contrary evidence that others may have, is just a damn liar, or is he ?

Back : Anti-spirituality home page - Explaining religion or Christianity main pages