Cognitive Dissonance: June 2012

Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive Dissonance: a discomfort caused by holding conflicting ideas simultaneously The theory of cognitive dissonance proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance. They do this by changing their attitudes, beliefs and actions. Dissonance is also reduced by justifying, blaming and denying.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Evidence & Faith: Not subjective terms.

There seems to be some misunderstanding among theists as to what constitutes evidence and what the word faith actually means. When we (non-believers) say we have evidence, we mean that we can produce data based on empirically tested/testable, repeatable, verifiable and falsifiable methods. Which means anyone who disagrees with the findings or currently accepted scientific knowledge/facts are welcome to design and carry out their own experimentation to attempt to refute anything anything they like. However we never have and never will see any religious group attempt this, because their attempts would fail, and most of them know this. Anyway, back to the topic at hand. The claims of religion are wholly antithetical to the scientific method, and frankly there really isn't any comparison between the two. Religion is not a falsifiable theory that produces useful predictions (or predictions of any sort) it is a belief system. Religion looks at areas in nature where we do not yet have answers and believes things about those subjects. It does not know things, it believes things. When science doesn’t know, religion believes. The delusion caused by religion is when believers mistake their belief for knowledge. The religious have their answers already, all they're trying to do is make inferences now that seem to verify their predetermined conclusions. They pick and choose whatever fits their needs and discard and/or ignore the rest and there is nothing even remotely resembling objectivity when it comes to anything theists call "evidence" or proof. Usually what they call evidence is nothing more than hyperbole, conjecture, propaganda, half truths & sometimes (or maybe often, depending on which brand of superstition you're talking about) outright lies.

Lately I have found myself drawn into some rather idiotic arguments with several Christians on Twitter. Why I do this? I don't know. I guess I have a hero complex and I want to save everyone I can from the mental slavery that is religious indoctrination. Whatever the case, I found myself frequently frustrated by the repeated claims that I was "ignoring the evidence" that god exists. Yet when I insisted they provide me with some examples of the evidence that their particular version of god exists, all they could do was repeat, "you're ignoring the evidence". In one case, a particularly thick headed dolt sent me a link to this website and claimed these childish, tired, pathetic and transparent "proofs" were "undefeated arguments that proved (his) god exists". I'm not going to go into those now, or this post would spiral out of control, but anyone who's done their homework in regards to the arguments for/against belief in god(s) has heard these before, and can probably quickly pick out the numerous holes in them from memory. The bottom line is they don't have any evidence or proof that their god exists, furthermore they don't understand what qualifies as evidence and/or proof, which is a real problem. No wonder they believe these bronze fairy age tales.

This brings me to my second point. The other "argument" (I use that term loosely) I heard quite often, in various forms, and usually only after I had explained that what they called evidence doesn't qualify as evidence and proves nothing, was, "that's why faith is important." I think we freethinkers can see the conflict here, from the outside looking in, but the bible bandits I was in conversation with were usually sucked back down the vortex at this point. Somehow only moments after acquiescing that they didn't actually have any empirical evidence they began to claim their faith.... was based on empirical evidence. I have a feeling that the different definitions one would get for "faith" would directly correlate to the number of believers one asked; "how do you define, faith?" Here again we have a real problem with the definition and meaning of a word that is crucial in understanding exactly what the basis for religious belief is. Religious faith IS a persistent belief in something in spite of the fact there is no EVIDENCE to support that belief. Read that line over and over until it sinks in if you think that your religious beliefs are based on anything other than this, because they're not. Everything you believe is based on nothing but hearsay, myth, lies and subjective interpretations by the people that came before you in your particular brand of faith. I challenge any of you believers that think otherwise to spend a few days studying the *factual* (objective) history of the church and the historical origins of the Christian faith. Especially Protestantism, which was literally nothing more than one man's disagreement with the Catholic church and of which the tenets, beliefs and values are 100% subjective and based on how that one guy (Martin Luther) felt, and later the ideas of John Calvin. If you've been under the impression that Christianity even remotely resembled what it is today when Jesus supposedly walked the earth, you're sorely mistaken. It has changed shape and form with nearly every generation since it was invented. The church has had to do this so that it could remain palatable as society changed and people became more educated and enlightened. It wasn't always love and happy fuzzy feelings, again just pick up a history book, Christianity has a lot of blood on it's hands. Speaking of blood and violence, while you're at it take a look at how the bible was put together, who wrote it (that we know of), how it was assembled, edited, changed and canonized. Once the veil is lifted and you see the foundations of your beliefs for what they truly are (man made and devoid of anything supernatural) you will shudder and run, just like I did.

We freethinkers on the "other side" anxiously await your de-conversion and I personally hope you'll all be able to break free. Life is far, far, FAR more beautiful when you can see it for what it really is.