Break the cycle of circular religious reasoning

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(Hat Tip: Jack Rivall)

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33 Responses to “Break the cycle of circular religious reasoning”
  1. The Reformed Faith Weblog says:

    Don’t you think that a bit of an over simplification? I mean, maybe your average Joe (who hardly ever actually reads his Bible) might say that but not all Christians are so incased in a little cocoon with such a limited vocabulary. There are a few who can actually hold an intelligent conversation.

  2. brian t says:

    Oh! To think it could be that simple!

  3. ronbrown says:

    Reformed faith blog: I’d agree that it is an oversimplification, but at the same time I have not met a single Christian who has been able to come even remotely close to justifying their faith. Their arguments have literally always revolved around:
    1) arguments from ignorance;
    2) arguments from authority (e.g., the Bible says it; the Church says it; or billions of people have believed it so it is probably a good idea)
    3) cherry-picking, hindsight informed interpretations of scripture;
    4) the assumption that *this* universe and humans are special (e.g., the probability of all of this occurring without intentionality is so low that there must have been a designer, which is like saying that if one wins the lottery the lottery must have been fixed for them to win because the odds of it were so low)
    5) arguments from personal experience—which can be made of people of irreconcileably different faiths, secular meditators, and many drug users.
    6) misunderstandings of science;
    7) botched logical processing and/or evidence interpretation;

    No argument that I have ever heard made by an apologist of any faith has ever escaped these pitfalls.

    • Sean says:

      I agree but few arguments of this nature are won solely on logic and reason. It must be won I believe on an emtional level as well.

      How to do that is where things become difficult.

      Exactly how do you break someone out of this circular belief?

      Seroiusly if anyone has ANY idea I would love to hear it.

    • leah says:

      I am a young, born again christian from a background of people who do not believe in god. At least, not the god of the bible but the god they make up. Although they would claim otherwise.

      Let me first tell you that there is less than 2% of the christian population that does what Jesus calls all of us to do. That is to lay our own lives down as Jesus did for us, for him. Get rid of our own selfish desires and teach the gospel. Most “christians” think going to church once a week and claiming they are christian means that they are good with god when the bible tells us otherwise. I would say the 98% that don’t do what god demands of us, are also the 98% that dont know what they are talking about.

      Furthermore, I can justify why I believe in the bible simply because I believe in the living god. I know the effects his spirit has on me. For example, think about anxiety,depression,fear… how do we know these exist? We know they exist because we can feel the effects they have on our life. The only difference between the spirit of god and the spirit of depression, or fear is that any spirit that breaks down is of the devil.

      The effects of gods spirit are enough to change anything. This guy was from Korn, that goth/metal band from the 90s… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kf5WYigZHME
      he found gods spirit.

  4. To those who come from the more analytic realms of responding to daily life circular reasoning and “because I said so” logic is VERY hard to deal with. From my experience though I’ve been starting to ponder if these people just use religion as training wheels before learning how to think for themselves. In a way they need the religions as a “cookie template” on how to live before they get discontent and evaluate a more optimal way to live for themselves. I myself was born and raised Catholic but seeing the many logical gaps and inconsistencies within the religion I converted into rationalization and then optimalism (which failed) and now the search for truth. So far the new age movement has fit very well in matching what I observe about the world regarding how it works and success in creating what you want.

    I’d really HATE to make judgements and I know I am wrong to say this from judging myself but I hear too many stories about “stupid” people and “sheep mentality”. I think my mistake is thinking that the rational approach is the only right one. There are many people I know who are just experientialists – they dont’ evaluate anything – they don’t think- they just experience. They turn out fine in the end and learn as many or more lessons than I do as a analytical.

    For many people it seems like the concept of authority is more important than the validity of the authority itself. I write a bit about this in first part of my blog

    http://truthseeker1234.wordpress.com/2007/12/12/spectrum-of-authority-the-killswitch/

    regarding how the level of authority needed matches the mentality of the person receiving the authority. I guess overall I am just thinking that as people start finding out that the beliefs they’ve held in great steed don’t get them what they want is the moment when these people start thinking for themselves .

  5. hunkabread says:

    If God does not exist how do you justify right from wrong. If the Bible is just a Book you’re not interested in devoting your life to, why do you devote your life to it?

    • Mike says:

      Right from wrong isn’t God’s decision, it’s ours. People devote their lives to it because they simply do not understand that it is JUST A BOOK. WE are not interested in devoting our lives to it because it is nonsense, and therefore, we don’t.

  6. ronbrown says:

    Truthseeker: I myself am a regular meditator. The experiential approach can educate one on their own mind, but it is hardly a way to understand the real world.

    Hunkabread: Pointing to the problem of determining an objective morality does not make God real anymore than does pointing to the universe and saying “how did this get here? God must have done it”. It’s an argument from ignorance. That is not an argument for God, it is just question begging.

    I devote much of my time to arguing down religion because it is having a profound impact on our society.

  7. hunkabread says:

    Actually I think the downfall to our society is such thinking. Believe in ME and I will succeed. Sounds a bit selfish. As for Moral standing you don’t meditate and decide Murder is wrong. You don’t meditate and determine Sexual Immorality is wrong. There is a foundation to the truth you already have in your mind. If you believe that you laid that foundation, you should write the final chapters to the foundation that was written long before you were conceived. Continue to find paths that fit you and you’ll see the truth, we all live to die, how important death is to you will only produce the belief you follow. MEISM

  8. ronbrown says:

    What is sexual immorality? Whatever religious conservatives find to be icky? Whatever some 2000 year book says is “unclean”?

  9. hunkabread says:

    Whatever a 10 year old boy does to his 9 year old sister?

  10. hunkabread says:

    Or maybe a 34 year old father does to his 12 year old step son?

  11. ronbrown says:

    Good point. The sibbling one I’m a bit more iffy on. If they’re both consenting and they’re both young (so it’s not like an 18 year old brother is in anyway manipulating a far younger sister), it may not be a problem. The father-daughter one I would most likely stand against in that the father is most likely using his daughter’s trust and his authority to make this happen and in so doing, could greatly be disrupting the father-daughter relationship.

    A big thing, I think, is ability to make an informed decision. Actually, by this idea, I might need to rethink the being okay with sibblings thing. Even if both are conceivably below the age of informed consent (so neither is necessarily taking advantage), would we allow the same for, say, double suicides of 9 year old sibblings?

    What I’m trying to say really is that I don’t see incest as being automatically wrong. That’s not to say that I have any interest in it. However, if two relatives are sufficiently mature to make an informed decision on the matter, I don’t see why they shouldn’t be able to do it. If they have protected sex they can prevent against deliberately increasing the odds of having a mentally or physically challenged child—though, if concerns over the normality of the child were the issue then we should also call it immoral for women beyond 35 to have kids as they are way more likely than younger women to have kids with down syndrome and other dysfunctional traits.

    We’re probably gonna agree on somethings here and disagree on others, and we may believe what we believe for different reasons. I really am just trying to respect the autonomy and wishes of both people and society and to come to conclusions based on reasoned analysis stemming from this basis. However, given that I have not thought particularly estensively on this matter, you will very possibly give individual and social points of views that I hadn’t considered.

  12. hunkabread says:

    The truth is most want to destroy something that holds them to something. Contracts for instance, the minute we see we can’t uphold our end of the bargain we try our best to find loopholes in the contract so we may be reprieved of our instant decision. The Bible is similar, even though it has been pulled, tugged and ripped apart, no one has been able to say it is false. But since we’re human and think on our own we will try to confuse the truth with intelligence. I ask any naysayer this, grab a hunk of clay and bring it to life. Now that it’s living, wait for it to die. Now that it’s dead what is it. Just a hunk of clay. What made it live? When we die why are we no longer able to do anything? Because life was taken from us. Remember we live to die. The Bible’s main truth is to Love One Another. I agree “Religion” is destroying this society, if more people read and understood the Truth instead of manipulating it to conform with their belief we’d have a much happier and safe place. But again the Bible points out numerous times that there will be division amongst men, it’s what side of the fence your own that makes the difference.

  13. ronbrown says:

    Hunkabread:

    It is also the case that no one has ever disproved Zeus, Thor, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Nor will anyone ever disprove that invisible martians living 40 feet below the surface of Stockholm invented and control human cognition. I bring up these absurd examples not to be offensive, but to just emphasize that there are an infinite array of things that we could never disprove, but that doesn’t justify believing in them.

    I can definitely value the love one another advice. I like it a lot.

    Lastly, couldn’t your statement “if more people read and understood the Truth (of the Bible) instead of manipulating it to conform with their belief we’d have a much happier and safe place”, be turned around and aimed back at you? Obviously, there are other people in the world who have a different interpretation of the Bible than you who think that there’s is the correct one.

  14. hunkabread says:

    Do this for me. Open the Bible, Pray to God first, and then read. When you have completed the whole thing, you tell me. Is it really an interpretation? May your walk from now on be that of an Intelligent one.

  15. hunkabread says:

    It’s like the contract…..we’re quick to sign it. What’s in it, I don’t care I got what I want. Its what lies in the contract that binds.

  16. ronbrown says:

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

    Do this for me. Open a book of Greek Mythology, Pray to the gods, and then read. When you have completed the whole thing, you tell me. Is it really an interpretation? May your walk from now on be that of an Intelligent one.

    It seems pretty silly when someone says it about a God (or Gods) that *you* don’t believe in, doesn’t it?

  17. hunkabread says:

    not really, but I will tell you this………I have and I really enjoy them. Enjoy.

  18. Stoobs says:

    The idea that theism is the only, the best, or even a good base for morality is a ridiculous one. Firstly, the bible is a mess of contradictions, where people are regularly ordered by god, directly, to do all manner of horrible or ridiculous things – bashing in the skulls of babies, murdering people who dare to build churches on top of hills, and exiling those who eat shellfish.

    By contrast, there are any number of ways to arrive at morality through either rationalism or existentialism – the projects of Kant, Mill, and Aristotle on the rationalist side, and the simple fact that certain acts are intrinsically repellent by their very nature on the existentialist side. While it is perfectly possible for an atheist to argue that there is no morality, I fail to see how this is any worse than theists who embrace their ‘morality from above’ and then act in a completely contrary manner their entire lives.

    I’m willing to bet (and I’m not a gambling man) that if you counted the per capita number of murders a year committed by atheists, and compared it to the number of murders per capita by theists, you would end up on with the theists leading by easily ten times.

    The reason for this is simple – normal, healthy human beings find murder repellent by its very nature. We have evolved to feel empathy for other human beings, and even for non-human things to some extent. It takes a very strong motivation to overcome that built in, biologically based morality. Religious faith is far more likely to provide that kind of imperative than rationalism, because they are infected by the disease of certainty, while the rationalist is blessed with that most (ahem) divine of mental states, doubt.

    Beyond this, there are many arguments against a theistic base for morality. One example is a simple thought experiment. Were god to appear in the sky, surrounded by fire and angels and all that jazz, and announce today that raping six year olds was not only no longer a sin, but actually morally required, then if morality is simply and solely the word of god, this would by definition be true. Would you then run out and rape a six year old? If your answer is yes, then congratulations, you’re a shitty human being, but consistent in your beliefs. If the answer is no (or if it’s “but god wouldn’t ever do that”,) then clearly you do not believe that the word of god is the foundation of morality – at best, god reveals laws which exist outside and above him, in which case there is no principled reason to believe that god is required at all.

  19. ronbrown says:

    Stoobs:

    I’ve heard of research showing that atheists are greatly underrepresented in the US prison systems, that many largely non-religious nations have very low crime rates, and that within the US crime rates are higher in states that are more religious (e.g., Texas) versus less religious states (e.g., New Jersey). This, of course doesn’t mean that religion causes crime, but it definitely stands against the claim that religion is necessary for good behaviour or that it can be expected to cause it.

  20. alishams says:

    It’s both tragic and a relief to know the same bullshit is repeated all over the world. Islam, Christianity, Judaism all the same.

  21. Ben says:

    All reasoning is circular. I don’t see how this disproves religion any more than it disproves knowledge period. Ask “why?” to every single statement you make and you’ll eventually go in circles. Knowledge is axiomatic anyway and empiricism is no more rational than any other epistemological theory out there religious or not.
    How do you account for the laws of logic? If you say that they are just there than that is an unqualified assumption. It doesn’t mean that God necessarily exists but the skepticism doesn’t leave a definite answer in place of him, just another faith based hope that our senses actually communicate the truth to us.

    There’s no arguments here that prove God, but I’d just like to see an alternative that skeptical infinite regression cannot apply to the very same way you’ve applied it here.

    From the list of Christian answers you’ve received it sounds like you’ve never encountered the school of presuppositionalism. Check out some people like Cornelius Van Til and Gordon Clark. You may also be interested in the philosophical evidentialism of Francis Schaeffer’s God who is there trilogy.

    “Now in presenting all your facts and reasons to me, you have assumed that such a God does not exist. You have taken for granted that you need no emplacement of any sort outside of yourself. You have assumed the autonomy of your own experience. Consequently you are unable — that is, unwilling — to accept as a fact any fact that would challenge your self-sufficiency. And you are bound to call that contradictory which does not fit into the reach of your intellectual powers. You remember what old Procrustes did. If his visitors were too long, he cut off a few slices at each end; if they were too short, he used the curtain stretcher on them. It is that sort of thing I feel that you have done with every fact of human experience. And I am asking you to be critical of this your own most basic assumption. Will you not go into the basement of your own experience to see what has been gathering there while you were busy here and there with the surface inspection of life? You may be greatly surprised at what you find there.”
    -Cornelius Van Til

  22. RB says:

    Ben,

    At the end of the day, we can’t even know that anything aside from our mind at this very moment exists (in some form such that it could pose the question). We can’t break outside of our minds to get an objective assessment of the world and how our minds interpret it – if it is even there in the first place.

    But this does not put scientific and philosophical rationalism down to the level of any mythological mishmash one can throw together. Our senses, reason and honesty is all we have, and despite our inability to truly go outside of ourselves and view the world as it really is, we can modify the degree to which we fully apply our senses, reason and honesty, and these modifications have consequences. The application of our senses, reason and honesty has led to us being able to successfully model the structure of facets – some being quite substantial – of the world around us that has allowed humans to predict behaviour and develop effective technologies (e.g., flight, space travel, nuclear technology, extreme precision microscopes, fMRI) and medicines. These successes of science and technology – and their cumulative nature – suggest a real understanding of things. It doesn’t guarantee a real understanding – we could simply have a bunch of scientific theories that are wholy incorrect but, by some sort of coincidence, bare some sorts of similarities to reality that enable successful developments to be made. This does, however, seem rather far-fetched, especially given that each time you test theories in new ways, you are shrinking the odds further of continued coincidental apparent correctness. And science and technology do do this – further test and seek to apply and extend findings. In fact, it is only after extensive testing that the term “theory” is applied (theory in science being a highly empirically supported account of the relationship of observed data).

    But yes, at the end of the day, all of this could simply be a dream you or I are having. None of it real.

    I should say regarding God that I’m not a “strong” atheist, meaning that I don’t declare that “there is NO God”. I merely say that I lack a belief in a God due to a lack of evidence for it. I don’t claim to know the reality of whether or not there is a God. Given that I make no statement of knowledge other than that theists have failed to present the kind of evidence for their beliefs that even they would accept for any other type of claim, I don’t believe that I fall into a form of circularity that puts me on par with religionists. Like anyone else, I necessarily am limited to my senses, reason and honesty, but I strive to apply them as fully as I can, be open to disconfirmation, and will freely admit – as I have here – that, yes, I can’t break outside of myself for truly fully objective clarification. I’m being as reasonable and as honest as I can be, which is far more than what can be observed in religious thinking.

  23. This is disgusting! Obvious BS, Brainwashing, with no backing, no science, just rhetoric.

    THIS CYCLE IS GAY, CHRISTIAN LACK OF LOGIC IS GAY. GOD’S STILL A COPPA AND HIS GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!

  24. Noun Minuraa says:

    I just have to agree with “RB” I am an atheist and to a certain point satanist (because I figure that human has caused so much trouble that if there is a heaven and hell then we are going to hell and by being a satanist I hope to get a good seat there). But I don’t devote myself to satanic rituals.

    I agree with “RB” that the theists have no evidence that builds on facts. what they have is “we must be patient” and “God is testing our faith” and you could do the same with a rock. You’d have to be as patient to get reply from a rock (which is to say none) and if anything does happen people will say that it was a coincidence. So logic cannot prove God.

    A thing puzzels me though. For 70 milion years ago the most intelligent creature was a dinasaur… What happened to them? Did they go to heaven? Or hell? And why didn’t the dinasaurs build churches to pray to God and his bible. He’d surley have shown himself for the only intelligent beings on earth.

    • Kyle says:

      well obviously you don’t know a thing about Christianity, our beliefs, and creationism… we don’t believe the earth was created 70 million years ago, there is no evidence for it unless you want to use the highly flawed “carbon dating” technique that is used…

    • Kyle says:

      btw, being an atheist means you wouldn’t believe in hell, so admitting you’re a satanist when you don’t believe in anything for that matter is ridiculous. It’s like me saying I’m a rock n’ roll lover, but I still listen to rap because black people would get offended and I wouldn’t have “a good seat” with them. And btw, if you’re talking about the hell in the Christian faith, there are no “good seats” there, you’ll just be tortured for eternity.

  25. En todo caso toda esta discusión viene de una anécdota elevada a categoría, lo que, a mi entender, vicia completamente el debate.

  26. Kyle says:

    The reason why I don’t like this picture is because it shows the very logic that some “christians” use. I like the philosophical argument that’s going on here, but when it all comes down to it, I can’t know for a fact that God exists without faith. It’s just like me seeing a red stop sign, and my friend sees a blue stop sign. It’s just like Christianity and Atheism, I believe that the red stop sign (God) exists, Atheists see the blue stop sign (No Gods or God). Neither one can logically prove that God exists or doesn’t exist, it’s all a matter of faith. My faith causes my world to be an example of God’s power and love. RB’s faith (I don’t really know what atheists use for that kinda word) sees the world as a random cosmic happening, philosophical arguments will most likely (if not always) end in an illogical fallacy.

    I would like to point out that not very many negative things are caused by the Christian faith. If you paid attention to history then you would know that the crusades and Westboro Baptist Church are pretty much the only negative occurrences in the Christian faith, even that; none of the true Christians act like that, in fact, we hate the WBC for their actions. No major world wars were started by Christians either, you might argue that Hitler was a “Christian” but that dude was insane. Mass genocide was never an occurrence in the Bible, Old Testament or New…

    World War I was caused by nationalism, imperialism, militarism, and the murder of Fernindad and his wife. World War II caused by Hitler being a retard and exterminating Jews for a belief that was not approved by any Christian organizations. Korean War was about stopping communism, as well as the Vietnam War (which Americans fought to help the french). The War in Iraq was started because the country contained WMDs that threatened our allied neighboring countries. The war in Afghanistan (which is still going on today) was to combat those linked to the terrorist organization “Al Queda” (those responsible for 9/11)
    In fact, now that I think about it, no huge wars were ever started because of Christianity, even though I’ve heard it brought up in multiple arguments from atheist extremists.

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