No Smug Monkeys
I was contemplating a atheist enabling site (a site where lots of arguments for atheism are made) and it struck me how that, despite the fact that all of the arguments were clear to me (even though my position is somewhat more complex than strict atheism) — that if I were to have chosen to be a believer, that the same arguments would not be persuasive at all. Here is the site.
This is a great list for anyone interested in establishing the claim of fact that the Bible is false, according to specific and modern claims of “truth” — which are a limited sub-set of the class of definitions of the operational idea of “truth.” What it does even better than that is show that the claim of fact is not actually the point where religion is concerned. A person has to make a separate decision that they are interested in considering claims of fact before arguments based on them will be convincing. Most people (even in the modern world) have not made this step.
An even better site, because it is clearer — the whole argument focuses on the irrationality of prayer:
In an honest argument — these guys have it. Period.
However – like the first case, the point can be made that they miss the point of religious belief — which is that it is irrational. That is why we have a name for it: religious belief. We don’t call it “metaphysical position” — which opens up a different set of arguments and we certainly don’t call it “religious claim of fact.” The slip in that definition opens the door for the logical fallacy called “special pleading” — when it is handled in a formal argument. But special pleading can be valid if the terms under which the “specialness” of the case are all considered.
If I say that I reject the power of rational argument, as one of my terms of debate — then it is no longer special pleading. But then we also have no standard to determine a satisfactory conclusion to the argument. But that is JUST FINE with most of the religious folks — it is the “moderns” who want to impose standards for rational argumentation — those standards are NOT as old as the species and people DON’T have to accept them at the outset of an argument. But like most human beings, both the atheists and the apologists are eager to have it both ways. Because we do not have a satisfactory model of human cognition, religious people can always claim that they have their insight due to grace, and rationalists can claim that they accept their position by strict a posteriori reasoning — and the truth is that neither of those claims can be demonstrated to be true — and in fact there is a lot of evidence that neither of those claims are specifically true.
Most of your staunchest rationalists beliefs are not only irrational, they are incorrect. They are approximations made by their senses and cognitive apparatuses to steer them through a world that it is impossible to reason strictly about. Reasoning always involves abstractions — there is no way around that brutal and unforgiving stumbling block.
Of course — a lot of people who are believers also miss that point, and try to make rational arguments, or to claim that there are rational truth claims that can be made about religion — and those people are demonstrably wrong. Many of them are simply untrained in analysis, or unwilling to apply analysis to what they claim to be the most important things in their life. This is also not such a terrible or uncommon thing — how many married people do you know who sit around analyzing weather or not their spouses really love them? If you were to do that too much, you wouldn’t stay married long.
Bottom line is that no monkey has a right to be smug. And any monkey has the right to pretend like he is a super-monkey — and all the other monkeys have the right to laugh at him. (And even if they don’t have that right — they probably will do it anyway, just try and stop them.) Monkeys are like that.
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