_ Several weeks ago, the idea of the search for truth came up in a comment on the SSCC Facebook page. The discussion only briefly focused on it before moving to another topic, and I had all but forgotten about it until recently.

I was watching a debate with a theologian who stated that, when discussing our understanding of the universe, one must "start with, and finish with a Christian understanding of god." This is tantamount to a juror deciding his verdict before seeing the evidence.

And that is the problem I have with many people's “scientific” defenses of their religion. From a young age one is brought up with a preconceived belief about reality, namely the existence of whichever deity, that has been given to them without evidence but asserted as a matter of faith, you just have to believe it. And, at that age, why wouldn't you believe what your parents and church leaders are telling you? From then on they, consciously or not, view the world through the lenses of their religion, filtering out what does not fit the beliefs they already hold, and molding what they can to support them, thereby creating an incomplete view of reality designed to fit what was already assumed.

This is completely backwards from how one should go about the search for truth. One should be as a juror, viewing evidence and basing one’s beliefs about reality solely on that evidence.  Any presumptions about the topic should be left at the door, because if a claim requires a prior assumption of its truth or falsity in order for the evidence to support it, then the claim is fallacious, and the evidence is meaningless.  When judging the evidence to a claim, one should evaluate it as if there were no prior beliefs about the subject, and simply view the facts. If I did not already believe Z, would X + Y = Z make sense?

Take the Goldilocks Zone argument. It states that life as we know it is only theoretically possible under the conditions that exist in the small region of space (several hundred thousand miles) that the Earth inhabits. One then goes on to make a logical leap in assuming that this indicates our placement here by a deity, this assumption built on the assumption that life as we know it is the only form of life in the universe or that it bears any cosmic significance whatsoever in a universe of one septillion stars.  This is not scientific evidence, nor proof of any kind, it is an argument constructed to defend the preconceived beliefs of whoever wields it, like a shield full of holes.

The reason scientific theories like evolution, gravity, and heliocentrism, became so widely accepted was because they proved to be logical and were supported by the given evidence despite the popular beliefs about them.

The issue with “scientific” evidence for whichever deity is that the only reason the evidence would cause one to arrive at the conclusion of a god is because the notion of it is so culturally accepted. Side note: this is also the reason imperialism, slavery and segregation took so long to overcome.

If you are genuinely searching for truth, ask yourself: Am I basing what I believe on what I know about reality, after an honest and unbiased evaluation of evidence, or am I basing my view of reality on preconceived beliefs, viewing evidence as a means to support those beliefs?

 

Patrick Smith

 

 

*The views expressed in this posting are the opinions of the author and do not represent the views of Collin College, the SSCC or any organizations with which the SSCC is affiliated.

 
 
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