_ 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.

 


Comments

Liz
12/20/2011 1:41am

"...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."

I really like this. It needs to be realized that many things that seem objectionable to us, or our society in general, were once majorly accepted and seen as a natural part of life; Those detestable ideas were also often preached in the very churches that some people see as being paragons of morality and goodness. It's like... One hundred years ago, the church/denomination you're a part of preached that slavery was just fine and slaves should obey their masters. Is it possible that some of the things they preach now are just as deplorable? Why not take a step back from those beliefs, shouted in pulpits and passed down through families, and *really, truly* examine such beliefs with an honest approach?

Religious people(Particularly christians, in my experience) like to claim that there is some sort of reality beyond this one; it is a reality beyond our perception. Perhaps it is a reality that is invisible and right here. Whatever it is, there's an idea that there is some reality; some absolute truth. Why does it not make sense, then, to really scrutinize your perceptions and paradigms, in pursuit of that reality? And if you arrive at an understanding of reality, why would it be so detestable if their were no God, or that it did not align itself with some religious dogma? Isn't the real, logical pursuit of truth more rewarding in the end than trying to extract truth from an unverified dogma?

...so yes, I agree. :-P

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Emily
12/20/2011 8:20am

Liz beat me to it.

There are also things such as mass murder and genocide that were not only supported, but carried out by the church and "God" as well.

I.E. Numbers 25:1-9
...The LORD said to Moses, “Take all the leaders of these people, kill them and expose them in broad daylight before the LORD, so that the LORD’s fierce anger may turn away from Israel.”...
2 Chronicles 25:12
Also the children of Judah took captive ten thousand alive, brought them to the top of the rock, and cast them down from the top of the rock, so that they all were dashed in pieces.
Other "Holy Books" as well, such as the Bhagavad-Gita, the Qur'an, and even going back to ancient Egyptian texts. It almost seems to be an excuse for people in general to tell themselves that it's okay to hate other people because their "God" hates them too.

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