The conversion of Derek C

https://thesuperstitiousnakedape.wordpress.com/2013/03/10/paranoia-meet-theism-theism-this-is-paranoia-youre-biological-father-6/

I apologize in advance for the lengthy response, but I do have several comments and observations to make:

First, this argument commits a form of the genetic fallacy, which claims that just because you explain how something may have began, that definitively explains how it did begin. But this is a non-quantifiable assertion, and so we must label it as such. This is speculation built upon presupposition, with little extant evidence. And whatever evidence is available hardly presents a slam dunk case. Academic consensus on the rituals and reasons for many of this early information is not uniform. The strongest assertions, again, are built upon the strongest presuppositions. Not that this is bad, but it must be taken into consideration.

Also, the arguments in this post are bordering on ad hominem and poisoned well arguments, to say that contemporary superstitious people give any credence or understanding to the actual formation. In a sense, the argument sometimes poses this philosophical proof: “Hey, doesn’t this paranoid event look silly? Therefore, you don’t want to be associated with religion, and all religions started from paranoia.”

Before going any further, we must realize that you and I have two different worldviews and, therefore, different presuppositions. You presuppose that a god does not exist, and therefore you read all data through that lens and arrive at satisfying results. I, however, presuppose that God (from a Judeo-Christian worldview) does exist, and so I arrive at different results from the same data. Now, at this point, we could go back and forth giving philosophical proofs, which might take a lot of energy and ultimately be fruitless. Of course, I am willing to do this for fun, but we are all too busy I’m sure. I did want to post this, though, because people of faith might find this blog post and, in my opinion, be lead astray by arguments that I think are anything but airtight, which is how you have described them (this is not an attack on your intellect or the argument itself, more just a comment on the claims made about the argument). I think that a more open and humble approach could serve the post well. Some of your comments definitely show your humility, which I do appreciate. We are all faced with the same mysteries and uncertainties, after all.

And now, a quick case study:

My own conversion wasn’t one of superstition, paranoia, or any other fear-based thought system. I was, one might say, a content atheist enjoying recreational drug use (well, more abusive than that probably) and loose sexual morals. I am NOT saying that those things are equivalent with atheism at all, friends. Just being transparent to show that paranoia isn’t a necessary precursor, and I am exhibit A. Now we can perhaps say that I was under the cloud of a cultural, or evolutionarily ingrained paranoia that led to my conversion, but I wouldn’t agree with that either, at least not in any deterministic way. I unintentionally picked up a book in a friend’s office that I assumed, from the cover, would be a good atheist read. When I opened it up, I saw that it was actually a Christian apologetics book. I decided to read it anyway, since I had only really read from one side of the debate. Well, needless to say, this book sent me on a larger quest, and through this intellectual pursuit I came to strong belief in the person of Christ. That was not the end of the journey, and it still goes on today. I think both sides to a disservice to the other when we assume that ignorance is the basis for their beliefs. After this conversion, I received my B.S. in biology from Purdue and was also able to take several religion and philosophy classes, along with the regular biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, and calculus classes. I found my appreciation for God and belief in God strengthened. Surprisingly (considering some of the disinformation about “secular” education), several of my science professors were Christians. Not all of them, but many of them.

And quickly, while I don’t disagree with an idea of fight or flight (which, again, we would arrive at through different presuppositions), I would question that every thread of paranoia is built into our genetic code. How much if this is taught behavior? For instance, some people do jump at the possibility of a mouse. Had you not grown up in a culture afraid of rodents, would you have the same reaction? So which reaction is taught – the one that is afraid of the mouse, or the one that isn’t? Or is it neither, are we neutral toward the unknown at first? We can use this example for any fear. It is advantageous for lions to hate hyenas, and yet when lions are raised with hyenas, they live as one family (which has been demonstrated in captivity). I believe the leap for insights you’ve gained in this realm to theism is quite a leap, indeed. And your claim that theism is unnatural is more in agreement with mine. If a Creator did create, then that Creator would be outside of nature, existing before it, and be unnatural. The only option for atheists would then be to say that theism must be entirely natural, not divine, not existing without but only within. And although it is a little off-topic (but definitely related), I believe that Alvin Plantinga’s “Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism” would be helpful here, although I do realize that you have self-identified as an atheist, and not necessarily a naturalist.

I do thank you for your post, though. You do have a gift for writing, and I thought you were incredibly funny as well! My post could potentially be a chance for back and forth dialogue, but I was hoping more to just post it as a counterpoint. At this point, I don’t know if either one of us could be convinced by arguments to change opinion, considering we may have heard all of the arguments before. I know that there would be no arguments that could change my mind, but this should not be confused with close-mindedness. Holding convictions for good reasons is hardly close-minded. And I would say the same for you, that you seem utterly convinced, but are not close-minded. And at this point, any plea made toward you (at least, any non-divine plea) would probably be ineffectual. I guess stranger things have happened, though.

If I do post on more blogs posts here, I promise to keep them shorter 🙂

Respectfully,
Derek

3 thoughts on “The conversion of Derek C

  1. Hi oogenhand, hope you’re doing well.

    ”You presuppose that a god does not exist, and therefore you read all data through that lens and arrive at satisfying results.”

    This is false. The sequence of events are 1) I, like everyone, was born a-theist 2) theism was taught to me and accepted as truth 3) personal investigation revealed theism to be false.

    No religion is true, and I know this because no religion has emerged independently twice on the planet. Peel away the colourful ritualistic outer layers, bypass the oral traditions and the always cryptic books, navigate around the creative hermeneutics, over the various strains of inventive apologetics, philosophies and elaborate theodicies, and press on through the charismatic mind-sets to the core within and the impartial observer finds that there are but two ostensible, universal truths pervading all faith-based religious beliefs:

    1) They all claim to be true.
    2) Not one has ever emerged twice on the planet.

    That is all there is. There is nothing lurking any deeper than these two truisms, and as the second maxim annihilates the first claim the observer swiftly determines that there is no need to even litigate the petitions forwarded by any single religion as it is already perfectly clear that any allusion to authenticity is entirely groundless.

    If this were not the case, if any single religion were in fact true, we would have—indeed should have—already seen that religion emerge naturally and entirely unassisted wherever human beings were found, regardless of their isolation or epoch. Its deity (or deities) would wear a single hat, carry a single name and speak a single language audible to the deaf, coherent to infants, understood by the demented, and intelligible to the senile. Its dramas and narratives would be recognised and repeated by cloistered populations in every corner of the planet, and its edicts would have penetrated all tribal, domestic and international legal code mindless of earthly or socioeconomic borders. If any single religion were true a single and unchangeable objective moral writ would underwrite all human populations, dietary conventions would be unchaste by oceans, and norms of etiquette, civility and protocol would not deviate with geography or era.

    No religion has however emerged twice anywhere on the planet, no single deity has been envisaged by two populations separated by time and geography, and not a solitary person in history has arrived independently at Mithraism, Christianity, Islam, Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism, Scientology or Judaism without it first being taught to them. Captain Cook did not find Aborigines swallowing back Christian communion wafers at Botany Bay, Columbus was not confronted by a wall of Arawak backsides pointed away from Mecca at sunrise on the beaches of Santa María de la Concepción, and Pedro Álvares Cabral did not uncover tribes of Aimoré Indians auditing their Thetans with Mark Super VII Quantum Electropsychometers.

    That is a fixed, unarguable truth, and it is a point worth repeating. If any given mythology were even remotely accurate (the claim made by all) then that cult, its gods, its rituals, behavioural codes and canons should have emerged unsupervised at least twice on the planet. Its truth would in fact be demonstrable in this supernatural event.

    ”My own conversion wasn’t one of superstition, paranoia, or any other fear-based thought system.”

    I’m sure that’s the case, but that is missing the point of the general thesis. As a species we have (from an evolutionary perspective) favoured quick associations. This has been beneficial, something inherently good for survival, but the residue of this has been a bias to false associations. That is to say, it’s easier for us to accept the false association. “Theism” is not revealed here, rather many, many steps further up the ladder.

    ”I would question that every thread of paranoia is built into our genetic code. How much if this is taught behavior? For instance, some people do jump at the possibility of a mouse. Had you not grown up in a culture afraid of rodents, would you have the same reaction?”

    I don’t argue that it is. Fear is the grandparent: that urge to survive. Paranoia is a word, and as a word it often has negative connotations. I get that. If you substitute “paranoia” with, perhaps, “weariness,” then we might find more common ground.

    And it’s not jumping at the sight of the mouse, rather the sound… the unknown. Superstitions are cultural. They are learned. The root, however, is paranoia.

    And your claim that theism is unnatural is more in agreement with mine. If a Creator did create, then that Creator would be outside of nature, existing before it, and be unnatural.

    One is not related to the other, and here “theism” is called unnatural because no single belief system has ever arrived independently (naturally) in two populations. What I would most certainly argue is natural is our penchant to find agency in nature. Many studies point to this being fact, and once again, this can be explained from an evolutionary perspective. In fact, it is the very explanation I use in the post. The grass moving is assumed (immediately) to be an agent: a lion. We are hardwired to find agency in nature. Doing so enhances our chances of survival. That is natural for us. Dressing all that up in theistic notions is, however, purely cultural.

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