How Do I Cut Through All the Noise?

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Ilovequestions's picture
How Do I Cut Through All the Noise?

Hey! So my name is Nate and I'm a curious Christian. I love asking people about what they believe.

So my question is how do you all sift through all (or many) of the arguments to form an opinion?

It seems like both sides have a billion arguments and a billion responses to the other side's billion arguments. You have geniuses throughout the ages on both sides... sometimes it hurts my head. I want to believe Christianity is true (naturally), but then y'all seem like you have good arguments. Then I see answers from my side, and then counter-responses from your side...

I just wanna know if any of y'all have had the same problem, and what did you do?

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Pitar's picture
There's the rub.

There's the rub.

Both "sides" are convinced they're right. Neither side can offer the other inarguable, or indisputable evidence supporting their claims. So, it follows that credence is the goal and both sides are jousting for it no differently than opposing political factions will.

The one distinction though is based upon need.

Theists do not need to prove anything to anyone. They just believe. That's why it's called faith. Because it isn't described by, and credited to empirical fact, it's expressed as doctrine and passed from generation to generation in the form of indoctrination. Again, no one needs to prove anything to anyone in a faith based system.

Faith is something many people simply won't allow themselves to be possessed of, or by, so faith-based systems accounting for all that can be claimed as the physical world (cosmology) are rejected by them. Instead, they seek the harder way of life insomuch as accepting that their lives have no known purpose. They will live, die and nothing will follow. Theists accept that their lives do have purpose - to serve a god - and ascribe to the notion that an immortality (yet to be defined) awaits them for having performed that service.

The biggest rub, though, isn't who is right or who is wrong. The biggest rub comes in representation.

Theists are all to aware that their faith based systems are simply that. But, they teach it as fact to their own children and everyone else they can reach out to in the form of missionary work. That is probably the biggest fraud theists knowingly perpetrate on their fellow man. Any sentient, logically thinking person, atheist or otherwise, will assuredly label that as a practice is based in arrogance.

But, man is quite the arrogant animal so you'll have that. The up side? He isn't killing anyone physically. The arrogance? He's killing the belief system of his targeted audience. All belief systems are guilty of it. Some are peaceful ambassadors of their systems, others are violent. All are possessed by them.

The atheist sees this disappointing behavior from men of belief systems. That's all.

Ilovequestions's picture
Yeah, it is sad how people

Yeah, it is sad how people have used religion to act violently. I know Christians are guilty of this :(

So I gather that you are saying that, in general, you don't need a reason to be a Christian (blind, accepting faith), but you need a reason to be an atheist (thoughtful reasoning)? I can understand that.

And please correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought atheism was a belief system (that just doesn't involved the supernatural)? Thanks for the thoughtful response :)

Spewer's picture
Stick more closely with what

Stick more closely with what can supported by testable information - theories that predict what you actually observe in the universe. Avoid theories that make no testable predictions. Those are the noise you can filter out.

The way to handle the multitude of theories is to become thoroughly familiar with the scientific method, peer review, and similar concepts. That will give you a solid basis to distinguish substance from noise.

watchman's picture
"So my question is how do you

"So my question is how do you all sift through all (or many) of the arguments to form an opinion?"

Well.......what you have to do is ......

........sift through all (or many) of the arguments then form an opinion?

Ilovequestions's picture
Are you asking me, or telling

Are you asking me, or telling me? ;)

ImFree's picture
There are 5.1 videos that

There are 5.1 videos that have a great perspective concerning questions from both sides:

Ilovequestions's picture
Love the video! Very well

Love the video! Very well done and clearly spoken

Jeff Vella Leone's picture
Thanks for the link, one of

Thanks for the link, one of the most interesting was info on the big bang which is well explained.

ImFree's picture
Your welcome, that old saying

Your welcome, that old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” holds true. Atheistcoffee’s work is worth much more than a thousand words. He covers a lot of territory in those five videos.

Jeff Vella Leone's picture
Yep even the DNA and the

Yep even the DNA and the fossils were good videos, he got most of the things right which is quite a feat considering the sea of subjects he was explaining.

ThePragmatic's picture
Great videos. Thanks ImFree.

Great videos. Thanks ImFree. :)

Nyarlathotep's picture
Ilovequestion - "I've heard

Ilovequestion - "I've heard/read that God allows destructive things to happen to show us the answers to life's questions aren't in us"

Except almost no one actually believes that (as shown by their actions). As we still work as a society to produce medicines, fire-protection, protection against the elements in general, and seek solutions to many other of life's problems. So long as believers still continue to participate in the above noble efforts: I see no reason to take your statement seriously. Thankfully very few believers do.

Travis Hedglin's picture
That is an interesting line

That is an interesting line of reasoning. By that reasoning, if I "allowed" my son to practically melt his own hand off on accident when I could of easily prevented it, I would be as "benevolent" as god. Thankfully, my ideas of love and kindness, quite like morality; are more advanced than gods. Very interesting.

Anarkhos's picture
Ultimately what compels me to

Ultimately what compels me to be an atheist, in spite of all the other arguments you can sift through - much like the one you commented on via my thread earlier - is that there is no evidence for God, and therefore the belief in it, would be irrational. Evidence is not anecdotal (meaning a personal revelation from a person) but quantifiable and measurable evidence that we can infer the existence of said deity. Billions of people around the world have personal revelations, billions of people claim to talk to God - different Gods; and so, using personal anecdotes as a criteria for belief would be irrational. I recommend you Google what a "null hypothesis" is. In laymen terms, it essentially is the default position one should take when there is no observable phenomenon. In other words, if there is no existence for God, you are compelled - if you wish to remain rational - to not believe in God until further evidence is shown. Think of a courtroom... We do not believe people on behalf of their personal anecdotes - in fact, its been shown how fallible and non trustworthy our senses are. But when people do make allegations, we do not prosecute them. We wait for the evidence - and thus, lack a belief in their allegations. You know, "innocent until proven guilty." So ultimately, my 2 cents is to never believe anything without evidence!

Ilovequestions's picture
That makes sense. Just for

That makes sense. Just for fun, what would you say if I said the default position should be that "God exists" and that people should believe that until there is compelling evidence that he doesn't exist. Kinda switching the presuppositions around.

So I would say that you need quantifiable and measurable evidence that we can infer the nonexistence of a deity. What would you say?

Anarkhos's picture
You would have an

You would have an insurmountable of problems, my friend. Logic is not a practical device, but if you want a glimpse into what kind of world we lived in if everyone lived under that principle - that it is the default to believe in allegations without evidence - then every modern courtroom would look like the medieval witch trials wherein everyone who merely is accused of something will be burned to the stake. Or every feminist could cry rape and then the man would just be sentenced to prison without hesitation. That is the result you get when you switch logic on its backside. There is no justice in that, my friend, and I'm sure you can see that, and that it should not be applied in any practical real-world sense, nor in the realm of logic, as it carries the same problematic luggage in whatever whereabouts.

I would also add, the switching of the presuppositions are contaminated with insurmountable logical problems therein; not just practical problems, should it be applied to the real-world. The presupposition that one must have compelling evidence that God doesn't exist presupposes the assumed principle that "I need evidence in order for me to change my beliefs." In other words, "evidence is required for belief" However, they themselves fail this test and in the same vain, contradict that very principle by believing in God. You cannot posit the principle that evidence is required, but in the same vain have a belief already established with which you have not received evidence for. You need to universalize your principles, so as to remain consistent. Does that make sense? I hope it does.

Also, as for your last question, I made a forum thread answering how we can disprove the existence of God, however I'll copy n paste a bit of it here:

" I know that all bachelors are unmarried and that a square circle is nonexistent. I don't need to go in search for all bachelors in the universe to interview to make that claim, nor must I go beyond a greater sense data to know this. I also don't need to search the entire universe - or outside thereof - to confirm the non-existence of a square circle. Those 'negatives' as is often said, that in them of themselves are falsifiable.

These concepts in it of themselves are fallacious and thus cannot exist, because existence requires consistency. Through apriori reasoning, we can shed light on the validity of concepts or the lack thereof, without actually acquiring empirical sense-data. In the same light, I know God does not exist because the very concept in its essence is illogical. And thus, likewise, cannot exist because illogical 'things' cannot exist in reality. "

Nyarlathotep's picture
Ilovequestions - "Just for

Ilovequestions - "Just for fun, what would you say if I said the default position should be that "God exists" and that people should believe that until there is compelling evidence that he doesn't exist. Kinda switching the presuppositions around."

That won't work because you won't apply that standard across the board. Let's try it for the sake of argument:

Let's assume (until evidence can be given otherwise that:
1) God (of the bible) exists
2) Aker exists.
3) Ammit exists.
4) Amenhotep son of Hapu exists.
5) Am-heh exists.
6) Amun exists.
7) Amunet exists.
8) Anat exists.
9) Anhur exists.
10) Anti exists.
11) Anubis exists.
12) Anuket exists.
13) Apedemak exists.
14) Apophis exists.
15) Apis exists.
16) Arensnuphis exists.
17) Ash exists.
18) Astarte exists.
19) Aten exists.
20) Atum exists.
21) Baal exists.
22) Ba'alat Gebal exists.
23) Babi exists.
24) Banebdjedet exists.
25) Ba-Pef exists.
26) Bast exists.
27) Bat exists.
28) Bennu exists.
29) Bes exists.
30) Buchis exists.
31) Dedun exists.
32) Geb exists.
33) Ha exists.
34) Hapi exists.
35) Hathor exists.
36) Hatmehit exists.
37) Hedetet exists.
38) Heh exists.
39) Heka exists.
40) Heket exists.
41) Heryshaf exists.
42) Hesat exists.
43) Horus exists.
44) Hu exists.
45) Iah exists.
46) Iat exists.
47) Ihy exists.
48) Imentet exists.
49) Imhotep exists.
50) Ishtar exists.
51) Isis exists.
52) Iusaaset exists.
53) Khepri exists.
54) Kherty exists.
55) Khnum exists.
56) Khonsu exists.
57) Maahes exists.
58) Maat exists.
59) Mafdet exists.
60) Mandulis exists.
61) Mehit exists.
62) Menhit exists.
63) Mehen exists.
64) Mehet-Weret exists.
65) Meretseger exists.
66) Meskhenet exists.
67) Min exists.
68) Mnevis exists.
69) Montu exists.
70) Mut exists.
71) Nebethetepet exists.
72) Nefertum exists.
73) Nehebu-Kau exists.
74) Nehmetawy exists.
75) Neith exists.
76) Nekhbet exists.
77) Neper exists.
78) Nephthys exists.
79) Nu exists.
80) Nut exists.
81) Osiris exists.
82) Pakhet exists.
83) Ptah exists.
84) Qetesh exists.
85) Ra exists.
86) Raet-Tawy exists.
87) Renenutet exists.
88) Reshep exists.
89) Renpet exists.
90) Satet exists.
91) Seker exists.
92) Sekhmet exists.
93) Serapis exists.
94) Serket exists.
95) Seshat exists.
96) Set exists.
97) Shai exists.
98) Shed exists.
99) Shesmetet exists.
100) Shezmu exists.
101) Shu exists.
102) Sia exists.
103) Sobek exists.
104) Sopdu exists.
105) Sopdet exists.
106) Ta-Bitjet exists.
107) Tatenen exists.
108) Taweret exists.
109) Tefnut exists.
110) Thoth exists.
111) Tutu exists.
112) Unut exists.
113) Wadjet exists.
114) Wadj-wer exists.
115) Weneg exists.
116) Wepwawet exists.
117) Werethekau exists.
118) Wosret exists.
119) Yam exists.

Alright that covers most of the Egyptian gods. Please address each one with the evidence you have that he/she does not exist. Then we can move on to the next list...

The reality is you want to assume your god exists, but are not willing to apply that standard across the board.

cmallen's picture
I'm gonna coin the term

I'm gonna coin the term "Nyarlathoslap" right here. That was good.

Nyarlathotep's picture
Heh, thanks! Yeah I had been

Heh, thanks! Yeah I had been working on a web-scraper when I read this thread, and decided to use it to scrape Wikipedia's list of Egyptian deities.

Anyway I thought it would be a funny example of jam you will find yourself in if you ignore Anarkhos's advice, and set up your null hypothesis backwards. Of course most theists avoid the jam by making a special exception for only their deity, instead of applying the standard uniformly.

cmallen's picture
God bless special pleading!

God bless special pleading! Faith just wouldn't be logical without it.

Travis Hedglin's picture
Lol, as if it were logical

Lol, as if it were logical with it...

Johnny Moronic's picture
I have offered every theist a

I have offered every theist a chance to provide evidence for their faith. All have failed. I keep an open mind, but until someone comes along with something worth believing in, I will continue to assume that it is just like every other fiction story I have read. Interesting? Sure, sometimes. Real? Not that I can tell, no.

Jeff Vella Leone's picture
"So my question is how do you

"So my question is how do you all sift through all (or many) of the arguments to form an opinion?"

Very Simple, believe NONE and try to criticize them all based on logic and facts that can be verified,

This is the road you take to know the truth, the same path the court uses to find out who is right or guilty.
This system nearly always works and you should always try it first.

Then and only then you can consider assumptions and the conclusions derived from those assumptions.

ceilingcatnz's picture
"Then I see answers from my

"Then I see answers from my side, and then counter-responses from your side..."
This kind of us vs them attitude is part of the problem.

How can you expect me to give your argument any credence and vice-versa if we have this philosophic nationalism going on?

For me, part of the trick is realising how our brains work to confirm our pre-existing biases. It's a cognitive bias called, conveniently enough, confirmation bias. It's just one one dozens of ways that our brains are self-deluding.

Once you get to grips with how biases work, you can start to work around them, to mitigate against their effects. One of the key methods of mitigating confirmation bias and observer bias is to attempt to disprove your own point of view. It's a fundamental part of the scientific method too. You can even make it fun by debating with an atheist while you both argue from the other's perspective. You soon get to see where the absurdities in your own beliefs lie.

As far as critiquing things you read go, a good game is to play "Spot the fallacy." Most people don't have a clue how to build a logically valid argument. Once you get an understanding of what the formal and informal fallacies look like, this becomes a pretty fun game especially when tro... I mean, initiating civil discourse with a group of people with whom you disagree.

Ilovequestions's picture
Thanks for the feedback,

Thanks for the feedback, everyone :) I like this place cause I'm not getting slammed for not believing what the majority believes (on this site). The summary of this forum (at least, to me) is: accept nothing right away, question everything, and start with what we know (through science and maybe philosophy). That sounds great :)

Anarkhos's picture
Its exactly that :)

Its exactly that :)

DesolateProphet's picture
Here are some thoughts.

Here are some thoughts. Start much closer to home, such as in your own church. Many people take what the pastors says as fact because he is the pastor. When facts, statements, and assumptions are given by anyone in any type of leadership role, check those out. You will be amazed at what you find. Does the outsider, such as atheists or homosexuals, really want to destroy America, apple pie, and baseball?

Start listening to the messages from the pulpit with a bit of skepticism. If god has not given the spirit of fear, then why are the messages full of fear? If, as Proverbs states, god hates a lying tongue, then how is it permissible to for leadership to skew facts and at times just flat lie? This will become really evident during the political season. You will see scripture missed used for gain, even though this is forbidden.

Listen to the side conversations and how people really feel. This will give insight into the hearts of people, but be warned they will be darker than you think. I was in a position where I could comment on a subject in a particular direction and get people, general other deacons, to open about how they felt. I was amazed at the legalism within the rank and file. More concerned about how people dressed and if they were in a suit then really changing lives. I was also disturbed at how they looked down at others (this actually bothered me a lot).

How does the church view the environment? The Bible talks about stewardship and land management. What about the help for the poor? It was illegal to glean the fields. Some of it was to be left for the poor, but they had to work to pick it up. Does the church's action match up?

In some churches, I believe that the people think Jesus spoke the Kings English of the KJV translation. Does this make sense?

These are just a few of the things that I had done. My point is be skeptical within the church and outside. If you take it all a face value, then are you really seeking truth? It also makes the discovery a personal discovery.

Opinions are like arm pits, everyone has a couple and sometimes they stink. So, take this for what it is worth on filtering out the noise.

mysticrose's picture
I had the same confusion,

I had the same confusion, that's why I became an agnostic first before I finally accepted that I'm already and atheist and proud of it.

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