Responding to “Some Christians have been left behind.”
The original article in normal typeface was a submission by Thomas Freeman done on the 3rd December 2013. The bold type is my response to his article. The method I used to respond to this article is to respond to it idea by idea. This way ensures that I focus on the issue at hand and respond directly to that. It also allows the objective readers of News24 to compare Thomas’s submission with my response.
Some Christians have been left behind.
The human brain constructs a world inside our head based on what it samples from the surrounding environment and it tries to organise this information into what it thinks is the best way; but sometimes due to corrupt or insufficient data, it has no choice, other than to fills in the gaps.
Okay let me try to understand this. So we all have insufficient data because we all cannot claim to know everything. Does this mean that the author has done some gap filling himself? Remember, the author asserts that the brain has no choice but to fill the gaps. However, I offer another view in that the mind that is in search for the truth, seeks it till it is found. As an individual, I just do not fill in the gaps, I want information that makes sense.
Now what about corrupt data – if one asserts that the human brain houses corrupt data and if that same one agrees that he/ she is human and has a brain, then that one is confessing that his/ her brain has corrupt data. So is the author saying that the data in his/ her brain contains corrupt data as well? He cannot say it does not and therefore the question that should be answered is - What information does Tomas have in his brain that is corrupt?
The way the brain thinks sets the basis for illusionary thinking. If we were not susceptible to illusionary thinking there would be no place in society for magicians, hypnotists and Christian evangelists to ply their trade.
If the first paragraph sets the motivation for the brain’s thought process and that being one of illusionary, then again Thomas must tell us if he is victim of any of the above. So if he denies being deluded by a list of trade types, the he is claiming that he apart from all other human beings are immune to this band of traders. But then, are we to conclude that he is not susceptible to illusionary thinking.
I am also picking up that paragraphs 1 and 2 are written to develop and argument – it seems to me that these form premises that develops to a conclusion.
Christianity (and all religion for that matter) is the unsophisticated, simplistic, primitive ancestor to philosophy. Primitive thinkers, like our ancient ancestors, were quite happy and content with the theory (layman’s meaning) that an illusionary God was behind all the unexplained.
Thomas, what I am about to say is done with respect and hesitation but this paragraph leaves me with hardly any option but to respond. Your definition of Christianity is more an opinion disguised as a fact. This is not good practice. By the way, please go to this Wikipedia page to check out the number of Christian Philosophers listed. Once you checked out anyone of them, I would like you to do a critical analysis of their philosophy and point out the lack of sophistication and its primitiveness.
As for me, I was very impressed to note the currency of some of the works from the past. Doesn’t it just amaze you how some of their works are still used convincingly today? I know you know of the history of the following arguments.
1. Kalaam Cosmological Argument
2. Ontological Argument
3. Teleological/ Design Argument
4. The Historical JESUS account
5. The Argument for the existence of Objective morality
As ancient as these arguments are, they are still effectively used against many so called advanced evolved beings that you refer to as not religious/ Christian. Now let me quote an atheist (Quentin Smith) who made this comment about Stephen Hawking and Richard Dawkins.
"the worst atheistic argument in the history of Western thought."1 With the publication of Richard Dawkins' "central argument" of his The God Delusion, which I have criticized elsewhere, the time has come, I think, to relieve Hawking of this weighty crown and to recognize Dawkins' accession to the throne”
The first part refers to Steve Hawking and the latter to the one and only Richard Dawkins. What this quote does to your premise that Christianity is primitive and unsophisticated is to ask a scary question. The question is - if Christianity is as you say it is and if Christians are who you say they are (primitive thinkers), then what are we to say about these two “high- ground” occupiers. So for your premise to be true, then you must also claim that Steve Hawking and Richard Dawkins are at a level below that of the primitive thinker. Any other position on these two will promote the primitive thinker to one of sophistication. If any reader have a problem with this reasoning, they must take this to Thomas Freeman to solve.
Please note that I just had to give one example to demonstrate the unsophistication of Thomas’s claim. However, there is more should it be required.
That is why it is no great surprise that brain researchers have discovered that humans are hard-wired by evolution to believe in God. (1) Evolution has selected religion for the betterment of early mankind, but not anymore. The religious philosophy that “God-did-it” became acceptable to ancient people who knew no better in their superstitious, prescience, Stone Age era, but today there is no scientific reason to believe in God and yet millions are still bound in imaginary chains that no longer exist.
Thomas, this sounds like scary science when you assert that the evolutionary process has created GOD. Why scary? Was that the only option available? Who decided it should be this option? How was this option formed? Can we seriously claim that this was an invention of natural selection? By the way, how did this evolve out of your head? What new evolutionary benefit has replaced GOD?
When you say that today science has made redundant a belief in GOD, one what basis do you make this claim? Can science suddenly explain everything? Even Dawkins will respond by saying that “Science still does not know.” So about unsophistication and primitive thinking……….
This is because they are totally addicted to Jesus. They cannot live without Jesus just like an alcoholic cannot live without a drink. Paul was a “love slave” and “lived”, “moved” and had his “being” in Christ. Without Jesus, Christians are nothing.
Thomas, thank you for giving me the opportunity to evangelise. Yes, I agree with you – I am totally addicted to JESUS. I cannot live without JESUS. I am nothing without JESUS. However, I am what I am because of HIS sufficient grace. I can assure you that all Christians are with you on this. So Thomas – thank you.
Christians are unable to enjoy themselves except through Jesus. Their entire body's pleasure sense is taken over. They are enslaved and possessed. When they look at a magnificent sunset or a beautiful flower or a gorgeous baby they say God is awesome - because in their minds they imagine that there has to be some intelligent designer behind it all. That emotionally primitive wiring connection/association in their brain helps them to see Jesus as the best and only thing in their life and this produces a self-reinforcing effect.
Sorry Thomas, Christians do have the ability to enjoy themselves all by themselves. However, as a mark of gratitude to the ONE that made it possible for us to enjoy ourselves, we give thanks to HIM. This is called being appreciative. I think that this is a good quality to have.
Sorry Again, Thomas – The Christian is not enslaved or possessed. The Christian submits to JESUS voluntarily as an act of love. This is observed every day in society. Here is a quick example – how many times you put aside your personal choice, plan or preference for that of the one you love? Did you regret doing this? So if you have, will I be correct in saying that you are enslaved and/ or possessed?
Mmmmm – the design argument – Thomas, am I imagining that your article has evidence of an intelligent mind in that it can put together a string of letters to form words, a string of words to form sentences, a string of sentences to form paragraphs and so forth. No, that’s not all I have observed in your article – I also noticed an adherence to some grammatical rules. That’s not all too – did we not see some artistry in this article? Did we not observe nuances and pseudo facts etc? No, it cannot be – this must be my imagination. It must be just my primitive mind that can infer the involvement of an intelligent mind in this article. I hope I do not get a Dawkins copy/ paste of “Who designed the designer” response on this one.
Due to lack of evidence the brain can only imagine the existence of a supreme being based purely on religious indoctrination. Indoctrination is a method of inculcating revealed knowledge as absolute truth which must be accepted without question. No one has met God in the flesh recently (or the past), so no living person knows anything about God.
Evidence – The evidence has always been present. However, the explanation of the evidence leads us to GOD. I asked this on so many occasions to no avail – what alternatives do you have to explain the evidence? Okay, for the benefit of those who are wondering what evidence is available:-
1. Something rather than nothing. The evidence is the universe. The question is what best explains it. It is easy to say that to posit GOD is primitive – what alternative is available.
3. Objective morality
4. The Historical JESUS
5. My Personal Experience – I am happy to share this with you, Thomas. Just give me your email address. It is quite long though.
Yet some say they have met God and have a relationship with him. How can this be anything but an illusion? Without the sense realm knowledge that would come from knowing God in the flesh the brain would have no option other than to fill in the gaps by other means and that is the classic case of an illusion.
Thomas – I had a discussion with someone who just could not accept personal experience as genuine. I had to demonstrate that people go by personal experiences every day. You experience the love of your loved ones. That is personal experience. Only you can know how that feels and only you can say that the love is genuine. However, you could not prove that the emotion experienced is genuine. So you see, Thomas, experiencing GOD is personal. Whatever you do or say regarding personal experiences does not make the experience false or true for the one not experiencing the experience. Make no mistake – that experience is genuine and true for the one experiencing it.
That’s where indoctrination, brainwashing and the religious meme virus come into play. The brain uses what it has been taught as absolute truth and an illusion is born. That is why some Christians can say that they “know” the Bible is the word of God. How can any rational person know the Bible is the word of God? That kind of surety is in the realm of fanaticism.
Thomas, did you know that the bible has been written over a long span of time? Did you know that it was written by so many people? Did you know that all these people came from different walks of life? Did you know that these people came from different geographical locations? How can all this result in one coherent story? I know you may be tempted to speak of contradictions. I would like to advise you first check if the contradictions are not variants/ copyist errors etc. before you make a claim. Let’s put it this way, all the guidance I need to live a morally acceptable and a rational life is in the bible.
Illusions are distortions of reality. Magicians, divine healers, mime artists, and ventriloquists have learnt a repertoire of illusions to entice a response of awe, wonderment and praise from a gullible audience who assume them to be real. Magicians do not really cut people in half , with a sword or walk on water or squeeze through panes of solid glass.
The ventriloquist’s doll, does not really talk; even though it appears that it does. Divine healers do not really have the power of God at their fingertips; even though it appears that that they do. God does not really come down from heaven and slay people in the spirit, so that they fall down like flies and rise up healed.
Thomas – I think almost everyone knows magicians use illusions to entertain people. I really enjoyed “Breaking the Magicians Code” series. I also enjoy Jeff Dunham too. I beg you not to be mistaken by claiming that I am gullible in believing that these are real. The act is real but it requires the art of illusion to pull it off. By the way, are you saying that everyone who makes up the audience to these shows are gullible or are you saying that the gullible only attend on a special session or are you saying that only the Christian who is in the audience thinks it to be real? I am just seeking clarification.
Well I have some experiences that I can share about healing and supernatural acts. Hair refusing to burn, a fully grown man flung from his bed to the opposite wall while sleeping, a man not exposed to another language speaking it accurately etc.
Richard Dawkins a distinguished British scientist, celebrated author, world-class evolutionary biologist and leading atheist tells us in “The God Delusion” that our collective belief in the existence of God is not only irrational, it is dangerous.
Is this the same distinguished Dawkins that cited that Christians are to be treated with contempt? Is this the same Dawkins that Quentin Smith was referring to? Is it same book in which Quentin Smith (atheist) criticised the central argument?
However, I must agree with you that he is celebrated by a group of like- minded people but some atheists are not shy to label him all sorts of things (This information is available). The book, the “GOD delusion” has been debated and criticised by quite a few people. So I would not advise you to support your atheistic worldview with this book.
But ask all and sundry if they agree with Dawkins and you will find different answers depending on wither the respondents are believers or not. Christians and other religious people will say God is not an illusion, because they experience him spiritually all the time.
I agree, you will find different answers even amongst atheists too. These atheist may lack belief in GOD but they are also honest in pointing out that Dawkins book does not make a good argument for the atheistic cause. Fortunately for me, you will have to take this issue with the atheists that do see Dawkins book as a danger to the atheistic cause. Dawkins has just lowered the bar with this book.
They firmly believe that Jesus literally walks with them and talks with them and he will never leave them nor forsake them again like he did when he physically died and went to heaven. However rational sceptics are of the opinion that God is an illusion and the millions of faithful believers must thus be delusional.
Thomas – when you claim that rational sceptic’s say this or that or when you say brain researchers have discovered this or that you need to provide a citation for it. Saying it does not make it true.
Christians will point sceptics to the fact that there are some questions science cannot answer like the mysterious existential questions: does God exist, what are we doing here, and is there a purpose to it? But science is not supposed to answer those questions, now is it?
I agree with you – science cannot answer all the questions. Therefore we dare not appeal to science to explain everything.
Scientists require evidence before accepting a hypothesis, and so science can only investigate that which is detectable. If something cannot be detected by sensory perception or instrumentation, then in what sense is evidence present?
This is its limitation. We all know this. So it operates on the principle of methodological naturalism. It cannot do otherwise. Science assumes there is a natural explanation for everything it investigates precisely because this is the only way it can work.
If natural explanations for events were not possible because God regularly intervened in the world, then science simply would not be possible. Since science does work then a miraculous intervening God does not exist.
I cannot make sense of this but I will try – if I am wrong please do not hesitate to correct me. I see a contradiction here and I hope that I am not the only one. On the one hand, you point out the limitation of science and on the other hand you state that if this limited science cannot explain something, then science cannot be possible.
However, I enjoyed John Lennox’s response to Christopher Hitchens regarding this issue. Lennox states that a supernatural event does not contradict nature but is an event that is added into the system. He states that if he left some money in a drawer in a hotel in Alabama and if he comes back and discover it missing, he will not say that the law of nature was broken but rather the law of Alabama.
Therefore it is time for Christians to evolve further into atheists by dumping Bible God (Trinity God) and the irrelevant, abstract, god of the gaps, the uncaused cause, type of god.
Thank you Thomas for not disappointing me with the god of the gaps claim. I am an atheist when it comes to the god of the gaps. I do not believe in this kind of god because the GOD I believe in explains everything not just the gaps.
Otherwise they will be left behind; for we have evolved beyond mysticism and superstition.
Thomas – based on what I have seen in this article – Thank GOD I have not evolved. Thank GOD I have been left behind. Better be left behind if taken forwards mean unsubstantiated claims, pseudo facts, and the very people you call advanced are being classed by those of the same worldview.
Let me end by telling you what Michael Ruse, an atheist and an agnostic believes. He believes that the New Atheist Movement (Dawkins being identified as one of them) is a disservice to science. So much for sophistication.
You can also read the following article by Michael Ruse called “High priests, holy writ and excommunications – how did Humanism end up acting like a religion?” Here is the link: http://aeon.co/magazine/world-views/michael-ruse-humanism-religion/