Is there such a thing as a “former fundamentalist” or do fundamentalists simply switch sides? Is fundamentalism more about the psychology of belief than its content? Can the “fundamentalism bit” be flipped off? Former Conservatives become radical Liberals. Former alcoholics become strict teetotalers who oppose all drinking. Have I fallen into that trap? I don’t think so, but apparently some do, or perhaps they just think it is an easy way to attack my conclusions without addressing my arguments. I received this critique in the thread under my article Debunking Myself: What A Long Strange Trip It’s Been. I will respond to James line by line:
You claim that, because of limited understanding or information, you were once certain that those things you once believed were air-tight, but now are wrong- and WHY? Because you claim you later re-thought and re-examined your former conclusions with a new insight which brought you to a different and unbiased conclusion.
That’s not what I claim at all. It appears you did not read my article before commenting on it. The certainty I felt did not come from a “limited understanding or information.” It came from years of magical thinking (taking coincidences as evidence) reinforced by cognitive biases like confirmation bias and selection bias (cherry picking). In effect, I hypnotized myself by fixating my attention on the pattern of the Bible Wheel for many years. That was the basis of my illusion of certainty, as explained at length in the article you are supposedly responding to.
My point is, you may still be lacking in information (no one has all knowledge) that may yet prove that your present conclusions, which you now seem to be certain are air-tight, may equally be just as flawed. If, as you seem to be offering here, the opportunity for someone to introduce logic, reason, or information to the contrary, then would you be objective enough to accept it? If so, then I assume you would equally be objective enough and willing to change your present conclusions, right?
I have always been open to new information. My fundamentalism was not based on closing my eyes to evidence (like creationists who deny evolution and the age of the earth), but rather focusing on The Pattern I thought “trumped” all the contrary evidence. I freely admitted that there were problems in the Bible I could not explain, but felt they were nothing compared to the evidence of the Bible Wheel. My confidence was amplified by the lack of qualified critics. Almost all the criticism I received consisted of nothing but empty assertions and mindless mockery. I rarely met anyone who even tried to rationally challenge my claims. And so I had to fulfill the old saying, “If you want a job done right, do it yourself.” I recorded the process in this series of articles:
- Debunking Myself: What A Long Strange Trip It’s Been
- Battle of the Bible Wheels: Catholic vs. Protestant
- The Bible Wheel: Patternicity on Steroids
- Debunking Myself: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
- The Isaiah-Bible Coincidence Debunked
Contrary to your assertion, I did not reject my old beliefs because of “new information” but rather because of blatant cognitive errors and biases as explained in those articles.
Also, if you are equally admitting that it IS possible that such new information may be out there somewhere to cause you to change your present conclusions, then why the insults hurled at a God that may yet be proven to exist?
I’m not “hurling insults” at a God I don’t believe exists. I am exposing the absurdities and moral abominations attributed to him in the Bible, and how the attempt to justify them tends to corrupt the minds and morals of believers (as explained in my article The Art of Rationalization: A Case Study of Christian Apologist Rich Deem). If we begin by assuming that any real God must be rational and just then what is there to fear? I am confident that a real God would be big enough to handle the misdirected insults of one of his puny little creatures, and sufficiently intelligent to understand that my disdain for the behavior attributed to him in the Bible is fully justified. The Bible says he commanded genocide, established sexism, instituted slavery, and treated people with great cruelty, irrationality, and injustice. If you want to challenge these assertions a good place to start would be The Inextricable Sexism of the Bible and the “Art of Rationalization” linked above.
IF, however, you are CERTAIN that such logic, facts or reason cannot possibly exist, then is that not also supremely irrational?
Why do you write “CERTAIN” in all caps? Rational people know the limits of certainty, that it’s always a matter of probability based on logic, facts, experience, intuition,interaction with others, etc. Very few things are “certain” in a way implied by all caps, and certainly not any claim about the existence of an undetectable god invented by primitive superstitious men. You appear to be asserting an extreme form of skepticism that says it would be “supremely irrational” to be “CERTAIN” about anything. Do you really believe that Allah is as likely as Yahweh? Or that the Tooth Fairy could be the True God? If not, is your certainty on those questions “supremely irrational?”
Why even continue your threads of discussion here, to be so elitist in your thinking as to believe that no one could possibly produce such facts or information? Wasn’t that also your position long ago when you were so certain the facts behind your Bible-Wheel were indisputable?
Elitist? Where did that come from? If it is “elitist” to base arguments on logic and facts, then I guess I am that.
Your comment is an empty generalization. There is nothing for me to answer. If you think you have some evidence, then please present it. If you think I have failed to adequately answer any “facts or information” supporting Christianity, then please expose my error. Empty assertions mean nothing.
Why continue discussion? Because I find it fascinating. Because I value criticism and enjoy a challenge. I learn a lot and it helps keep my mind sharp. Because I spent nearly two decades on this topic, and so it is a part of me. Because I want to help other people find freedom from the bondage of self-delusion. Because I am trying to help clean up a mess I helped create. Many people think that the Bible Wheel confirms their religious delusions.
Your complaint seems to be that I am an “elitist” because religious people can’t support their assertions with logic and facts.
It seems, however, that your conclusions are an admission that you now think you have enough knowledge and have finally “ARRIVED” so that NO new facts or information could EVER be produced by anyone to bring you to a change of mind.
I think no such thing. Your entire argument is based on a ludicrous straw man caricature of my position. Not one word you wrote relates to anything in my articles about why I reject my former beliefs. Not. One. Word. You are simply asserting that any certainty is “closed minded.” By your logic, you must believe that Allah is as likely as Yahweh or the Tooth Fairy. Fine logic you got there James.
I fear for you. If you are so certain that nothing can be presented to change your mind, then what is the purpose of these discussions? Is it to prove to your readers, or to yourself, that there aren’t any facts left out there to change your mind? Who, really, are you trying to convince? Are you trying to convince people that the Bible is flawed, or are you really trying to convince everyone that YOU have the FINAL ANSWERS??? Your logic, to me, is illogical. Yes, it is ILLOGICAL to think that you can possibly know all things in this life to the point of absolute certainty about anything – and, if that is true, then there is reason enough never to stop investigating! Not everyone who believes in the existence of God is ignorant of the facts, and there are enough respected scientists and critical thinkers out there who have come to just the opposite conclusion than you came to, for they conclude that there IS a God, and that there HAS TO BE a Creator, and that it is the One we read about in the Bible!
Well there you go. The Full Monty Straw Man. I have never claimed to “know all things.” It is not illogical to have a measure of certainty based on logic and facts. If you want to challenge my arguments, then challenge my arguments! Don’t just spew out generalities with no content. I dare ya.
It is particularly ironic that you end your attack on certainty with an all caps assertion that there are some “respected scientists and critical thinkers” who claim “there HAS TO BE a Creator.” How could you fail to see that the all caps “HAS TO BE” represents a “CERTAINTY” that is, by your logic, “supremely irrational?”
And of course, your fallacious appeal to the authority of “respected scientists and critical thinkers” adds nothing to your argument. There are plenty of nutty professors out there. Here are a few examples:
- Why Most Animals Are not Philosophers: Fatal Flaws in Dr. Craig’s Moral Argument for God
- Morality is Objective, like a Pair of Scales: Another Fatal Flaw in Dr. Craig’s Moral Argument for God
- Two Thousand Reasons to Believe Dr. Hugh Ross Might Not Be Entirely Credible
- The Art of Rationalization: A Case Study of Christian Apologist Rich Deem
If you want to actually challenge something I’ve actually written, you know where to start.