Flipping Fundamentalism Off

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:

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:

If you want to actually challenge something I’ve actually written, you know where to start.

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5 Comments

  1. Mel
    Posted April 12, 2015 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    Richard,

    Even after we started our “private chat”, I have continued to follow the “debunking thread”. When I first saw James’ comment (of Apr 12th) my first thought was: “How arrogant and condescending this guy is!” In a way, it rather reminded me of the type of responses that Job endured by those who were confronting him and falsely accusing him of “some secret fault” he was hiding, who he later called “miserable comforters”.)

    I laughed out loud when I read your simple comment: “Well there you go. The Full Monty Straw Man.” (LMAO)

    What a foolish way for him to speak to you! (Pr 26:17 “He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears.”) Doesn’t he realize that you have TEETH…and are very adept at biting back…when the situation warrants it?

    Do me a favor, Richard: Kindly remind me at times me not to even THINK of “messing with you”. (LOL)

    Mel

  2. Simon Miles
    Posted April 12, 2015 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

    As I peruse the comments here in my occasional visits, it seems to me that almost none of the responses, pro or con, have been about the actual BibleWheel itself. Everyone wants to debate whether they are a Christian, or not, and everyone feels very strongly about it. But no one seems willing or able or interested in discussing the BibleWheel independent of whether or not one accepts the tenets of the faith. I think this is a great pity. I wish it was possible to examine the BibleWheel without using it as a bench on which to hammer out one’s individual position on Christianity as a religion.

    Here’s the thing, Richard: you haven’t actually “debunked” anything, except some of the tests which you devised in order to demonstrate the Wheel. I anticipated this in my comment right back at the start of one of the articles announcing the impending “debunking”. I had not read the forum threads prior to that, I had simply noticed for myself in reading the Bible Wheel book that, for example, sometimes the graphs for frequency of keywords were compared to just one ring of the wheel, whilst on other occasions they were compared to the entire wheel. Obviously, this test had some glitches in it therefore, and I foreshadowed that you would show this. And, primarily, that’s exactly what you did. You demolished the word frequency test, and the keyword test. But these were simply arbitrary mathematical tests you derived to bolster the BibleWheel case. They are not the Wheel itself.

    The rest of thee debunking, as far as I can see, consisted in debunking other wheels from other authors, and other patterns. I may have missed some points in some articles, but my impression after reading the debunking series was that the entire core of the BibleWheel remains essentially untouched. Undebunked. Still standing.

    By this I am referring to the many many many correlations between the books and the spokes, that you so admirably documented in your book and in countless articles on this site. I’m talking about all the HoloDec/etc/etc diagrams which show the extraordinary relations betweens words and phrases and numbers. It’s not enough to just shout “pareidolia”. Yes some patterns are in the eye of the beholder; but this doesn’t mean all are.

    The problem here is that you did such an excellent job in defending the wheel, that you have set yourself a high bar. Unfortunately, your debunking job does not reach that same bar. The Wheel stands. In fact, you haven’t so much done a debunking job as a hatchet job. You’ve left the core untouched, and simply stripped away some of the tests which had been set up to “prove” it. But the tests were not the Wheel. The tests may be flawed, in which case, these tests fail, but this does not affect the underlying connections which you have documented at length in your book and on this site, and which have not been mentioned in this debunking series.

    What “atheists” fail to grasp is that non-belief is just another version of belief, and subject to all the same potential pitfalls. After you became a non-Christian, the presence of the BibleWheel was a thorn in the side, an embarasment, so there was very strong incentive to “debunk” it. This would be true of anyone, and I do not mean this as a personal criticism in the slightest. We are all subject to a bias in relation to our beliefs and non-beliefs. It is entirely understandable that you would feel the need to unwind the wheel once you had unwound your belief. However, you have not completed the job. The BibleWheel remains standing.

    What I am referring to is the correlations between the books and the wheel. These are not necessarily something that can be measured using a mathematical approach, but they are no less real for that. It is clear that you did try very hard to capture some kind of proof in these kinds of very formalised mathematical proofs, and I am not saying by any means that all of these were necessarily flawed. But some were. .

    Strip away the attempts at mathematical proof, and what remains is the magnificent format of the BibleWheel, a genuine higher-level ordering to the books and content of the Bible which is a truly stunning discovery. For me, there are many highlights, and I could not do justice to them all in a book any shorter than the 401 pages of the BibleWheel book, but I don’t need to: you have already done it. This is really a bizarre situation, but the best rebuttal of your current position remains your former position. The BibleWheel book rocks! It is a very thorough and excellent description of a truly extraordinary phenomenon. The Wheel exists.

    For me, perhaps the most thrilling set of associations is those 3 spokes 15, 16, 17: the way that these apply to the Exiles, on each of the three wheels is an amazing amazing thing. These particular associations are the cream on the cake, in my view. The Wheel is already established by the Canon Wheel, and by the associations of the first spoke, and the 22nd spoke alone: anything from there on is a bonus: and the bonuses come thick and fast. As I say, those 15,16,17 spokes are truly incredible. Read the chapters in Richard’s book for the detail. No amount of repeating the word pareidolia, no amount of debunking keywords, no amount of pointing to other versions of the wheel, can alter that.

    But what does it all mean? That is the question. Unfortunately, this question can really only be approached through the whole issue of whether or not someone is a Christian or not. And at this point, everything kind of crumbles into a mess. Everyone has their mind made up. It’s a deeply personal issue, and bound up with so many personal things. Debate is impossible. It’s just back and forth. And the comments on these pages are full of demonstrations of what I am saying.

    My wish is that folks could objectively examine the evidence for the BibleWheel having left their christianity, or lack of christianity, at the door. But I recognise this is essentially impossible. There is too much skin in the game. It’s similar to the Turin Shroud. Here, let’s run a little test: do you believe the Shroud is the genuine burial shroud of Christ? All those you say yes, please move to the right. All those who say no, please move to the left. Now: are there any non-Christians on the right? Of course not. There may be some Christians on the left, but if you accept the shroud is real, you are not going to be a christian now, are you. Or not for long.

    Let’s not get too far off track, fascinating subject though the Shroud is. Back to the Biblewheel. If you are not a christian, you are not going to find the BibleWheel convincing, are you? That’s a question for everyone, not just Richard. And there are a million ways to be able to not find the Bible Wheel convincing. One can simply ignore it, for a start. Otherwise, one can point out things like pareidolia, or other psychological tricks. Or one can identity flaws in some of the arguments used to attempt to prove it. Like the word frequency tests. Or one can point to the existence of other wheels, and point out that they can’t all be true.

    But all of this is to put the cart before the horse. Non-belief is subject to the same biases as belief. The non-christian must find a way to be able to reject the BibleWheel, else all collapses. And humans have very many psychological tricks up their sleeves which can accomplish this with ease. But it doesn’t affect the Wheel itself. The Wheel remains. The Wheel endures. The Wheel has been noticed, and it is not possible to unnotice it. You can ignore it, you can move on to other things. But the BibleWheel is not going away. It is now a thing. The BibleWheel enriches peoples daily lives. It is a set of patterns and forms which can be recognised, and relied on.

    But let me say this: the BibleWheel is not greater than the Bible. The BibleWheel is not the point of the Bible. The Bible is not the slave to the BibleWheel. The Wheel is an aspect of the book, and it is not necessary for every last jot and tittle of the Bible itself to bear witness to the Wheel. Zechariah’s prophecy does relate to the BibleWheel but not because the prophet is prophesying the discovery of the Wheel, or the Wheel itself. The vision is of a higher dimensional reality, and the BibleWheel exhibits the same format. This is why the vision of Zechariah matches the BibleWheel: both are images of the same thing. But the Wheel is not the thing. The Wheel is an image of the thing.

    And here now, we find our way back to the core concern. If we have the Bible, do we have God? If the book exists, are the contents true, and if so what should we do? If the BibleWheel exists, then what? What does it mean? And how should we live. It seems to me these are very valid questions for robust debate, but they are, strictly speaking, separate from the question of the existence of the BibleWheel itself.

    My hope, though it is a feint hope, is that some day there will come a time and a place where the BibleWheel can be discussed completely independently of the religious status of the participants. I would like a discussion on the Biblewheel where it is not even possible to tell whether the person with whom one is conversing is a christian or not. Otherwise, as we have seen here, it all just comes down to a food fight between the believers and the non-belivers. And in that fight, everyone made up their minds a long time ago, and no one is about to change based on anything that they read here.

    Bottom line: the Biblewheel has not been debunked. It remains an enigma, the startling presence of a higher dimensional pattern in our three dimensional world, a provocation to our comfortable existences, a brilliantly discovered and described artefact which ought to challenge our every understanding of how a book like the Bible can come into existence.

    I won’t be engaging in debate over this, because the responses are entirely predictable. And that’s my entire point: responses to the Biblewheel are pre-determined by one’s response to Christianity. How I wish this were not so.

    Thanks for reading.

  3. MichaelFree
    Posted April 14, 2015 at 1:04 am | Permalink

    By the way I like the title of this article. For me it has two meanings and they are both accurate descriptions of the article. Also as a computer person I like the “bit” reference.

  4. Posted April 14, 2015 at 5:15 am | Permalink

    By the way I like the title of this article. For me it has two meanings and they are both accurate descriptions of the article. Also as a computer person I like the “bit” reference.

    Cool! You got all three of the meanings I intended.

  5. j.e.
    Posted January 19, 2016 at 5:32 am | Permalink

    Hi I myself have learned that each day we learn something new. I met an older couple when I was young, and they said That each time you read a bible verse it will be different. You will be shown something that pertains to that particular point in your life. I have found that to be true. I have learned so much and God has lead me in ways I least expected. I felt lead to learn about other religions and other things in life. I have grown in many way and understand so much more than I would have if I had stayed put in my old ways. I am going to relate to you my experience that some say is just a trick of the brain, but I know it to be true. I had what some would call a near death experience. It is not near it is death it is just that Gods job for you here is not done so you must return. I took some pills and laid down on my bed and went to sleep and the next thing I knew was that I could see myself on the bed, I could then see my children next door. then all went blank and I saw people all around me. A brother I had lost a few years earlier, My grandparents and an uncle and aunt, and others that had already gone on before me. It was strange seeing them so young and healthy. I proceeded to walk forward. There was a city and large gates made of gemstones. As I got to the gates, A hand reached out and touched me, he said you can not go in my child, then I said, but this is what I have wanted all my life. He said you must go back my child. Then he touched me again and I could see my body on the bed and it was night fall. They were doing CPR on me. Aunt Gloria was a nurse, She said that it had been some time since I had a pulse that she the needed to call for more help. Paul kept trying and then I felt such terrible pain and was back in my body, it was much worse then when I had any of my children. I know God is real! And he does not expect us to conform to what man thinks but what he wants for us to do!!! He has a job for each of us to do. This blog is one job he has for you Richard Amiel McGlough. May you be blessed and all who read your blog as well.

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