Special pleading.

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  • #24713

    Davis
    Participant

    Theologists go to great lengths to justify a truth claim which would never be acceptable in nearly any other endeavor and even most other ideologues. This is despite the fact that much of this happens in a university setting. The intellectual dishonesty can be found in some research by some people in some faculties.  But it is utterly overflowing in theology libraries.

    The four gospels with fatal contradictions, historical inaccuracies and even conflicting ideas and of dubious origin actually just “compliment one another” as though if you pile the four texts on one another and press heat on it the sketchy stuff will iron out. These problems are non problems because of bad excuse 1, 2 and 3 because “God”.

    I find this one of the more grotesque special pleading that theologists use…we don’t even need to get into if the Jesus described even existed…but how one should take four and only four curated versions of many candidates, ones clashing in history and  truth and base an entire world view on it.

    I’m not even talking about the ridiculous supernatural claims or of hell or multiple  stories that sound like fairytales.

    I mean…four versions of one story which seem to morph and develop over time, conflicting, confusing, unreferenced, unsourced, unknown authors etc. As theists are utter geniuses at dismissing the absurd as actually sound…”they compliment one another” is a handwave of a dismissal..plus its “God” and with God we are on a different level…right?. Even though we wouldn’t accept this poverty of reliability and the notability of the selected texts…nor claim four different versions somehow equal the truth…in any other intellectual or metaphysical endeavor…the exotic and mysterious gospels get a free pass.

    I have tried to think of another example in life, be it intellectual, metaphysical or even cultural…where we select a few specific tellings of a story among many,  as the most significant proof these events or ideas are true in detail and thought despite some fatal conflicts. Can anyone think of an example? And no, I’m not talking about the sketchy life story of a Greek or Indian character. Outside of a few religions or tyrannical cults like Kim Jong Il…an example where the stories AND the ideas in several books both conflict yet are proof of the historical events AND the ideas. I cant find one. Maybe one of you can?

    #24714

    Strega
    Moderator

    @davis I think urban legends are probably closest to a modern day equivalent

    • This reply was modified 1 week, 5 days ago by  Strega.
    #24716

    Theologians will claim that (their) God works in mysterious ways. We, as mere mortals, cannot comprehend the “mind of God”. God is not of this world because “He” is a supernatural entity. Yet they invent their own jargon to such an extent that it becomes a language of its own gibberish. They fill libraries with tomes of their own opinions on how we could understand this supernatural entity. They know having Faith is not enough, even though it is all they have and they cannot use Reason because their beliefs are not objective enough to withstand Room 101 criticism of their well-worn out ontological arguments that they still deem worth of bringing to a debate with an atheist.

    Yet I keep debating with them, as a psychiatrist might with a patient claiming to commune with aliens when the moon is full. I know they are deluded but I still find it fascinating to listen to what they trot out. It is on those rare occasions that I get a straight answer from them that I know I have planted enough doubt that will demand their future consideration.

    “The study of theology, as it stands in Christian churches, is the study of nothing; it is founded on nothing; it rests on no principles; it proceeds by no authorities; it has no data; it can demonstrate nothing; and it admits of no conclusion. Not anything can be studied as a science, without our being in possession of the principles upon which it is founded; and as this is the case with Christian theology, it is therefore the study of nothing.”

    Thomas Paine.

    #24721

    _Robert_
    Participant

    Yes, it is certainly a unique situation.

    Paul’s letters are literally on an astral plane and then generations after the supposed cruci-“fiction” we have unknown, un-witnessing  authors writing gospels in the wrong language, GAINING detail as time progresses. Gospels written with such symbolic force as to become an obvious compilation of previous myths adapted for the purpose of gaining the hearts and minds of a crumbling empire. Otherwise wise people for 2,000 years have knelt down in rows and kissed “holy” ass. I don’t understand why.

     

     

    #24767

    David Philpot
    Participant

    I find it particularily odd that theists consider their religious faith to be evidence of God’s existence when even they would not consider that kind of personal experience to be evidence in any other aspect of their lives. Harmonizing the Gospels is one of the greatest con jobs in history, theists try to convince people that the fact that the details contained in them don’t match one another is an argument for their authenticity. Some of the  central details of the Gospels are  slightly different, but others are entirely contradictory to one another and that does not seem to matter to believers. I have heard that the differences in the Gospels denotes that there was no central authority controlling  how they were written, which seems perfectly sensible to me. However, I have heard some theists claim that the contradictions are essential because they test a person’s faith. That is playing tennis without the net; if both the consistencies and the inconsistencies in the text of the Bible are seen as equally vital to a person’s faith, then the text itself becomes irrelevant. The belief that faith is evidence is unfalsifiable, and if everyone’s personal  faith experience is their Truth then the word truth must be used in such a generalized way that it too becomes irrelevant and meaningless. People assume that in conversations about religion that others use words to mean the same thing that they do, when in fact, that happens very infrequently. Entire congregations listen to sermons assuming that a specific common message is being shared by all; but this is a perfect example of the metaphor, the map is not the territory. The words used in the sermon become the map when spoken by the preacher, but the territory each of the congregants visits are distinctly different though they hear the same words. The illusion of a shared spiritual vision is created by special pleading, as a way to unify the personal experiences of  the congregants, in much the same way the disparate messages in the Gospels are harmonized in the minds of believers.

    #24768

    Davis
    Participant

    The illusion of a shared spiritual vision is created by special pleading, as a way to unify the personal experiences of  the congregants, in much the same way the disparate messages in the Gospels are harmonized in the minds of believers.

    Which is all sort of fine as they sit around in isolation (though I still feel bad for the children and their induction into rational stupor). Where it gets really bad…is when families use these “logical” interpretations of a dodgy book to enforce austere limits on one another (especially towards children and in the more conservative areas towards wives) based more on literary rantings than proper detached reasoning. And far far worse, when they try to enforce their quirky moral madness derived from the confusing literary mess onto others. In an age where we can arrive at moral rules and concepts of judgement through rational means (always bearing in mind the subjective axioms) … the last thing we want to do is continue deriving them from badly applied reason on questionably interpretations of a confusing ranty book where eventually reason and logic has gotten mostly lost. In other words, they can use their special pleading all they want to justify the existence of some ridiculous absurdity. However that special pleading is much less acceptable (in some places no longer acceptable) to justify inflicting pointless and harmful limits on others who don’t share in someone else’s strange interpretation of an incoherent book. In a metaphysical sense yes, their special pleading is amusing. In the public and moral sphere…it is terrifying.

    #24769

    If I am walking down a street and I find myself “forced” into deciding if should I avert my course so as to walk around a ladder or to continue as I am and walk under it, I choose the latter. I would consider myself “superstition free” (like most Capricorns). I go through a mental routine of wondering why these same thoughts enter my head any time I am in a similar position. There is always a slight feeling of uncertainty with my decision in the second before I make it (psychologists have at it!) as if not walking under it is somehow a better decision. Then I scold myself for being an idiot for allowing such superstitious BS a moment’s entertainment in my brain. Of course I have just given that thought process more time by writing it down here! I seldom gave any superstition a moment’s consideration in childhood so I then try to work out why I have these thoughts as an adult. Then I decide that I walk under it to prove to myself that I am not superstitious and then, for a second, I get even more annoyed with myself before laughing at my thought process and telling myself to “forget about it”. Then I wonder why I can remember these random and very infrequent events with such clarity and again laugh at myself for not having “forgot about it” since the last time I had the same train of thought.

    I believe everyone can relate to this story and “gets” the sensation of similar events no matter the culture they are from. That we all entertain such frivolous thoughts yet remember them as if they are somehow important must hold much more significance than any individual event itself. I suspect such sensations have evolutionary roots in our “fight or flight” instincts. There are similar superstitious “memes” that are common across all cultures and I think special pleading is used to maintain them. Our brains “believe” them because they are reinforced in our minds before we think critically about them. Our subconscious is alerted to “ladder” (or Tiger) so we are forced to consider it each time.

    Religious beliefs take the form of cultural memes. Some ideas have a staying power that can be difficult to shake, even for ex-theists. Yet when we consider any religious belief we never see any evidence for its truth. They only “stick” because they have a strong emotional impact. Reason is never allowing to interfere with the special pleading that reinforces such “memes” unless an effort is made to consider why we hold them.

    Now I am off to fill in the cracks in my own footpath argument.

    #24770

    Strega
    Moderator

    The content of the bible has nothing to do with serious attempts to record events at the time they took place, and everything to do with Paul creating a religion for political purposes.  It’s nothing freaky. The Mormon religion has the same development history. Again a made up tale of magic and empty promises. I can’t trivialize the contents of holy books enough. All these religions would die out if it were not for the ‘translators of gods words’ aka priests.

    Its a shame. I have no great ideas on how we can eradicate religion. I can honestly say I have never been a believer. The day my brother told me there was no such person as Santa, I eliminated all imaginary beings from my head. I was probably around 4 or 5.  My parents were agnostic atheists so there was no fighting about church or religious rules.  We were free to believe or not believe. So we defaulted to not believing.

    I had to chuckle at Reg’s awareness of walking under ladders.  I can’t say I’ve ever noticed a ladder as an obstacle. I would just have taken the easiest route. I have opened umbrellas inside the house, put new shoes on the bed and probably many more ‘unlucky’ things. I just don’t notice or care.

    Mind you, Reg, perhaps that’s my starsign Cancer, playing a role 🙂

    #24771

    Davis
    Participant

    I would just have taken the easiest route.

    If no one is on the ladder then in general (not always) it’s ever so slightly safer to not walk under it as there is the tiniest chance it may fall down while you go under it. Another bonus with walking around the ladder is you are less close to windowsills where thing may fall down from them by accident. But then again, if someone is on the ladder and they don’t seem to be particularly stable, he or she may fall backwards and land on you so it’s hard to tell then which way to go. If there are balcony’s sticking out and the ladder seems stable…then maybe it is best to go under the ladder because if things fall off the balcony they are really unlikely to hit you if you are under the cover of those balconies.

    If you don’t mind wasting an extra two or three seconds…I generally prefer to walk well around ladders because, you know, I think it’s super unlikely the ladder would fall on you, its insanely unlikely, but it’s a whole lot more likely than walking under that ladder giving you bad luck or pissing off some ladder spirit.

    #24772

    Strega
    Moderator

    @davis but don’t forget to factor in the kerb of the road where deadly traffic could swerve and catch you unawares as you swerve to avoid the ladder

    #24773

    Yes, you could end up in another fine mess!

    #24774

    PopeBeanie
    Moderator

    Special pleading with special “secret” shared closely among glossy-eyed tribal members. Oh, and if only you would join us, you’d feel it, too!

    #24777

    David Philpot
    Participant

    In the world of religious belief, community replaces evidence.  Sam Harris once said, “”This is the true horror of religion. It allows perfectly decent and sane people to believe by the billions, what only lunatics could believe on their own.” I believe that most people try to form their world views in a rational manner in almost every endeavor, except religion.  Faith beliefs require gaps in the believer’s evidentiary chains large enough to drive a bus through, but religious people jump that gap like metephysical Evil Knievels. In order for religious indoctrination to work the believers must deny the reality of what is happening right in front of them (a negative hallucination), and then use mystification or magical thinking (a positive hallucination), in order to organize their religious experience and implant it where reality was previously. Religious communities rely on the mutual support from one another to reinforce the minimally counterintuitive beliefs that form the basis of their religion. For the average community members who are casually religious, the beliefs are not very extreme and don’t require substantial effort or committment from the believer to remain a member of the group. For the members of the the inner circle,  who often serve in the role of spiritual leaders, a “deeper” spiritual understanding is expected and a more tenuous chain of evidence in their world view is seen as a sign of greater faith and of attaining a higher spiritual understanding.  In cultures from all over the world, people who would now be diagnosed as having a schitzotypal personality disorder were given a shamanistic role in tribal life, and their visions and dreams were valued as communications from the spirit realm. These people would be considered to be low on the schitzophrenic continuum, because they could still contribute to the social/survival needs of the community without being a hinderance. In the Bible the importance of dreams and visions are seen throughout both the OT and the NT as attributes of the divine which could guide individuals and nations in ways that would please the gods. Special pleading is the lingua franca of the spirit world and it allowed people to see whatever they wanted to see in their holy books and to hear whatever they wanted to hear from their holy men, and that hasn’t changed one iota. A sufficiently vague verse or comment is considered to be both prophetic and profound for the spiritually credulous.  ” I am that I am ” has been seen as a philosophically irreplacable missive direct from the lips of Yahweh, when in the language of the era it meant ordinary, or usual, or nothing special. Without special pleading religion could not have endured as well as it has, and it has the added benefit of being the perfect trapdoor for difficult questions and God’s moral quandaries. Religion allowed cultures to have beneficial bonding experiences from their shared mythology, but it also created a safe barrier for the tribal cheif  when punishment needed to be carried out because it was the Gods who were calling for the guilty person’s  whipping or death. Special pleading is the Swiss Army knife of religious justification, it’s handy, easy to use, and can be pulled out at a moments notice when it is needed.

    #24781

    Davis
    Participant

    Damnit I did forget about the curve. You’re right. I have to add a lot more factors into my formula. I also forget about lightening strikes which are more likely to hit you if you are alone on a big sidewalk far as possible from the building as otherwise its almost certain the building would get it. And while on the subject there are also meteorites, out of control mobs, killer ants and very sharp newspaper cuts…all of which present very small but quite deadly consequences. I think from now on, before even leaving my home, work, hotel or any address….I should investigate if there are any construction work, fire ants, lightening storms, newspaper stands and people who like to throw things out windows…before I decided to get out on the street all in case I come across an inconvenient ladded. Phew. No time for the wicked!

    #24784

    _Robert_
    Participant

    I recall….step on a crack, break you mother’s back

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