Sunday, April 1, 2012

Primed beliefs

Usually Andrew Sullivan posts thought-provoking things over the weekend, many dealing with religion or the lack thereof. But this one sounds like a lot of bullshit:

[A]dults generally do believe in gods. That such belief begins in childhood and typically endures into adulthood places it in the same class as believing in the permanence of solid objects, the continuity of time, the predictability of natural laws, the fact that causes precede effects, that people have minds, that their mothers love them and numerous others. If believing in gods is being childish in the same respect as holding these sorts of beliefs, then belief in gods is in good company.

I tried to follow the link so I could read the whole thing but it only gave a preview of the whole thing. And I'm not signing up to read it all. So I'll just have to tackle this part.

Generally believing in god/s is not in the same class as those things he mentions. All of those things can be seen. There is evidence for their existence. Thus when our parents told us about them they weren't jus stating a belief. They were conveying to us the best possible explanation based on the evidence. Sure, as children we can't conceive of it in that way and accept it as true just like we do the existence of a god/s. But that fact alone doesn't put it in the same class as the others. If it did our parents would still be telling us that the world is flat and that the sun revolves around it.

Unlike faith in god/s, eventually I was able to see solid objects continue to exist. I can see time unfold the same way every day. I can try to dunk and have my body fall back down to the ground the same way every time. I can think about what I want to type, have my mind send my fingers the message and have my thoughts come out on this screen. I can see a person's brain or am aware of my own mind. And the fact that my mother let's me live here while I look for a job is strong evidence of her love.

Yet I have no more evidence that there is a god/s now that I am 28 than I did when I was 8. So unlike those other things, many people continue to believe it without seeing any more reason to think they should. And if they claim to have better reasons, it's because they were primed to believe they are seeing reasons, not because they genuinely have more compelling evidence.

I hate that I can't see the rest of the article because what Andrew posted just seems too ridiculous compared to his usual. If there's no better arguments in the whole thing I almost think he posted it just to rile up his atheist readers.

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