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On a case study of the willful closed-mindedness produced by the selective hyperskepticism of the New Atheist mindset

A couple of days back, we saw where Cornelius Hunter put up one of his dual post comments here at UD; on the recent proposal to set up a Darwin Day celebration. In glancing at the commentary at his personal blog, I came across the following highly revealing exchange involving one of the most virulent objectors against UD, from here on:

N: [cites T] “but not okay to name a day after someone who actually lived,…”

[Responds:] I hope by this statement you aren’t implying Christ never existed.

Later, we find this comeback:

T: [Cites N]  “I hope by this statement you aren’t implying Christ never existed.”

[Comments:] Can you provide any evidence that “Jesus Christ” ever existed? And no, the fairy tales in the bible aren’t evidence.

This is of course yet another example of the dismissive pattern of argument that is so familiar from today’s New Atheists and many objectors to the Design inference pattern of reasoning.

A more prominent example comes from Mr Dawkins’ recent September 2012 Playboy Magazine interview that has been remarked on previously:

DAWKINS: The evidence [Jesus] existed is surprisingly shaky. The earliest books in the New Testament to be written were the Epistles, not the Gospels. It’s almost as though Saint Paul and others who wrote the Epistles weren’t that interested in whether Jesus was real. [--> BTW, it is in one of those dismissed epistles, that we find a list of eyewitnesses to Jesus' passion and resurrection with the summary of  the church's testimony c. 35 - 38 AD, written down c. 55 AD] Even if he’s fictional, whoever wrote his lines was ahead of his time in terms of moral philosophy.
PLAYBOY: You’ve read the Bible.

DAWKINS: I haven’t read it all, but my knowledge of the Bible is a lot better than most fundamentalist Christians’. (HT: UD News)

This is a slightly more subtle form of the argument, but it is fundamentally the same.

The underlying rhetorical structure typically starts with Cliffordian Evidentialism, in the Sagan form:

Extraordinary [to me!] claims require extraordinary [Nope: ADEQUATE] evidence!

The tendency is then to slide down the slippery slope, to the brazenly confident dismissive assertion:

There is no evidence [contrary to what I wish to be so]!

Then, the demand becomes:

You have to PROVE to me that . . . !

The chain of fallacies should be fairly obvious, but it is worth the while to take the case that has so excited both T and Mr Dawkins, to bring out the underlying problem of selective hyperskepticism leading on to willfully closed minded, willfully obtuse dismissal of evidence that should be taken seriously.

Let us start with the Ancient Documents rule that was so aptly summarised by a founding father of the modern anglophone jurisprudential school of evidence, Simon Greenleaf:

Every document, apparently ancient, coming from the proper repository or custody, and bearing on its face no evident marks of forgery, the law presumes to be genuine, and devolves on the opposing party the burden of proving it to be otherwise. [Testimony of the Evangelists, 1995 reprint, p.16.]

The relevant evidence on chain of custody of the NT can be summarised, by adapting a chart from McDowell and Williams, in He Walked Among Us (1993) — free for download here :

The chain of custody on the NT

In addition, in his Is the New Testament History, Allen Barnett observed that by the time of the first three writing church fathers c. 96 – 115 AD  — Clement of Rome, and Polycarp — twenty-five of the twenty seven NT documents familiar to us were already being cited as authoritative and accurate. (Two of the shortest epistles are the exceptions.)

He also summarises:

On the basis of . . . non-Christian sources [i.e. Tacitus (Annals, on the fire in Rome, AD 64; written ~ AD 115), Rabbi Eliezer (~ 90's AD; cited J. Klausner, Jesus of Nazareth (London: Collier-Macmillan, 1929), p. 34), Pliny (Letters to Trajan from Bithynia, ~ AD 112), Josephus (Antiquities, ~ 90's)] it is possible to draw the following conclusions:

  1. Jesus Christ was executed (by crucifixion?) in Judaea during the period where Tiberius was Emperor (AD 14 – 37) and Pontius Pilate was Governor (AD 26 – 36). [Tacitus]
  2. The movement spread from Judaea to Rome. [Tacitus]
  3. Jesus claimed to be God and that he would depart and return. [Eliezer]
  4. His followers worshipped him as (a) god. [Pliny]
  5. He was called “the Christ.” [Josephus]
  6. His followers were called “Christians.” [Tacitus, Pliny]
  7. They were numerous in Bithynia and Rome [Tacitus, Pliny]
  8. It was a world-wide movement. [Eliezer]
  9. His brother was James. [Josephus]

[Is the New Testament History? (London, Hodder, 1987), pp. 30 - 31. Cf. McDowell & Wilson, He Walked Among Us (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1993) for more details; free for download here.]

Where, of course, we have long had in hand the Rylands fragment that appears in the above, which dates to c. 125 AD.

Similarly, Luke, author of the Luke-Acts two-volume history from c 6 – 7 BC to c 62 AD that is the backbone of NT historical studies, has long been known to be habitually accurate even in fine details that are only tangential to his purposes. For just one instance, his account of the voyage to Rome in Ac 27 that ended in shipwreck driven by folly, has long been a highly valuable source.

So, why should there be such a determined resistance to the obvious conclusion that there was a C1 figure in Palestinian Judaism, who claimed to be the messiah as prophesied in the well kn own Hebraic scriptures, and who ended up in a fatal confrontation with the Judaean and Roman elites?

Because, of course, he was widely seen as performing miracles, especially having risen from death with 500+ witnesses, starting with a circle of women followers. (By the criterion of embarrassment, that is a telling detail, as the audience in C1 would have been much inclined to be dismissive at that point. This is a hallmark of seeking to say it as it was.)

Miracles, of course, are deeply suspect in skeptical circles, hence the dismissive remark on “fairy tales.”

The only problems here are, that there is such an abundant testimony down to today that miracles happen that, for instance, the majority of physicians accept this as reality.  Similarly, contrary to the brush-offs of a Lewontin, by their very nature, miracles would be rare so it is entirely consistent that believers in a world created by the God of order who holds all things together by his power who occasionally — for good purposes of his own — acts beyond the usual course of nature, would also be pivotal founders of modern science; which studies the usual order of nature. Men like Boyle, Newton and the like down to men like Faraday, Maxwell, Kelvin and on down to today.

Hume was indulging in some question-begging, and there is to this day no good reason to — per a reasonable and open minded assessment of evidence — regard miracles as incredible. Especially once God is a real possibility.

So, what is really going on here, is that we are seeing people walking in a materialist hyperskeptical circle, from there is no God to there can be no evidence for God, and so any claimed evidence can be dismissed.

If the reader is interested, s/he may want to have a look here on in context, and may wish to look at the video here:

embedded by Embedded Video

vimeo Direkt

But, such is not the main thrust for this post.

Our real concern — the one relevant to design thinking and why it is viewed so dismissively — is the underlying worldview attitude of selective hyperskepticism, the attitude that I have summarised thusly:

that fallacy which seeks to reject or dismiss otherwise credible evidence by demanding an inappropriately high type or degree of warrant not applicable to matters of fact, i.e. the general type of question being discussed. Especially, where the same standard is not exerted in assessing substantially parallel cases that make claims that one is inclined to accept.

What we are seeing is a case of history, where we can look at records and remains of records that can be dated and put together on a reasonable timeline that explains the birth of one of the major movements that helped shape our civilisation. We can see a body of historical evidence that has led the absolute majority to all but a few of relevant scholars across the past generation to accept the following pattern of historical conclusions regarding matters of fact, after centuries of the most stringent dispute and challenge:

1. Jesus died by crucifixion [--> which implies his historicity!].

2. He was buried.

3. His death caused the disciples to despair and lose hope.

4. The tomb was empty (the most contested).

5. The disciples had experiences which they believed were literal appearances of the risen Jesus (the most important proof).

6. The disciples were transformed from doubters to bold proclaimers.

7. The resurrection was the central message.

8. They preached the message of Jesus’ resurrection in Jerusalem.

9. The Church was born and grew.

10. Orthodox Jews who believed in Christ made Sunday their primary day of worship.

11. James was converted to the faith when he saw the resurrected Jesus (James was a family skeptic).

12. Paul was converted to the faith (Paul was an outsider skeptic).

[Cf. Habermas' paper here and a broader more popular discussion here. NT Wright's papers here and here give a rich and deep background analysis. Here is a video of a pastoral presentation of a subset of the facts. Habermas presents the case as videos here and here, in two parts. Here is a video of a debate he had with Antony Flew.]

And, in the teeth of such a body of evidence and sifted conclusions based on the following principles and criteria:

. . . which are relevant to textual criticism:

  1. Multiple sources – If two or more sources attest to the same fact, it is more likely authentic
  2. Enemy attestation – If the writers enemies corroborate a given fact, it is more likely authentic
  3. Principle of embarrassment – If the text embarrasses the writer, it is more likely authentic
  4. Eyewitness testimony – First hand accounts are to be prefered
    Early testimony – an early account is more likely accurate than a later one

. . . what do we see?

DAWKINS: The evidence [Jesus] existed is surprisingly shaky . . .

T: Can you provide any evidence that “Jesus Christ” ever existed? And no, the fairy tales in the bible aren’t evidence.

 This is not a reasonable mindset, one open to evidence or logic that points where it would not go, not even to the strong voice of the consensus of relevant scholarship on a matter of record that is easily accessible.

It would be one thing, if we were dealing with people who accepted that Jesus lived and was a religious figure in C1 Palestine and had fatal disputes with the Judaean and Roman authorities, but had doubts on the traditional explanation for his empty tomb as discovered shortly thereafter. It would be another thing if we were dealing with people who came to grips with the sort of comparative explanations of the minimal facts summarised above, that we may tabulate (and reflect on) as follows and debate in light of the inference to best explanation approach:

“Theory”
Match to four major credible facts regarding Jesus of Nazareth & his Passion
Overall score/20
Died by crucifixion
(under Pontius Pilate) at
Jerusalem
c 30 AD
Was buried, tomb was found empty
Appeared to multiple disciples,
many of whom proclaimed
& suffered for their
faith
Appeared to key
objectors who then became church leaders: James & Paul
Bodily Resurrection
5
5
5
5
20
Visions/
hallucinations
5
2
2
1
10
Swoon/recovery
1
3
2
2
8
Wrong tomb
5
1
1
1
8
Stolen body/fraud
5
2
1
1
9
Quran 4:155 -6: “They did not slay him, neither crucified him.” 1 1 1 1 4
 ”Jesus never existed” 1 1 1 1 4
 ”Christianity as we know it was cooked up by Constantine and  others at Nicea, who censored/ distorted the original record” 1 1 1 1 4
“What we have today is ‘Paulianity,’ not the original teachings of Jesus and his disciples” 2 1 1 2 6
Christianity — including the resurrection –  is a gradually emerging legend based on a real figure
5
1
1
1
8
Complete legend/pagan copycat (Greek, Persian, Egyptian, etc)
1
1
1
1
4

(I have given my scores above, based on reasoning that should be fairly obvious. As an exercise you may want to come up with your own scores on a 5 – 1 scale: 5 = v. good/ 4 = good/ 3 = fair/ 2 = poor/ 1 = v. poor, with explanations. Try out blends of the common skeptical theories to see how they would fare.)

But no, we are dealing with a sweep it off the table dismissal driven by patently selective hyperskepticism.

In the teeth of direct record, chain of custody and serious historical scholarship.

That is the first thing that we have to make sure we understand.

That brings to my mind the issue posed by the intellectual virtues approach to epistemology, summarised by W. Jay Wood:

Intellectual virtues . . . include character traits such as wisdom, prudence, foresight, understanding, discernment, truthfulness and studiousness, among others. Here too are to be found their opposite vices: folly, obtuseness, gullibility, dishonesty, willful naiveté and vicious curiosity, to name a few. Certain excellences and deficiencies, then, shape our intellectual as well as our moral lives. An epistemology that takes the virtues seriously claims that our ability to lay hold of the truth about important matters turns on more than our IQ or the caliber of school we attend; it also depends on whether we have fostered within ourselves virtuous habits of mind. Our careers as cognitive agents, as persons concerned to lay hold of the truth and pursue other important intellectual goals, will in large measure succeed or fail as we cultivate our intellectual virtues . . . . Careful oversight of our intellectual lives is imperative if we are to think well, and thinking well is an indispensable ingredient in living well . . . only by superintending our cognitive life (the way, for example, we form, defend, maintain, revise, abandon and act on our beliefs about important matters) can we become excellent as thinkers and, ultimately, excellent as persons.

If we fail to oversee our intellectual life and cultivate virtue, the likely consequences will be a maimed and stunted mind that thwarts our prospects for living a flourishing life. [Epistemology: Becoming Intellectually Virtuous, (Leicester, UK: Apollos/IVP, 1998), pp. 16 – 17.]

My first conclusion, then, is that until this underlying selective hyperskepticism is confronted and broken, we cannot expect reasonable discussion with objectors like that.

No wonder, then, that when these objectors see the logic of the design inference:

The per aspect explanatory filter that shows how design may be inferred on empirically tested, reliable sign

. . . or face the simplified, log reduced Chi metric expression that is parallel to it:

Chi_500 = I*S – 500, bits beyond the solar system threshold

. . . their reaction, too often, is dismissal and evasion, not serious and sober discussion of a serious issue on inference on inductively warranted signs.

Second conclusion: as was underscored to me yesterday when thanks to a returning old commenter, I saw what I first said six years ago, and saw how much of a deadlock has happened because of the type of intransigence seen above, it is high time for a fresh beginning.

Namely, that we need a dialogue with a coalition of the willing, on different sides of the key issues, who are willing to discuss reasonable, in an amicable fashion, under the guidance of first principles of right reason and reasonableness, towards learning the truth.

Is it too much to hope for the possibility of such a dialogue? END

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23 Responses to On a case study of the willful closed-mindedness produced by the selective hyperskepticism of the New Atheist mindset

  1. Thanks for the post. It is helpful for reasonable people, but I think we can discuss/argue until we’re blue in the face with these guys and it won’t make a bit of difference.

    The strongest evidence for creation and for Jesus Himself is the Bible itself. God’s Word is our best evidence, but it is nice to be reminded of the corroborating evidence as well.

    All we can do is present the evidence. It is up to others whether to accept it or reject it. Their irrational refusal to even accept the evidence shows clearly that they do not want to believe.

    For most people, I think it is not so much a problem of not being able to believe as it is not wanting to believe.

  2. As I told that loser it is a pretty amazing accomplishment to have a fictional character change the world and have time be named in honor of his non-existence.

  3. Please note that Dawkins continued to repeat that lie even though he had been corrected on this very point by John Lennox

    Dawkins Owned By Lennox: Admits Jesus Existed (O8:37 mark) – video
    http://youtu.be/lbLRE_SIMMU

    In the following video, even the very liberal Bible scholar/critic Bart Ehrman tells an atheist that ‘no serious Bible historian doubts that Jesus existed’:

    Bart Ehrman – Jesus Existed – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?N.....UQMJR2BP1w

    “And you realize that 99.9% of scholars across the world will acknowledge that Jesus is an historical person. They may not say that Jesus is the Son of God, but they will say there was an historical figure named Jesus of Nazareth. But Tom [Harpur] has very grave doubts about this, so he claims. Now that floored me right there. Because, we have copious evidence for Jesus’ existence. If you don’t like the gospels, go to the Roman historian, Tacitus, who talks about the great fire of Rome and how Nero got blamed for it. To save himself, he blames the Christians. This Roman historian says that they are named for a Christus, who was crucified by one of our governors, Pontius Pilate. What more do you need? That quote alone would establish the historicity of Jesus. Suetonius mentions Christ in connection with the riot of those for or against Jesus across the Tiber. Pliny, the younger, Governor of Asia Minor, says that these Christians get up on Sunday morning and sing hymns to Christ as to a God. The Jewish rabbinic traditions mention Jesus of Nazareth in their own language. Whatmore do we need of witnesses? Josephus mentions Jesus twice.
    I want to point out that Christian faith is based upon fact and not on fiction. The problem nowadays is that so many people are trying to turn fact into fiction.” Dr. Paul Maier (recently retired Professor of Ancient History at Western Michigan University) quoted from the 100 Huntley Street telecast on March 30/04

  4. Folks,

    this is a clear the air thread.

    We have a case of multiple eyewitness lifetime biographies plus glancing references elsewhere from multiple directions, multiplied by the sheer raw impact of a certain historically pivotal movement stemming from the life of a certain figure. Not to mention, a unique character and a style of teachings — that degree of resort to parables is highly unusual — that is unique. (To gauge just how hard it is to teach like that, notice that not one of the apostles uses that style, with such a dominant use of the parable. For me the closest I can come is the instructive case study.)

    And yet, we see the sort of brush-asides above.

    That tells us we are at a pons asinorum.

    If objectors are willing to dismiss — not, Christian theology about Jesus — the simple historicity of the man from Nazareth, then it seems that we have a case of the willfully obtuse closed mind driven by selective hyperskepticism.

    Until that attitude is admitted and surrendered, no reasoning is possible.

    And this brings home the force of the point WJM was making in his recent post on the rational basis for atheism.

    But also, on looking back with Jerry’s help yesterday, I saw my very first post here at UD when I decided to unlurk.

    Six years ago.

    And, six years later, I see that too many are unwilling to even fairly examine the logic of the design inference filter, and are utterly dismissive of a quantitative expression that does not exploit probability calculations, but the far more robust results of sampling theory. Remember, the threshold is in effect where we are using the solar system’s resources across time to date and with all of that, we can only credibly take a sample that stands as one straw to a cubical haystack 1,000 LY on the side.

    And, still, that is not enough.

    I have to conclude that, once the attitude is in place, NOTHING will ever be enough. Fallacy of the closed mind. Full stop.

    That is why there is an insistence on changing the subject through red herrings led out to strawmen caricatures soaked in ad hominems and then poisoning the atmosphere by setting alight with snidely, subtly or outrageously incendiary rhetoric.

    When I could not find a good online definition of the fallacy taught to me decades ago by a prof of rhetoric — God bless you Dr MT! — I gave this definition in want of a good alternative:

    This fallacy manifests itself in a habitual pattern of thought, feelings and argument that is:

    (a) question-beggingly committed to and/or

    (b) indoctrinated into thinking in the circle of a particular view or position and/or

    (c) blindly adherent to “the consensus” or vision and school of thought or paradigm of a particular set of authorities. [NB*: This last includes today's new Magisterium: "Science."]

    As a result,

    (d) the victim of closed-mindedness becomes unwarrantedly (i.e. fallaciously and often abusively) resistant to new or alternative ideas, information or correction . . . .

    That is, it is not a matter of mere disagreement that is at stake here, but of

    (e) stubborn and objectively unjustified refusal to be corrected or to entertain or fairly discuss on the merits ideas or points of view outside of a favoured circle of thought.

    In extreme cases,

    (f) the closed minded person who has access to power or influence may engage in the willfully deceptive (and even demonic) practice of actively suppressing the inconvenient truth that s/he knows or should know.

    By contrast the reasonable, critically aware open mind is like this:

    a properly educated person is open-minded but critically aware: s/he is aware of the possibility and prevalence of error, and so (i) habitually investigates and then (ii) accurately, objectively and fairly describes major alternative views, fact claims and lines of argument on a topic, (iii) comparing them on congruence to his/her real-world experience and that of others s/he knows and respects, general factual correctness, logical coherence and degree of explanatory power; thus (iv) holds a personal view that results from such a process of comparative difficulties, while (v) recognising and respecting that on major matters of debate or controversy, different people will hold different views.

    So, let us think and let us start afresh from first steps of right reason and first principles of right reason. (Cf my thoughts here, including the four first principles of right reason I highlight.)

    KF

  5. The first written accounts of Alexander the Great were penned centuries after his death. No accounts by his contemporaries, or anyone who even knew his contemporaries, survive.

    See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A.....oriography

    So, according to Dawkins, Alexander never existed, and we can say the same for hundreds (actually most) of other ancient historical figures.

    Dawkins is a nincompoop.

  6. Dawkins is a nincompoop.

    At first I was going to disagree, because I think he’s foolish but not stupid. But then I looked up the meaning of stupid. Yes, he’s a nincompoop.

    It’s almost as though Saint Paul and others who wrote the Epistles weren’t that interested in whether Jesus was real.

    That’s just blazingly ignorant. Paul’s entire theology revolves around the resurrection of this allegedly fictional person.

  7. 7
    Kantian Naturalist

    James McGrath, who might be more liberal than suits the taste of most folks here, has a nice critique of what he calls “Mythicism” (the belief that Jesus of Nazareth never existed). Here’s an example — quite relevant to the epistemological question of when skepticism is reasonable: A Challenge to Mythicists.

  8. Interesting to go through such a detailed overview of the early connections in order to establish an argument for eyewitness testimony but not mention Richard Bauckham’s book “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses.”

    Though I’m biased, I was amazed how well he built the case for Mark’s gospel being based on Peter’s eyewitness testimony with a thorough analysis of early sources that touch on the topic.

    Also, I guess Dawkins stopped before he got to 1Co 15 if he thought it wasn’t important for Paul that Jesus really existed.

  9. SH:

    You have a point, though maybe the tone is a bit sharpish.

    I do not think that Mr Dawkins is stupid in general, but that he is indoctrinated in a system that is selectively hyperskeptical and leads him to be dismissive where he should not.

    For that, the comparison with Alexander is a bit overdone — we have a conqueror here — but the general point is valid. If there were not a sense of threat about what Jesus stood for, there would be no reason to handle the evidence as roughly as it is so often handled by hyperskeptical objectors.

    Remember, the bar here is really low: there was a C1 Palestinian Jewish figure of some note named Jesus of Nazareth in Galilee, not that we should accept the Nicene Creed or NT theological claims for him, just, bare bones, there was a man. If you are willing to handle evidence of eyewitness lifetime record like that, then we have no reason to take you as a serious thinker on matters that will be more subtle than that. Which was the point of my post.

    M:

    Yup, Paul’s whole view pivots on the resurrection and he supplies the EARLIEST documentary record at a consensus date, 55 AD. Where the underlying events carry us back to 35 – 38 AD ad the context of controversy and appealing to the in-common and go ask the eyewitnesses implies high confidence.

    KN:

    I looked.

    The exchange that is in the comments makes my point all over again.

    Something is deeply wrong here, when one is inclined to treat historical record with that sort of chain of custody like that.

    That then points to an underlying major epistemological problem rooted in a hostile attitude that will have to be addressed as something deeply unhealthy.

    We need to think seriously about what is happening here with a significant sub-culture in our civilisation.
    _______________

    Okay, I’m late, terribly, awfully late . . . ouch!

    Gotta go, later.

    KF

  10. KF: Good points, but I don’t think the comparison with Alexander is overdone at all. The empire he created (if you believe he existed!) lasted barely longer than his short life, and his life was not chronicled until 400 or so years later. Less than 300 years after Christ’s death the official religion of the Roman Empire was Christianity.

  11. I am starting a new religion called Alexanderism. Any joiners?

    You must learn to ride an elephant. Wait. Was that Hannibal?

    Hannibalism anyone?

  12. JC: A good point. There is indeed good reason to see Mk as being in the main based on Peter’s testimony, and there is even an argument out there that suggests a date of c 37 AD for the passion narrative. But in fact, I just wanted to give the broad picture and the minimal facts consensus; this is not so much an attempt to defend the historicity of Jesus in details and in general alike as something dubious and in need of shoring up, as it is an outline in the context of why is it that evidence and consensus after decades of intense debate is being treated so cavalierly. I suggest, with all due respect, people who are so polarised and indoctrinated in the face of what in the end is a no brainer are not in any position to be credible in responding to other matters linked to reconstructing the past on traces in the present. KF

  13. SH: I hear you. There will be a fair bit of archaeological evidence on Alexander, including cities named for him, and the subsequent history of battling states, even coins etc. It’s not just the writings. Though it is significant to note that writings from 400 years later have been good enough for history. But, so pernicious is the hyperskepticism we are dealing with, that eyewitness-lifetime testimony, chain of custody, archaeological corroboration of the quality of the narrative and the associated birth and growth of a pivotal movement and more, much more, are dismissed as no evidence and “fairy tales.” That is the problem we are addressing. KF

  14. Mung, I think both were influenced so that elephants were used in warfare, but that is just a vague and perhaps incorrect memory on the Seleucid Greek side. Wiki confirms, highlights Alex creating an Elephant Corps, and shows Pyrrhus — yup that one — using in Italy. Not just Hannibal. KF

  15. A half-empty cup of yoghurt has more Bible knowledge than Dawkins. This is because a half-empty cup has zero knowledge, and Dawkins’ ideas about the Bible are contrary to fact; hence his knowledge level is below zero.

  16. Mung @11:

    Hannibalism anyone?

    You owe me a new keyboard. On a first quick glance on the screen it looked like you had misspelled ‘Cannibalism’ with a ‘K’!

    Then I realized it was an ‘H’ . . . :)

  17. hehe. :)

  18. ANY SUGGESTIONS ON HOW SUCH INDOCTRINATION AND POLARISATION LEADING TO EVIDENT CLOSED MINDEDNESS CAN BE CORRECTED EFFECTIVELY?

  19. F/N: It seems that there is further confirmation of the pattern of willfully obtuse selective hyperskepticism and polarisation leading to blatantly irrational closed-mindedness and personal abuse, onwards:

    There’s no evidence that verifies the existence of the fictional character jesus christ, and the bible is a butchered together mess of badly written/translated/edited fairy tales. For record.

    Notice, the lack of actually addressing evidence or the actual weight of scholarship, not on Christian theology about Jesus of Nazareth, but the mere existence of an individual as attested by friend and foe alike in eyewitness-lifetime record.

    Nope, dismissive talking points, repeated drumbeat style as though mere repetition and patently rage driven emotional intensity can create facts out of rhetoric, are good enough for this ilk.

    This is a context in which we can see that the root problem is not evidence, facts or reasoning. It is indoctrination and hostile closed mindedness. (No wonder this character then resorts to the sort of — repeated — false accusations that we now know to expect of such. In their minds, false accusations repeated will damage character, so they resort to such. That speaks volumes about the empty nihilism and ruthless factionism associated with evolutionary materialism, as warned against 2350 years ago by Plato in The Laws Bk X. Those are the matches our civilisation is playing with, folks.)

    Let me point out the issue of the fallacy of the closed mind that is so evidently a key intellectual ailment at work on the part of such New Atheists, again:

    This fallacy manifests itself in a habitual pattern of thought, feelings and argument that is:

    (a) question-beggingly committed to and/or

    (b) indoctrinated into thinking in the circle of a particular view or position and/or

    (c) blindly adherent to “the consensus” or vision and school of thought or paradigm of a particular set of authorities. [NB*: This last includes today's new Magisterium: "Science."]

    As a result,

    (d) the victim of closed-mindedness becomes unwarrantedly (i.e. fallaciously and often abusively) resistant to new or alternative ideas, information or correction . . . .

    That is, it is not a matter of mere disagreement that is at stake here, but of

    (e) stubborn and objectively unjustified refusal to be corrected or to entertain or fairly discuss on the merits ideas or points of view outside of a favoured circle of thought.

    In extreme cases,

    (f) the closed minded person who has access to power or influence may engage in the willfully deceptive (and even demonic) practice of actively suppressing the inconvenient truth that s/he knows or should know.

    By way of corrective contrast:

    a properly educated person is open-minded but critically aware: s/he is aware of the possibility and prevalence of error, and so (i) habitually investigates and then (ii) accurately, objectively and fairly describes major alternative views, fact claims and lines of argument on a topic, (iii) comparing them on congruence to his/her real-world experience and that of others s/he knows and respects, general factual correctness, logical coherence and degree of explanatory power; thus (iv) holds a personal view that results from such a process of comparative difficulties, while (v) recognising and respecting that on major matters of debate or controversy, different people will hold different views.

    It is utterly plain to me that if someone cannot even bring themselves to capitalise proper names/titles such as “Jesus Christ” or “The Holy Bible,” we are not dealing with a reasonable mindset but a deep-set hostility unwilling to evaluate evidence on its merits.

    Until and unless such reach rock bottom and realise that something is deeply wrong and cannot any more be projected as blame on others — it is patent from the hate site this character has resorted to creating and running that UD has been selected as a stereotypical scapegoat for blame projection (There is also a bit of turnabout false accusation associated with the snippet, as well as attempted outing . . . basic broughtupcy is a problem here, too) — but has to be faced, there is little hope of change.

    What the rest of us should do is to recognise the symptoms for what they indicate, and then accept that we ought not to empower such behaviour and the movements of hostility that promote or harbour it.

    Then, we must stand for the basic principles and practices of reasonableness and common decency.

    In that context, those who tolerate this sort of behaviour on “their” objector side, need to know that this is not free speech, this is enabling of abuse and slander multiplied by utter irrationality in the face of unwelcome evidence. Police yourselves, or others will in the end have to police you in defence of the civil peace.

    KF

  20. KF:

    It is utterly plain to me that if someone cannot even bring themselves to capitalise proper names/titles . . .

    Careful, you sounded like Gregory there for a minute . . . :)

  21. EA:

    That’s a point, but when we see the sort of pettiness that refuses to capitalise a proper name (there is direct evidence . . . ), that is telling.

    We are not dealing with reason here, but indoctrination and polarising rhetoric feeding rage-filled contempt that has become artificially, willfully obtuse.

    To the point of failing a pons asinorum — two actually, I count WJM’s thread on a simple argument as another.

    Remember, these are folks who are apparently finding it impossible to admit that there is a fairly obvious difference between a battleship and a pile of ore-filled rocks.

    Now, we see people who, looking eyewitness-lifetime record in the face, from friend and foe, record backed up by archaeological evidence and the existence of whole movements, cannot bring themselves to accept that there was a certain C1 Palestinian Jew from Nazareth. Not even the astonishing fact of a highly unique teaching style — heavy reliance on parables in a highly characteristic style — that is as close to a literary signature as one gets, is helping them to get two neurons to rub against one another and fly a few aha moment sparks. The jump in moral insight (admitted by the leading member of this atheist sect) does not seem to suggest to such that history tells us strongly that such breakthroughs point to original genius.

    For all the proud boasting of being bright — enlightened and enlightening, quick witted and reasonable etc etc — the evidence piling up before us is speaking loud and clear.

    Indoctrination, leading to selective hyperskepticism, and to the sort of chase the tail question-begging, and ending in a very familiar pattern of closed mindedness.

    The kind that when I saw it with other sects [cf here, also here], I found a need for de-programming, starting with breaking the program by reducing it to patent absurdity and denial of blatant facts in front of the eyes. (Which usually met with denial first then rage then gradually breakdown, especially if life was hitting rock-bottom. Maybe we should be recommending this sort of process. Yes, prodigal in the pig pen coming to senses stuff.)

    Yes, THAT is the parallel that is now coming to mind.

    KF

  22. jimf @8

    That’s a great book.

    thanks

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