Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain

Intellectual Dishonesty or Just Plain Lazy?

18 Comments

Once again I’ve been inspired by a post at Like A Child’s blog. She and I seem to have quite a bit in common in our respective quests.  But then again I think all of us who travel this journey have these things in common.

An excerpt from her blog:

Questions such as these has enveloped Christianity in a mist of confusion for me.  The central theme of Christianity — the resurrection — has lost its essence, and I cannot genuinely call myself an orthodox Christian. Now, when I read this excerpt from the Biologos site, I feel like another bombshell has been dropped upon me:

“Now let’s turn to category (2), the case of a person who has been exposed to Christianity but doesn’t believe it because they claim not to have enough evidence. I think there are several different possible things that might be going on here:

First of all, just because they claim to be seeking the truth doesn’t mean they really are:

(A) They might actually have enough evidence to believe in God, but dishonestly refuse to admit it to themselves, because they don’t want it to be true. In this case, they are not actually sincere, and have rejected God not because of inadequacy of the evidence, but because of stubborn rebellion. In this case, there is no reason to think that they would accept God even if they did have more evidence. So it is not God’s fault that they do not believe. It should be pointed out that many of the people who saw Christ multiply the loaves, heal people, raise the dead etc. nevertheless refused to believe. It is naive to think that if everyone saw miracles, everyone would believe. Rather the people who don’t want to believe become more firm in their rejection of God.

(B) Or, although they don’t have enough evidence to believe, they choose not to investigate to see whether it is true or not. In this case, it is their own fault that they don’t have enough evidence. If people claim to base their decisions on evidence and reason, it is hypocritical if they reject Christianity without carefully considering whether there is sufficient evidence for Christ’s Resurrection and other miracles to show that Christianity is true. In particular, it is utterly irrational to insist on seeing a miracle personally in order to believe if there is lots of evidence that other people have seen miracles. People don’t refuse to believe in scientific results unless they personally witness the experiments, so long as multiple reliable people say they have done the experiments, that is enough. Why should religion be different?

I never assume that anybody is intellectually dishonest until I have some specific reason to think they are dishonest. But I’ve talked to enough atheists to know that most of them do fall into categories (A) or (B), at least to some extent. However, I’m sure that there do exist cases in which atheists are sincere. In this case…”

Wow, so easily cast into two groups. A or B.  Either I’m not sincere, or I’m seriously misguided. There’s enough evidence, I just don’t want to see it for my own reasons, or I haven’t looked hard enough for it.

Having travelled in the same evangelical circles and knowing what has been said time and time again I tend to avoid evangelical blogs.  I feel like a big enough failure without them telling me so.  How much searching is enough?  How much study is enough?  According to them, unless you come to the same conclusions they have, there is never enough.  If you don’t come to the absolute conclusion that there is a God, that He has a son named Jesus, and that He, too, is God you haven’t done it right. It’s exhausting.

I think it’s exhausting for evangelicals, too.  The only difference is, maybe, just maybe they’ve come to the conclusions that Christianity is the end all, be all because they haven’t studied enough or searched enough.  Maybe they’re in denial of what’s staring them in the face.  Maybe they are afraid of the consequences if they happen to be wrong.  Because you know there’s Hell to pay if they are.

Maybe they are being intellectually dishonest with themselves in rejecting evidence because it doesn’t fit with their beliefs.  Out of hand they dismiss anything that is remotely different from their sacredly held beliefs.  They have one book that isn’t really even one book, but a menagerie of books all smashed together and forced to fit.  One book.  Maybe they are being lazy because all sorts of evidence confronts them to the contrary of that one book, but they don’t take the time to investigate it.

I can honestly say that the reason I was so certain of my beliefs when I was an evangelical, inerrant Word of God, Bible believing, conservative, washed in the blood, died in the wool believer is because I hadn’t studied enough.  I never had studied anything but the scriptures because I believed what I had been told.  They were sacred and I didn’t need anything else.  When I finally did take a look outside of that tiny world I realized that it wasn’t all literally true, and that, in fact, it’s historicity is highly questionable.

The only thing I’m certain of with regards to Christianity is that I’m uncertain.  And because I’m uncertain I’m labelled as lazy or misguided or insincere.  I’m with LAC, reading this kind of thing is unhelpful.  Being told this kind of thing is beyond unhelpful.  It is arrogant and pompous and prideful to think you have all the answers.  I thought that was one of the seven deadly sins, looking at others with haughty eyes.

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18 thoughts on “Intellectual Dishonesty or Just Plain Lazy?

  1. I think that when you are born and raised Christian, and perhaps even more so with your evangelical background, the core of the myth gets so deeply implanted into your mind that there will be a residual longing for it well after skepticism dissolves the professed faith. I know there is a part of me that still wants a loving God, that still wants His Kingdom to come to make it into the fantasy land where everyone treats everyone with fairness, respect, and love. Coming from a standpoint of faith, going to faithlessness, seems like snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. And it was you, and it was me, who brought about that defeat. It’s no marvel that we feel guilt from time to time.

    I have a feeling that you’ve read far more than I have as far as faith-supporting books. As you look at them now, I’m sure you see them for what they are; records of confirmation bias. The Christians, bless their hearts, soak up this material and thereby ossify their faith. And they think, oh, if only you would read this, then you would understand. They think its incontrovertible proof-positive stuff. Unfortunately, they’ve just allowed others to do the heavy lifting for themselves, and, given the agreeable content, take it for truth. They read it, mentally saying “yes,” “uhuh,” “that’s a great point!” We read those same books saying “but that’s not right according to these verses,” “but that doesn’t explain X, Y, and Z,” and “I’m sure you’d like that to be true, but here is evidence to the contrary.”

    It will get easier for you. I have faith in that!

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    • “The Christians, bless their hearts, soak up this material and thereby ossify their faith. And they think, oh, if only you would read this, then you would understand. They think its incontrovertible proof-positive stuff. Unfortunately, they’ve just allowed others to do the heavy lifting for themselves, and, given the agreeable content, take it for truth. They read it, mentally saying “yes,” “uhuh,” “that’s a great point!”

      This…exactly this. And I can say that because I was that Christian. When I seriously started exploring it only raised more questions than answers.

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  2. Greetings————— (was looking for your name but couldn’t find it)

    My name is tony. I’m impressed by the novelty of your blog’s vision statement. Maybe it’s the clarity of the way you’ve stated it. Usually you find Atheists, Believers, midstreamers; But you are a sort of self-reconsructionist. I do applaud you. I think I somewhat understand your position fairly well because I have made it a point to do that very thing myself. Just so you know I’m not putting you on you can check the history of my posts and verify my statements to that fact. I am enjoying enormous satisfaction in undertaking that process and feel I’m at the very threshold of realizing my grandest vision.

    I’ve come to just be absolutely gobsmacked by the sheer staggering volume of information that believers have become absolutely tone-deafened toward, almost blinded in the light. I’ve made no secret of stating that I’ve had to undress myself of just everything that I’ve been taught by man. Some of these are very respected men of the faith but if you think of it even the poster-boy of our reformation heritage Martin Luther himself although he made considerable contribution; he was not without his blind spots. Hitler used much of his anti-Semitic sentiments to fuel his persecution of Jews. I could go on for hours on these things, and never quite comprehend the scope of our baffling failings.

    At the end of the day I have failed myself, and God’s mandate for me if I cannot produce the Lazarus of my generation for their faith to stand in the power of God. Faith comes by the word of God, but it ultimately must stand in the power of God, for his kingdom is not in word but in resurrection power. Answer the simple question: after you die, are you going to still be human: NO. We’ll be raised up as something different. God has said it to us in so many different ways you could make an alphabet soup of it: WE DON’T HAVE TO DIE TO ATTAIN WHAT WE WILL BE. THAT’S WHAT TRANSFORMATION IS ALL ABOUT (JESUS DIED ALREADY TO GET US BEYOND THAT POINT BY THE FAITH THAT PRODUCES HIM IN US). What we’ve been experiencing for the last 2000 years is shuffling around the same old furniture.

    Jesus told us point blank: if you believe in me, that faith should be bourn out by you doing the same works that I do; because it is no more you that lives but me who is living in you…..WE ARE A CONTINUATION OF HIS MIRACLE-WORKING LIFE TO THE EXTENT THAT WE BELIEVE IN HIM. He also said if you believe in God, believe also in him (Jesus) who is the one doing the works in us. I can’t understand how for 2000 years we have failed that and no one seems to question it more vigorously. As for my part, I have to give an answer for myself, so I cannot rely on other people’s excuse to get me by.

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    • D’Ma…the name’s D’Ma. Thanks for stopping by.

      Where is this proof that we’ll be raised up as something different? In the Bible? That’s the very text I question.

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      • Hello D’Ma,

        The word of God provides for us a mirror wherein we may at such time as need, go and have a look at ourselves. A mirror will reflect simply what is presented before it. Unfortunate or not that prospect runs the entire range of humanity, from best of friends to chief of adversaries himself. God is prepared to acknowledge us on whatever terms we present ourselves to him, and he holds out to us even greater things than we are want to permit for ourselves; that gives us a wide latitude of liberty. God won’t ever be surprised at our enmity if that’s what we bring, for he died to reconcile us from that. If we doubt him, he allows that also, for we were not born his familiars, but strangers and that’s allowed among strangers till otherwise is made clear. I think God understands us a lot more than we allow for ourselves or for others. It isn’t out of the question to maybe find yourself in a combative discourse with him, where we are perhaps peppering him with our grief at his perceived inconsideration or inconsistencies when suddenly we stop in our tracks; play the tape back; and find ourselves having to ask him: wait, did you just refer to me as your majesty? And he’ll say, yes why of course I did. Naturally you’ll want clarification on this irreconcilable anachronism of status accorded you by of all persons, the King of Kings no less. In answer to that he’d reply; If I am King of Kings it is because you’d be one of those kings (“king” not designating a gender but a spirit…in Christ there’s neither male or female but one spirit).

        The childlike faith that we admire, is characterized by the generous volume in their capacity to believe. According to George Eliot, we are born, and start out knowing little or nothing yet believing a great deal; end of day we wind up often inverting the quantities: knowing a great deal yet believing nothing. A child’s nature is marked by irrepressible curiosity accompanied by a remarkably low tolerance for proof of such information presented them. A child is never going about insisting that you prove this or prove that; they simply won’t let you off the hook about when you are going to do this thing, or when they are going to get them that promised thing, or some other specifics about the proposition which in their minds is a virtual certainty in all but the performance of it; and they expect it because they trust the one who said it. Trust and faith has everything to do with the one who requires it of us; they either inspire it, or inspire something to the contrary.

        Go to any amusement park and you’ll find the roller coaster sought out among the top three entertainment venue. It provides for us contained risk scenario environment where we are exposed to the sensation of falling perilously to our doom yet we know the danger is contained and in the end we walk away with a somewhat elevated pulse. With God you are asked to take risks in believing what he says and dare to act on it. All of this is played out in a venue called “the valley of the shadow of death”. All the instruments of death are presented to your peril in this venue along with the assurance that none of them can prosper against you (no weapon fashioned against you can prosper). Many are the afflictions of they who believe, but the Lord delivers them from all. Then comes the obvious childlike question: you love me, why would you fashion a weapon against me? Consider if you will; gold as it is found is not only gold but contain other contaminants or impurities until it passes through the fire that separates them. The question that clarifies things for us here is: the fire prepared for the gold, was it meant to destroy the gold or reveal the true nature of the gold? God would have us know that the threats directed against are only shadows of death and cannot prosper against you, except where they reveal your true nature to be found as God is. God wants you to have the faith of God and be as he is in everything, for to you is given everything to make everything possible with you. All our troubles are come upon us to reveal all those things of God that he has hidden in us.

        When you tell God you are not prepared to advance without proof, what you say to him is you are not prepared to please him and by that you do not recommend yourself to the head of the line because there are people who’ve come to the end of their days upon earth and their next few moment depend on taking God at his word. They’ve got all their lives on the line, and nothing to lose, so they leap unhindered into the arms of faith while you and I have among so much baggage: our intellectual respectability and socio-financial-world status as the stable pillars of society. When God comes into a situation everything becomes destabilized in preparation for our transformation, and most people can’t deal with that. They’d rather be safe, and safe is just one of the many things that God allows in his mirror when we come to look. Finding ourselves at some perilous margin in life we are more inclined to relinquish all the other possibilities of what we are or might otherwise become and reach out to be conformed in the image of what God offers to us.

        The nature of God is reflected in the nature of the universe; electron particles among the fundamental building blocks of the universe are fluid in their disposition, and are not inclined to be either here or there no more that be one or the other of their several properties. Even the only name that God has gone on record insisting it be that one presented to all generations of mankind for him to be known and remembered by, reflects that same character— I AM THAT I AM….a jumble of possibilities as the electrons are; not one or the other, but waiting for you to exercise faith in one or the other of such possibilities. Particle waves don’t show you where the particles are but where they are likely to be if you look for them.

        A lot of people are disinclined to pursue any avenue of faith because of a fundamental lack of understanding of the nature of faith. They see faith as anti-intelligence, instead of spiritual intelligence; looking at the glass as half empty instead of half full. Latin is a language, albeit a dead one. Nobody speaks Latin in functional dialogue exchanges. The language of proof is also a dead language; it’s been dead long before we discovered it to be so. To insist on it is to insist on looking away from the new frontier to which proof has led us, to “no-poof” (AKA)…. “probability”. We’ve come through the industrial age, but does anyone want to return back there, or advance forward beyond where that has led us.

        The answer to questions about showing the proof, is inviting me to undo myself since my assurance requires no proof other than what theoretical physicists require in their exercise of probable outcomes versus absolute certainty. They describe the experience as exhilarating, even liberating. They say once you learn quantum mechanic, you are never the same: it changes you fundamentally; you never look at “reality” the same again. It hasn’t trickled down to the masses yet but a lot has changed since 1905. The world of proof demanded by the rigors of classical mechanics has long passed into a new or expanded world of probability, brilliant as he was not even Einstein remained flexible enough in his thinking to navigate this change holding to his final moment that “God doesn’t roll the dice of chance”

        What God has in store for you makes you way too valuable for anyone else but himself to instruct you in it therefore as Paul suggested, I suggest also; though he is not perfect, his aim makes him perfect which is the work of faith in the minds of all who are perfect: Let them therefore aim for Christ, the perfection of beauty that is in store for them.

        The text that you are questioning is like going to the empty grave to look for Jesus; what you find are dead letters. He is reisen a life-giving spirit. Imagination is greater than dead letters of knowledge. It’s not all that counts that can be counted, and not all that can be counted counts. If you can’t be led of the spirit by faith, you’ll be able to read, and count but all for naught; for you won’t be able to know truth or be counted.

        Kind Regards Only

        Tony

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  3. Wise fool, you have really nailed it. I have been loaned several books by my Christian friends, telling me that they were beautiful expressions of Christ’s love. ‘The Holy Longing’, by an author I cannot remember, is a recent example. I read it, and it might as well be in a foreign language. Spiritual god talk may be sometimes poetically beautiful, but ultimately, it comes out to be meaningless.

    DMA, I have no desire to debate, argue, or win others tony side of the theological divide. But I do want Christians to at least understand why I had to leave, for my own sanity. I remember how atheists were demonized from the pulpit, and I know that I am being demonized by my old Christian friends. If I could only do one thing, it would be to remove that divide between myself and my old Christian beliefs. I am just so sick of the mud throwing and demonizing langauge.

    I have never had a single Christian ask me why I left the faith. Not one. But they don’t need to ask in order to know that I am either lazy, arrogant, rebellious or deluded. It drives me crazy. I don’t blame you or LAC for avoiding such discussions. It is just not healthy.

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    • [HeIsSailing said: I have never had a single Christian ask me why I left the faith. Not one.]

      Greetings HeIsSailing,

      Had I know you, I might have asked; I am desperately seeking to know, just why did you leave the faith? If you could spare the time of day and tell me I’m be sincerely apprecaiative.

      Thank you

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      • Hello newgenesisres! I have always hesitated to tell that story online, until very recently. But coincidentally enough, I am in the middle of recounting my own ” faith journey”. It may take me a while to get it all down, but I will finish the whole story eventually. You are invited to read along. Just click on my name.

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    • I, too would like for Christians to understand why I’m doing what I’m doing. However the mainstream responses don’t seem to favor the fact that they ever would do so. Because they have bought into Christianity with soft answers they seem incapable of giving any understanding or even compassion to a person who questions their belief. I have no desire to deconvert anyone. I just wish they didn’t feel the need to belittle someone who isn’t convinced by their “evidence”. I do have countless Christian resources. In fact I haven’t read much non-Christian material. The little that I have read makes me question. All I did was google a simple question about any outside sources in support of the resurrection of Jesus and the martyrdom of the disciples. It opened the floodgates of doubt.

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  4. Uurghghgh I need to figure out how to turn this stupid auto correct feature off!!

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  5. The amount of things wrong with both those options is staggering.

    **It should be pointed out that many of the people who saw Christ multiply the loaves, heal people, raise the dead etc. nevertheless refused to believe.**

    Yes, those who lived in a time where miracles could easily be considered a common occurrence refusing to believe is the same thing as lacking belief in a time where no one can multiply loaves or raise the dead. Seriously? Not only that, but the author is insisting that they are denying God based on rebellion and yet … rebellion for what? Especially if they believe they are in fact a good person who tries to do his/her best?

    **it is utterly irrational to insist on seeing a miracle personally in order to believe if there is lots of evidence that other people have seen miracles. People don’t refuse to believe in scientific results unless they personally witness the experiments, so long as multiple reliable people say they have done the experiments, that is enough. Why should religion be different?**

    So … something that is considered miraculous and this, violating the laws of nature, is the same as a scientific result, which does follow the laws of nature? And what evidence is this? Word of mouth? The whole thing about an experiment is that it can be duplicated by those who want to see the results for themselves — and we trust experts in their field, and so forth. Who can duplicate a miracle on command?

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    • What, OSS? You don’t believe eyewitness accounts of people who were never named and apparently never questioned? You think that events could have been sensationalized after these folks scattered to the wind or after they died??? Impossible! That never happens!

      ::sarcasm over now::

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  6. Thanks D’Ma and HeIsSailing for the kudos.

    Hey D’Ma, the martyrdom of the Apostles is something that’s been bouncing around in my mind for years now as one of those things to check up on. Do you have a post on that topic, or do you have a handy resource you would recommend? I’ll be happy to google it myself if you don’t have anything readily available anymore. 🙂

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  7. The Wise Fool,
    DagoodS over at Thoughts from a Sandwich has some excellent blog posts on the martyrdom question. Just use his search box tool. It’s been in the past 12 months as I recall.

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  8. http://www.daylightatheism.org/2007/06/how-did-the-apostles-die.html

    That article is at the previous Daylight Atheism blog that may be of some interest to those of you wondering about the martyrdom of the apostles.

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