Tag Archives: Reason

The Null Hypothesis: A rational basis for scepticism

This was posted as a response to this blog, Raised by ‘Theological Conspiracy Theorists’: How I Lost my Faith, concerning a former Young Earth Creationist who lost her faith due to uncovering the absurd lies that movement makes about reality. The author betrayed signs of missing religion – understandable, given her whole life has been steeped in it. I attempted to give some advice on how to stay the course and accept her scepticism (I used the American spelling below in view of the audience). The last line was thrown in because the likelihood is the author was hanging on to faith for emotional and moral, not intellectual, reasons.

Subsequent responses are reproduced from godofevolution.com with kind permission by Tyler Francke.

 

“I’m only just starting to claw my way out of deep, angry skepticism back toward religion in general.”

Why not try calm, rational skepticism? Religion has lied to you once, and so it’s quite possible it’ll continue to lie to you.

While YEC is absurdly wrong, take a look at the truth claims even ‘mainstream’ religion makes. Cutting right to the heart of the matter, let’s examine the resurrection. Note that in science, when making a null hypothesis, we use the most likely answer, then attempt to disprove it.

Thus, in order of increasing likelihood, the resurrection was:

1) Jesus rising from the dead by divine intervention,

2) Jesus arising from the dead due to being an alien, or use of alien technology,

3) Someone made it all up, because no religious figure worth his salt in those days didn’t have a resurrection myth e.g. Osiris, Mithras etc.

Dispassionately examine the evidence for this and then decide which is the most likely answer.

It’s perfectly possible to live a fulfilled, moral and loving life without a trace of religious observance. We are a moral species, it comes from within.

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David Cameron, Christian morality, and the News Letter

On 19th December 2011, the News Letter reported on David Cameron’s speech on the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, stating Britain was a Christian country, and “that the Bible has helped to give Britain a set of values and morals which make Britain what it is today.”

In the Morning View editorial, the author was full of praise for Mr Cameron, though was disappointed he hadn’t gone further. I’ve long viewed the News Letter as a right-wing, neo-conservative rag, a Norn Irish Daily Mail, so I sent them a rebuttal on the whole business of  Christianity’s claim on morals.

I didn’t find it online until 9th January 2012, and when I did, it had attracted two posts. Let us just say that the News Letter’s readership would not be, in the main, Internet-savvy. (i.e. not in their first, or indeed second, flush of youth), so the limited response is understandable.

(Incidentally, I also saw a letter on gay marriage of such outrageous homophobia, I posted a comment describing it as “a vile piece of borderline-criminal hate speech” – the comment was not posted, but instead the whole letter was pulled! Result!)

Nevertheless, I set about with a staunch defence of my letter, which I’ve reproduced below should it ever vanish from the News letter’s site.

What followed was a fairly one-sided debate where I slapped around an at first fairly reasonable, but eventually pop-eyed religious nut, whom in turn kept coming back like Monty Python’s Black Knight. As I kept bludgeoning his arguments, he one by one distanced himself from his fellow Christians (the ones who had strayed), the Jewish origins of the Christian church, the Old Testament, the Roman Catholic church (he was a Protestant) and eventually the original argument altogether.

I thought my invention of the philosophical position of amarmitism was the highlight of the exercise…

I eventually, reluctantly, had to stop replying because while I had won the argument, it was quite apparent there was no reasoning with the loon. It’s not like there was even an audience.

 

Christianity did not ‘create’ morality

Published on Thursday 22 December 2011 09:31

IN response to Morning View (December 19) I felt compelled to challenge the assertion that the UK needs greater emphasis on the ‘Christian’ moral code.

The article says that the ‘overwhelming majority of citizens in the United Kingdom’ are Christian. According to a 2011 YouGov survey of Great Britain, a bare 55 per cent of respondents described themselves as Christian – of these only 38 per cent of 18 to 34-year-olds are Christian, while 70 per cent of over-55s are Christian. In other words, while Christianity is in the majority, just, it soon won’t be.

I note the News Letter failed to report Dr Richard Dawkins’ response to David Cameron’s speech, which described Christianity as ‘an appalling moral compass’. Some Christians may be shocked by this statement.

Let me explain: a cursory reading of the Bible reveals genocide, slavery, treatment of women as little more than property, rape and stoning of people for adultery and other lesser crimes condoned in the Old Testament.

More recently, we have the Inquisition, and in modern times, we are witness to the paedophile scandal engulfing the Catholic church, their campaign to discredit the use of condoms in developing countries in the face of an HIV epidemic, and their complicity in the Holocaust in the signing of the Reichskonkordat.

Protestantism doesn’t get away scot-free either; the record of racism and homophobia by Protestants, predominantly in the United States, is a poor one.

I’ll omit our own Troubles, as nearly everyone, religious and political, comes out looking bad.

I am not saying that Christians are bad people – many of them are loving, kind and generous. You will, however, find that this is also true of non-Christians.

To quote Steven Weinberg, ‘Good people will do good things, and bad people will do bad things. But for good people to do bad things, that takes religion.’

Christianity did not ‘create’ morality; it subsumed it from pre-existing society. This is true of other religious moralities, too. Given this was a bronze-age civilisation (Old Testament), or if you prefer iron-age (New Testament), things have moved on in the Zeitgeist (‘spirit of the age’) – the 20th century saw the introduction of equality in gender, race and sexual orientation. These are increasingly considered ‘good’ morals, and have absolutely no basis in religious doctrine.

If you want an idea of what a secular society looks like, largely unfettered by Christianity or any other religion, look to Scandinavia. It should be noted that the Scandinavians have amongst the best social standards and life expectancy in the world.

To finish, I agree that there should be no legislation preventing Christians publicly expressing their faith; I know of no legislation that attempts any such thing, and I think it’s disingenuous of the editorial writer to insinuate that such things are afoot.

I would, however, wish the same thing for all faiths, and those with none, so long as they do not oppress or harm others. As a secular society, free speech is a central pillar of our culture.

Colin Morrison

Fermanagh