• Anyone Can Assert Truth

    Let me tell you a true story. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, there was star wars. First there was a massive clone war and then there was a rebellion against a galactic empire. Just because I have no evidence for this, doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen. In fact, you can’t prove that it didn’t happen. I derived this knowledge from revelation, which is an alternative means of knowledge to science, which requires objective evidence. But it is equally valid, right?

    Let me tell you another one. I won the deed to the Brooklyn Bridge last night in a poker game. The problem is that I live in Pennsylvania and have no desire to move to New York right now and I need some quick cash to put a new roof on my house so I’m selling the deed to the Brooklyn Bridge dirt cheap. I’ll sell it to you for a fraction of what it’s worth. I’ll sell it to you for $5000 right now. It is worth 5 million easy. You’d be a fool to pass this deal up. You don’t believe me? This is the truth, why won’t you buy it? Oh, you want evidence? Just take my truth on faith. That is a different kind of knowledge, equally as valuable as scientific evidence?

    The fact is that revelation and faith aren’t different ways of deriving truth; it is just a way of asserting truth. Anyone can claim something is true, but being able to demonstrate that it actually is true requires evidence. Just because there is no evidence don’t mean that something isn’t true. You can’t prove that Star Wars didn’t happen in a galaxy far, far away. But we can’t call it knowledge. We can only claim knowledge when we have sufficiently valid evidence for a claim and can objectively show that something actually is true with relative certainty.

    Isn’t it interesting that religious believers don’t believe anything on faith alone except for their particular religious claims. Don’t take my word for it; try to sell them the Brooklyn Bridge. Why are religious believers just as skeptical about other people’s religions and about matters involving money and the world we live in, but when it comes to their own religion, faith suddenly becomes an alternative and equally valid way of deriving truth?

    The real truth here is that religion is just as much of a scam as my deed to the Brooklyn Bridge. Until religious believers can back up their faith based assertions, there is no reason why anyone should believe anything they have to say.

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    Category: FaithReligionTruth

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    Article by: Staks Rosch

    Staks Rosch is a writer for the Skeptic Ink Network & Huffington Post, and is also a freelance writer for Publishers Weekly. Currently he serves as the head of the Philadelphia Coalition of Reason and is a stay-at-home dad.

    3 comments

    1. I would argue that believers, in fact, don’t believe on faith. Humans are just not generally wired that way. The faithful are using evidences, the sort that we all use, except that they are using bad examples.

      For example, theists recognize that people they know, trust, and respect are also believers. While it is true this is no guarantee of correctness, think about all the things you believe for absolutely no reason other than that it’s what you’ve been taught by other people you trust: the name of the city you live in. The person who is the President of the US. The nature of subatomic particles (unless you happen to work in Batavia or at CERN). Now just to be clear, the theists evidence is bad. But this is not blind faith.

      A second kind of evidence comes from the believers observations of their own experience and events in their life. They falsely correlate positive outcomes with divine intervention. They imagine they “feel” the spirit of God. Under examination, these are not good reasons to believe something. But is it blind faith? Absolutely not. It’s bad evidence or a total misconstrual of the evidence.

      The principle of charity would prescribe that it is important we have as accurate and honest a rendition of theist psychology at hand as possible, before we start criticizing.

      1. In his book “The Righteous Mind,” psychologist Jonathan Haidt noted that people do not reason their way to beliefs–rather, they make snap judgments and only invoke reason after the fact (if ever) to justify those judgments.

        “The problem isn’t that people don’t reason. They do reason. But their arguments aim to support their conclusions, not yours. Reason doesn’t work like a judge or teacher, impartially weighing evidence or guiding us to wisdom. It works more like a lawyer or press secretary, justifying our acts and judgments to others.”

        http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/25/books/review/the-righteous-mind-by-jonathan-haidt.html?pagewanted=all

        Tellingly, Haidt notes, people are perfectly willing to examine beliefs critically–as long as they’re OTHER PEOPLE’s beliefs. Never their own. That’s why a fundamentalist Christian can rationally dissect how crazy and unworkable the tenets of Islam are, for example.

    2. Hi
      I wonder if revelation might well be true knowledge, so long as it is truly revelation from God – in most general sense.
      The question then is how do we assess if this particular claim is or might be valid. As i understand the few religions that are based on the claim to revelation christianity alone(?) hangs its claim on an event that is in principle accessible via rational exploration.
      So i found this post a little disappointing, in that it excludes something based on a priori disbelief – rather than appropriate agnosticism. If there is a god – their may be revelation – Anthony Flew’s last book closes with him (as you know) having moved from being the most intellectually formidable academic atheist to a theist – open to but, as yet unpersuaded about revelation and suggesting that Jesus was the most likely candidate for being real revelation

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