In my most-read post entitled Reasons For My Deconversion, I claim that human minds are not well-equipped to assess what is true.
I recently had a christian who goes by the Youtube name anonazero point out the incoherency of this claim by sarcastically stating,
Yeah, that’s logically coherent. You say that we can’t know truth when you say that we are not equipped to asses what is true. If you can’t assess truth, you can’t know it.
This is a opportune case study in which we can explore the mind of a theist. We can, from this quote, extract 2 salient principles that may inform our understanding of christian illogic.
- The Abuse of Terms
Note that I said “not well-equipped” while our christian said I said “not equipped”. When I called him on this, he responded with the following.
If I’m WELL-EQUIPPED to assess truth it is the exact same thing as being EQUIPPED to assess truth.
This christian incredibly cannot distinguish between entailment and equivalency. His logic would require him to say…
If I’m WELL-ENDOWED it is the exact same thing as being ENDOWED.
While it would obviously be to the psychological advantage of someone poorly-yet-nonetheless endowed to adhere to this equivalency, an equivalency it is not. It is an entailment. And, as I need not tell those who have even modestly sought to remedy their poorly-equipped logical minds, non-tautological entailment is not bi-directional.
Having 6 legs entails having legs, but having legs does not entail having 6 legs. Being well-trained entails being trained, but being trained does not entail being well-trained. Thinking well entails thinking, but thinking does not entail thinking well. Being well-equipped entails being equipped, but being equipped does not entail nor equal being well-equipped.
So we end up needing to decide whether this christian is dishonest and intentionally misquoting me in a way that distorts my position so he can set up strawmen, or whether he is just ignorant. I’m going to suggest he is simply arrogantly ignorant based on his affirmation of his fallacy found below.
The word “well” in your statement in no way changes the meaning of the statement.
Arrogant ignorance I have little time for other than to present it as an object lesson.
Were we not equipped, however poorly, to assess truth, we would not have a starting point from which to learn. We start with a mind poorly-equipped to assess truth, and will remain poorly-equipped until we, with focused intent, take measures to rectify this deficiency. Pearl divers all begin their careers with lungs poorly-equipped to remain under water very long, but after focused intent and training, they can stay under water for up to five minutes. In like manner, our default minds that are not well-equipped to assess truth can over-come this deficiency through focused intent and training.
Christians, in contrast, suggest that what feels “intuitively” true to our minds is what is true. No. The sense of truth-discovery upon the reading a holy book does not entail the discovery of truth. Our minds are, at their most basic, emotional organs, and the raw “sense” of anything is an illegitimate heuristic in the quest for truth. Only by employing more objective tools of inquiry that distance the quest for truth from subjective influences can we begin to become more confident in our conclusions. Christians will apply this principle to readers of other holy books, but not to their own.
So the inability or disinterest in defining terms clearly, and the consequential selective misquoting and misrepresenting the positions of others to facilitate the construction of strawmen is a fundamental flaw in christian thinking.
And this can be seen in the treatment of their own holy book. Fudging on the words and concepts in the bible to accommodate what one “feels” must be god’s truth has long been a christian tradition, and the number of denominations and doctrinal schisms is testimony to that fact.
Granted, they are starting with a book so vague that any number of possible interpretations can be given to many passages. They are blind to their cherry-picking of doctrines to match their social environment and psychologies. And they are blind to the fact that the emotional confidence they are feeling and invoking as confirmational is the very same felt by christians on the opposite side of the issue.
As a final thought on this point, could it, by any chance, be this lack of definitional rigor, either out of ignorance or deceit, that allows christians to, with a straight face, ascribe the word “loving” to a god that deems a lie or lust offensive enough to eternally damn a young liar or luster who may have never heard of this god nor his rules? Just a thought.
Now let me move on to a more egregious blunder by this particular christian.
- The Abuse of Logic
When pressed about a logical formulation of his dismissal of my “illogical” claim that it is a truth that humans are not well-equipped to assess truth, he seemed ill-equipped to provide such. Instead he attempted to inoculate his accusation of my illogic by claiming that his accusation “doesn’t warrant a formal inquisition”, and claimed that I was acting “defensive”. Seriously. He’d just accused me of of a logical error, then claims he needs no logical substantiation of his accusation. Is this simply stupidity, or arrogant childishness? You be the judge.
Though hard to believe, when I presented the statement below as a possible reflection of his position, he actually agreed that it accurately reflected his beliefs.
Human minds are not well-equipped to assess what is true. = Truth cannot be known.
For those of you who have taken your minds even marginally beyond its default state of logically ill-equipped, I apologize. But I feel I must spell this out to a few readers.
Let me use the analogy of walking penguins, and introduce this parallel construction.
Penguins are not well-equipped to walk. = Penguins cannot walk.
That was a bit embarrassing to have to introduce, but this is the actual logic of this particular christian who, continued to affirm this position by saying…
You can’t get past the fact that the very foundation of your thought has a cataclysmic fracture in it.
This “cataclysmic fracture” is based on his logic that “Human minds are not well-equipped to assess what is true” is equivalent to “Truth cannot be known.” He saws off the branch he is sitting on while under the delusion I am also perched upon it.
And he’s actually proud of this display of “logic”.
When a significant percentage of the theist population subscribes to such abuse of logic, is it any wonder that they can accept the absurdities inherent to the biblical concepts of heaven, hell, sin, and redemption?
Admittedly, there are christian apologists who employ logic fairly rigorously, but you’ll very seldom hear them lament the shameful lack of logical acumen among the general christian public. Doing so would most certainly be counter-productive to the credulity necessary to advance the absurdity of “faith”.
In conclusion, The christian cited in this post does admit that he is not a leader in a church, but only that “I just love Jesus a whole lot.” I’ll leave it to you to assess whether Jesus is the cause or the effect of this abuse of terms and logical incoherency.
So is christian thinking an oxymoron? No. I’ve met many christians who think quite well. What might we call christians who think well over several years? Many of them are now called “apostates” by the faithful who consider their own neglected, under-developed and logically ill-equipped minds something to be proud of.