Sunday, December 23, 2012

Making people believe your argument is sound

While this is most certainly not exclusive to religious people, it's nevertheless extremely common among them, probably way more common than among atheists. And that's a really heavy bias towards accepting and supporting arguments that they don't really understand and which don't actually make any sense.

For example, the so-called ontological argument for the existence of a god is one of the most insane arguments that have ever been seriously presented by Christian apologists. And I mean really insane. It makes absolutely no sense, it has so many logical fallacies and is logically twisted beyond all belief. No sane person could ever take this argument seriously or believe that it's actually a good and sound argument.

Yet when a charismatic speaker such as William Lane Craig presents it to a religious audience, the vast majority of them accept it and think that it's a good argument. The majority of them do not actually understand what the argument is saying, yet they still accept it as a good, strong argument, just because the speaker is so eloquent and charismatic, and sounds so educated and formal.

They are extremely biased and want to believe it's a good argument. Even if the most attentive of them have a nagging thought in their heads that says something like "hmmm... I don't really understand this, does it actually make any sense?" they quickly shut that nagging voice up and accept the argument without thinking about it, simply because they want to believe it. Then they can feel so good about themselves, how there are such good arguments against skeptics and atheists.

I believe that this is a kind of religious mentality seeping into a meta-level. The same kind of mentality that outright fears having doubts about the very existence of God also affects their mental attitude towards arguments that (seemingly) prove the existence of God: If they doubt the argument, it's like doubting the very existence of God himself, therefore it's scary to have such doubts, and such nagging voices must be immediately shut off.

(Of course there are exceptions to this, and some religious people do fully accept that an argument like the ontological one does not make any sense and is completely invalid. However, these people are a very, very small minority.)

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