Why don't some atheists debate Kent Hovind?

Why is faith seen as a sign of weakness rather than an unexplored land / opportunity?

There are already some excellent answers out there that cover most of what I want to say, but I can't resist jumping in as well ...

I will refer to "me" as a (hopefully) relevant example of someone with the reaction you describe.

If you say that you view faith as an unexplored opportunity, it is certainly not enough to discard your views unseen, but it will make me suspicious that any of the following criticisms may apply to you.

Problem how to choose a belief

They seem to imply that when we lack a scientific explanation in a certain area, we should only be allowed to choose one explanation.

But how do you choose?

Do you choose an explanation through logical, rational arguments? That is more or less what metaphysics is trying to do. However, in order to get anywhere by logical arguments, you need axioms as starting points, that is, assumptions that you define as obviously true. The problem with this is, as the endless philosophical controversies over metaphysics attest, that metaphysical axioms that seem obvious to one person are violently contested by another.

Do you choose an explanation because it is emotionally appealing? This is a risky strategy because, due to human nature, emotions can easily be confused with wishful thinking and personal prejudice.

When we lack a sound scientific explanation, there is nothing wrong with choosing a working hypothesis, that is, making only one assumption, especially when a dangerous situation calls for quick action. In such a case, however, one should be aware that the assumption is temporary and watch out for clues that may make other explanations more likely.

And when there is no realistic way to test an assumption, the skeptical consensus is to assume for the time being that the assumption is not true, as that is the simplest and easiest choice. Because if you don't have enough evidence, you can come up with more and more complicated and complicated explanations; The only reasonable criterion for choosing an explanation is to review the simplest one. (See Occam's razor, Russell's teapot).

Problem of choosing ethical values

They are talking about choosing a belief. However, belief can influence two different contexts in which the process of "selection" has very different implications: empirical science and ethical values.

I think it's easy to see that people who value science don't like it when belief tries to contradict science, as in the famous cases of Galileo and Darwin.

It's a little different with ethical values: although everyone is obviously influenced by society and education, one can freely choose one's ethical values. And other people are free to criticize the choice and argue for other values ​​they consider to be superior. In this way, the ethical norms of a society can be adjusted through public debates.

If the belief you choose leads to a choice of ethical values, then there's nothing wrong with that. However, the problem begins when one uses religious claims as public justifications for ethical values. It is often said that there is only one true religion and therefore one true set of ethical precepts. These are given by God, carved in stone and built into the fabric of the universe. Intentionally or intentionally, this means that the discussion has ended and criticism of these values ​​is undesirable or even prohibited. When a religion has enough influence over a society, it often means that ethical values ​​are no longer criticized, even if they appear very wrong to the non-religious minority (e.g. women who are inferior or homosexuality which is sinful).

Problem of religious taboos

They seem to suggest that one chooses one's belief in a free intellectual process. But when I look at the historical records, it seems to me that religions, including Christianity, owe much of their success to restricting this free process. I don't just mean overt censorship or legal punishment of unbelievers. Christians believe that they have a God-given task of converting unbelievers and that whether or not one believes in God is an important factor in God's decision whether to go to hell or heaven. This has the effect of creating a taboo: not believing in God not only seems wrong, but also sinful, frightening, outrageous.

It could be argued that all effective social norms create some sort of taboo. But I think religious taboos are dangerous because they are protected by supernatural threats and promises. If I think a non-religious social taboo is wrong, others can come to the same conclusion if they are willing to question their personal upbringing and prejudice and are not afraid of social exclusion. But if the taboo is religious, not only would they have to do that, but they would also have to overcome their fear of supernatural punishment. As a result, religion makes social change much more difficult and discussion much more difficult.

Problem of the supernatural

Religious belief is usually associated with belief in the supernatural, such as when God answers prayers and works miracles or prophecies come true.

But I consider belief in the supernatural to be a pretty dangerous thing. I think that sooner or later it leads to things like belief-healing claims. That is, some people will claim the power to perform spectacular supernatural acts that will dramatically affect people's lives. They can promise good things (cure illness, provide positive energy, bring happiness) or threaten bad things (curse someone, bring bad luck). In any case, they will get a lot of influence over the people who believe in their supernatural powers and often use this influence to drain money and demand obedience from their followers.

That is why I am also very suspicious of New Age esotericism and movements that promote "spirituality". I think the term "spirituality" is often used on purpose to get out of the question of whether to make supernatural claims so that one can have it both ways, distracting skeptics but subtly promising things like faith healing for followers.

Perhaps your type of belief is one that you definitely don't expect supernatural events to take place, at least not in our time. If you were to add this disclaimer when introducing yourself as a person who views faith as an opportunity, I would be immediately much less suspicious of your views.

Philip Klöcking ♦

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