What Would it Take?

Self-analysis is an important part of any human life. As the famous Delphic maxim says “know thyself!” When talking about a topic as lofty and emotional as religion it is important that we each understand our own position before attempting to engage with others. Because the topic is so highly subjective, due to the supernatural nature of the subject, it is imperative that we aim to use as much fact based evidence as we can while avoiding emotional and faith based arguments.[1] It is impossible to conclusively prove or disprove the existence of God, so we are forced to look at evidence which sheds light on what is the most likely possibility. It is impossible to know with absolute certainty one way or the other, but it is possible through a holistic evaluation of the evidence to have overwhelming confidence about a particular position. Unfortunately however many people have overwhelming confidence in a position in spite of the evidence. So the question becomes “what evidence do you require in order to alter your position?” What would it take to change your mind? Having given this quite a bit of thought I am fully aware of what it would take to change my mind. While I am currently an atheist, if I was presented the appropriate evidence I am prepared to change my mind. This is extremely important. I am prepared to acknowledge if I should be proved wrong. And I am prepared to follow the truth where ever it may lead. But can you say the same? Here is a challenge for you, particularly if you are a religious believer. I would like you to grab a piece of paper and a pen and write down a list of evidences which if confirmed would cause you to walk away from your faith. These evidences must be actual things which can be proven correct or incorrect.

There are a couple of very big evidences which you should definitely have on your list. If any of these should be shown to be true it should serve as satisfactory evidence that your faith is not warranted. The list that I am providing is for the Christian religion, but the same principles will work for any religion:

  • Evidence that the Bible is not divinely inspired.
  • Evidence that God is not who he claims to be, i.e. omnipotent, omnipresent or omni-benevolent.
  • Evidence that Jesus did not rise from the dead, or didn’t exist at all.
  • Historical or archaeological facts which show the Bible to be incorrect.
  • Evidence for evolution.
  • Evidence that your religion finds its origins in earlier religions.

I’m not saying that you should change your mind if you find just one piece of evidence from the above list, but when evaluating all of the evidence if there is something that would demonstrably prove one of the above, it is just cause to abandon your religion. In actual fact Christianity makes such great claims about the Bible and God that any one disproof of these factors should be considered reason enough to disregard the religion. For example: Christian doctrines claim that the Bible is inerrant, so if just one error is found that is enough evidence to disprove the claim.

If we are going to be truly rational individuals we must be prepared to let go of false ideas. We must be prepared to follow the facts, and go where the evidence leads. If the evidence shows that your belief system is incorrect then you should reject that belief system and move on. If you are unable to do this, or unwilling to do this, then you are exercising blind faith. You are a follower in the true sense, completely sold out to your belief system at all costs. You are exercising a bias against truth and reality. Some forms of mental illness cause people to reject the evidence right in front of their eyes in favour of a delusion. But normal rational people should not exercise this type of behaviour.

Perhaps the biggest difficulty with this is that religious people are just not being rational when they think about these things. Because there is so much invested in the belief system, and so much to lose if it is incorrect, the believer guards their religious system with zeal. They want to believe. The truth moves from an objective reality to a subjective construct. When Christianity presents an idea like “Jesus is the truth!” it is extremely difficult to move a devout believer into a position where they can objectively evaluate their religion. The truth is no longer an external observable part of reality but rather an internal device. This may not happen on the conscious level, but in the subconscious there is a paradigm shift from “I believe the truth,” to “the truth is what I believe.” The vast majority of religious people believe that they have the truth, so they don’t go looking for the truth, they only go looking for ideas which support their belief system or challenge opposing belief systems. In fact, I would have to say that I have never met a religious person who is objective about their own religion. I know that I was not truly objective about it when I was a part of it. It is only once a person floats out to the fringes of that religion that they may feel comfortable challenging its tenets and accepting opposing ideas. Critical thinking is the enemy of religious belief, so most religions suppress it.

One of the truly difficult things about changing your mind on something as important as this is the acknowledgement of your fallacy. Changing one’s mind about this topic requires accepting that one was wrong for so many years. In some cases a person would have to acknowledge that they had lived almost their entire lives under a misconception. This is too difficult for many people to do, so they will remain reinforcing their tenuous belief despite the evidence. A truly mature approach is to follow the truth wherever it leads, even if it means acknowledging that you were wrong for a period of time. A person who is prepared to do this is demonstrating strong values and a sound character. They would rather live with the truth now than protect their past decisions with a progression of diminishing perceptions. There is perhaps nothing more difficult than walking away from a belief system that one has held for so long. That is why anyone who is even prepared to be truly objective has my respect. But real objectivity and the perception of objectivity are completely different things. If a person is not really prepared to put the Bible and God’s actions on trial, they do not have objectivity, and will never be able to know the truth. They will instead live under an illusion of truth, like a prisoner who sits in an unlocked cell convinced that it is sealed and never trying the door.

Ask yourself “what would it take to change my mind?” If you can’t answer that question then your mind has been imprisoned by the chains of your religion. But freedom awaits anyone with the courage and audacity to truly challenge their religious beliefs. What will you do with the freedom that has been given to you?

[1] Arguments like “I just believe,” or “you just have to have faith.”

13 thoughts on “What Would it Take?

  1. Hmmm don’t know if the last thing I posted got through as it glitched so here goes, round 2. So as I was saying, that’s a scary challenge you’ve put out there indeed. So, even if I never knew about the bible, or that God was Omni-anything, or anything about Jesus, or any linking historical or archaeological facts, or anything about evolution or anything similar about older religions….I would still know that there is a Mastermind out there who created all around me and myself included and to this mind I would attach the word God and be happy with that 🙂

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    • Hi Sharon, so if I hear you correctly you are saying that you don’t know anything about the objective facts but you just “know” that there is a creator. Kind of proves my point doesn’t it! You’re not challenging yourself to ask serious questions about your faith, you’re just accepting what you believe at face value. If I can quote my own article here: “Because the topic is so highly subjective, due to the supernatural nature of the subject, it is imperative that we aim to use as much fact based evidence as we can while avoiding emotional and faith based arguments.1… and the footnote…“Arguments like “I just believe,” or “you just have to have faith.” Case rested.

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  2. No you have not heard me correctly and case not rested! Your bias is twisting what I am trying to say. I like what God says when He states in Psalm 19:1-4: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” I’m saying that believing there is a creator God is pretty evident to all when you look up at the night sky and the intelligent design all around us. It seems simple to believe in Him is what I am saying. I agree with you that us Christians should be finding out whether what we believe is also accurate and viable and I do believe that it is, however I don’t believe we as mere humans accurately interpret things sometimes due to the fact that we live in a different time and culture, and because of our prejudices and world views we see things through foggy lenses, and then because the evidence just isn’t there anymore because of the trials over the centuries of weather, wars and destruction of buildings, inaccuracy of maps or the Chinese whispers effect etc. There can be many obstacles is what I’m saying. It is more reasonable to believe in God than all those others airy fairy theory-tales out there like the big bang and evolution! And I don’t think it is fair to presume that myself or other Christians do not examine our faith….I know I do probably weekly. At the moment I’m reading through Lee Strobel’s The case for Faith examining his interpretation of theology. I don’t want to die and then find out that I was fooled all my life or to lead anyone else into any deception so I do examine my faith, but I also examine it to know God more and to build my faith. Why have you done a full 180 degrees and hate God so much as to try to lead people away from Him? You think you have been brainwashed? If there is no God then where can we find that baseline for what is right and wrong?

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  3. So correct me if I’m wrong, but it sounds like you are saying that there is no evidence that anyone could present that would change your mind.

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  4. I believe it is impossible to predict what will happen to anyone’s faith if presented with supposed evidence that who or what they have put their faith in has turned out to be a lie. I’ve seen a lot of people who I thought had great faith but then backslid, including you. Well, go on then, throw your arguments and discoveries out there so we can all suss it out. I personally think that the greatest test of what is true or not is the testimony of that persons character and life….like Jesus. Where is any evidence that puts Him in disrepute?

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    • I’m finding your answer a little cryptic. You seem to be requesting a bunch of evidence without saying which evidence specifically would definitively convince you to change your mind. Could you please list the actual evidence you require. Bullet point form is fine. In regards to your last statement are you saying that evidence which disproves the validity of Jesus would convince you?

      Also, can I request that you change your username on this site. The use of thoughtcontrol in your username is confusing.

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  5. Just checking to see if the profile name has changed by leaving a reply. You are trying to force me to state whether if I found one of these areas to be false then I would give up my faith but I’m not willing to commit to this simply because if you showed me evidence that this was false well, how do I know if this evidence is in fact true just because u say it is? So until you reveal your secret knowledge then I cant say yes to any of these areas.

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    • Hi Sharon, thanks for changing your username. I’m not trying to force you to state that you would give up your faith based upon some kind of inadequate evidence. But I am trying to pin you down to actually stating whether or not there is any evidence that would convince you. Thus far you have successfully avoided answering that question. As to evidence itself, it must be judged upon its merits. This is the same process that I had to go through when I left my faith behind. I was willing to look at the evidence on its merits and evaluate it objectively. When I did that there was actually no question – Christianity didn’t stand a chance. And I don’t have any secret knowledge, I’m not a Gnostic. If you do have the courage to acknowledge what would convince you, I’ll attempt to provide you with good answers. But the really big question is whether or not there is anything that would convince you. That is the point of my article. Many Christians will not be convinced by any argument, because they are completely closed off from opposing evidence (disconfirmation bias). What camp are you in?

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  6. Jason, I wouldn’t be bothering to reply to your articles if I weren’t intrigued by your supposed evidence you say you have. I of course would prefer it if you would join me and others back on the light side but I respect the fact that you have put time in and effort in and must be pretty much thoroughly convinced of your decision to leave God behind even though this shocks and saddens me. In a way I cant blame you for despairing at what you have seen at The —- church and probably other ones too. Since listening to John MacArthur in the 5-6 years since leaving there I have quite a different perspective on Christianity and God and yes I believe I can look objectively at yours and anyone elses evidence/ideas. I do believe Jesus is a credible figure to follow which is what we are taught are we not, so as to not end up in some cult. That is the basis of my faith and the fact that all around me shouts that there is a greater Creator than mere man out there. The bible has always worried me only very slightly though so I must admit having it put together by that group of people in 325 AD…you know the council of Nicaea, but I feel assured that God is well able to sort out what He wanted to be put in His book despite man’s choices and no book seems to contradict any other which is what they aimed at along with the fundamentals of course. I cant stand by the beliefs of the charismatic and evangelical movement any more and really loathe listening to christians making the search for the ‘miraculous’ their main emphasis in their faith, and somehow if you’re not on their side they think there is something wrong with you and you somehow lack faith and need help! I believe God can heal if He so chooses but for us to twist His arm and demand he do it at our man made scheduled healing meetings is just a sign of disrespect in my eyes. The jury is still out on ‘prophecy’ as I believe it was only given so as to validate the apostles so people would listen to their message but I must admit Ive had some strange occurances that I cant explain, that seem more than co-incidence over the years so my mind is not made up totally yet. But there is so much subjective stuff out there that it just turns my stomach. I’m not an intellectual and not the sharpest knife in the drawer but I try, sometimes I’m not getting what you’re saying, sorry about that, but I think discussion about it all is very very healthy and needed, for Christians and non-Christians to consider.

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    • I’m sorry that my decision saddens you, however I determined long ago to follow the truth wherever it leads. The church is most certainly a disappointment, it’s the kind of thing you would expect to see if a bunch of people were just following a system of beliefs without an actual God in the midst of it all. But it is not the sad state of the church that made me leave the faith, it is the solid evidence that the Bible is not inerrant or inspired and that God, if he actually exists, is necessarily evil. It’s interesting that you should mention the word “cult.” As I reflect back upon the church that is exactly what I see. In every sense of the word the Christian Church whether it be charismatic, Pentecostal or just run-of-the-mill Anglican or Methodist, is a cult. Let me just quickly list off some of the characteristics of a cult:

      • The group displays excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader and (whether he is alive or dead) regards his belief system, ideology, and practices as the Truth, as law.
      • ‪Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished (this is done subtly within many churches).
      • ‪Mind-altering practices (such as meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues) are used in excess and serve to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s).
      • ‪The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel (this is done in sermons every Sunday).
      • ‪The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leaders and members (a special status in the eyes of God; on a special mission to save humanity).
      • ‪The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality (as I am experiencing now communicating with some Christians).
      • ‪The leadership induces feelings of shame and/or guilt in order to influence and/or control members (you would probably be surprised to know how often this is intentionally done by church leaders). Often, this is done through peer pressure and subtle forms of persuasion.
      • ‪The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.
      • Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group and group-related activities.
      • ‪Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members (Christian schools and youth groups).

      You raise the issue of the Council of Nicaea which is most certainly a problem for the integrity of the Bible, and I could talk for a long time on this. In order for this response to not get out of hand I’m going to cut it short now. Keep reading my articles and many of your issues will be addressed. It sounds to me like you are struggling a great deal with what you have observed in the church, and there is good reason for that. What you need to remember is that the church is supposed to be God’s construct and so any flaws that you see in it are simply a reflection of who he is. God does not inhabit the walls of the church, nor the hearts of men. When we realise this we can see that the erratic behaviour of Christians is just a bunch of naive people attempting to exercise a faith that is not clearly defined. I still don’t feel like you’ve answered my question, but I won’t push you any further. Let your own conscience determine whether or not there is evidence that you could accept. If there isn’t it reflects a gap in your reasoning. Ultimately, until we are genuinely prepared to question the validity of the Bible and the goodness of God we will not be able to be objective about these things.

      While I don’t wish to disengage I will probably not respond to many questions from here on out unless they are short. I am finding that these exchanges are becoming longer and longer and I don’t have the time to write an essay for each one. I will however try to address pertinent issues in the articles that I write.

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