Believer Brain Twisting

brain twister

Occasionally I get sucked into posts that my Google alerts find me, and recently I got sucked into this one. I think what may annoy me the most about religious postings is the attempt to justify belief through logic. The post is about the Ontological argument of St. Anselm. Aside from the amusement of the argument and the author’s attempt to explain it is his all too quick retreat, when questioned, to two of the most common religious cop-outs, the link to someone else who explains it better and my favorite, “you just need faith.” When you can’t adequately explain something yourself, then that’s a problem and calls into question why you should believe something that you can’t explain. When the only real way to believe something is to use faith however, then that should be a red light.

The author claims the argument is a brain twister. The only brain twisting is done by the believer who tries, against all reason, to make this failed argument support their belief. If you don’t come to the argument already believing what it tries to prove, then it’s quite a simple and easily dismissable argument. It does beg the question why, if one already believes, that they’d need this “proof”. Is faith not enough? The author said, “Reason, for all its wonder, has its limit and can become rationalization. It needs faith, like faith need it.” It appears to me that it’s faith, for all its wonder, that has its limit and requires reason. When it can’t get it, it resorts to rationalizations, and those rationalizations can be quite brain twisting.

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21 Responses to “Believer Brain Twisting”

  1. I hate syndicating arguments. I debated one guy until I realized he plagiarized every word he said from other sites and presented them as his own. The worst part is that they were stupid words!

  2. They usually are, especially when it comes to things like religion. The person you were arguing with didn't become a believer because of the argument they were sharing with you. At best, that argument serves as a great justification for them to indulge in the belief. We all know that the argument that tells us it's ok to do that thing we really want to do doesn't have to be very good. :)

  3. The person you were arguing with didn't become a believer because of the argument they were sharing with you. At best, that argument serves as a great justification for them to indulge in the belief.

    Exactly right. Children aren't given logical explanations for the stories and values they are taught in church; their emotions are manipulated. What 5-year-old boy wouldn't want to slay a giant and be a hero, for example? As children grow older and start asking questions, then the "logical arguments" and "historical data" are thrown at them. These are often bolstered by substantial doses of hellfire and brimstone. Since fear is probably the powerful raw emotion humans have to handle, threats are powerful medicine. Likewise, many adults who find religion are initially drawn in by emotion: lonely people find socialization, hurting people find comfort, etc. When their crises end and they start questioning their new beliefs, then the "logical arguments" and "historical data" are trotted out to bolster their faith. Those arguments are meant to keep people in the fold, not draw them in. And, as with children, hellfire and brimstone often accompany religious "logic," because no one is ever too old or sophisticated to be scared shitless.

  4. It's like when you're 7 and see Star Wars and pretend you're Luke blowing up the Death Star and later, say high school, wonder why would someone design a Death Star with such an obvious flaw like an exhaust port that could be used to blow the whole thing up with one shot?

    The saddest is seeing grown men not only try and justify that, but justify the Star Wars prequels. Pathetic. Never underestimate the lengths people will take to rationalize their indulgences.

    Perhaps the Pope should do like Lucas and just sell the franchise to Disney. When you start editing out donkeys from the Nativity, you're no better than Lucas monkeying with the original Star Wars. Just let it go and leave it to people who can better manage the franchise.

  5. As a born and raised Catholic, thanks for calling me dumb and mocking my way of life. Also, your post makes no sense. Faith and blind faith are not necessarily the same thing, and using reason to examine my religious beliefs is not "rationalization" simply because it failed to eradicate my faith or convince you to believe. In my lifetime, I have given up on religion due to logical reasoning, but I've also come back to it after rational thinking (and not once in my life was I threatened with fire OR brimstone!).

    I should let it go, because this blog is clearly just you "rationalizing" your "indulgences" about something you already have made up your mind about, but I just wanted to point out the hypocrisy. Your arguments will convince no-one but those who have already made up their minds.

    I stumbled across this accidentally, and I do want to express my genuine appreciation that you write a blog rather than (it would seem) express these rather vitriolic views in real life. I'm sure you're a reasonable man off the internet, and we all need a place to vent. So, have fun hating religions, thanks for not being a dick about it!

  6. I'm not sure how, from this post, you came to the conclusion that I was calling you dumb. Perhaps from another post?Anyway, faith is a belief held through lack of evidence. I suppose your separation of faith and blind faith would be lack of evidence and no evidence? Either way, if there isn't enough evidence to support a belief, than it's not warranted to hold it. Saying it takes faith is just silly. That's another way of saying you really want to believe something, despite not having a good reason to. In other words, an excuse to indulge your desire. If your reason can't overcome your desires, don't cry to me about that and call me a hypocrite.As for my arguments being incapable of convincing you or anyone else who has forsaken their reason, well yeah, no shit. As Thomas Paine said, “to argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.”

  7. It is so interesting article you have shared here. I like that you are so innovative to deal with these things about faith and religion. A lot of people are so unique in their arguments and the things they know but it is always the required to know what is true.

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  12. "…..attempt to justify belief through logic."- musing.

  13. Brain twisting is quite natural to the human mind.

  14. ""to argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead."

    Yes, I've frequently… well, every time that I've encountered a person of no faith and their 'reason', I've noticed that such an observation is accurate. The faithless seem to have discarded all reason in their blind acceptance of the biases of men with some form of axe to grind against religion.

    I guess believing that life "simply happened" is a good enough explanation for something so complex and diverse, to those that call themselves enlightened. That sounds a lot like faith to me… albeit faith unfounded.

  15. Brain twisting is quite natural to the human mind

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  19. A brainteaser is a kind of puzzle that makes one realize totally new possibilities. Some brainteasers are simple, some are somewhat harder, and some can truly influence you to consider for some time. Regularly, when you at last hear the appropriate response, you feel uninformed or senseless, in light of the fact that it ought to have been clear to you. In any case, brainteasers are enjoyable. Consequently, we continue testing ourselves and trusting we show signs of improvement at fathoming them.

  20. This happened at a conference in Bristol on "Explaining religion". About a dozen speakers presented research and philosophical arguments, mostly falling into two camps: one arguing that religions are biologically adaptive, the other that they are by-products of cognitive mechanisms that evolved for other reasons. I spoke first, presenting the view from memetics that religions begin as by-products but then evolve and spread, like viruses, using humans to propagate themselves for their own benefit and to the detriment of the people they infect.
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