Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Truth vs make-believe

Aron Ra is a strange-looking guy with a weird name, but he's a great speaker who knows what he's talking about.

You've heard me say this before, but I care about the truth of my beliefs. I need to have good reasons to think my beliefs are true, and if they're not true, I want to know that, so I can change them.

So I examine my beliefs critically. I know I could be wrong, so I'm always testing my beliefs. I ask myself how I know what I think I know, and I talk to people who disagree with me and listen to what they have to say.*

The faith-based don't seem to care whether their beliefs are true or not. (Indeed, I've often had them tell me that.) They just want to believe what they want to believe. Well, if you don't care if your beliefs are true or not, they're almost certainly not.

One of the things I liked about this video was the contrasting quotes from William Jennings Bryan, a faith-based Christian and politician, and Carl Sagan, atheist and scientist.

William Jennings Bryan:
"If the Bible had said that Jonah swallowed the whale, I would believe it."

"One miracle is just as easy to believe as another."

"If we have to give up either religion or education, we should give up education."

Carl Sagan:
"[The] only sacred truth [in science] is that there are no sacred truths. All assumptions must be critically examined. Whatever is inconsistent with the facts - no matter how fond of it we are - must be discarded or revised."

Which stance seems more reasonable to you?

* For example, I've had a conversation with a theist recently, someone who sent me a private message on YouTube. But while I keep doing my best to answer his questions and reply to his points, he just ignores mine.

It's not really a dialogue, because he doesn't seem to pay any attention to what I say. When I counter his arguments, he just ignores it. When I ask him a question, he doesn't bother to reply.

He claims that he could refute my "errors in theology and history" if he wanted. He also claims that he has "very good reasons" for his belief. But that's as far as it goes. He doesn't actually bother to refute my "errors" or to tell me what those reasons are.

Yeah, it's been a complete waste of time. But what can I do? I can listen to what people have to say, but I can't make them say something useful - especially if they don't have anything useful to say.


m1nks said...

It's his voice. I love it - it's so calming, I could listen to it for ages, even if all he spoke was drivel.

Fortunately his content is as interesting as his voice.

WCG said...

I don't know, m1nks. Men's voices don't normally affect me like that. :)

For me, it's the content. He just seems remarkably... sane, I guess. (And I mentioned his appearance only because he doesn't look that rational - I mean, if you're the kind of person who judges by such things.)

Gregg Garthright said...

I really like Aaron Ra, but it took me a while to get past the look. He's pretty sharp, and does a great job of making his point.

WCG said...

Yes, indeed.

And I'm not sure what to think about 'the look.' On the one hand, appearance shouldn't matter. It's certainly none of my business, and I generally do stick with that.

But on the other hand, if you want people to take you seriously - and Aron Ra is a great spokesman for atheism - appearance does have an effect.

Of course, maybe the point is that appearance shouldn't matter. But I can't help but think that it does, when you're trying to convince other people of something.