By John Bedson
There is a common mistake made in the Theist/Atheist debate that either side of the discussion can convert the other if they present the evidence for their case in a convincing manner.
This is not true. The Theist/Atheist debate is not about considering the relevant evidence and drawing a conclusion. It is actually a debate about the best way to consider evidence itself and draw meaningful conclusions. It is about practicing the most efficient and accurate way to acquire knowledge.
Let me write that again in different words in case you did not get my meaning.
The Theist/Atheist debate is at root a disagreement about how to think.
The Theists have a dogmatic formulation of religious beliefs that don't require any evidence or proof. By definition a religion has to be believed, not proved. If you could prove a set of religious beliefs it would cease to be a religion and instead it would become science. Claims like the existence of God or the divine inspiration of the Bible can't be proved and they can't be falsified. They have to be believed by faith because they are not part of science or human understanding..
That is to say, the evidence for their truth is either so tenuous, or open to other interpretations, or simply absent, that faith is the only mechanism whereby the human mind can be tricked into accepting their religious theses as being true.
Or to put it another way; religious people can take an extremely doubtful and ill proven hypothesis, sprinkle the magic dust of faith on it and magically transform it in their own mind into an unshakeable truth. This unshakable truth is further reinforced by the inevitable accompanying promises of endless bliss as a reward for belief and nasty punishments as a consequence of unbelief.
This is nothing new to Christadelphianism. This is how religious belief has been promulgated for approximately the last 150,000 years. The local shaman or priest announced that the hunt would be successful, or the crops would grow better, or the wives would be fertile, if a sheep, or goat or child was sacrificed. If this was not done, then the gods would be annoyed and everyone would go hungry. Superstitious people used faith to fill in the gaps in the reasoning and obeyed.
This is exactly how Christadelphians think. Like all religions their dogmatic beliefs are not science; they are not human understanding; they are magical and outrageous. They can't begin to prove anything of what they preach and the scraps of "evidence" that they present to support their case are as ridiculous as the relics of saints' bones in medieval times. But sprinkled with the magic dust of faith and reinforced by promises of an eternal Paradisiacal reward for those who are stupid enough to be conned and threats of damnation for those who are sensible enough to realise that it is all a scam, Christadelphian believers arrive at a strong fixation that their beliefs are true.
When challenged by Ex-Christadelphians, believers come out with the most ludicrous statements, like the one an hour ago on this website:
"I do not have to demonstrate that God exists."
That is a mind so far gone on superstitious belief that the writer feels no requirement to justify belief in the supernatural. The fact that they believe is all that is required for evidence; because unbelief is thought to be punishable by death and belief is rewarded by eternal life.
It is not really belief in God, because there is no proof. Instead it is belief that an inner conviction within the believer's own mind is inerrant. Therefore it is a form of self worship. They are worshipping the conviction that they can't be wrong about a thesis that absent of proof they believe.
It is a primitive way of thinking. It is not appropriate to think that way in the 21st Century. There is no way that the truth of anything can be discovered by using thought processes like that. In our age we know that the scientific method is a better way to acquire knowledge. It is generally understood in places of learning that the only reliable way to know the truth of anything is to allow reality to speak for itself. Once you superimpose your own religious version of reality on your understanding of anything, truth will be lost.
So the debate between Ex-Christadelphians and Christadelphians is not so much a discussion about the meaning of evidence. It is a discussion between two sets of individuals whose method of thinking and acquiring knowledge is radically different. We can't enlighten Christadelphians about the error in their beliefs until we first demonstrate to them the error in their way of thinking about life and arriving at conclusions.
This is an extremely difficult thing to accomplish. Christadelphians think primitively and inappropriately because they have done it for so long that it has become habit. It is reinforced by the carrot of eternal reward and the stick of damnation. It is further buttressed by constant exposure to fellow Christadelphians who also think in the same dysfunctional manner.
All that we can do is to bear witness in the pages of this website to the many advantages of enlightened thinking and the inappropriateness of primitive, superstitious reasoning. Over time; over many years; some of them will deconvert. We won't do it; they will do it themselves. But that's OK. Our reward will be that we will have contributed to the advancement of human understanding and the elimination of a faulty way of reasoning.
No eternal life for us; just the quiet satisfaction that we did something for humanity.