Confirmation Bias

I am going to tell you precisely why there cannot be a God, why the Bible is man-made and why Christadelphian teaching is wrong:

It is because there is not one single shred of credible, empirical, universally scientifically accepted evidence whatsoever to prove any of the above.

There is heaps of "evidence" (of a sort) for the above, but it all shares a common denominator. The common denominator is that this evidence only convinces the human mind if it is already pre-disposed to very substantially upgrade the value of that ambiguous evidence. This is called Confirmation Bias. Let me explain some of the science behind this concept.

Confirmation Bias

Confirmation bias is a tendency of people to favor information that confirms their existing beliefs or hypotheses. People display this bias when they gather or remember information selectively, or when they interpret it in a biased way. The effect is stronger for emotionally charged issues and for deeply entrenched beliefs such as religion. For example, in studying religious matters people usually prefer sources that affirm their existing beliefs. They also tend to interpret ambiguous evidence as supporting their existing beliefs.

Psychologists Jennifer Lerner and Philip Tetlock distinguished two different kinds of thinking process. "Exploratory Thought" neutrally considers multiple points of view and tries to anticipate all possible objections to every particular position. While "Confirmatory Thought" seeks to justify a specific point of view. Lerner and Tetlock say that when people expect to need to justify their position to other people, if the external parties are overly aggressive or critical, people will disengage from thought altogether, and simply assert their personal opinions without justification. Lerner and Tetlock say that people only push themselves to think critically and logically when they know in advance they will need to explain themselves to others who are well-informed and genuinely interested in the truth. Because those conditions rarely exist, they argue, most people are using confirmatory thought most of the time and are not thinking critically and rationally.

N.B. For a more detailed explanation of Confirmation Bias: Click here.
Because of the highly charged emotional nature of religion, in the minds of religious people Confirmation Bias takes on an addictive power similar to that of the strongest and most dangerous street drugs. Their thinking becomes as crazed as crack cocaine or heroin addicts and they become convinced that their nonsensical beliefs are perfectly rational.

Just like narcotic drug abusers, alcoholics and cigarette smokers seek to justify their mad, destructive habits ("It calms me down" or "I need a fix" etc) so religious people trot out pathetic, feeble and totally illogical reasons to justify their silly beliefs ("It brings me comfort"; "It's the will of God"; "It's our culture" or "I just know that it's right" etc).

And just as narcotic addicts, alcoholics and smokers feel better about their weakness when they are involved in a group with similar addictions; for example in a bar or a bunch of kids sniffing gas; so religious people get a form of group belief reinforcement when they come together. Delusion of an individual is quite rare; but group delusion is so common that most people on Earth are committed to some form of group delusion, either religious or political.

How Confirmation Bias Affected Me

That is exactly what happened to me when in 1967 I joined the Christadelphians.

Preconditioned by my family religion I went along with the group delusion of the Coventry Grosvenor Road Christadelphian Ecclesia and allowed them to baptise me. I imagined that I was undergoing some form of paranormal experience in which God, Jesus and angels were watching as my sins were washed away.

But the truth was that the whole thing was merely a charade. The paranormal stuff was only happening inside our heads. No supernatural beings were watching or listening to our prayers. If religion had never been invented and I did that on my own, my parents would have rushed me down to the local psychiatric hospital and the doctors would have diagnosed me as being seriously schizophrenic. But because it was done in front of two hundred straight faced Christadelphians who all believed the same delusion, it all made sense to everyone in the hall.

But it did not make any sense. It was an act of madness. Confirmation Bias was running completely out of control in the minds of everyone who witnessed my baptism. No one had the common sense to stand up and object to the foolish behaviour that was being carried out. Someone should have stopped what was happening but they did not. That is why I now cry out to the Christadelphians "STOP this madness." We must put an end to this illogical, misguided, deluded, Confirmation Bias fuelled mistaken behaviour of our religion and instead commit ourselves to the intellectually honest practice of what Lerner and Tetlock called "Exploratory Thought."

Dr John Thomas Tried To Overcome Confirmation Bias

I come back to the words that I admire so much, of Christadelphian founder Dr John Thomas:

"Investigate everything you believe - if it is the truth it cannot be injured; if error, the sooner it is corrected the better. Never be afraid of results to which you may be driven by your investigations, as this will inevitably bias your mind and disqualify you to arrive at ultimate truth."

Notice his use of the word "bias" in the above quotation. He was using the word in the exact same way that I am defining "Confirmation Bias." He says that we should "Never be afraid of the results to which you may be driven by your investigations." But that is precisely what Confirmation Bias is. It is a fear of being shown to be wrong that becomes an overwhelmingly powerful force driving us to ignore evidence contrary to our beliefs. The result is the blatant lunacy of all religious faith beliefs, including, sadly, our own Christadelphian religion, which is no better than the rest.

Faith buttressed by ignorant, addictive Confirmation Bias is a foundation of shifting sand on which to build belief.

A bedrock of evidence and rational thinking is the foundation of Christadelphian Atheist belief.

Why People Leave The Christadelphians

Ex-Christadelphians accept modern scientific
advances in human understanding and reject
faith based religious dogma 
Christadelphians find it exceedingly difficult to comprehend why anyone would deliberately choose to resign and become an Ex-Christadelphian. The typical Christadelphian imagines an Ex-Christadelphian to be a lonely, depressed, dejected, forlorn individual, without any hope or purpose in their life, enjoying the pitiful pleasures of sin for a short season while trembling at the prospect of Christ returning to heap damnation on their head at the final judgment.

But in reality, while the Christadelphian community is hidebound, leaderless, divided, conservative, exclusive, paranoid, out of touch, largely geriatric and increasingly irrelevant; the Ex-Christadelphian movement is a young, well educated, fast growing, confident, vibrant community. We have several different websites, discussion and support groups and an outreach programme designed to encourage Christadelphians to leave their religion. The truth for the Christadelphian community is that their brightest and best are often leaving to become Ex-Christadelphians because they see no credible evidence to support their family religion.

Ex-Christadelphians accept the findings of science about the great age of the Earth and of the Universe. We agree with human understanding about Continental Drift, Evolution and Genetics. We acknowledge the latest Israeli archaeological findings which deny the historical accuracy of the Pentateuch and much of the Biblical narrative prior to 700BC. We are liberal, reformist, inclusive, progressive and academically attuned to modern times.
So why the misunderstanding? Why don't Christadelphians "get" what we Ex-Christadelphians are all about? Why did we Ex-Christadelphians trade the prospect of eternal life and endless bliss in The Kingdom and beyond, for a few short years of frail mortality followed by endless death?

Are we the most stupid people on the face of the planet? - Or are we on to something? Could it be that we have found a prize that we value significantly higher than the prospect of living for ever?

Yes, we have. We Ex-Christadelphians have gained something that in our estimation is absolutely fantastic. The prospect of eternal life fades in comparison to what we have gained and we won't swap it for anything. We love what we have gained and we want the remaining Christadelphians to share our joy by writing their letter of resignation to their arranging brethren.

But sadly, it's not going to happen. It's not going to happen because most Christadelphians place no value on the precious thing that we Ex-Christadelphians have. They don't understand it; they don't even begin to comprehend what we have gained. When we try to explain it to Christadelphians they return a blank stare of baffled puzzlement. They are lost for words and shake their heads in confusion because they don't have the faintest idea what we are saying to them.

It's rather like a wealthy American tourist trying to explain to a destitute North Korean peasant what life is like in Manhattan. They just would not get it.

- Because we have gained our reason. We have broken free from an eccentric family religion and finally discovered that the whole Christadelphian thing is just a bunch of nonsense and that the promise of eternal life and "The Kingdom" is as empty and meaningless as the words of Christadelphian founder Dr John Thomas when he predicted that Christ would return in 1866.

We joined the Christadelphians because we thought that they had discovered "The Truth" but it was only when we plucked up the courage to leave that we finally found it.

Our truth is not a "Statement of Faith" that can be printed, copied and learned by rote. Our truth is an unfinished journey of discovery. Mankind has travelled some of that path and much of it lies uncharted in the future. We Ex-Christadelphians have fearlessly resumed our journey of seeking truth and we rejoice in our travels. We sorrow for the Christadelphians who have ended their journey of discovery and instead they have sat down in the road, suffering a group delusion.

Christadelphian founder Dr John Thomas wrote:

"Investigate everything you believe - if it is the truth it cannot be injured; if error, the sooner it is corrected the better. Never be afraid of results to which you may be driven by your investigations, as this will inevitably bias your mind and disqualify you to arrive at ultimate truth."

We Ex-Christadelphians agree with that statement; even if we disagree with almost everything else that John Thomas wrote. If those words and that philosophy were the guiding principle of the Christadelphian movement we might have delayed our leaving. But following the death of John Thomas, Robert Roberts, the first editor of The Christadelphian magazine, declared that "The Truth" had been discovered by John Thomas and he threatened excommunication to any like us who continued to search for truth about life and the Universe.

Robert Roberts ignorantly nailed "The Truth" to the floorboards when he fixed it in "The Statement of Faith" and in so doing he killed it. He killed it because he ended the search for truth and arrogantly proclaimed that he held it in his hand. He was wrong.

For a while, when we were Christadelphians, we Ex-Christadelphians were also afflicted by the group delusion of our family religion. But one by one we had the good sense to realise that all was not right in our religion and we plucked up our courage and handed in our letters of resignation, or allowed the Christadelphians to throw us out.

Now we rejoice in our freedom and the joy of our resumed search for truth. To us it is the most precious thing in the World. We are never going to return to the soporific, mind destroying tyranny of our Christadelphian days. Instead we are reaching out arms of love to our much loved previous brethren and sisters, to encourage them to awake out of their sleep of delusion and to join with us in our walk towards what our founder John Thomas called "Ultimate Truth."

Therein is the real difference between Christadelphians and Ex-Christadelphians. The former believe that they have found "The Truth." We believe that we are on a journey of discovery towards "Ultimate Truth."

The Ex-Christadelphian Continued

Dear readers and followers of the ex-christadelphian blog,

Due to a continual downward spiral in health, I have turned the ownership of this blog over to the capable hands of [redacted]. So, from now on, [redacted] is "The Ex-Christadelphian".

This is "Corky", signing off for now...take 'er away, [redacted], and thank you.