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.

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