Author Topic: Compartmentalizing and Special Pleading.  (Read 1633 times)

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Offline MadBunny

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Compartmentalizing and Special Pleading.
« on: July 08, 2012, 10:47:47 PM »
Compartmentalizing.
I don't understand how theists are able to so completely compartmentalize their faith, and still maintain semi-rational seeming exteriors.




Let me give a simple example from a conversation I had recently.

I pointed out that the great thing about empirical evidence is that it requires no faith.
One of my go to examples for this is the moon landing, and the corner reflectors that were left there.



Essentially it doesn't matter what a person believes, if they think the moon is a hoax, made of cheese or that the government spent billions of dollars on hookers and hired actors to pretend we went to the moon.  Because there is a way to empirically show that we went there the whole argument is nullified.

The theist position on their god however is that it is a real thing.

For some reason they seem to think that it's acceptable to require somebody to believe in advance that their god exists before offering to show them that it exists.  Why on earth would seemingly normal people suddenly resort to the most blatant of special pleading like this?

I have honestly lost count of the number of times a conversation has died at this point.


Give a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a night.  Set a man on fire and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.

Offline boobatuba

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Re: Compartmentalizing and Special Pleading.
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2012, 11:25:50 PM »
Why on earth would seemingly normal people suddenly resort to the most blatant of special pleading like this?

Simple. It's their only recourse because there isn't any evidence because there aren't any gods.

Gosh, that was simple.

Offline The Wannabe

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Re: Compartmentalizing and Special Pleading.
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2012, 03:48:48 AM »
Theist do this because the idea of a deity that manipulates the environment in our favor is appealing to the human psyche.  It provides much comfort and reassurance to the believer, so much so that they protect this conceptual creator at all cost, even at the expense of logic and honesty.
"I would believe only in a God that knows how to Dance."  -Friedrich Nietzsche

Offline The Gawd

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Re: Compartmentalizing and Special Pleading.
« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2012, 10:20:29 PM »
@angryrabbit

I agree with you. I just cant wrap my mind around that sort of thought process. Believe first then you will believe? I cant even fix my mouth to say it. That and the blatant dishonesty are things I simply cant grasp. if you have to be dishonest about something why not just let it go?

Offline jetson

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Re: Compartmentalizing and Special Pleading.
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2012, 10:29:36 PM »
I have to add...the child that grows up among adults worshiping a god, is taught that adults are the authority, and you are not to question them on this topic.  This is the adult Santa Claus, and it is difficult to escape the delusion.  The child is literally trapped in this pathetic system of fear and authority.

Offline muchlove

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Re: Compartmentalizing and Special Pleading.
« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2012, 01:37:32 PM »
I have to add...the child that grows up among adults worshiping a god, is taught that adults are the authority, and you are not to question them on this topic.  This is the adult Santa Claus, and it is difficult to escape the delusion.  The child is literally trapped in this pathetic system of fear and authority.

It has to be more to it than that.  People question authority all the time, multiple revolutions on this planet bear witness to this.  Kids also question authority all the time (my kids question mine anyway :)).  And, most kids handle the whole Santa Claus thing pretty well.  Mine pretty much let go of Santa without blinking an eye.  At some point in time, there seems to be an innate inner desire to rebel or upset the status quo that most people go through.  How much more so, does it seem, we would rebel against something that doesn't exist?  Why stay subservient to something imaginary?  That doesn't seem to make much sense at all...so there must be a deeper explanation of what is happening underneath the surface.

Offline The Gawd

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Re: Compartmentalizing and Special Pleading.
« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2012, 01:53:07 PM »
@ muchlove

its probably the being told you'll go to hell part along with the promise of life after death.

I mean, I like playstation3 as much as the next man, but rebelling against Santa and the idea of god are two different things with different percieved consequences. In this case god benefits from not being tangible becuase you cant prove anything. When you dont believe in Santa you still get gifts.

[edit]
Oh, and welcome aboard!

Offline Quesi

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Re: Compartmentalizing and Special Pleading.
« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2012, 02:02:20 PM »
@muchlove  - I just wanted to wave hello and say welcome to the forum. 

Offline muchlove

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Re: Compartmentalizing and Special Pleading.
« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2012, 02:09:01 PM »
@ muchlove

its probably the being told you'll go to hell part along with the promise of life after death.

I mean, I like playstation3 as much as the next man, but rebelling against Santa and the idea of god are two different things with different percieved consequences. In this case god benefits from not being tangible becuase you cant prove anything. When you dont believe in Santa you still get gifts.

I think fear and hope, as you mention, are probably more powerful motivators than authority.  But even in that, if it seems clear that something is completely imaginary, it should be easy to let go of it.  And why just "God" per se?  Why isn't there such insane devotion by the masses to a plethora of gods?  Why did the Roman and Greek gods largely just fade away by all practical intents and purposes?  It seems the two main competitors on our planet are Islam and Christianity claiming the vast majority of belief.  They seem opposed to one another in many ways, but ultimately, they each claim to worship "God".  Where did all the other gods go?

Oh, and welcome aboard!

Thanks!

Offline muchlove

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Re: Compartmentalizing and Special Pleading.
« Reply #9 on: July 25, 2012, 02:10:45 PM »
@muchlove  - I just wanted to wave hello and say welcome to the forum.

Thanks!

Offline jdawg70

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Re: Compartmentalizing and Special Pleading.
« Reply #10 on: July 25, 2012, 06:11:10 PM »
I think fear and hope, as you mention, are probably more powerful motivators than authority.  But even in that, if it seems clear that something is completely imaginary, it should be easy to let go of it.  And why just "God" per se?  Why isn't there such insane devotion by the masses to a plethora of gods?  Why did the Roman and Greek gods largely just fade away by all practical intents and purposes?  It seems the two main competitors on our planet are Islam and Christianity claiming the vast majority of belief.  They seem opposed to one another in many ways, but ultimately, they each claim to worship "God".  Where did all the other gods go?

The fear component isn't only based on 'fear of pain' or 'fear of torture' or somesuch.  I suspect that part of the difficulty in letting go of god is the 'fear of immorality' - not so much that morality cannot exist without god but more that, at least in many an Abrahamic household, rejection of the belief in the existence of god makes you *immoral*.  People, in general I think, strive to be moral.  So that's one hurdle.

Another hurdle is the extremely murky definition of 'god'.  In a sense, there *is* insane devotion by the masses to a plethora of gods.  Yeah, sure, they all just say 'god' as in 'the man upstairs' or somesuch, but some people have devotion to a god that will deny homosexuals entrance into paradise, some people have devotion to a god that is indifferent to sexuality, some have a devotion to a god that is concerned with what you eat on Fridays for a few weeks a year, others devote their lives to a god that assures protection against the poison of snakes...

...and while it looks like I've just described characteristics of Yahweh, all I've described is an infinitely-flexible label.  It actually becomes harder to let go: in order to abandon my belief in the existence of a deity, I need to change a number of variables in my worldview.  Alternatively, I can change my conception of the one aspect of this god character that makes it 'clearly imaginary' and bring it back into the 'not clearly imaginary' circle of my worldview.  Which is pretty easy, insofar as any conception of any aspect of this god character has no referent in reality for me to evaluate the truth-value of any characterization I can give to god.
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Offline jynnan tonnix

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Re: Compartmentalizing and Special Pleading.
« Reply #11 on: July 25, 2012, 06:54:36 PM »

It has to be more to it than that.  People question authority all the time, multiple revolutions on this planet bear witness to this.  Kids also question authority all the time (my kids question mine anyway :)).  And, most kids handle the whole Santa Claus thing pretty well.  Mine pretty much let go of Santa without blinking an eye.  At some point in time, there seems to be an innate inner desire to rebel or upset the status quo that most people go through.  How much more so, does it seem, we would rebel against something that doesn't exist?  Why stay subservient to something imaginary?  That doesn't seem to make much sense at all...so there must be a deeper explanation of what is happening underneath the surface.

That's really the thing...and it depends on the kid's personality. It's why you find so many people who say they were brought up Christian but "became atheist" in their adolescent/early adult years, then found religion again.

 Because while there are those "followers", wired more to go along with the herd, who blindly believe what they are taught and can't imagine NOT believing, there are also those who go through a period of rebellion but fall right back into the comfort of belief as soon as they hit some real life obstacles in their path.

Then, of course, there are the others who start applying real critical thinking during their rebellion...but they were obviously never "TrueChristians" to begin with &)

Offline Red McWilliams

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Re: Compartmentalizing and Special Pleading.
« Reply #12 on: July 25, 2012, 10:12:29 PM »
This is certainly puzzling, for sure.  But what really gets me about these types of believers is why they feel the need to seek out evidence in the first place.  The bible doesn't call on believers to develop complex hermeneutics in order to gain salvation; they're told to have faith, that it's the highest honor they can give to god.  So why is faith insufficient for the faithful?
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Offline LoriPinkAngel

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Re: Compartmentalizing and Special Pleading.
« Reply #13 on: July 25, 2012, 11:15:48 PM »
@ muchlove -- that's a good question "whatever happened to the Greek gods?"  Does anyone know the story on how they faded into myth status?

@ Red -- faith is sufficient for some people.  Some people are very content to believe what they haven't seen. They peacefully accept that there are questions they may never know the answer to and inconsistencies they may never know the explanation for.  I don't happen to  fit in to the second category. But just because information hasn't been discovered doesn't mean it never existed or isn't waiting to be found.  Just because something hasn't been done to our knowledge to date doesn't mean it never will be.  But then again the whole bible could have been a couple guys ideas for an epic novel that some simpletons got ahold of and somehow it accidentally got portrayed as real.  Who knows.
It doesn't make sense to let go of something you've had for so long.  But it also doesn't make sense to hold on when there's actually nothing there.

Offline DumpsterFire

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Re: Compartmentalizing and Special Pleading.
« Reply #14 on: July 26, 2012, 02:01:27 AM »
@ muchlove

its probably the being told you'll go to hell part along with the promise of life after death.

I mean, I like playstation3 as much as the next man, but rebelling against Santa and the idea of god are two different things with different perceived consequences. In this case god benefits from not being tangible because you cant prove anything. When you don't believe in Santa you still get gifts.

I would add that as a child ages, it becomes fairly obvious to him that adults do not possess a belief in Santa, and most parents "spill the beans" about the non-existence of Santa Clause at some point, usually sometime after the kid has already figured it out for himself anyway.

Contrast that with a scenario where nearly every adult a child trusts adheres to the exact same dogma in which the child is being indoctrinated. It is rare for anyone under such circumstances to ever recognize or challenge the shortcomings of their faith.

edit: clarity
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Offline IAmFirst

Re: Compartmentalizing and Special Pleading.
« Reply #15 on: July 26, 2012, 04:43:54 AM »
Since we were "compartmentalized" or even "marginalized" into thinking that god was real when we were around three years old, that's why it's hard to convince a regular Jane or Joe into thinking it's impossible. What's even harder is convincing the god they believe in was human invented and more amoral than the creep at the movie theater. Shit, even Pol Pot looks weak against Yahweh with only approx. 22% of a country's population murdered. Jehoovooh killed the whole WORLD! ( praise it! :D )

You could never convince a normal 18-year-old kid who never heard of religion that this god loves said kid.
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Offline screwtape

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Re: Compartmentalizing and Special Pleading.
« Reply #16 on: July 26, 2012, 07:59:25 AM »
faith is sufficient for some people.  Some people are very content to believe what they haven't seen.

It could be, but I've never encountered such a person.  Maybe that person is disinclined to argue with idiots on the internet.  Or maybe that person is secure enough to not need to blather about their stupid beliefs to anyone who is willing to sit still long enough for them to blather.  Or maybe that person doesn't exist. 

What I do know, is every single religious person I have ever talked to can had a chance to challenge them about their beliefs has felt the need to justify them, rationalize them.  I have never, ever come across a biblical literalist who has not tried to say the noachian flood was just a miracle and they just believe it.  They always and in every instance have tried to point to evidence for it, and explain how possible it was to build an arc, and hypothesize about how the animals could have got there and back.  Not a one of them has ever said "you're right.  It sounds crazy and all the evidence is against my belief, but I believe it anyway."  Never.  Stupid beliefs always come with stupid justifications.

These people should be caged and eaten.
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Offline LoriPinkAngel

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Re: Compartmentalizing and Special Pleading.
« Reply #17 on: July 26, 2012, 09:52:39 AM »
^^ if you want to eat people you should eat vegetarians, the meat is better...
It doesn't make sense to let go of something you've had for so long.  But it also doesn't make sense to hold on when there's actually nothing there.

Offline screwtape

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Re: Compartmentalizing and Special Pleading.
« Reply #18 on: July 26, 2012, 11:18:10 AM »
I do not want to eat people.  I was not suggesting xians should be eaten by other people.  They could be eaten by lions or bears or pythons or alligators or aardvarks or rats or whatever. 
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Offline muchlove

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Re: Compartmentalizing and Special Pleading.
« Reply #19 on: July 26, 2012, 12:45:05 PM »
What I do know, is every single religious person I have ever talked to can had a chance to challenge them about their beliefs has felt the need to justify them, rationalize them.  I have never, ever come across a biblical literalist who has not tried to say the noachian flood was just a miracle and they just believe it.  They always and in every instance have tried to point to evidence for it, and explain how possible it was to build an arc, and hypothesize about how the animals could have got there and back.  Not a one of them has ever said "you're right.  It sounds crazy and all the evidence is against my belief, but I believe it anyway."  Never.  Stupid beliefs always come with stupid justifications.

Do you think they feel the need to justify it for themselves, or to you because they're trying to win you over to belief?  Both?  I'm just wondering if some of those who you're referring to are doing that more for the benefit of the argument, rather than their own need to reconcile their beliefs?

Offline screwtape

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Re: Compartmentalizing and Special Pleading.
« Reply #20 on: July 26, 2012, 01:20:14 PM »
Do you think they feel the need to justify it for themselves,

This^.  On their own, they don't think about it.  It is only when someone points out just how silly it is that they feel the need to justify it.  By and large, that is how brains work.  They make decisions based on emotion and later attempt justify it with logic and reason. 

For whatever reason, when someone else points out how incongruous your beliefs are with reality, you are less likely to reject or correct your beliefs and you are more likely to double down on stupid.  If you were to be pro-actively critical of your beliefs - a rare thing indeed - then I think you are more likely to find flaws and correct your beliefs.

 
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Offline LoriPinkAngel

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Re: Compartmentalizing and Special Pleading.
« Reply #21 on: July 26, 2012, 01:39:44 PM »
I know many things defy logic and I don't care.  I do enjoy searching for answers because it is interesting.  I have no aim to convert anyone to what I believe; if everyone I conversed with believed the same thing that would be extremely boring. I don' t consider people who have opposite beliefs of mine, or unproven beliefs to be stupid.
It doesn't make sense to let go of something you've had for so long.  But it also doesn't make sense to hold on when there's actually nothing there.

Offline screwtape

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Re: Compartmentalizing and Special Pleading.
« Reply #22 on: July 26, 2012, 01:54:31 PM »
I know many things defy logic and I don't care.

Well, I did not specifically say "illogical".  I said irrational.  Unresonable.  Logic is a specific tool that can produce bad conclusions if bad premises are selected.  Usually when people say "logical" they mean "rational", as in, I have a solid reason to hold this belief.  Or do you mean actually mean, logic?   

Give me an example of something that is not logical (or rational, whichever you mean) that you believe.  Because I suspect you should care very much.

I don' t consider people who have ...unproven beliefs to be stupid.

"Proven" is a loaded word.  In most coversational language it is used to mean "as shown by evidence" or "well founded".  In technical terms, which we often use, proofs are only for mathematics.

Smart people sometimes have unfounded beliefs.  But it is stupid to do so.

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Offline LoriPinkAngel

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Re: Compartmentalizing and Special Pleading.
« Reply #23 on: July 26, 2012, 02:27:35 PM »
The first time I perused this forum I was taken aback by how some posters tear apart so many aspects of other posts. But now I take a much more lighthearted approach.  I admit I did look up "logical" and "rational" in my dictionary to see if I was totally misusing the word logic.  My dictionary is pretty old but the definitions were so similar as to make these terms appear interchangeable.  As I said before - I'm not trying to change anyone's beliefs or worldview.  I'm generally a peaceful person.  I don't think it's my place to dictate what anyone else should care about if it doesn't directly affect my life. I wouldn't refer to another person's views or beliefs as stupid unless they were intentionally hurtful. (ie. racist, insulting, belittling) I think in general aetheist arguments that I have encountered are well researched and thorough.  I just prefer to have a little magic in my life. So call me a flake if you want to.
It doesn't make sense to let go of something you've had for so long.  But it also doesn't make sense to hold on when there's actually nothing there.

Offline Azdgari

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Re: Compartmentalizing and Special Pleading.
« Reply #24 on: July 26, 2012, 02:40:40 PM »
As I said before - I'm not trying to change anyone's beliefs or worldview.  I'm generally a peaceful person. ...

So a teacher is being violent toward a student merely by trying to teach mathematics.  Good to know.

Was it your intention to equate education to violence?  As in, something a peaceful person should never do.
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Offline screwtape

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Re: Compartmentalizing and Special Pleading.
« Reply #25 on: July 26, 2012, 02:46:40 PM »
So call me a flake if you want to.

Okay, you're a flake.

I did not think my post was hostile or aggressive.  I did not think I was tearing anything apart.  I thought I was clearly illustrating how we may use words differently and trying to establish a common understanding.  I intended it to be friendly. 

I would consider it a courtesy if you answered the questions I asked.
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Offline LoriPinkAngel

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Re: Compartmentalizing and Special Pleading.
« Reply #26 on: July 26, 2012, 03:09:58 PM »
As I said before - I'm not trying to change anyone's beliefs or worldview.  I'm generally a peaceful person. ...

So a teacher is being violent toward a student merely by trying to teach mathematics.  Good to know.

Was it your intention to equate education to violence?  As in, something a peaceful person should never do.
what part of my statement implies violence?
It doesn't make sense to let go of something you've had for so long.  But it also doesn't make sense to hold on when there's actually nothing there.

Offline Azdgari

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Re: Compartmentalizing and Special Pleading.
« Reply #27 on: July 26, 2012, 03:28:07 PM »
The part I quoted does.  That's why I quoted it.  You invoked a dichotomy between trying to change peoples' minds, and being a peaceful person.  As if changing peoples' minds (which includes all instances of education)  was somehow violent.  Or at least, "non-peaceful".  Which is pretty much the definition of "violent".
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Offline LoriPinkAngel

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Re: Compartmentalizing and Special Pleading.
« Reply #28 on: July 26, 2012, 03:30:06 PM »

I would consider it a courtesy if you answered the questions I asked.

I will try...  The most illogical/irrational/unreasonable aspect of my life does not involve religion - it is my significant other.  We are different in every way -- race, age, culture, language, education, socioeconomic background & status, his kids are adults, I have a 12 yr old, it's now a long distance relationship, so many things, when I met him he appeared to be the exact bad choice I had made many times before and I "didn't care" and "wasn't going to get attached", yet 9 years later he is one of the best choices I've ever made.  "On paper"  there is no reason our relationship should have gotten this far but it gets better every day. (Sorry about the mush!!!) And it does not feel like hard work, it feels effortless.
It doesn't make sense to let go of something you've had for so long.  But it also doesn't make sense to hold on when there's actually nothing there.