Saturday, 17 March 2012

Things Christians Say, Part 7: You're SO closed minded

A weekly series of responses to the things Christians say to atheists, based on the video reproduced here on 30th January 2012.  The aim is to tackle one every weekend, to give both a moderate, polite response to each question ('Piano'), followed by a more forceful rebuttal of the same question ('Forte'). 

You're SO closed-minded!


Requiring evidence before believing something surprising is not the same as being closed-minded, is it?  I would like to think that I can look at the world and consider all the possible explanations about how it came to be this way.

I happen to find it interesting first to consider the explanations that are based on all the human observations that have been made so far.  Critical thinking actually demands an open mind.  It is absolutely necessary to be able to consider the possibility of new options.  If I can't understand the world on this scientific basis, then perhaps I would have to consider other options on the basis of their merits, and one option is that we do not yet know the answer.  Falling back on supernatural explanations is very much a last resort for me though.

Many Christians do not do the same.  They fail to look at the conflicting evidence and counter arguments against their position, and by doing that I feel that they are missing so much of the beauty of the world.

If you honestly use the argument that non-believers are closed-minded, then I can only quote Christopher Hitchens who said to someone who asked a silly question

"You give the awful impression of someone who has not read any of the arguments against your position ever."

An open mind accepts new ideas!



This accusation is one that I find very hard to understand.  I'm assuming that this is the opposite of open-minded, but assumptions like this do not always work when talking with theists.  The sands of logic shift much too often.

I am so closed-minded that, as a former Christian, I opened my mind and dared to consider the possibility that there is no God.  The more I explore these ideas, the more I am convinced that there are no other deities either.  I still consider the question to be an open one.  However, I think the probability that I will see any convincing evidence that makes me change my mind back is vanishingly small.  I'm a fir 6.9 on the Dawkins' seven point scale.

I have gone from being a lazy, closed-minded Christian to being an open-minded atheist very comfortably and without trauma.  I can only recommend it!

Do supernatural options fit into the set of possible explanations though?  For me, no, not really.  The reason for this is that it seems to be an intellectually lazy option.  "I can't personally work out how that happened . . . so it must have been God!" doesn't explain anything at all.  Such an explanation requires an explanation in itself.

Cogito ergo non ovis - not a sheep!

Last week:  You can't prove there is no god
Next week:  The bible is totally scientific!


Hilary said...

1) I think I am correct in saying that you were not actually a christian, as you had never actually had a conversion experience such that you encountered the living Jesus Christ personally. When you experience such a conversion, then this is sufficient to know that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
2) Your position is that of a materialist, from which position you begin. A Christian begins from a spiritual basis of faith, that 'In the beginning God...' and understands all that is made in the light of this belief.
3) I do not tend to say that atheists are closed minded as such since it could equally be said that Christians, including me, are closed minded, which is true as I am not open to their being no God, as I know, that there is, so to pretend that there isn't would be to do exactly that, to pretend. However, for those who have not experienced an encounter with the risen Jesus Christ I would suggest you consider that He is indeed real, and was and is, Grace and Truth. We will all stand before Him one day, whether you believe in Him or not.

Me said...

Faith does not equal proof, so on what basis is he real?

Andrew said...

This is disgusting. I'm glad you atleast admit you're close minded. I hate that last sentence! It's an overused phrase in any religion with the sole purpose of scaring people and controlling them. I don't know what you're trying to prove.

Plasma Engineer said...

Sorry Hilary, but I must admit that I agree with Andrew about the implied threat in that last sentence. How can you know that? How could you possibly know? You can't and you don't. You would just like us to think that you know.

Plasma Engineer said...

Blogger was obviously misbehaving for you (as it sometimes does in the comments feature). Thanks for the comment and the good question. I cleaned up the repeated entries.

Maz said...

You have to have 'a conversion experience such that you encountered the living Jesus Christ personally' to be a Christian? Theres going to be a few billion disappointed people in the world then.

Hilary said...

Andrew, one of the things that I think is difficult as a blogger and as a commenter on blogs is that the only thing we know and perceive of one another is what we read, obviously. So when comments are made, or posts are written which reminds us of people we know who have said similar things, it sparks us off and puts us on the wrong foot with the person who has posted or commented. I think your reaction to my comment was more about your perceptions of what you think my motives were than about my actual comment. I can assure you I have no desire to scare or control, the reason I comment on my friend P.E's blog from time to time is because he has invited me to, and is gracious enough to allow me to post comments which are contrary to the views of both himself and no doubt of those who read this blog. However, on commenting, I do not hold back from sharing my faith and therefore my views. My belief that yes one day we will all appear before the Judgement seat of Christ is something I do believe/know will happen one day. I use the word 'know' here because ever since I experienced my own conversion with was deeply profound, this was part of the revelation of that conversion. I believe Jesus Christ is God, that to understand who God is, we need to look at the character, person and words of Jesus as given to us in the New Testament. The law was given by Moses but Grace and Truth came to us in Jesus Christ. He is not some tyrant, He is light and life and I see in the pages of the New Testament a Person who was Joyful, loved life, loved people, who had endless compassion etc etc...on my conversion I encountered the Risen Jesus Christ, and there is a promise of the Bible that 'whoever searches with all their heart soul, mind and strength will find...'. God looks for those with contrite and humble hearts towards Him....

Kenny Wyland said...

Hilary, may I ask you a question? Do you have any children or do you plan to have any children?

It seems to me that you will have to raise them as atheists if you follow your own logic, because you need them to have a conversion moment for them to be true Christians.

As a funny side note, the phrase "However, for those who have not experienced an encounter with the risen Jesus Christ..." made me envision Jesus Christ as a zombie rising out of the grave... which then reminded me of a very funny NerdCore Hip-Hop song called "Night of the Living Christ."

Unknown said...

Props to Andrew for allowing Hilary the freedom to express her opinion in an atheist space. It's refreshing that folk allow *unrestricted* opposing views on their blog. I frequently run into censorship even from "skeptical" bloggers with whom I don't see eye to eye. Theist blogs are often closed entirely to comment. Fair to say the marketplace of ideas is *open* here. Thanks-