Originally posted on July 15, 2012
I meant to post a comment (not my verse; that came later) to this site–but they want me to sign up in order to do that, and I am unwilling.
Er, this is just one of those standard, free WordPress blogs. As with hundreds of thousands of other WordPress blogs, people who comment have to provide some username and some email address. I have no control over what is required.
DC tells us that I have missed the point entirely in that “Open-mindedness has nothing to do with whether you expect to find the evidence–it’s a matter of what you do when actually presented with the evidence.”
So DC claims he/she would have posted this in the comments section of this blog:
How open are believers to the possibility that god might *not* exist? That should be your standard of comparison for “open-mindedness”. We have a better set of case studies there, because we can actually (for some, but not all believers) disconfirm some basic beliefs, and see how open-minded they are. Given the reams of evidence regarding the age of the universe, the age of our species, etc., we can see young-earth creationists as particularly closed-minded (or, to use their vocabulary, “faithful”).
For starters, I am not a young earth creationist. What’s more, I fail to see how certain Christians being closed-minded about the age of the earth is supposed to mean there are no closed-minded atheists. As to the question, “How open are believers to the possibility that god might *not* exist?” I can’t speak for believers, but I can speak for myself.
Answer – I’m quite open to the possibility that God might not exist. First of all, I already mentioned that I would score myself as a 2.5 on Dawkins scale.
Contrast this with Dawkins’ 6.9. Recall that a perfectly agnostic person is a 4. So while I am three steps from agnosticism, Dawkins is six steps away from agnosticism. Ironically, while atheists and agnostics are often grouped together, I, as a Christian theist, am closer to agnosticism than Dawkins and most atheists. In other words, I am more open-minded about this issue.
Secondly, keep in mind that I am one who has said, “I am happy to acknowledge that atheism is a reasonable position to hold. I don’t agree with atheists, but that does not mean I think they are unreasonable or stupid.”
Does anyone really think Dawkins could reciprocate and acknowledge that Christian theism is at least reasonable? Of course not. To people like Dawkins, Christianity is not only nonsense, but dangerous nonsense. And people simply don’t keep an open mind about dangerous nonsense, now do they?
DC then asks:
What evidence can you think of that would give an equal test for a Dawkins-type atheist?
It would all depend on what data Dawkins was willing to count as evidence. My guess is that he needs a Super-Duper Miracle that no scientist could every possibly explain. And nothing less. For the door to his mind is shut. Not just shut, but locked, dead-bolted, and nailed shut. Thus, he would need something that would “blow his mind” open – a Super-Duper Miracle.
Open-mindedness does not, and need not, speak to how open one is to the possibility of evidence existing. Open-mindedness speaks to how one reacts when evidence is actually presented.
It’s not either/or. It’s both. If one is not open to the possibility of evidence existing, not only is it closed by definition, but it means the brain is excessively predisposed to engage in disconfirmation bias when presented with any candidate for evidence. This is because once someone has reached the state of a closed mind by denying the real possibility of evidence existing, a consideration of evidence that is presented is no longer just about some search for truth, but now also entails the need to justify one’s previously reached conclusion of closing their mind. That is, the disconfirmation bias functions as a rationalization and self-justification. And if the atheist is also an activist for atheism, then there is also the “cause” to think about. And if the atheist is a somewhat famous activist atheist, then there is the need to keep his/her fans happy. Again, it’s clearly no longer just about some search for truth,
I can be absolutely certain that no evidence for god will ever be forthcoming, so long as I am willing to admit that I was wrong when (or if) evidence actually shows up. That’s the thing about evidence; it doesn’t care if you expected it.
This is inaccurate. Evidence does not show up. Data show up. What one’s mind does with the data will determine whether or not it is mentally transformed into evidence. If someone is absolutely certain that no evidence for god will ever be forthcoming, then we know from psychology that people tend to see what they expect to see. Thus, we would expect this closed minded person to be blind any to evidence for God (short of a Super-Duper Miracle) since the power of expectation fuses with the power of disconfirmation bias.
If atheists can’t see this, how would they react if a single word change was made and a creationist said, “I can be absolutely certain that no evidence for evolution will ever be forthcoming, so long as I am willing to admit that I was wrong when (or if) evidence actually shows up. That’s the thing about evidence; it doesn’t care if you expected it.”