How do I know that Your god is The One, True God: Q11?

The following is part of a Series called Conversation with a Deconverter.

Deutsch: Helios-Metope, Troja, Athena-Tempel, ...

Helios

Question Number 11

Induction Fail Substitution

Now I’d like to ask you about those same six psychological phenomenon, those six tools of the religious trade, by performing substitutions. Reviewing our previous discussion about Helios:

Adherents will often seek out a concrete pattern to confirm a pre-existing, general belief. It is a form of failed induction. But failures of inductive reasoning can occur anytime there is a pattern in a set of specific examples in which multiple general solutions are possible. In these cases people will tend to adopt the pattern that induces their pre-existing beliefs. Since life is full of cases in which multiple general solutions exist to specific occurrences in life, this is readily exploited as well. The rate at which this occurs in a randomly selected group of people is around 73%; that is, 73% will tend to confirm a general solution that is incorrect or not verifiable by the pattern given.

Let me begin by describing the ancient Greek explanation of the Sun’s apparent movement; that the Sun God Helios is pulling it across the sky from his fiery chariot. Of course, we know it only looks that way and the Sun is not moving across the sky, the Earth is rotating, and the Creator would have to know this. This is a strong clue that the author of this story and the Creator of the Universe are not one and the same. We could say that the author was clever and creative, but nonetheless human.

Helios is the young Greek god of the sun. He is the son of Hyperion and Theia. By the Oceanid Perse he became the father of Aeetes, Circe, and Parsiphae. His other children are Phaethusa (“radiant”) and Lampetia (“shining”) and Phaeton.

Each morning at dawn he rises from the ocean in the east and rides in his chariot; pulled by four horses – Pyrois, Eos, Aethon and Phlegon – through the sky, to descend at night in the west. Helios once allowed Phaeton to guide his chariot across the sky. The unskilled youth could not control the horses and fell towards his death.

Homer describes Helios as giving light both to gods and men: he rises in the east from Oceanus, though not from the river, but from some lake or bog (limnê) formed by Oceanus, rises up into heaven, where he reaches the highest point at noon time, and then he descends, arriving in the evening in the darkness of the west, and in Oceanus. (Il. vii. 422, Od. iii. 1, &c., 335, iv. 400, x. 191, xi. 18, xii. 380.) Later poets have marvellously embellished this simple notion: they tell of a most magnificent palace of Helios in the east, containing a throne occupied by the god, and surrounded by personifications of the different divisions of time (Ov. Met. ii. 1, &c.); and while Homer speaks only of the gates of Helios in the west, later writers assign to him a second palace in the west, and describe his horses as feeding upon herbs growing in the islands of the blessed. (Nonn. Dionys. xii. 1, &c.; Athen. vii. 296; Stat. Theb. iii. 407.) The points at which Helios rises and descends into the ocean are of course different at the different seasons of the year; and the extreme points in the north and south, between which the rising and setting take place, are the tropai êelioio. (Od. xv. 403; Hes. Op. et Dies, 449, 525.) The manner in which Helios during the night passes front the western into the eastern ocean is not mentioned either by Homer or Hesiod, but later poets make him sail in a golden boat round one-half of the earth, and thus arrive in the east at the point from which he has to rise again. This golden boat is the work of Hephaestus. (Athen. xi. 469; Apollod. ii. 5. § 10; Eustath. ad Hom. p. 1632.) Others represent him as making his nightly voyage while slumbering in a golden bed. (Athen. xi. 470.) The horses and chariot with which Helios makes his daily career are not mentioned in the Iliad and Odyssey, but first occur in the Homeric hymn on Helios (9, 15; comp. in Merc. 69, in Cer. 88), and both are described minutely by later poets. (Ov. Met. ii. 106, &c.; Hygin. Fab. 183; Schol. ad Eurip. Pholen. 3 ; Pind. Ol. vii. 71.)

A similar story comes from a myth from Africa. It is a Kenyan creation story and can be found in a book called African Mythology. In it, the Sun and Moon were supposed to have the same light producing capacity but the Moon got mud on it when the Sun and Moon fought. Inaccurate and Earth bound descriptions are thus used and these are strong clues that a religion story was not authorized by the Universe’s architect. The key in these examples is to stress that these are only clues, not proof of anything.

So, imagine a person living in that time who fully and totally believed the Helios narrative. Suppose this person believed this because their parents and all the Greeks they knew also believed it. Of course, let us assume in any case that they had the freedom to explore, read and learn of other points of view; including those of other gods that existed at the time and the views of other cultures known to the Greeks at that time. So, in this example, our Greek person holds this view of the Helios narrative very solidly and strongly. It is ingrained from birth. This particular individual, in our example, harbors no doubt whatsoever about the truth of the Helios narrative.

And we can see why.

Even so, this person could easily educate themselves on alternative views. But they don’t because study after study done on this subject shows that when a person believes something they tend to seek out confirmation of that belief, not anything that argues against it. And this preference is apparently very strong. Academics call this Confirmation Bias which I’ll describe below. So, this confirmation bias says this person might never pursue any other source material, or listen to arguments or ideas that support an alternative narrative – such as a foreign or alternative religion’s narrative – because it is human nature to seek out confirmation of a belief rather than an alternative. But let us add another wrinkle to this story. Suppose the “adherent” who believed in the Helios narrative as above also established his or her own logic to back it up; reasoning that the sun does appear to move across the sky and the background story on Helios is accepted by everyone he knows and in fact is recorded in ancient texts as being true. Ergo, Helios dragging the sun across the sky does in fact explain what he or she observes, he or she reasons.

About Confirmation Bias

Adherents will often seek out a concrete pattern to confirm a pre-existing, general belief. It is a form of failed induction. But failures of inductive reasoning can occur anytime there is a pattern in a set of specific examples in which multiple general solutions are possible. In these cases people will tend to adopt the pattern that induces their pre-existing beliefs. Since life is full of cases in which multiple general solutions exist to specific occurrences in life, this is readily exploited as well. The rate at which this occurs in a randomly selected group of people is around 73%; that is, 73% will tend to confirm a general solution that is incorrect or not verifiable by the pattern given.

I’d like to ask you a hypothetical in the form of what is called a binary comparison. I will pose it not as a question of how likely one thing is, but, rather, which of two things is more likely than the other. So, I’m going to ask if it appears more likely that the Helios narrative emerged as a result of Confirmation Bias or just because Helios is The One, True God. If those were the only two options you had, which would be more likely? It will be clear in a minute why I’m asking it this way.

Relating this question back to Question Number One

Recalling Question 1:

Suppose I live in a society in which a common story told is that when little children make straight “A”s in school a magical professor flies around the globe in a chariot going to each house where such a child resides and tosses candy down the chimney for that child as a reward for having done so well in school. Now, suppose I show you a study that clearly, and with a sound methodology and considerable replication of results, shows that children will tend to believe stories like this if they are sufficiently young and their parents and their community reinforce the tale. They call this phenom the “A” effect.

The question is:

Is it more likely that the children believe this story because of the A effect or because there is a magical professor that flies around in a chariot dropping candy down several million chimneys?

We can generate a general defense of our approach and use of the Conjunction Rule:

Let there be a set of causes Q where causes a, b, … n element of Q.

and S NOT an element of Q where

S == the probability that belief in the story is because the magical professor really does these things

Let R be all elements in Q AND’d

And we see that

P(R) > P(S)

holds generally by the magical professor example.

Q.E.D.

The only thing we are doing differently in my questions is in one case the magical professor is secular and in another he happens to be part of a religious tradition; that is, there is no material difference.

But, to be clear, I want to pose this question to the reader and see if anyone can agree:

Is it more likely that the children believe this story because of the A effect or because there is a magical professor that flies around in a chariot dropping candy down several million chimneys?

So, my question now, which we can call Question Number 4, is a variant of the third one:

And we recall Question Number Four

Is it more likely that belief in the Helios narrative is due to Confirmation Bias or is it more likely that Helios is The One, True God?

Inductive Substitution

Like the Helios narrative, we first notice that all modern knowledge in the Bible is absent. We find in fact that it is materially the same as any other religion, reflecting only the very limited knowledge of ancient men.

For example, in the narrative of the god YHWH called Joshua’s Victory YHWH holds the sun still, as if it were rotating around Earth, when he gives the Israelites extra daylight to continue their conquest (in the book of Joshua):

Now, performing the substitution (the Induction previously discussed) with Joshua’s Victory

So Joshua went up from Gilgal, he and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valor. And YHWH said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands; there shall not a man of them stand before you.” So Joshua came upon them suddenly, having marched up all night from Gilgal. And YHWH threw them into a panic before Israel, who slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and chased them by the way of the ascent of Beth-hor’on, and smote them as far as Aze’kah and Makke’dah. And as they fled before Israel, while they were going down the ascent of Beth-hor’on, YHWH threw down great stones from heaven upon them as far as Aze’kah, and they died; there were more who died because of the hailstones than the men of Israel killed with the sword. Then spoke Joshua to YHWH in the day when YHWH gave the Amorites over to the men of Israel; and he said in the sight of Israel, “Sun, stand thou still at Gibeon, and thou Moon in the valley of Ai’jalon.” And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, (my note: but relative to Earth’s sky the Sun has always stood still, right?) until the nation took vengeance on their enemies. There has been no day like it before or since, when YHWH hearkened to the voice of a man; for YHWH fought for Israel. Then Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal.

Which demonstrates and Earth based perspective of the cosmos.

We don’t’ want the adherent to feel tricked, so to be sure our point is crystal clear, I’m going to split my next question into three parts; A, B and C. And I’ll ask as a preparatory question to ponder, given that we’ve shown the presence of these tools in narratives from every single religion, and have phrased our question generally,

What is it about Joshua’s Victory that should give it exempt status when it is the same in all material respects?

The key to understanding how to answer this fairly is to show within this narrative itself what does it contain to tell us that it should be exempt?

Recalling our previous discussion about fair questions versus truncated questions; two narratives are materially identical when they both exhibit characteristics of the tool examined, right? Any attempt to add more detail to that rather obvious conclusion is a Conjunction Fallacy, right? Did you provide additional detail when answering the preparatory question above? If so, remove it because you made the mistake of fallacy which 95% of all human beings tend to make with a rather passionate predictability and frequency. So, for the sake of this question we cannot rely on explanations of Joshua’s Victory from outside that narrative itself. We’re asking, on the merits of Joshua’s Victory alone, why is it exempt?

So, the standing question now is Question Number Eleven A:

11A: Based solely on the information given and given that the absence of a god is made clear in any other religion we choose to examine, should we be highly suspicious of the conclusion that this passage is induction exempt?

The moral of the story in the previous question then isn’t to show that one or the other exhibited an earth based perspective of the cosmos, but rather, that both exhibited an earth based perspective of the cosmos, showing this error to be a common denominator in the two and probably in most religions (we will find that this is true). But the reason why this makes the narratives all the more suspicious is that it means that god lied. The apologist by their nature will apologize for that lie by saying that it was due to metaphor, bad translation, etc. But the reality is that these are just embellishments being overlaid over the original narrative, because while plausible explanations they constitute uncertainties which result in the Conjunction Fallacy.

Recalling a much earlier discussion about this, it is nonsensical to claim that the god that created this system would create a system he would later need to lie about. In other words, this oddity of the Earth based perspective was discussed earlier. Therefore, not only is it suspicious, it is hard to avoid the question begging an answer:

11B. Given the narrative shown above, is it more likely that Joshua’s Victory is exempt from this analysis or that it is not?

Part C is simple and probably could have been guessed.

Recalling that the Helios narrative was first examined for its relation to Confrimation Bias, the inductive substitution of Joshua’s Victory for the Helios Narrative carries that with it:

11C: Is it more likely that Joshua’s Narrative is the result of Confirmation Bias or is it more likely that your god is The One, True God?

You can answer each A, B and C separately if you like. But before answering those, we need to know if Joshua’s Victory has any reason why it should be exempt when any of several thousandd others would not be.

– kk

Go to Question Number Twelve

English: Smiling teenage girls. Photo taken on...

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2 comments
  1. MIa VanHouten said:

    Hey – Okay, we finally all agree. It took a while. First,
    11A: Based solely on the information given and given that the absence of a god is made clear in any other religion we choose to examine, should we be highly suspicious of the conclusion that this passage is induction exempt?
    Yes, we should be suspicious because it really isn’t any different than the others in any way that matters.

    11B. Given the narrative shown above, is it more likely that Joshua’s Victory is exempt from this analysis or that it is not?
    It couldn’t be exempt.

    11C: Is it more likely that Joshua’s Narrative is the result of Confirmation Bias or is it more likely that your god is The One, True God?
    It is more likely that Joshua’s narrative is the result of Confirmation bias based on the information in the question alone.
    Mia

    • Hey Mia, Okay, I’ll go to question 12 then,
      – kk

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