In 1995 McArthur Wheeler walked into a bank, with his face fully exposed to all the cameras, and proceeded to rob it. So his face and identity was all over Pittsburgh by the time he was robbing the second bank with his face fully exposed to the cameras. Needless to say he was quickly apprehended by police. When a cop told him they saw him on the surveillance tape he said “but I was wearing the juice.”
Apparently, lemon juice can be a sort of “invisible” ink. That is when you write with it on paper it is invisible unless it is heated up. Mr. Wheeler thought he would be the next mastermind criminal by wearing this invisible ink (lemon juice) on his face.
This case lead to research into whether people who are more confident are really more competent. As it turns out confidence tends to suggest the opposite. The Dunning Kruger effect is a bias where people who are incompetent tend to be over-confident. People who are less confident tend to be more competent.
Talking about arguments for God or Meta-Ethics or epistemology are really philosophical questions. These questions have been debated for as long as we have written records. Yet I find that certain atheists with the least philosophical training tend to be the most confident in their various philosophical assertions. Belief in God is Childish! Christians need to just grow up! Belief in God is like belief in fairies or Santa Clause. Of course, we don’t believe in miracles or any supernatural events. Etc etc.
Lately I have found some of the same sorts of claims about morality and the basis of morality called meta-ethics. I have been told I am ignoring what is obvious and simple by believing in the most common view of ethics held by professional philosophers – moral realism.
Now we all know that these are just assertions about what is disputed and has been disputed by the most intelligent people to ever live. Yet these guys with little or no training seem so confident. When I see comment like that I can’t help but think they are “wearing the juice.”
Now that is not to say it is unpersuasive to sound confident. Confidence is more persuasive then expertise.
Moreover simply repeating the same conclusion can make us believe it is true. This is called the illusory truth effect.
So simply repeating these claims that it is obvious there is no God or it is obvious no miracle could ever happen will tend to make us believe the claims are true. But are such assertions good reasons to believe them? Rational people want to have good reasons for their beliefs not just believe due to biases.
Memes are another form of persuasion that more often than not plays on our mind’s biases instead of our reason. These will often incorporate confidently repeating the same slogan, but they often also try to embarrass people. This subtly suggests people should be ridiculed and socially ostracized for daring to remain Christian even though it is “obviously” so unreasonable. This is effectively bullying someone to accept that persons position not because there are good reasons to accept the position but out of fear of being a social outcast. Have courage.
If you see no evidence for a disputed claim in their post it doesn’t hurt to ask if they can offer some. Maybe they will – but then at least you are dealing with evidence and that is what we want to get to. Take your time and think about it dispassionately without fear of ridicule. Does it really prove their point? Feel free to ask how they get from that piece of evidence to the conclusion that God or real morality can’t exist. I don’t think there is any such obvious proof out there or we would all know about it.
If they never/rarely offer any actual evidence for their claims then the site is solely playing on biases and not a source of rationally good reasons for belief. I want all people to look for these biases at work. Recognize how they are trying to “play you” as opposed to “reason with you.” After you read a blog ask what evidence against God was presented and what premises/evidence did they use. Is it a valid argument (that is can I agree with the evidence as being factual or the premises as true but still not be bound to the same conclusion) Or did they just repeat the same conclusion or assume the conclusion and engage in some Bulverism?
If you feel like you might be ridiculed if you posted on that blog or talked with that person, then ask yourself if you think that person is trying to essentially bully you into accepting their view. Are they overconfident? That is a sign they are not competent. I highly suggest you read from people who clearly work in the field under discussion. That is why I recommend sources like the Stanford Philosophy encyclopedia and people who regularly publish in meta-ethics. I think you will find more often than not those who are experts tend to have much more nuanced opinions. It is true the opinions may not seem as exciting or dramatic but I think you will learn concepts that tend to keep egos in check.
I’m not immune. I spent quite a bit of time reading about meta-ethics and majored in philosophy for my undergraduate degree. I also have a law degree which I believe added quite a bit of nuance to my understanding of morality and our overall circumstance in general. But I don’t claim to be as expert as philosophers who regularly publish in meta-ethics. I specifically remember reading Richard Joyce and thinking along the lines “Why is he so tame in his conclusions? He can argue for a much stronger conclusion with the reasoning he uses!” I may have even dropped him an email asking him why. I think that was several years ago and I haven’t heard back…. yet. I suspect he is aware of some concepts that keeps his conclusions a bit more modest.
But anyway if you think a person is too boring and doesn’t argue as strongly as you like, it may be that person is actually just more informed and competent than the guy who seems very confident and convincing but is really just dodging the important questions, repeating assertions, bullying, and spewing bulverism.
Both sides of an argument can be that way. So the same advice applies to Christians who are reading other Christian Apologists. Your brain may get a more pleasing chemical cocktail by reading others who confidently restate conclusions you agree with, than it does by those who are not so enthusiastic. But the less enthusiastic author is likely more informed and I believe more likely to pass on some more trustworthy wisdom.