On what criteria do we assess whether Christianity is true?

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spin
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Re: On what criteria do we assess whether Christianity is tr

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Joseph_Abbott wrote:If you receive the Holy Spirit, and let Him work thru you, convict you of your sins and produce good works, then isn't that enough "proof"? As for exactly which denomination is the "true" one, well that is determined by your own personality and God's plan for you. "Truth" is a human construction, resulting from the inability of our brains to grasp the wholeness of creation. Paradoxes are where the real truth lies.


11 And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, 12 so that

“they may indeed see but not perceive,
and may indeed hear but not understand,
lest they should turn and be forgiven.”

Mark 4:11-12

:goodmorning:
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DCHindley
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Re: On what criteria do we assess whether Christianity is tr

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Despite all the mental gymnastics that are employed to justify our already held beliefs, it all boils down to whatever makes you feel good. There are different ways to bring back that warm fuzzy feeling when facts inconveniently challenge our preconceptions, some of which are better than others. In my warm fuzzy mind, I prefer to rearrange my assumptions to accommodate the new facts. Others prefer to circle the wagons and fight, or marginalize the new facts so they can be conveniently ignored, or drink poisoned cool-aid rather than accept that the preconceived ideas were ... "how you say" ... wrong.

DCH
bskeptic wrote:On what criteria do we assess whether conservative Christianity is true?

How do we find out if conservative Christianity, or some version of it, is a true religion?
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Re: On what criteria do we assess whether Christianity is tr

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DCHindley wrote:Despite all the mental gymnastics that are employed to justify our already held beliefs, it all boils down to whatever makes you feel good. There are different ways to bring back that warm fuzzy feeling when facts inconveniently challenge our preconceptions, some of which are better than others. In my warm fuzzy mind, I prefer to rearrange my assumptions to accommodate the new facts.
This makes an interesting case of people who would describe themselves as torn in two directions about a subject. Using a square:

(1) I get intellectual warm fuzzies by holding the belief, and I get non-intellectual warm fuzzies by holding the belief.
(2) I get intellectual warm fuzzies by holding the belief, and I do not get non-intellectual warm fuzzies by holding the belief.
(3) I do not get intellectual warm fuzzies by holding the belief, and I get non-intellectual warm fuzzies by holding the belief.
(4) I do not get intellectual warm fuzzies by holding the belief, and I do not get non-intellectual warm fuzzies by holding the belief.

The people in the first and fourth categories are not torn in two directions. They also describe most people about most beliefs. This is because the brain seems to take as one of its jobs to reduce our cognitive dissonance.

For example, if we have to do something we might otherwise find unethical or distasteful in order to survive, like at a job, the brain will go to work finding beliefs that will make it a bit less unethical and distasteful. Likewise if we find an opinion discovered with critical thinking / intellectual inquiry that doesn't have the other kind of warm fuzzies to it; we will try to manufacture them. Likewise if we have a strong opinion based on non-intellectual warm fuzzies; we will have a cognitive bias to favor any argument that can be thought to buttress that belief.

This makes the people in the second and third categories all the more interesting. These people are a phase of fundamental honesty about the origins of their beliefs, prior to the complete obliteration of cognitive dissonance. I will also speculate that some people are more in tune with the subtle things of both the heart and the mind and likewise admit more potential for disagreement between the two. Other people, by disposition, tolerate a lot less ambiguity, so other people have very little at any time of their lives that does not fall into (1) and (4).

I will also speculate that the preferred source of belief in ideologically-charged matters is also split. Some people have allegiances that are non-intellectually based, while others have those that are based on the exercise of reason and intellectual discourse. So we can have people who regularly subjugate the mind to the heart, who regularly subjugate the heart to the mind, who regularly have doubts about what they otherwise (and primarily) believe to be right and good, and who regularly feel in their heart what their mind tells them is not so.

Further it is not hard to see that there is a lot of deliberate deception going on in discourse about the source of our beliefs. Intellectual discourse is the wellspring of ideological power today in the public eye, so everyone who wants to appear respectable or convincing will want to shroud their beliefs in the cloak of intellectual discourse, even if it is not the primary means on which the belief is based. This includes the Young Earth Creationist and the Holocaust denier.

At the same time, it is not really that hard to peel back the veil of deception in some cases, the last two just mentioned being easy examples. Comparison of the arguments used with whether any reasonable person could actually be convinced on the basis of these arguments can go a long way in determining whether the claim to intellectual pedigree is fraudulent. Also, at the same time, somebody who has already passed beyond the pale of reason in the matter will, as a secondary layer of self-deception, deny that the arguments are weak or the intellectual pedigree is fraudulent; so powerful is the desire to prevent cognitive dissonance.

If we want to try to get a third party perspective, however, on the actual basis on which a belief is usually held, a little head counting could go a long way. The heads that are particularly interesting are the ones that confess to having different pulls on the matter. I won't pretend to have conducted a survey here, though. I will tell my own experience.

For me, "conservative Christianity" once fell here:

(3) I do not get intellectual warm fuzzies by holding the belief, and I get non-intellectual warm fuzzies by holding the belief.

However, by way of reduction of cognitive dissonance, there is no longer two different pulls here in my mind. I no longer get any kind of warm fuzzies from entertaining the beliefs of "conservative Christianity."

But now I do have the same situation with some form of "progressive Christianity" that I formerly had with more conservative kinds, i.e.:

(3) I do not get intellectual warm fuzzies by holding the belief, and I get non-intellectual warm fuzzies by holding the belief.

Meanwhile my avowed agnosticism puts me in this position:

(2) I get intellectual warm fuzzies by holding the belief, and I do not get non-intellectual warm fuzzies by holding the belief.

Time will tell if my cognitive-dissonance-reducing tendencies will finally resolve themselves to unite these different grounds of belief in either of these ideas or a third. Until such time, my preference for the intellectual kind of warm fuzzies guides my agnosticism.
"... almost every critical biblical position was earlier advanced by skeptics." - Raymond Brown
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Eric
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Re: On what criteria do we assess whether Christianity is tr

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DCHindley wrote:Despite all the mental gymnastics that are employed to justify our already held beliefs, it all boils down to whatever makes you feel good. There are different ways to bring back that warm fuzzy feeling when facts inconveniently challenge our preconceptions, some of which are better than others. In my warm fuzzy mind, I prefer to rearrange my assumptions to accommodate the new facts. Others prefer to circle the wagons and fight, or marginalize the new facts so they can be conveniently ignored, or drink poisoned cool-aid rather than accept that the preconceived ideas were ... "how you say" ... wrong.

DCH

When you say "it all boils down to whatever makes you feel good". I disagree. I do agree that there are those who "circle the wagons to protect a certain belief", and those who seek whatever makes them feel good as a sign of truth and special powers. However, there are those not looking to feel good, (or in the belittling term used), 'gain warm fuzzies', but are truly seeking to reach beyond our limited knowledge in our short existence in the scope of time to discover the unknown mysteries and possibilities they may offer.

And to answer bskeptic:
bskeptic wrote:On what criteria do we assess whether conservative Christianity is true?
How do we find out if conservative Christianity, or some version of it, is a true religion?
Where is the importance for proving which religion or version of a religion is a true religion?
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DCHindley
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Re: On what criteria do we assess whether Christianity is tr

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It wasn't my intent to prove "which religion or version of a religion is a true religion." All I wished to say is that there are different ways in which people might react to new information that doesn't fit their preconceived notions of what holds the universe together. They are enumerated in the works of Leon Festinger, particularly A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance (1957):

F The major ways by which dissonance can be reduced:
1 By changing one or more of the elements involved in dissonant relations.
2 By adding new cognitive elements that are consonant with already existing cognition.
3 By decreasing the importance of the elements involved in the dissonant relations.

G Practical applications:
1 Postdecision dissonance may be reduced by increasing the attractiveness of the chosen alternative, decreasing the attractiveness of the unchosen alternatives, or both.
2 Postdecision dissonance may be reduced by perceiving some characteristics of the chosen and unchosen alternatives as identical.
3 Postdecision dissonance may be reduced by decreasing the importance of various aspects of the decision.
4 If forced compliance has been elicited, the dissonance may be reduced by changing private opinion to bring it into line with the overt behavior or by magnifying the amount of reward or punishment involved.
5 If forced compliance has been elicited, dissonance may be reduced by intensifying the original private opinion or by minimizing the (private opinion about the) reward of punishment involved.
6 The presence of dissonance leads to seeking new information which will provide cognition consonant with existing cognitive elements and to avoiding those sources of new information which would be likely to increase the existing dissonance.
7 When some of the cognitive elements involved in a dissonance are cognitions about one's own behavior, the dissonance can be reduced by changing the behavior, thus directly changing the cognitive elements.
8 Forced or accidental exposure to new information which tends to increase dissonance will frequently result in misinterpretation and misperception of the new information by the person thus exposed in an effort to avoid (the resulting) dissonance increase.
9 Dissonance introduced by disagreement expressed by other persons (with whom one associates) may be reduced by changing one's own opinion, by influencing the others (with whom one associates) to change their opinion, and rejecting (association with) those who disagree.
10 The existence of dissonance will lead to seeking out others who already agree with a cognition that one wants to establish or maintain, and will also lead to the initiation of communication and influence processes in an effort to obtain more social support.
11 Influence exerted on a person will be more effective in producing opinion change to the extent that the indicated change of opinion reduces dissonance for that person.
12 In situations where many persons in situations where many persons who associate with one another all suffer from identical dissonance, dissonance reduction by obtaining social support is very easy to accomplish.

Eric wrote:Where is the importance for proving which religion or version of a religion is a true religion?
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Re: On what criteria do we assess whether Christianity is tr

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DC: The question I asked "Where is the importance of proving which religion or version of a religion is a true religion?" was intended for bskeptic. As far as my response to yours, it was based on your assumption that those seeking "answers" in a religious setting and/or belief in God, are looking to create - good feelings.
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Re: On what criteria do we assess whether Christianity is tr

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The fancy term for "create good feelings" is reducing the level of dissonance. Dissonance is a little like a knot in the gut that tells you that something you are seeing, hearing or reading is in conflict with what you believe is "right." So it is kind of like something that hurts. The several options available to reduce the dissonance make us feel better, that is, feel good.

I'm just saying that the method I prefer is to make the effort to integrate the new information into my understanding of how things work so it no longer causes feelings of dissonance.

Fighting against the new information, or belittling it and such like approaches, seems counterproductive and avoids the problem of why it causes dissonance in the first place.

The process of Thesis-Antithesis-Synthesis, probably hard wired into the brain itself, goes on all the time and generally with positive results. I like to think most people can admit they are wrong now and then and move on. :whistling:

DCH

Eric wrote:DC: The question I asked "Where is the importance of proving which religion or version of a religion is a true religion?" was intended for bskeptic.

As far as my response to yours, it was based on your assumption that those seeking "answers" in a religious setting and/or belief in God, are looking to create - good feelings.
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Re: On what criteria do we assess whether Christianity is tr

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Eric wrote:DC: The question I asked "Where is the importance of proving which religion or version of a religion is a true religion?" was intended for bskeptic.
That's an off topic diversion. If you are genuinely interested, then start a thread for it.
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Re: On what criteria do we assess whether Christianity is tr

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[quote="DCHindley"]The fancy term for "create good feelings" is reducing the level of dissonance. Dissonance is a little like a knot in the gut that tells you that something you are seeing, hearing or reading is in conflict with what you believe is "right." So it is kind of like something that hurts. The several options available to reduce the dissonance make us feel better, that is, feel good.

I'm just saying that the method I prefer is to make the effort to integrate the new information into my understanding of how things work so it no longer causes feelings of dissonance.

Fighting against the new information, or belittling it and such like approaches, seems counterproductive and avoids the problem of why it causes dissonance in the first place.

The process of Thesis-Antithesis-Synthesis, probably hard wired into the brain itself, goes on all the time and generally with positive results. I like to think most people can admit they are wrong now and then and move on. :whistling:

DCH

Your statement: "I like to think most people can admit they are wrong now and then and move on." On that I agree DC. And I think we would accomplish a lot more through tolerance and understanding vs intolerance. I get irritated when I hear those of a set religion lay claim to have the only way, I get irritated when atheist claim they have proof of no God and then use religion and/or philosophy to base their "scientific" claim. I get irritated when those who follow scientist without question as if the newest findings of science is the all-in-one truth and unchangeable. PS: I love the study of cognitive dissonance and appreciate Leon Festinger and the work he has accomplished, as well as the many other scientists past and present in their special fields. So much to learn...it's exciting!
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