Over the years “religious” acquaintances of mine have defended their supernatural beliefs by saying, “I know that I know; that I know that I know.” For me, this is an egotistical defense of stupidity. Their use of “I know” is basically a sandbagging defense mechanism since there is no way to logically and factually defend supernatural nonsense. Isn’t it futile to try to make sense out of nonsense? Supernaturalism is the absurdity of saying, “there is absolutely no way I can scientifically and logically defend my belief system, but I stand by and defend it anyway.” Isn’t it kind of absurd to defend the indefensible? My standard answer for those who believe in virgin births, corpses rising from the dead, saints and sinners, devils and hellfire is, “I know, that you know, that there is no way deep-down you can possibly believe that bullshit.” I know, that you know, that anyone who allows themselves to critically think can be that goddamn stupid. I emphatically state, “Why supernatural when Nature is so amazing!” Why an invented superbeing from a supernatural world that has brought endless cruelty, misery, fighting, and disunity to the human world
If you've got the truth, you can demonstrate it. Talking doesn't prove it. Show people.
-- Robert A. Heinlein
For all their "knowing," people like the one you cite here continue to fail miserably when it comes to the primary criterion of knowledge: the ability to conclusively and objectively confirm what they claim to know to any external party. To such people, belief and knowledge might as well be an identity set ... and therein lies the problem.
Religious adherents need to conflate subjective knowledge such as, "I know that I have a headache." with objective knowledge. It's their little mind trick.
Which is why the differentiation between belief and knowledge becomes all the more important. It is why I prefer Carl Sagan's position: "I don't want to believe; I want to KNOW," to that of Matt Dillahunty: "I want to believe as many true things and as few false things as possible," though I hold no ill will whatsoever for Matt. The problem lies in how the words BELIEF and KNOWLEDGE have been abused, mostly by our adversaries.
If what you believe is congruent with reality, it seems to me that YOU KNOW IT. The problem is that religion has become comfortable with the conflation you mention because they are also comfortable with vagary. Part of cutting their legs out from under them is demonstrating that difference, as well as the lack of precision and clarity with which Richard Dawkins so rightly pointed out that they are uncomfortable.
This is not the whole solution, but it's a considerable part of it, IMHO.
"Why an invented superbeing from a supernatural world that has brought endless cruelty, misery, fighting, and disunity to the human world?"
I ask that question, too, especially since nature offers us so many wonderful processes. I watched a hard wrinkled peach pit grow a root into the earth and sprout 2 cotyledons, the first leaves on the stem before it produced true leaves. This early interest developed in my curiosity about soil science.
Or I picked fossils out of the Devonian layer of rock that dated back to 400 million years ago. There were countless mollusks, including trilobites, brachiopods, and corals, as well as the early fish, now extinct. This adventure spurred my interest in geology.
I was a military dependent for 20 years and moved to army bases near Tacoma, WA.; Kenai, Alaska; Killeen, TX., San Antonio, TX; Silver Springs, Maryland; El Paso, TX; that is it, I think. I had beautiful gardens at each of these military posts and the soils, climate, altitude and latitude were different for each place. I had to learn quickly because the Army reposted us every two years. When we arrived at a site and were assigned quarters, there were no flowers and the lawns were dreadful. I quickly learned about the conditions and designed gardens that would take your breath away. When in Alaska, I designed and created a public garden.
OK, I think I have made my point, there are many ways to enjoy nature, whether through observation, exploration, or creation, life has many opportunities to discover wonder.
... there is no way deep-down you can possibly believe that bullshit.
I'd say most religious believers don't in fact have the same deep-down confidence in their beliefs that they do in gravity, or seat belts, or modern medicine. They don't in fact trust in a magical, powerful god who'll make things any different than in a purely natural, godless world where you live, you die, that's it. They still go to doctors; they still grieve at funerals. Without further ado, I'll take that excuse to repost DarkMatter2525's exploration of what if they really did believe some of their assertions...
Al, three responses.
1) to say an invented superbeing ... brought endless cruelty, misery, fighting, and disunity to the human world is to say there was once something like the xian paradise.
2) the first form of life — which we call pond scum, cyanobacteria or blue-green algae — used endless cruelty, misery, fighting, and disunity to satisfy their hunger and other needs.
3) a superbeing’s existence satisfies emotional needs and rational argument doesn’t address those needs.
It's always surprising to me when people who I thought were really intelligent believe in an Iron age book that states the world is flat (Job38:13;Rev.7:1), stationary (Psalm 93:1,96:10), and rests on "pillars" (Job9:6,38:4).
The really sad part is when people like Francis Collins number among them.
I don't think Collins, or other scientists, use the bible as a science book and do not see contradictions in their beliefs and the Iron Age information it records. It seems to me, the ones with whom I talked or corresponded with believe for emotional reasons. Collins doesn't claim the world is flat, stationery, and rests on pillars, he claims a sense of wonder beyond his ability to imagine the creation of the universe and its processes.
Joan, I don't know what you know about Collins, but before I trust him he will have to publicly proclaim:
1) his use of and reliance on the scientific method, and
2) his non-use of the religious method.
So far as I know, he has proclaimed neither of those so I don't trust him.
Gould was wrong; religion and science are overlapping magisteria and many of today's religious leaders want religion to rule. In state legislatures the most bizarre attempts die in committees but many attempts succeed.
In Ohio, for instance, a fetal heartbeat (at six weeks) can block an abortion. And SCOTUS will shortly rule on whether employers can fire LBGT because they are LBGT. Two circuit appellate courts have split on this. One says LBGT are protected by Federal law; the other says they are not protected.
The scientific method protects us from the religious method, and SCOTUS conservatives have shown us they do not use the scientific method
Tom, I like your challenge of my comment and I agree with you. I was wrong in my reasoning and you very effectively demonstrated that to be true. The issues of women's right to an abortion and rights of LBGT workers offer excellent examples of why I was wrong.