Friday, November 7, 2008

Crazy Christian Logic: Circular Hermeneutics

If only we could build buildings the way Christians have built their religion! We could hang a beam in the sky, then attach another one to it, and then hook the first beam to the second one, and voila! The two beams would hold each other up in the sky, and we could skip that whole nasty business of building a foundation!

A Christian left a fabulous comment on one of Sisyphus Fragment's blogs, with this irrefutable logic:
Actually, you interpreted Romans 2:15 incorrectly. (I find it amusing when atheists try to interpret the Bible, because the Bible itself says that you cannot know the mind of God if you do not have his Spirit, 1 Cor. 2:14-16.)
This is absolutely marvelous – if we disagree with a Christian about his/her religion, we're inherently wrong, because only Christains can interpret the Bible correctly!

It's amazing to me how pervasive circularity is in the Christian religion (and others – I just happen to be picking on this one guy today). We see it everywhere, it pervades all aspects of the religion. Any time you try to have a serious discussion with a Christian, you quickly get dizzy trying to follow the logic.

Circular hermeneutics. I love it. To understand, you have to believe. Once you believe, you can understand.


  1. actually genesis 1:1 says that in order to understand christianity and the bible, you CAN'T be a beleiver. of course, he never noticed this cause he does believe. someone should let him know :)

  2. Wasn't that comment a sweet little gem? They pass Bibles out randomly to people all the time. I'm supposed to believe they do that knowing that those people won't even be able to understand the book? How are they supposed to get new converts? I'm amazed by some of the Christians who post on my blog.

  3. Craig,

    I bet you never consider the "crazy" logic of atheism. It goes like this:

    We are the products of time and chance acting on matter (which came from nothing). Our reasoning abilities must have evolved which would mean that logic itself evolved and is accidental and thus relative to each individual. Since this is the case, we have no reason to reason and cannot truly know anything (including this statement).

    Even though the above is true (which we couldn't even know if it was true), we will still insist that we are more logical (which we couldn't even remotely prove).

    Basically there was nothing, and then nothing happened to nothing, and then nothing exploded for no reason, and then that nothing rearranged itself for no reason and then we have accidental things happening and then magically we have living cells which magically form new parts and then magically we have thinking, reasoning humans who figured it all out...magically.

    So Craig, before you go accusing others of being "illogical" care to show how, given atheism, that absolute logic follows...? How exactly?

    It can be pretty easy to make posts about finding Christian literature in the bathroom or making fun of Christians in any number of ways. But since you are intellectually superior to these mere Christians, why don't you tackle something challenging like how you can reason if we are the products of accidents. Did everything just magically go right?

    1. Did everything just magically go right? That begs the question - DID everything really go right? How do you explain birth defects? Imperfect humans created by a perfect god? your argument is so full of holes and your logic goes round and round, it can't possibly be taken seriously.
      "We must question the story logic of having an all-knowing, all powerful God, who creates faulty humans, and then blames them for his own mistakes" - Gene Roddenberry

  4. (Sighs...)

    Ryan. The big bang eh? Its measurable, no scientist on earth defends their theories or axioms based on their beliefs. Science opens doors, it always leads to bigger questions, unlike your religion that shuns questions, that encourages ignorance, tolerates hatred and violence.

  5. Wigan,

    Were my questions too hard to answer? Just wondering, given that you “shunned” them. Care to interact with my questions or is hiding behind the science du jour more intellectually satisfying?

    Please describe how you can reason accurately given that logic accidentally evolved along with our accidental brains and our accidental world.

    Further, you seem to imply that there is some sort of standard for right and wrong. What is that standard? Is it absolute? Does it change? When?

    If you’d rather just make unwarranted and unverifiable statements that you can’t back up, have at it. Just know that it doesn’t look good for atheism….you know, given that you are intellectually superior. It should be fairly easy to take on a silly religious guy. Let’s hear some actual answers this time.

  6. Sorry Ryan, but if part of your argument is that logic can't be trusted, then there is nothing we can say to you. If logic is not valid, no one can make any judgements of any kind about anything.

    For everyone else in the world, logic is self-evident. It exists outside of the human mind. We didn't evolve logic, we discovered it the same way we discovered the laws of physics. If you refuse to acknowledge the validity of logic, there is nothing anyone can say to convince you of anything, so why bother?

  7. No need to apologize, Ben. How can something immaterial, transcendent, and absolute exist outside the human mind?

    By the way, just saying that something is self-evident is not evidence. Give me naturalistic, empirical proof if you want your statements to stand.

  8. What makes you think evolution is an accident?

    Logic is a cognitive function of the brain of homo sapien.

    If you have a stroke, or head injury, your capacity to use certain forms of logic is reduced.

  9. Wigan,

    What makes you think evolution is an accident?

    Was it designed? Was it guided? Please demonstrate what you mean here because I'm confused. How could it NOT be an accident, given atheism?

    Logic is a cognitive function of the brain of homo sapien.

    So? Again, you haven't answered anything related to what I've asked you.

    Demonstrate how immaterial and absolute laws of logic are possible in a world where the human brain is the product of an accident. If you don't think that the human brain evolved by purely blind, naturalistic, material forces then by all means explain what you do believe.

    As I see it, as an atheist you must believe that we are the product of time and chance having their way with matter. You must also have to at least postulate or theorize about where matter came from. Is matter eternal or did it come from nothing?

    Further, you must also give some sort of epistemological answer in regards to the human cognitive capabilities. How can you trust your reasoning abilities at all given that the brain evolved? How do you know it evolved correctly? What does "correctly" even mean? Is it relative?

    Then, of course, you've claimed that religion tolerates hatred and violence but you've yet to demonstrate where this implied standard of right and wrong came from? Is it absolute? Does it change?

    So, let's try this again. Let's hear some actual answers this time. I'm not going to continue to engage you if you're more comfortable making unwarranted statements and not answering questions.

  10. Ryan, you need to watch this video. It captures exactly what you do on this site. You are not contributing to the discussion, just contradicting everyone.

    Furthermore, your nitpicking demands for explanations of every point each person makes get tiresome. We're not going to re-explain Atheist philosophy just because you haven't taken the time to read any of the widely available and popular books. Your repeated assertions that Atheism is illogical, etc., are boring and are making you look foolish and uneducated. Do your homework, dude, BEFORE you pick a fight with the big boys.

  11. Craig,

    1. If you don't want comments, close the combox.

    2. If you don’t want comments from anyone else except people who agree with you, stop implying that you are an open-minded, free-thinker, and intellectually superior to everyone else who does believe in God. It’s a bit arrogant.

    3. Unfortunately, what you do is typical of atheism today: Make big, sweeping claims and never back them up. When questioned, just claim intellectual superiority and say things like, “Don’t pick a fight with the big boys”. I think the bullies in junior high say stuff like that still.

    4. If my questions are so easy to answer, why don't you just answer them and not waste time with name-calling? You obviously care a ton about atheism and freeing people from their religion so why wouldn’t you want to rationally interact with someone? Am I really so far “below” you? I certainly don’t think that about you.

    5. Name calling works quite well for people who don’t realize that it is not actually a rational point. Your attempts here are simply to belittle me. By the way, I’ve read many of the popular atheist books today and have also read some old-school atheist philosophers. I find their arguments wanting and also filled with rage, anger, ad hominem attacks, and straw men.

    6. Please demonstrate what is so foolish and uneducated about what I’ve asked. Saying so doesn’t make it so. I can easily say that you need to do your homework too and that you need to read some Christian writers who have responded to the popular atheist books today, but I understand that this proves nothing. I’m asking basic questions about your beliefs on a blog that touts those beliefs and belittles any other kind of belief as the result of a virus. Yet when you are asked to respond to a few simple comments, all of a sudden I’m way out of line, foolish, uneducated, wasting your time, nitpicky, etc. Can no one question you? How do you recommend that I go about questioning your beliefs? Do you truly seek to cure this “religion virus”?

    7. I’m open to discussing why I believe Christianity to be rational and why I believe atheism to be completely irrational with you anytime but I don’t think you are. In fact, I’d be happy to debate you over the internet in a more formalized way.

    8. My challenge to you is quite simple: Demonstrate how time and chance acting upon matter (which came from nothing or is eternal) produced the accidental, immaterial, absolute laws of logic and patterns of rational thought that humans can trust and adhere to. Your original post claimed that Christianity is illogical so let’s see you back up what it means to even be logical in the first place.

  12. hey ryan,

    i dunno if atheist logic can really be generalized in to one set of rules. i kinda think part of being atheist is having the ability to separate one's self from a lot of conventional beliefs... at least, that's how i've always seen it. i don't think i really can answer the great question of where logic came from according to an atheist point of view. the point is that i don't have the answer and will continue to think about ways that this human intelligence and morality could have come about.

    lately i've been pondering the insignificance of human existence (in the context of the massive history and diversity of life in the world). it seems as though human intelligence itself is a completely arbitrary phenomenon. we don't consider any other organisms to have human morality or our "special" intelligence in the slightest (although some animals from time to time do exhibit behaviors we consider "moral"). i suppose we at times need to have our consciousness raised and remember that we make up a fraction of a fraction of both the current life on earth and the history of the earth. it seems as though there is an elitism among humanity in general that needs to be extinguished. we really have to accept that we literally know nothing in the context of the earth let alone the universe as a whole.

    my point is, isn't it almost arrogant for any religious/ non-religious person to really think they can explain, well, any of this?? it seems as though there is something going on outside of the human capacity of thought that none of us will ever understand. we of course can't live by this sort of philosophy either; if we do then every thought that every great thinker in human existence has had will be considered void. but maybe it is all void?? i don't know. i suppose we have to speculate, for that is one of the great advantages to being human (as far as we know... how do we know nothing else speculates?).

    so basically, all i'm saying is maybe we shouldn't get so hung up on the origins of human existence and morality. we tend to place ourselves on this high pedestal over every other organism on earth, and we tend to forget that even though it may seem unsettling at times, WE ARE NOT THE PINNACLE OF EVOLUTION. every organism in existence is just as "highly" evolved as we are. i like this idea, it makes me even more excited and glad to live in this world.

    lastly, this origin of human morality and what we call intelligence cannot be explained by religion any better than it can be explained by secular views... at least that's how i've been seeing it for quite some. it seems as though where atheism and science has gaps, supernatural opinions can magically and unfairly fill them. therefore, i'm saying neither opinion is more valid or "right" than the other. we simply don't know. i'm personally glad to live in a time when we still know nothing; it makes the pursuit of science all that much more exciting and makes the universe all that much more mysterious.

    p.s.: sorry for anyone who decided to read this novel i just produced.

  13. I have an answer for ALL the circular logic used by both Atheists AND Christians:


    I... am God.

    You are all figments of my imagination. I am trapped within my own imagination, and am unable to conceive a way out, thus I cannot explain the existence of the universe.

    Alternatively, we could accept that the Big Bang theory does not state there was ever "nothing", it merely states that our Universe was formed by a massive explosion from a super-dense mass that was comprised of both Anti-Matter and Matter, and that the resulting explosion caused many particles of Matter to differentiate into Protons, Electrons, Neutrons, and of course the smaller fragments known as quarks and bosons. The laws of physics (which were generated by the Preceding Universe's rules governing matter and anti-matter) cause chaos to dominate, and so while some particles formed together into planets and stars, the rest were left to dissipate throughout the universe, as all particles will eventually do. This also led to some chance happenings that produced life, and statistically speaking this means that life has formed elsewhere in the universe too.

    BTW, that just PWND Genesis.

    And to Ryan: YES, WE ARE THE PRODUCT OF AN ACCIDENT. Now, the accident was not "bad", clearly, because it produced life. But it was an accident, nonetheless. In fact, it has been proven that the amount of energy on our planet when life is theorized to have first formed (I say theorized because we don't have a time machine. Your Bible is just as much a theory as the invention of fire, only one is proven to have actually happened) was sufficient to bind and rearrange molecules and elements into a basic structure of life. This of course led to asexual reproduction via basic chemical reactions, and over time was mutated by background radiation into more advanced creatures, which eventually became sentient beings.

    Religion is like the Boy Who Cried Wolf. All religions have been wrong about so many things, and they have accepted as truth many things that their TEXTS said were falsehoods, merely because science proved it. Does this not show that Religion itself is inherently likely to be wrong?

    Think about it.

  14. Same person as above, had an extra thing to say.


    Logic is NOT clearly defined, nor is morality, or ethics, or rationality.

    In fact, if you perhaps spent some time looking up from reading the Bible, you might notice that some nations and cultures do things that are clearly against what our own culture stands for. This does follow with your implied law of universal rationale or logic. I myself have been described as highly illogical, though I often reach conclusions that are similar to or even identical to those of my peers. My patterns of thought are not common, which again discounts the idea of Universal Logic.

    Additionally, I have determined that many practices outlined in the Bible are in fact detrimental to society as a whole, and are therefore immoral and unethical. For instance, the preservation of ALL life according to the belief that all life is sentient seems ridiculous to me. The act of NOT allowing diseased people to die not only prolongs their suffering, but it allows them to transfer the disease, forcing more people into a miserable situation. Abortion is good because, as any child who has parents that considered abortion knows, a life living with people that think you were a mistake is hardly a quality life at all.

    Anyways, I digress....

    God is false, as is most of what Faith preaches, and I can prove it by merely stating it. See? I've not been struck by lightning, nor been set upon by a plague of locust, and I've even managed to avoid seeing a tornado of fire! All this, and I've repeatedly dismissed God as false. Huh... Makes you wonder what ELSE the Bible lied about...

  15. Actually, Genesis 1:1 says, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." So perhaps a more accurate statement might be, according to this verse, that the only One who can understand Christianity, the Bible, the heavens, the earth, you, me, and everything in between is God Himself? Of course, some people never noticed this since they don't [yet] believe. Someone should let them know.

    Which got me to thinking, what does "hermeneutic" mean, anyway? According to the dictionary, "hermeneutic" (noun) is defined as: "A method or theory of interpretation."

    Which reminds me of another example of a circular hermeneutic, i.e.- Isn't it sort of ridiculous how we use words to define words? Like, "Hey, what does that word mean?" "Dunno. Let's look it up in the dictionary." And all you get in the silly dictionary is just more words defining the words. HOW CAN YOU USE WORDS TO DEFINE WORDS? Doesn't make a bit of sense!!!

    Yeah. So how can a person use The Word to define The Word? Hmmm.

  16. Natalie - Actually, hermaneutics is a fascinating topic; the dictionary doesn't do it justice. Regarding the Bible, hermaneutics is the study of determining what the original author of a biblical passage meant. For example, suppose you were an archiologist from the future, and you found two things: A 1925 dictionary, a sentence spoken by someone at a party, "It's really cool here!" You'd completely misinterpret the sentence, thinking the partier was commenting on the temperature, when in fact he was commenting on what a great party it was.

    A more relevant example: (Exodus 3:14) God said to Moses, "I am who I am . This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.'"

    This sounds mysterious and metaphysical, and some have written huge long essays trying to read deep meaning into "I am who I am." But the truth is much more boring – the phrase just means, "None of your business." Without hermaneutics, studying the meaning of words as they were used by the author, you'd never know this.

    And don't get too tied up by words defining words. You can fall into the trap of solipsism, a philosophical trap for the unwary. Many words, the foundations of language, are based in reality. We don't define a tree using words, we learn what it is by experience as children. Even more abstract words like love, hate, fear and anger have real-world effects that we all know.

  17. It's interesting how you take one offhand comment written by some guy on the Internet and try and support an entire article from it in order to justify your beliefs.

    There are reasons why statistics show atheists are more depressed and prone to mental instability. That's because the underlying logic is self contradictory. Look into it. Choose logic. Choose happiness.Choose Jesus Christ.

    "Gallup Polls Highlight Happiness, Health and Logic in Spirituality"

  18. Rick - You need to do more research about atheism before you make false claims. It's well known that atheists, for example, face death much more calmly and with contentment than Christians. But more importantly, you've taken a fact (atheists aren't as satisfied with life), and twisted it (atheists are "depressed and prone to mental instability"), then you have single-handedly found the cause (atheism is self contradictory). Amazing!

    But wrong. It's also reported that the real reason atheists aren't as happy is because they have no social support groups such as church, and they're heavily discriminated against ... by Christians. Blacks and Jews also are discriminated against, and not surprisingly, they're not as happy as the Christians who oppress them.

    If you want to be a real Christian, try understanding your fellow humans who don't share your beliefs. Start by learning more about us. Just how strong is your faith? I'd be willing to bet that if you read my book, David Mills' book (Atheist Universe), and Dan Barker's book ("Godless"), you'd have a lot more empathy for your fellow humans who happen to not share your Christian beliefs. And I'd also bet it would change your understanding of your own God. Does that frighten you?


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