I’ve noticed (or confirmed) something very interesting in my recent dialogue with atheists and skeptics about classical theology and philosophy. Like the dogmatic religious Fundamentalist, the atheist or skeptics also have their dogmatism and Fundamentalism. But what this actually reveals is the human “delete” key (or perhaps, trapdoor) in our mind that doesn’t recognize things we don’t expect.
For instance, we don’t expect a black heart (ace) in a deck of cards, so we most likely won’t notice it unless someone points it out to us.
I’ve pointed this out in the past with my Christian brothers and sisters about how we tend to gloss over Scripture passages that are unsettling for us; that is, if taken with wooden literalism. In our honorable defense of biblical inspiration, we run the risk of turning it into something it was never meant to be, because of our interpretation rather than the text itself. But this glossing over is equally true among our despisers of Christianity on philosophy of religion. In all my posts on Classical theology and philosophy I’ve yet to have a detractor demonstrate to me that they have a grasp of the argument. As I pointed out before, instead, they keep arguing against Theistic Personalism and/or “god of the gaps.”
But the thing is, they think they are arguing against my position. Why is this so? Well, it’s because of our “delete key.”
Our Human Delete Key
The following quote is from Philip Jenkins, Laying Down the Sword: Why We Can’t Ignore the Bible’s Violent Verses (p. 185):
“WE ARE HARDWIRED TO edit reality. Memory and experience teach us what to expect from the world, but on occasion we encounter facts or situations that fail to mesh with those preconceptions. At that point, a part of the brain comes into play, the component popularly known as the mind’s Delete key. (Its technical name is the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, or DLPFC.) We suppress or inhibit unsettling anomalies, to the point that we honestly do not absorb or remember them. Within our brain, each of us has a personal censor. This does not mean that the development of moral consciousness slavishly follows some predetermined biological pattern, but we do have a natural tendency to ignore or underplay those things that do not fit our reality.”
So, apparently, when we theists argue from a classical position, DLPFC kicks in and rather than engage the argument, the detractors engage in what they expect the argument to be rather than what the argument actually is. And then, when they get to a point of frustration, they pull out the “dishonest, lying, disingenuous, misdirecting, moving the goal posts, false equivalencies, mind games…” and other shop-worn accusations to dismiss the messenger.
What’s funny about this is that we theists are often accused of being irrational and not logical…except when we have a rational argument that’s logical. Then, we’re just playing mind games.
The point I’m trying to make is this: dogmatism leads to DLPFC, whether you’re a religious dogmatist or anti-Christian one. I thought that “consoledreader” had a great point on this in response to Rebecca here, referencing a study done on various kinds of atheism.
The study found: Anti-Theist Type had the highest levels Narcissim, Dogmatism, Anger, were the least agreeable, had the least positive relations with people, but also had the highest levels of autonomy.
Here’s a article referenced about the nature of dogmatism: “The Many Faces of Dogmatism.” The subtitle of this article says it all: Prejudice as a way of protecting certainty against value violators among dogmatic believers and atheists. We don’t like nuances of mystery, so we either go for the absolute certainty of dogma or the convenient but incoherent morass of total subjectivism. That way, we don’t have to think about or cogently defend what we believe when challenged. We just go into attack mode in a futile attempt to eliminate the dissenters.