Radicalized Assumptions

Why do people radicalize their assumptions about Jesus, the Bible, and related matters?  That is, they adopt extreme, unnecessary, and unwarranted presuppositions regarding these things.  For example, they start off with an assumption about the resurrection of Jesus being improbable but somewhere along the way make the slight but profound shift from thinking of it as improbable to thinking of it as impossible.  Thus they take a reasonable assumption (resurrection would be very extraordinary) and make it radical (such a thing never could happen). 

I have to think that some people radicalize their assumptions because they are afraid of where an open mind might lead them. 

Some people don’t want to believe that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead because they fear what such a reality would do to their lifestyle.  Therefore, they shut off all objective inquiry by radicalizing their assumptions to preclude ever reaching that conclusion. 

Therefore, radicalized assumptions have a very practical purpose for those who do not wish to answer even to God for what they do with their lives.  However, sooner or later we shall all answer to God for what we have done with our lives.  The sooner we embrace His authority, the happier we will be when we give the answer.

Do not close and lock your mind with radicalized assumptions.  It leads only to counterproductive outcomes.

10 Replies to “Radicalized Assumptions”

  1. I understand that “presupposition” is a favored buzzword among Christian evangelicals these days, but you should really look up what it means.

    If an atheist “starts off” with the belief that the resurrection is improbable, but that “make[s] the slight but profound shift” to the belief that the resurrection is impossible, that is, by definition not a “presupposition.” It is in fact the exact opposite, a “post-supposition.”

    (It’s also a straw-man; I don’t know of any atheist who says that it is literally impossible, just that the Bible stories are not, by themselves, persuasive or believable.)

    1. I’m using “presupposition” not in any formal sense, but merely as a synonym for “preconceived notion” or even “assumption in advance.” By this simple understanding, I would still stand by all these terms instead of using “postsupposition” – which I have to admit is a word I do not use nor have I heard anyone else use (nor can I find it in my Encarta dictionary – lest you were thinking I am sort sort of intellectual). Besides, even if I adopt your definition, it still wouldn’t apply in the scenario I’m describing because the decision, or decisions, is still, or are still, being made prior to reviewing any of the evidence or arguments.

      I don’t think it’s a straw man argument. You will find in the dialogues on this blog statements from individuals similar to the one you made. However, they will then go on later to say that any explanation is always more probable than a supernatural explanation (emphasis mine). That is equivalent to a declaration that a miracle is impossible.

      1. Mike,

        The statement “Any [naturalistic] explanation is always more probable than a supernatural explanation” is not a declaration that a miracle is impossible.

        Here, let me try it this way. If X is a supernatural explanation and E is our observable evidence, then:

        1. Pr(X|E)=0 is a declaration that supernatural explanations are impossible; whereas

        2. Pr(~X|E) > Pr (X|E) for values of Pr(X|E) > 0.

        Make sense?

        1. Actually, no.

          If you say that the probability of Jesus rising from the dead is less than any naturalistic explanation (e.g. the apostles lied, the New Testament was forged, etc.) you have made it impossible for yourself to believe that the resurrection occurred – and therefore deemed it impossible. The one exception to this would be if you made the statement not as categorical fact but rather as a hypothesis and were then willing to explore the naturalistic explanations one by one to see if there was enough evidence to support at least one of them vis-a-vis the supernatural explanation. You can scour this site and see that I have been unable to find an atheist willing to do this. Their common answer has essentially been, “We don’t have to prove that any one of those naturalistic explanations is more probable than the resurrection, because it’s obvious that 1) they are more probable, and 2) there are so many of them that even if one turns out to be improbable there are still so many others to choose from.”

          In other words, my experience has been – on this site and the sites of others – that atheists hide behind a double standard for evidence.

          1. I give up.

            I’ve explained to you, both linguistically and probabilistically, why you’re wrong.

            Your response is to re-assert your initial claim.

            I feel as though I’m in Monty Python’s “The Argument Sketch.”

            1. Actually, my response was to elaborate on my initial explanation – which you still seem to be missing.

              I acknowledge the truth of your statement: “I don’t know of any atheist who says that it is literally impossible.” That is, you are technically and theoretically committed to this position. You are being as sincere as you know how. But practically speaking, you always find a way to dismiss the possibility. In other words, you have deceived yourself on this point. Your commitment to the possibility of the resurrection of Christ is lip service only. Otherwise, you’d be willing to build a case for how the New Testament documents came to be misleading on this point, instead of just saying, “Oh, well it’s obvious they are.” (I’m alluding to the inability or unwillingness of any atheist to put forth a plausible scenario at I Invite You to Challenge Me at My Most Vulnerable Point.)

              1. Since on that thread you concede that if you’d read the Koran before reading the Bible, by your methodology you’d be a Muslim, I think one need not explore it much further.

            2. Hi Andrew,

              Mike will keep doing that forever. Rest assured, anyone reading this will see that you have a reasonable argument, and that he just keeps repeating the same absurdities that have been demonstrated over and over to be completely without merit.

              Unless you have a thousand hours to spare, I recommend just letting him have the last word and moving on….

              (I’m sure you know this already, but just trying to help you out here ….after I’ve seen a bunch of people including myself waste a lot of hours we’ll never get back 🙂 )

              1. “…he just keeps repeating the same absurdities that have been demonstrated over and over to be completely without merit.”

                That’s just it, Rob. None of you is demonstrating anything. You just keep asserting without proving, claiming without justifying, stating without demonstrating.

                How do you expect me to say that the New Testament is false if you can’t demonstrate how it became false? For you it may be enough to simply assert that it’s false because, as Andrew put it, “the Bible stories are not, by themselves, persuasive or believable.” A rational person, however, will also want to know how persusive or rational is the best alternative naturalistic explanation before rejecting the supernatural explanation (especially since it has been testified to in blood). That you are unwilling to demonstrate the plausibility of such an alternative scenario for comparison purposes reveals that you are, despite your many protestations to the contrary, behaviorally committed to the proposition that the resurrection of Christ is impossible.

                Fortunately, we’re all going to heaven and this discussion, as well as all else, will be transcended by that reality. However, I think you both would enjoy life more and be a greater blessing to others around you were you to recognize the reality of Christ’s love now.

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