On Open- And Closed-Mindedness

They’re calling us “closed minded”, cos we say we don’t expect
Any evidence for god to come along
Their sycophants agree with them, or did last time I checked,
But their use of “open-mindedness” is wrong

The odds are very small that there is evidence to find
That would make a non-believer come around
What they ought to ask, instead, is “will a Dawkins change his mind
When the evidence he asks for has been found?”

Context, after the jump:

I meant to post a comment (not my verse; that came later) to this site–but they want me to sign up in order to do that, and I am unwilling. Besides, I has my own blogge, so no lack of a place to post this. Anyway, they ask:

So why is it that atheists cannot take the next intellectually honest step and acknowledge they are closed-minded about this issue? Such atheists tell us God belief is no different from belief in fairies. Okay, I can easily admit that when it comes to fairies, I am closed minded about their existence. See? That was easy.

So why can’t atheists admit they are closed minded about God’s existence?

Which misses the point entirely. Open-mindedness has nothing to do with whether you expect to find the evidence–it’s a matter of what you do when actually presented with the evidence. My would-be comment follows:

How open are believers to the possibility that god might *not* exist? That should be your standard of comparison for “open-mindedness”. We have a better set of case studies there, because we can actually (for some, but not all believers) disconfirm some basic beliefs, and see how open-minded they are. Given the reams of evidence regarding the age of the universe, the age of our species, etc., we can see young-earth creationists as particularly closed-minded (or, to use their vocabulary, “faithful”).

What evidence can you think of that would give an equal test for a Dawkins-type atheist?

Open-mindedness does not, and need not, speak to how open one is to the possibility of evidence existing. Open-mindedness speaks to how one reacts when evidence is actually presented. I can be absolutely certain that no evidence for god will ever be forthcoming, so long as I am willing to admit that I was wrong when (or if) evidence actually shows up. That’s the thing about evidence; it doesn’t care if you expected it.



  1. Crudely Wrott says

    A while back there was an aircraft accident. The plane smacked into the ground with, I think, seventy seven people aboard. One passenger was a small child. By virtue of the speed and angle of impact and how the aircraft broke apart, the small child was thrown clear of the wreckage and was found alive by first responders. The other seventy six died. The child’s survival was widely and thoughtlessly declared to be a miracle. It was not. It was dumb luck.

    Now, had the aircraft, upon the onset of whatever problem precipitated the crash, slowed and gently descended into the parking lot of a hospital, settling on the earth without trauma to conveyance or passengers, THAT would have been a miracle.

    There have been too many missed opportunities for unmistakeable miracles that avoided terrible destruction and loss of life for anyone to think that a sole survivor is evidence of a miracle. Mass conversions would result if miracles actually happened and the churches would be full to bursting . But no. No different from chance. Hence, empty pews.

    A god worth its pay would either prevent the disaster or at least give clear and timely warning or prevent any deaths or injuries thus leaving no doubt.

    Well, at least I would.

  2. jacobfromlost says

    I totally agree with you regarding “open mindedness”, and I think it needs repeating often to people who don’t understand.

    I made this exact point to some commenter on freethoughtblogs (I forget which one) a while back. He claimed “open mindedness” was being “open to the possibility”.

    Then I explained how one can easily be open to the *possibility* and still not accept it is TRUE without confirming evidence. Accepting something is *possible* and accepting it is *true* are totally different things, and far too often the woo-peddlers want to blur the lines between those things and call it a day. They seem to say XYZ might be true…therefore it’s almost as if it is true…therefore we might as well say it’s true. And if you object, they say you’re closed minded. (A response that makes no sense if they actually believe “open minded” means “open to the possibility”, as declaring something is “true” is NOT simply being “open to the possibility”…although they desperately want the two to be the same thing.)

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