RE: Challenge Response: Knowledge Is the Enemy of Faith

My response:

You could tell this would be bad when Brett Kunkle begins by announcing, “The claim that knowledge is the mortal enemy of faith is apparently now a scientific fact!” It screams straw man. Who is saying that “knowledge is the mortal enemy of faith, and that is a scientific fact,” exactly?

Since STRvideos does not cite its sources, I did some digging of my own. I spend time on this because I deeply care about the truth, and I want others to know the truth. For those who feel the same way, I would ask you to read what I found:

1. The Stand to Reason website claims, “The mortal enemy of faith is knowledge, a scientific fact that has been demonstrated by researchers at the University of British Columbia” [1]. The source they provide is a Wikihow page [2] (not an actual scientific study). Wikihow is not a reputable source of information, as it can be edited by anybody. Honestly, I had to verify that Wikihow is not a parody site. It certainly reads like one.

2. However, the Wikihow page does link to an article Medical News Today article [3]. That article simply states, “People who have undergone analytical thinking are more likely to have decreased religious belief.” This is a far cry from Brett Kunkle’s misrepresentation: Knowledge is not the same thing as analytical thinking, and correlation does not infer causation.

3. Unfortunately, the Medical News Today article does not link to the original study. After much more digging, I finally found the original text found in the abstract. It states, “Individual differences in the tendency to analytically override initially flawed intuitions in reasoning were associated with increased religious disbelief. Four additional experiments provided evidence of causation, as subtle manipulations known to trigger analytic processing also encouraged religious disbelief. Combined, these studies indicate that analytic processing is one factor (presumably among several) that promotes religious disbelief. Although these findings do not speak directly to conversations about the inherent rationality, value, or truth of religious beliefs, they illuminate one cognitive factor that may influence such discussions” [4].

It appears that the message of the original study was completely changed by the time it made it to this video. Why was “analytic processing is one factor (presumably among several) that promotes religious disbelief” mischaracterized as “the mortal enemy of faith is knowledge”? Why was “one cognitive factor that may influence such discussions” mischaracterized as “a scientific fact”? Why is Stand to Reason so eager to mischaracterize others?

Moreover, if something can be mischaracterized so easily in the year 2014, how can we trust the claims of the ancient text Stand to Reason wants us to believe, most of which is anonymous and written decades (sometimes centuries) after the claimed events took place?

As for the rest of the video: We’re really doing the “I have faith in my wife” apologetic again (a blatant equivocation fallacy and a false analogy, not to mention an implied argument from ignorance)? I have credible evidence that my wife is not adulterous, but I do not have credible evidence that a magical Jewish zombie rose from the dead several millennia ago and sacrificed himself unto himself to save us from himself (however that works). This is one of the worst arguments you can possibly make, and it just goes to show why evidential foundationalism is the most reliable epistemological mechanism for knowing what is true–a far cry from a nebulous “faith” that can be used to justify literally any claim.

I expect my research to fall on deaf ears. But if my comment here makes just one person think more critically about why they believe what they believe, it will be worth it.

[1] http://www.str.org/blog/challenge-knowledge-is-the-enemy-of-faith
[2] http://www.wikihow.com/Argue-That-God-Does-Not-Exist#_note-1
[3] http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/244662.php
[4] http://www.sciencemag.org/content/336/6080/493

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