Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What exactly is confirmation bias?

According to sciencedaily.com confirmation bias is described as: 'In psychology and cognitive science, confirmation bias (or confirmatory bias) is a tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one's preconceptions, leading to statistical errors.' What exactly does this all mean, and how can we apply it to those that argue for a belief in God?

The definition cited above came with several other similar definitions and for those that are  interested in reading those you can do so right here. For now this definition will suffice for our purposes so let me dumb it down first for those whose understanding of these concepts eludes them or are difficult to grasp. The key to understanding this is in the name of the term itself which in this case is the word bias which basically means according to my trusty Sage dictionary and thesaurus: 'A partiality that prevents objective consideration of an issue or situation.' Basically, because of your preconceptions about a belief, in this case Christianity; you tend to take the side of that belief and only seek evidence or arguments that confirm your beliefs.

As a believer I can honestly say that apart from reading the bible in its entirety several times, I have also read over a hundred books on different subjects regarding my beliefs. As a fundamentalist Christian I tended to dismiss any argument that contradicted those beliefs and favored all those that confirmed to me that my beliefs were true.

Like most modern day believers I have encountered on this blog and other atheist blogs I relied heavily on my interpretation of the bible and its teachings. I quoted scripture to back my arguments and when there were no scriptures that suited my purpose at the time I fell back on the passages about how God's ways were higher than ours and how his ways at times were unknowable. As an atheist I find it hard to believe how theist's claim to have a "personal relationship" with God and at the same time state that they don't know him fully. I find these arguments contradictory and evidence of one of the many underhanded means utilized by believers known as special pleading.

Some of the arguments I've seen and heard online and debates on youtube for instance blow me away on how irrational they sound. Theist's blame our lack of a relationship with God as one of the many reasons why we don't get it! They claim as does William Lane Craig that the witness of the Holy Spirit is to be trusted over any contradictory evidence. Is this the best a so called top Christian philosopher can do? All so called apologetic arguments for faith end in this manner and I am sure that it is due to confirmation bias.

A lot of believers I have encountered these days don't like the use of the term blind faith, but that's just what their beliefs are founded upon. Because of confirmation bias "Christian philosophers" simply don't see or don't care about finding the truth. They seek the truth by first stating what they believe that truth to be and then trying to find evidence which in fact is not valid evidence at all to support those beliefs through the use of apologetics and the misapplication of philosophy and reason.

I've said it before and I will keep saying it: "there is no such thing as reasonable faith." You can't be reasonable or rational about matters of faith because faith is not founded on reason. Faith is founded on subjective experience and trust that these experiences are actually encounters with God or as WLC likes to say "the witness of the Holy Spirit." When faced with these types of arguments you simply just can't win, since the person you are arguing with has already made up his mind about his/her beliefs.

Atheism is  journey that you basically have to take on your own by honestly looking at your beliefs without fear and reverence of the so called sacredness of the scriptures. It's scary for someone to do this, especially if your are a fundamentalist believer. But thankfully, these days we have the internet and many former believers writing books about their individual journeys from faith to reason. Sometimes you can relate to these stories and begin a journey of your own.

In closing, in order to conduct an honest search for "truth" you must first acknowledge your inability to do so because of confirmation bias. Honestly, some people don't even realize that they are doing it! But their arguments demonstrate and make it apparent that they are and exposes their inability to see any evidence presented to them clearly. In order to see things as they are you need to change your frame of mind from that of a subjective thinker to an objective thinker. Whenever arguments are incomplete instead of falling back on apologetics you need to just acknowledge that you just don't know. That's a start and a step in the right direction. Inserting God or God did it into the ignorance regarding the subject just does not cut it if you want to argue effectively. Thanks for taking the time to read this and I will see you all on my next post.


  1. Well said!! I'm all for encouraging more critical thinkers! If you could reason with christians, there would be no christians.

  2. Confirmation bias, I deal with this shit all the time, they'll use any out they can create in their own minds and walk away thinking they've won their point and have become a better Christian for it...lol Like the one you quoted "gods ways are not our ways" that's the reason he's god!!!...BS! They're thinking to themselves that bull-shit let's me still keep believing the way I do and god will reward me later for it...duh in hell!!

    They're lying their friggen way to heaven with self-deception, but that's what the buybull is self-deception, if I a Christian, can convince myself that I am someone special, then I must surely be, as long as I can continue on my religious charade then I must surely be perceived by other people as being righteous, said the insane murdering thief Saint Paul whom invented his own personal savior to con his way into heaven.

    I'm wondering how has humanity let the psychologicaly insane book called the bible get by with such lies and filth all these years?

    The Christians says, "well if I don't have any beliefs in anything, then I have nothing." Well in the end all you have is nothing but empty promises, is that better than nothing? I have never cared for false hope called faith.

    Any person can make up any tale and call it truth, you just need faith to believe it, there's nothing unique or special about that, but millions of people believe there's something to it and we nonbelievers call it for what it is total bull-shit!

  3. A perfect example of the christian mentality concerning reason: " Reason is the devils whore" - Martin Luther. They look at reason as something to be feared. They utilize circular reasoning and skewed logic to defend their god. If he existed shouldn't he be able to defend himself?