Is Religion Just “Confirmation Bias”?


Go real quick to try to get this in before
the break, Anonymous in Fairfax, Virginia, listening online, you are on with Trent
Horn, what’s your question, Anonymous? Hey, so I just recently watched like a video on
Vice news that was talking about exorcisms, and they showed this one
atheist activist named like Michael Shermer who was trying to debunk
exorcisms, and one of his premises was that “You know, religion and faith and all
that, it’s nothing more than just confirmation bias.” And I kind of hear
this a lot too, that, you know, “Oh, faith is nothing more than just confirmation bias.
People with their beliefs, they’ll go wherever their beliefs…” You know,
kind of ad hoc. But how do you respond to stuff like that, Trent? What I would say
is that confirmation bias is not an objection to Catholicism, or even to
religion in general. Confirmation bias is a psychological defect that all people
suffer from, including atheists. It’s just a part of the human condition, as fallen
creatures, as fallible creatures. What confirmation bias is, it is a tendency
among human beings to only notice evidence that supports a belief they
already hold, and then to ignore or suppress evidence that contradicts that
belief. And everyone does this, including atheists, and I would say even Shermer
himself would do this, that if you were talking about exorcisms that he and
others may bring up, yeah there are cases where you might say someone who seems
possessed may have a mental illness and it’s indistinguishable, but then people
don’t bring up the other cases where the person who’s possessed speaks a language
they never knew before, or has superhuman strength. That part gets kind of
pushed to the side. That would be an example of confirmation bias. I don’t
know if Shermer does that, but I can imagine there are atheists who do. So I
would say, to repeat that, well we have a little bit of time, I can go into
this before we have to go to a break, that confirmation bias, it is a
psychological defect, an error in thinking, everybody suffers from it. So
everyone has to watch out for it, so there are atheists–and I’ve seen this in
literature, where atheists will attack, you know, weak
arguments against the Catholic faith, but then they don’t deal with other stronger
issues or things that may contradict a belief that they hold. So everyone does
this, we have to be watchful for it, but it’s not an objection against the faith.
It’s just something everyone has to watch out for, and Catholics believe in
faith seeking understanding, and everyone’s biased but we can work hard to
look at evidence objectively, and I would say the evidence objectively supports
the truth of the Catholic faith.

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