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True Reason: Christian Responses to the Challenges of Atheism – on Kindle

March 21st, 2012 by Madeleine

The kindle edition of new book featuring responses to the New Atheists, aimed to be readable at the popular level entitled True Reason: Christian Responses to the Challenges of Atheism is now available on Amazon. This blog’s Matthew Flannagan contributed to a chapter in it alongside William Lane Craig, Sean McDowell and others.

Matt’s chapter is a reprint of his chapter “Did God Command Canaanite Genocide?” in the forthcoming in April B&H Academic book: Come Let Us Reason: New Essays in Christian Apologetics edited by Paul Copan and William Lane Craig.

Here is the editorial review from Amazon:

True Reason: Christian Responses to the Challenge of Atheism“While New Atheists like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and others proclaim loudly their rationality, clear thinking, and incontrovertible scientific arguments, others are beginning to wonder how genuinely rational they are. Have they proved anything? Have they argued convincingly? Have they pinpointed any real challenges to the credibility of Christian faith?

“True Reason,” edited by Tom Gilson and Carson Weitnauer, brings together a compendium of writers–philosophers, apologists, ethicists, theologians, historians–who look carefully at the best arguments atheism has and evaluate their validity, logic, assumptions, and naturalist conclusions.Authors include noted philosopher William Lane Craig and popular apologist Sean McDowell, along with Gilson, Weitnauer, John DePoe, Chuck Edwards, Matthew Flannagan, Peter Grice, Randy Hardman, David Marshall, Glenn Sunshine, David Wood, and Samuel Youngs. Each chapter tackles a different atheist argument and brings reason fully into the discussion.

Which is more reasonable: atheism or Christianity? Read “True Reason” and think for yourself.”

Get your copy now, read it, and let us know what you think both here and on Amazon :-)

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63 responses so far ↓

  • Thanks for the heads up. Just picked up the Kindle version, for a very good price too. Look forward to reading it.

  • I have this ebook and critiqued on my blog David Marshall’s chapter on my OTF:

    http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2012/03/david-marshall-on-otf-again.html

    The really strange thing is that you deal with doubt and claim it’s more reasonable to believe. But doubt is the adult attitude. Believers will never understand that THAT’S first and foremost what we atheists think. And we also think that science is the best and only way to know what to conclude about it all since faith produces so many wide and fanciful opinions.

    In any case, what do you think of my revised book? Can you answer it? Thanks for the blurb.

  • The really strange thing is that you deal with doubt and claim it’s more reasonable to believe. But doubt is the adult attitude. Believers will never understand that THAT’S first and foremost what we atheists think.

    John, if doubting is always the adult attitude then I should doubt the comment above, It would be childish to believe it. Moreover, I should be a skeptic about other minds, the past, the external world and so on. But no rational sane adult doubts all those things, so doubt is not always the adult attitude.

    And we also think that science is the best and only way to know what to conclude about it all since faith produces so many wide and fanciful opinions.

    This contradicts what you said above. If the appropriate adult method was always to doubt and be sceptical the one should be sceptical that science is the best and only way to know the truth.
    Moreover as has been pointed out the claim is self refuting take:
    [1]science is the best and only way to know something
    How do you know [1] is true. If its by science then the argument is circular you use science to prove its reliability.
    If its by a non scientific method then [1] would tell us we cannot know anything by that method.
    This has been pointed out to you before, self contradictory slogans might impress atheist cheerleaders but they really do you know credit.

  • @John I too purchased it (very cheap) and am critiquing it on my new blog http://southerncrossatheist.blogspot.co.nz/

    @Matt – Doubt is a serious concept, and I’m part way through explaining how it (in my opinion) should be applied to christian apologetics.

    Well – you can read the background to the blog there, but to summarize, the above book is deserving of some skepticism (actually a lot of skepticism)
    Cheers

  • Pete, criticising something and treating it with the kind of skepticism Loftus suggests in the OTF are quite different. If you followed that method, you would suspend judgement on every single claim that was not believed by all cultures across time, and accept each one only when you have an argument which

    (a) follows by from argument and methods all people across cultures and times accept. from (b) premises all people in all cultures and times accept.

    I doubt Loftus has ever made an argument about anything that meets this standard. I doubt any argument for anything we believe on almost any subject meets it.

  • @Matt – Nice try. But thanks for introducing the term OTF. I hadn’t heard that before (gosh – so much reading to do).

    Doubt is something that we all inherit. Keeps us safe from danger. Allowed us to survive as a species. When you look at other animal species (for example)we often say that “cat” looks timid, but no – it doubts (in other words is skeptical about your out-reached hand) and until it gathers sufficient evidence(sound of voice, smells, location) to assuage the skepticism it will stay back.
    Religions ask us to suspend that doubt, and state that the evidence does not need to be tested.
    I think Loftus is suitably skeptical

  • Doubt is something that we all inherit. Keeps us safe from danger. Allowed us to survive as a species. When you look at other animal species (for example)we often say that “cat” looks timid, but no – it doubts (in other words is skeptical about your out-reached hand) and until it gathers sufficient evidence(sound of voice, smells, location) to assuage the skepticism it will stay back.

    That’s not true, if I doubted my senses when I see a predator on the grounds that I might be hallucinating and demanded a proof they were reliable in this instance. I would die, to survive the smart person would run away.

    Similarly, if everyone I refused to believe what the elders told me about hunting and gathering, and how to make fire, but demanded they demonstrate it the community would probably not survive long.

    Similarly if I refused to believe anything my wife told me until it had been proven by an independent source I suspect I would not pass on my genes at all. No man would.

    Certain levels of doubt in certain contexts will enhance survival, but general scepticism will not.

    Religions ask us to suspend that doubt, and state that the evidence does not need to be tested.
    I think Loftus is suitably sceptical

    I note you ignored the arguments, instead said, “nice try” I gave and repeated mantras about doubt and testability I instead of addressing the argument.

    This confirms what I said, the appeal to scepticism seems to only be pulled out when we are discussing God. When I ask you to be sceptical about the claims Loftus make or you yourself make against religion it arguments and proof are conveniently ignored for slogans and rhetoric.

  • You say…”That’s not true, if I doubted my senses when I see a predator on the grounds that I might be hallucinating and demanded a proof they were reliable in this instance. I would die, to survive the smart person would run away.”

    Why don’t you re-read what you write here and say after me…”Seems Pete actually has a point” Don’t bring in other issues – keep your logic flow going in the same direction – I didn’t suggest hallucination (why add that). You restated my “cat” example and claimed it disproves me point! Come on Matt!

  • Matt, yes you doubt. It’s the adult attitude. It’s always the adult attitude. Doubt is not a conclusion one arrives at. It an attitude toward the claims of someone. It’s a filter we use to screen out the good ideas from the chaff. We cannot doubt that filter. It’s what makes us critical human beings. We can hone it so that we are not excessively doubtful or excessively gullible. It takes training.

    Your doubt stems from your faith. You have not trained your filter to be sufficiently doubtful. I cannot imagine an adult human being not trusting the consensus of scientists. It baffles my mind to think you might think that, and yet you are doubtful of it. If not, then why denigrate science like you do? Even you accept the results in a vast array of matters except for those rare ones that go against what some ancient superstitious pre-scientific men wrote in you holy book. Why the double standards here?

    This is the difference:

    http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2012/04/one-difference-between-science-and.html

    To do this you must claim science has no better basis for their conclusions don’t you, conclusions based on their senses, and so forth.

    I most emphatically demur:

    http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2012/04/is-this-faith-really.html

    You live in a cultural cave and cannot see your way out of it because of so many cognitive biases you are practically blind:

    http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2012/03/platos-cave-allegory-and-faith.html

  • JL says: “why denigrate science like you do”

    Um, where did this happen?

  • John, your comment actually illustrates my point nicely,

    In the first sentence you state

    Matt, yes you doubt. It’s the adult attitude. It’s always the adult attitude. Doubt is not a conclusion one arrives at. It an attitude toward the claims of someone.

    Here you say that doubt is “always the adult attitude” to take towards someone elses claims.

    Then you state

    I cannot imagine an adult human being not trusting the consensus of scientists. It baffles my mind to think you might think that, and yet you are doubtful of it.

    Here you state if “baffles your mind” why a person would take up the stance of “doubt” towards the claims of scientists and instead suggest the “adult” stance is “trust” which is a synonym for “faith”

    “Why the double standards here?”

    Good question, how about you answer it instead of repeating your incoherent position and accusing others of being gullible because they don’t accept contradictions.

  • John,

    Actually both posts you link to are mistaken.

    First, you say science results in consensus religion does not: the problem here is that in philosophy of science there is no consensus on whether science should be understood as true in a realist sense, that is an approximately true description of the world, or whether an antirealist interpretation where by it makes useful, or empirically adequate theories but does not give approximate truth. So even if there is a scientific consensus you can’t claim this consensus on gives us an approximately true account of the world because to do that involves making controversial philosophical claims about how to interpret scientific results, and there is no consensus on this.
    If religions lack of consensus means the adult thing to do is doubt, then the lack of consensus in philosophy of science means the adult thing to do is doubt any realist interpretation of science as offering us an approximately true account of reality. So again all you do is show the contradictory nature of the OTF.
    The second contends that “At worst, scientific claims are extremely probable regular repeatable testable ones” this claim is actually false, Larry Laudan has critiqued them effectively here: https://webspace.utexas.edu/kal698/science%20at%20the%20bar.pdf. But importantly, certainly that this is a correct demarcation of science from non-science is something on which there is no consensus but rather much controversay, this is the well known “demarcation” problem on which there is no consensus answer.

    So your second post involves simply asserting a demarcation criterion for science, with no evidence despite the fact there is massive dispute and no consensus over the truth of such a criterion. Therefore by the logic of the OTF we should be an adult and doubt these criteria.

    Funny John how on both counts you want your readers to accept without argument a controversial disputed philosophical claim, your obvious brainwashed, not an adult and need to doubt more.

    Also I would add your second post is a straw man, the argument is not that scientific claims are based on “faith” its rather that basic presuppositions scientists rely on in making those claims can’t be verified by the criterion you use. For example scientists believe in the existence of the past, and the existence of a real existing world independent of our consciousness and they assume the reliability of inductive reasoning, and yet these things cannot be determined in a non circular fashion by testable, probable, repeatabile methods, as the history of scepticism shows.

    So John why are you encouraging your readers to be childish, surely we should doubt everything you say, we certainly can’t trust your comments are true or reliable that would be to be gullible.

    The OTF has been reduced to absurdity repeatedly, you keep clinging to it simply by illustrating your ability to contradict yourself and hide behind the claim that everyone else is brain washed. Intellectual honesty demands you shelve it.

  • Matt said: “Here you state if ‘baffles your mind’ why a person would take up the stance of ‘doubt’ towards the claims of scientists and instead suggest the ‘adult’ stance is ‘trust’ which is a synonym for ‘faith’”

    My response:

    Matt, there is a big difference between the overwhelming consensus of scientists in a vast number of areas, and current disagreements between scientists on the cutting edges of science. Science has produced the goods in an overwhelming number of areas. Therefore, there is good reason to think it will produce the goods in a number of areas on the cutting edges of science too. It has a proven track record. There isn’t anything controversial about this.

    What you need to do is present a better alternative. What is it?

  • Matt said: “If religions lack of consensus means the adult thing to do is doubt, then the lack of consensus in philosophy of science means the adult thing to do is doubt any realist interpretation of science as offering us an approximately true account of reality. So again all you do is show the contradictory nature of the OTF.”

    I addressed this concern in Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. Since science is done by scientists there is a human element to it, yes. Science is not completely objective and scientists are not completely neutral. Fine. But science progresses just the same because the evidence has a way of breaking through. So you need to explain why science progresses and why religions are always trying to reinvent because of the onslaught of science and not the other way around.

    The problem of defining a correct demarcation of science from non-science is therefore not a problem at all. It’s like trying to specify which whisker, when plucked, no longer leaves us with a beard, an informal fallacy. Just because we cannot define that exact point doesn’t mean there isn’t a difference. I call this definitional apologetics and you reveal in it. There is most emphatically a difference between science and non-science. Ask Larry Laudan and I guarantee you he will say that there is one. THAT’S the point!

  • Matt said: “…the argument is not that scientific claims are based on “faith” its rather that basic presuppositions scientists rely on in making those claims can’t be verified by the criterion you use.”

    My response:

    You really do not understand the difference, do you? You just cannot allow yourself to see it. That’s why faith makes people blind to the facts, and I mean this. There is every reason to think there is a material world:

    http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2011/06/responding-to-thomas-talbiott-on-why-i.html

    Care to respond to that? Stop touting things that only philosophers think about and take a look into how science proceeds. You nitpick it to death ignoring what a massive amount of knowledge it has accumulated.

  • One final comment until you reply. I asked you several questions which you have ignored. You can see them in in my revised book and at the bottom of this post:

    http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2011/07/only-paul-copan-and-matthew-flannagan.html

    Intellectual honesty demands that you quit your hand waving and respond, as I argued here:

    http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2011/07/more-hand-waving-from-matthew-flannagan.html

    Cheers.

  • John, I note you avoided my point about how in a single paragraph you contradicted yourself.

    Instead you resort to the tactic of repeating contradictory positions.

    You write:

    “there is a big difference between the overwhelming consensus of scientists in a vast number of areas, and current disagreements between scientists on the cutting edges of science. Science has produced the goods in an overwhelming number of areas. Therefore, there is good reason to think it will produce the goods in a number of areas on the cutting edges of science too. It has a proven track record. There isn’t anything controversial about this.”
    This response is inadequate, you claim there is a broad consensus within science on a vast majority of areas. The problem is that according to your own criteria it is not consensus within a practise that matters. The reason you gave for being sceptical about religious beliefs was the religious diversity that exists across cultures and time .People brought up within a Muslim society tend to be Muslim. If they were brought up in a different time and place they would not be. The same features apply to science, if you had been brought up in the 14 century you would not believe in evolution or relativity. If you were brought up in NZ maori culture in the 1700’s you would not accept scientific methodology at all. So by the OTF you should be sceptical of science, yet you claim its childish to be so. I agree the OTF is childish.
    Of course if you want to arbitrarily change the OTF to the claim that what matters is not cross cultural consensus across time, but consensus within a practise, then orthodox Christian theology can easily oblige you there. There is a broad consensus amongst orthodox theologians in a large number of areas. So it should pass.
    Finally, note you reintroduce the problem at a new level. Because you state “Science has produced the goods in an overwhelming number of areas” two problems with this. First, how do you know its produced the goods, presumably by a scientific survey of the past results of science. So your using science to vindicate science. Great, then one can argue the bible is the word of God because the bible says so. If you wont accept this circularity from theologians you can’t accept it from scientists.
    Second, the idea that science has progressed by giving more and more true answers as opposed to merely providing better theoretical ( but not true) models. Assumes a realist account of scientific progress, but this account of the progress of science is disputed, not everyone who is an epistemic peer agrees with this understanding of scientific progress, so given the criteria you laid down in the OTF you should be sceptical of this account. But of course you note.
    All this shows John is how when the flaws in your method are pointed out you (a) change the criteria for beliefs you accept and not for religious beliefs or (b) help yourself to a premise which your own method does not allow you to to immunise your own beliefs from the test you demand everyone else follow. That’s not intellectually honest.

    What you need to do is present a better alternative. What is it?

    No I don’t need to provide an alternative account to show yours is flawed. Plantinga has addressed this point. Suppose I found a watch on the ground and asked “how did it get here” you suggest Sadam Hussien dropped it. Do I have to come up with a plausible answer to the question “who dropped it” before I am justified in thinking your account is a tad unlikely, no.
    Sorry John, seeing you have put forward the OTF I am going to demand you follow it. Until I get an argument for a premise you use, which follows from premises that no epistemic peer rejects, or which would be held by all people in all cultures across time. The OTF demands I reject it. If you don’t like this admit the OTF is bogus.

  • John in your second response again we see you avoiding the issues.

    First, you stated science “is done by scientists there is a human element to it, yes. Science is not completely objective and scientists are not completely neutral” that’s true, but note that was not in question.

    You had suggested science was immune to the OTF because it reaches consensus. What I pointed out was (a) there is no consensus on a realist interpretation of science and (b) according to the OTF when epistemic peers disagree over something you should be sceptical of it. (a) and (b) entail that you, if you are consistent, should reject scientific realism.
    So again John how about addressing the contradiction instead of changing the subject. Do you reject (a) and contend, contrary to obvious facts, that here is a consensus on scientific realism? Or do you want to retract (b) and abandon the OTF?

    Second you state

    The problem of defining a correct demarcation of science from non-science is therefore not a problem at all. It’s like trying to specify which whisker, when plucked, no longer leaves us with a beard, an informal fallacy. Just because we cannot define that exact point doesn’t mean there isn’t a difference. I call this definitional apologetics and you reveal in it.

    Again this changes the subject, I did not say one needs demarcation criteria to t tell the difference between science and non science I quite agree that we don’t What I pointed out was that you attempted to offer a demarcation in the link you provided. You said faith differed from science because it lacks certain features such as making repeatable testable claims, this of course appeals to the standard demarcation criteria which philosophers of science have rejected.

    Now if you believe demarcation criteria fail, don’t use them in your arguments. If you don’t then provide an argument for them.
    But changing the subject and then calling other “blind” to avoid attention from your own poor argumentation does not cut it.

  • John

    Finally, your response to Talbot is simply laughable and shows an extremely poor understanding of the epistemological issues.
    I actually doubt you taught philosophy when I read stuff like that.

    First, you note Talbot believes in an external world and Either he believes there is an external material world or he does not. If he does, then why bother with this an an objection at all?

    That actually misses the point, no body is denying the existence of the external world. The point being made is that if the OTF is sound you should deny the external world. Seeing you grant this is absurd, the OTF must be rejected. Note the difference between denying something and pointing out another persons position commits them to denying something.

    Second, you affirm the external world on the basis of the G E Moore shift. I agree that’s the point. G E Moore argued that when a sceptical epistemology (like say the OTF) conflicts with ones belief in the external world, one has more reason to reject the epistemology than belief in the external world. I agree that’s the whole point. Accepting it means we should abandon the OTF.

    Third, you suggest

    Another reason is science itself. How can we conceive of it working without an external material world? Why do we need brains, a liver, lungs, and organs of any kind? Why does surgery save us from death if these organs are not real? How does a doctor prescribed pill heal us if there is no material body? What then causes us to be healed if the pill doesn’t do it?

    Two things here, first, what your acknowledging is that science presupposes these things it has to assumed them to work. I agree that was the point, science can’t demonstrate them or prove them, because it has to assume them from the outset. That proves by the say that science relies on assumptions which can’t be scientifically proven and hence by your definition relies on faith. Again conceding a point does not rebut it.
    Second, in fact on an anti-realist model, like Berkeley’s science can work even if there is no external world, it provides models via which we can predict future experiences, even if those models don’t describe reality.

    Third, you argue

    But there is no way anyone can deny an external material world since one must presuppose it for the sake of the arguments. After all, these arguments require physical evidence of some kind, so where are we supposed to find this physical evidence if it doesn’t exist?

    This again is incompetent, first, the fact a person presupposes a claim for the sake of argument and then uses it to refute the claim, does not mean the argument is fallacious, that’s actually a valid argument known as redutio ad absuridum. By this reasoning your own version of the problem of evil fails, after all the problem of evil assumes the existence of God for the sake or argument and then argues that if God exists evil does not. Funny how you recognise the propriety of assuming something you disagree with for the sake of argument when you do it.

    Second, a person does not need physical evidence in arguing about the external world, all skeptics need acknowledge is the existence of experience, that’s evident from reading Hume and Berkeley none of them appealed to “physical evidence” they appealed to the fact they experienced something. They don’t need to assume this experience reliably tracks a physical world independent of it. But seeing you talk of how you have read Berkeley you know this, don’t you.

    John all this shows is how you will talk complete philosophical twaddle on your blog.

    What you fail to do is answer the question, given that throughout history there are people who have been idealists and there are religions that deny the existence of the physical world, it follows that if the OTF is true, we should be sceptical of the existence of such a world. Either you (a) provide an argument for the existence of such a world from premises which are accepted by all cultures at all times or (b) you give up the OTF. This was the point of G E Moores shift.

    But misrepresenting first year epistemology or idealism on a blog where your readers will not know the issues, is neither.

  • Intellectual honesty demands that you quit your hand waving and respond, as I argued here:

    Intellectual honesty actually demands you not ask questions that commit the fallacy of complex question http://philosophy.lander.edu/logic/complex.html

    By the same logic I could ask you: “simple yes or no John have you stopped beating your wife” when you refuse to answer I can then claim publically your silence is evidence your a wife beater.

    Rhetorical tricks and theatrics get no where, whats needed is for you to actually answer the criticisms I and others have made of the OTF.

  • Matt,

    I think it is worth pointing out that your appeal to philosophy of science is irrelevant.

    Yes, you are absolutely right that there is not a consensus among philosophers about realism. But this point, no matter how hard you try to make it so, is not germane to the discussion.

    As a physicist, it doesn’t really matter to me if the energy levels of a hydrogen atom are physically “real” or if the energy levels and the particles that make up a hydrogen atom are a holographic projection of some sort. A hydrogen atom still follows the rules of quantum theory, and knowing quantum theory allows me to make measurements and do things with hydrogen atoms that I wouldn’t be able to do otherwise.

    I don’t need to accept or reject realism to be confident in my knowledge of how hydrogen atoms work, regardless of their actual physical existence. At some point down the road, it may become possible to make a determination between a physical universe or a holographic universe or something else, but a hydrogen atom is still a hydrogen atom no matter what we determine the ultimate nature of the universe (and hydrogen atoms) to be.

    I don’t know how much scientific training you have, but there is this concept within science as applied to scientific theories called the “range of validity.” Basically what this means is that every scientific theory has range of “physical” parameters over which the theory is considered to be valid. If you deal with cases that are beyond that range, the predictions made by the theory should be considered suspect (at best). Attempting to use such predictions in out of range cases is, in a sense, a category error.

    You’re appeal to philosophy of science here is the same sort of category error. You’re trying to attack the OTF on a level that it doesn’t work on, and wasn’t intended to work on, and then claim that because it doesn’t work at that level or can’t address that question, the argument must be fallacious, but it is actually the other way around. You’re argument is the fallacious one by not addressing the OTF within its proper context. Indeed, the OTF does not stand or fall on scientific realism at all, so there is no contradiction there.

  • You’re appeal to philosophy of science here is the same sort of category error. You’re trying to attack the OTF on a level that it doesn’t work on, and wasn’t intended to work on, and then claim that because it doesn’t work at that level or can’t address that question, the argument must be fallacious, but it is actually the other way around. You’re argument is the fallacious one by not addressing the OTF within its proper context.

    It seems like you’re implying that since OTF is highly problematic on some views, it was therefore clearly not intended for those views, and is therefore exempt of such scrutiny. That’s dubiously circular and so isn’t any excuse for OTF’s obvious special pleading. If OTF isn’t applicable to certain views then one needs to ascertain on a relevantly fundamental level what makes those views significantly different from others, which no one has done.

  • @hugh I think phasespace states quite well some of the fundamental problems with Matts logic.

    Arguing a case for [whatever] using a reasoning/context outside [whatevers] scope seems to me a common trait amongst apologists.

    Listening to lectures by Craig, and DeSouza leave me astounded that they get away with such bad logic. I’m left feeling that they do get away with it by literally “preaching to the choir” and consequently do not hear any criticisms.

    Matt – you write stuff on this blog, or post stuff here that you have written elsewhere and do the same thing. The posts are long and complicated. If your reasoning is sound then it should be easily stated. Being concise is a great test of reasoning. Mark Twain once said “If I had more time I would have written less”

    When we attempt to engage you in justifying your statements you keep pointing to some esoteric statement (and then smiling to your self that we clearly don’t understand..) embedded deep inside the blog post.

    I remember my most enjoyable varsity lecturers were the ones who could simplify the most complex theorems, and then guide us towards the underlying complexities. I don;t know if OTF is a worthy cause. Good luck to him etc.

    I think you should stay focused on the hypothesis of the christian religion…Maybe ask yourself who you expect to read this blog. Are atheists welcome to read and engage you or do you want the “choir” to be your audience?

  • I think phasespace states quite well some of the fundamental problems with Matts logic.

    Ok, well, I don’t, but I actually justified my position.

    When we attempt to engage you in justifying your statements you keep pointing to some esoteric statement (and then smiling to your self that we clearly don’t understand..) embedded deep inside the blog post.

    That’s interesting. I’ve observed that when people try and engage with you here, you never really address their points, restate your position, mention you are not learned enough on the subjects and need to do more reading, then talk about how your aim is to get Matt to think a little harder about his.

    Maybe focus on the substance of your comments and ask yourself who you expect to read them and take them seriously.

  • Phasespace and Pete

    Loftus argues for the OTF on the basis of two thesises:

    [1] The religious diversity thesis: that people from different cultures adopt different religious beliefs;

    [2] The religious dependency thesis: which religion one adopts is overwhelmingly dependent on cultural conditions.

    Loftus contends [2] is a plausible inference from [1] and that [1] and [2] entail the OTF. So, Christians should approach Christianity with the same skepticism they have towards Islam or Hinduism or even belief in fairy worship.

    Now consider the following

    [1]’ The scientific diversity thesis: that people from different cultures adopt different scientific beliefs;

    [2]’ The scientific dependency thesis: which scientific beliefs one adopts is overwhelmingly dependent on cultural conditions.

    If [1] and [2] entail the OTF for religions, why doesn’t [1]’ and [2]’ entail the OTF for scientific beliefs, requiring us to approach modern science with the same scepticism we approach ancient greek science or babylonain cosmology, or even astrology.

    Now whatever physics training you have, in logic if two arguments have the same form then they are either both valid or invalid. The rules of logic don’t change because it’s a topic you like and another you don’t. You don’t get to simply reinvent the rules of inference when its something you believe in. Moreover, if an argument is valid then if the premises are true the conclusion follows by logical necessity and cannot be false. [1]’ and [2]’ however are clearly true in the same way [1] and [2] are, if you look at other cultures and times you’ll see people in those times had very different scientific beliefs to us moderns.

    So either we reject modern science or the argument for the OTF is invalid. To accept the OTF and modern science is to be logically inconsistent, you can have all the physics training in the world it does not change the fact your being inconsistent and claiming an argument form is valid in one instance and not in the next despite it being the same argument form.

  • Loftus says, “But doubt is the adult attitude.”

    We all know that he is talking about the OTF, about people of one faith doubting other faiths and so on, right?

    Flannegan replies, “John, if doubting is always the adult attitude then I should doubt the comment above, It would be childish to believe it. ”

    Matt isn’t talking about the OTF and whether people of one faith can doubt the validity of other faiths here.

    Matt is overgeneralizing to a ridiculous degree here.

    If I doubt, I must doubt the meaning of doubt itself.
    If I’m skeptical, I must be skeptical of skepticism itself.
    If I define an Outsider test of faith then the test must somehow pass itself!

    But this is not why you have faith in Catholicism and not in Islam or Hinduism.

    If you cannot be doubtful or skeptical or have any reason to not have faith in Islam or Hinduism, Matt, you’re surely stuck believing that they are equally valid options.

    This is why I quit commenting here. Talk about ‘intellectual honesty’! Matt can doubt Islam and Hinduism is true, that’s fine, but he can turn around and claim that there is no way he could test his own claims in the same way that he can test Hinduism or Islam, because that’d be like doubting doubt or being skeptical of skepticism.

    Blech.

  • pboyfloyd,

    You are just taking for granted that the OTF is correct in its confinement to religious beliefs. The first issue is whether it is or not, and there’s been no good argument to show that it is.

    The second issue is that if it can’t be confined to religious beliefs, it must be applied to all other beliefs which fit his given criteria (laid it in Matt’s post above you). The thing is, most beliefs fit that criteria, even the belief that you should instinctively doubt things, leading to clear absurdities, such as

    If I doubt, I must doubt the meaning of doubt itself.
    If I’m skeptical, I must be skeptical of skepticism itself.
    If I define an Outsider test of faith then the test must somehow pass itself!

    Ergo, the OTF is an incoherent method.

  • “The second issue is that if it can’t be confined to religious beliefs, it must be applied to all other beliefs..”

    But the OTF is about religious faith. Simply because you and/or Matt can overgeneralize ‘faith’ doesn’t mean you have to.

    Of course Matt doesn’t want to test his faith against other faiths, so he overgeneralizes.

    Example. If you say, “I am a person of faith.”, and I reply, “Tch, Hugh, we are all people of faith, we all have faith in things.”

    But we both know that I was quibbling, just playing a childish word game, right?

    Same thing if I said, “I absolutely abhor intolerance!”, and you replied, “But that means you are intolerant of intolerance!”, a contradiction.

    It’s all just silly word play like this, “…if doubting is always the adult attitude then I should doubt the comment above..”

    Now perhaps it gives Matt a giant smirk to overgeneralize, to remove ‘all context’, like this, but I sure hope he is not hanging his faith on childish wordplay like this, don’t you?

  • “You are just taking for granted that the OTF is correct ..”

    The OTF is neither correct nor incorrect. You apply the OTF to all the other faiths. You know that Scientology isn’t right and you know why you’re not a Scientologist, right?

    The OTF isn’t a ‘belief’ or a ‘faith’ itself. You know this fine when you apply it to Hinduism or Mormonism, don’t you?

    Here I feel the need to add, if you’re not a Hindu or Mormon, since we seem to be stuck quibbling and you might decide to ‘win’ by claiming to be one of those two.

    That’s the level of the conversation here. You guys are perfectly able to use the OTF on every other religion but if asked to use it on your own religion, well, suddenly we’re concerned about what we really mean by ‘faith’ and what is the scope of ‘skepticism’ and ‘doubt’ and completely disingenuous baloney like this, right?

  • But the OTF is about religious faith.

    This is precisely the problem, its an example of the logical fallacy called special pleading. The OTF is an application of a larger abstraction, ie not having double standards when accepting what you believe and rejecting others (it seems immediately obvious that more than religious beliefs should be considered). Loftus argues that religious beliefs should be the focal point of this idea because they fulfil certain criteria, but the thing is other kind of beliefs fulfil this criteria as well. So we’re not “overgeneralizing faith”, the fact of the matter is in order to remain consistent and intellectually honest either you apply OTF to all kinds of beliefs or you abandon it altogether. (Unfortunately applying it to other beliefs leads to absurdities and contradictions so you are forced to abandon it anyway).

    You can’t simply restate your position and assert that the OTF only applies to faith, you need to actually engage with the argument.

  • Matt, the first premise in you’re re-writing the OTF for MODERN science is so utterly wrongheaded I have stopped commenting except to share this with you:

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/23278690/PhD-Adam_only/beliefs.png

    It was drawn up for my forthcoming book on the OTF. You’ll find yourself in that book, so look forward to it.

    Cheers

  • It cannot be ruled out that one day there will be a consensus among people concerning God as prophesied in Isaiah 2,1-5, 11,9, Jeremiah 16,19-21, or Zechariah 8,23. Furthermore, the following book, which I haven’t read, seems to show that to some extent such a consensus already exists:

    Don Richardson, Eternity in Their Hearts: Startling Evidence of Belief in the One True God in Hundreds of Cultures Throughout the World, Ventura 1981.

    It may well be that with respect to religions in the world the respective world map will also have only one colour.

    As for the OTF, what I wrote in the following threads can be seen as an application of the OTF to Christianity:

    http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2012/03/is-evidence-for-resurrection-of-jesus.html

    http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2012/04/professor-victor-reppert-on-natural.html

  • It seems like you’re implying that since OTF is highly problematic on some views, it was therefore clearly not intended for those views, and is therefore exempt of such scrutiny. That’s dubiously circular and so isn’t any excuse for OTF’s obvious special pleading. If OTF isn’t applicable to certain views then one needs to ascertain on a relevantly fundamental level what makes those views significantly different from others, which no one has done.

    No. Let me put it this way. The OTF is based on an empirical observation. The philosophers that Matt is citing regarding the debate over physical realism, will tell you that empirical observation is still valid within the domain of the observable universe irregardless of the universe’s status as an actual “real” thing or a hologram. So Matt’s criticism along these lines is a non sequitur. It has no bearing on the validity of the OTF at all.

  • [1]’ The scientific diversity thesis: that people from different cultures adopt different scientific beliefs;

    [2]’ The scientific dependency thesis: which scientific beliefs one adopts is overwhelmingly dependent on cultural conditions.

    John doesn’t want to respond to this, but I will. Matt, this response proves the point of the OTF.

    [1]‘ is observably false. Scientists from different cultural backgrounds don’t adopt different scientific beliefs. Physics in India is the same as physics in the US, is the same as physics in New Zealand, is the same as physics in China, and Russia, and Saudi Arabia, and …

    Which makes obviates the need to even address the second premise.

    Now, having said that, when you get to the cutting edge of research in the sciences, there is quite a bit of diversity of opinion, and this diversity of opinion is precisely the sort that the OTF is talking about, and the OTF, correctly, states that we should be skeptical of any particular opinion at this level given that there doesn’t seem to be a strong consensus opinion or empirical evidence that strongly points to any particular idea.

  • “This is precisely the problem, its an example of the logical fallacy called special pleading.”

    If there is any special pleading being done it’s on you guys’ part, since you are quite happy to argue that other faiths aren’t right and you are quite happy to give your reasons why you believe that your faith is right and they are wrong.

    The OTF simply asks you to apply the same standard you yourself use to reject Islam or Hinduism, for example, to your own faith.

    Now I’m sure that there aren’t any faiths which are up for the OTF since each faith would likely try to duck the OTF for their own faith while being more than happy to apply it to every single other faith.

    That is the crux of the matter, you are all more than happy to apply the OTF, to Islam as outsider to Islam, to Mormanism as an outsider to Mormanism, to Scientology as an outsider of Scientology, and even to evolution as an outsider to science(if you are a YEC).

    You say, “The OTF is an application of a larger abstraction, ie not having double standards when accepting what you believe and rejecting others (it seems immediately obvious that more than religious beliefs should be considered).”

    Nonsense. Seems to me you are saying that if someone came up with a test for overripe bananas it couldn’t possibly work because it doesn’t test all fruit.

    Loftus is asking you to use the same standard that you use to dismiss other religious faiths on your own faith.

    You guys are saying that there is a ‘larger abstraction’ to be taken into account, but you’ll still merrilly go along judging other faiths wrong by one standard and accepting your own faith by another, different standard..

    Ask yourself if Islam could be the one true religion. If you come to the conclusion that it is not, then you have just used the OTF.

    Ask yourself if Hinduism could be the one true faith. Again, if not then you have successfully used the OTF on Hinduism.

    If we imagine the different faiths as houses of cards which proponents of one feel they can knock down all the others to leave theirs’ standing, Loftus is saying that cannot use that same standard and leave your house of cards(faith) intact.

    You guys’ anwer seems to be that you don’t have to answer that accusation at all, since, what, the OTF is a faith-based house of cards? You can imply that the OTF must be asked from a faith-based position? Reality itself is actually a faith-based house of cards?

    You can fill your boots knocking down the ‘reality’ house of cards, knock yourself out, because it is no objection to the OTF at al, it’s just a diversionl.

  • Matt’s reasoning, “[2]’ The scientific dependency thesis: which scientific beliefs one adopts is overwhelmingly dependent on cultural conditions.

    If [1] and [2] entail the OTF for religions, why doesn’t [1]’ and [2]’ entail the OTF for scientific beliefs, requiring us to approach modern science with the same scepticism we approach ancient greek science or babylonain cosmology, or even astrology.”

    Certainly we ought to apply the OTF for scientific beliefs, why not?

    Of course we ought not to play word games here conflating scientific models with religious doctrine.

    Still, advancing science depends on using an outsider test of our scientific models of reality.

    We can use the notion that infinite regression is impossible, conflate that with infinite progression, deeming that impossible too, to conjure up an uncaused cause, an eternal cause, a necessary first cause.

    Okay now chisel that in stone.

    We can use the notion of infinite regression and infinite progression to define limits, the basic idea behind differential and integral calculus.

    But surely calculus is useless to people who can see the impossibility of infinite regression and infinite progression, “Why I cannot iterate forever, since I am not an eternal being, therefore I can never really know the limit which I am looking for. Calculus is witchcraft, we cannot ‘play’ God, burn the heretics!”

    Tell us why it is not easier for you to dismiss calculus as a form of scientism, an evil lie, a Satanic trick, while you shiver in your cloak of 13th. Century natural theology, Thomists??

    Oh, I know your answer, it’s, “I was never really that fond of the Kalam Cosmological Argument to begin with.”

  • No. Let me put it this way. The OTF is based on an empirical observation. The philosophers that Matt is citing regarding the debate over physical realism, will tell you that empirical observation is still valid within the domain of the observable universe irregardless of the universe’s status as an actual “real” thing or a hologram. So Matt’s criticism along these lines is a non sequitur. It has no bearing on the validity of the OTF at all.

    Well actually Matt wasn’t talking about physical realism, he was talking about *scientific* realism, which isn’t reducible to the universe being real or a hologram (scientific anti-realists can still accept that the universe is real). It’s about whether the success of scientific theories entails the truth of those theories. If there’s dispute here then given the OTF we ought to be skeptical of accepting scientific “facts” as true. This means that if Loftus is to be consistent then he mustn’t trust science’s ability to yield knowledge and should instead doubt it, or abandon the OTF altogether, but he seems to want to have his cake and eat it, which was Matt’s point.

  • pboyfloyd, most of your response is just an elaborate restatement of your position which isn’t very useful for discussion but I have one point to make about your analogy.

    Seems to me you are saying that if someone came up with a test for overripe bananas it couldn’t possibly work because it doesn’t test all fruit.

    Consider this. The person designs such a test and I ask them what about the test makes it applicable to bananas. He says, “well, its because bananas become more acidic as they ripen, so I just test acidity levels”, to which someone points out that all fruit becomes more acidic as it ripens, why does this test show conflicting results for other fruits? He then responds “well the test is only for bananas”
    this is circular reasoning and blatantly denying the obvious fact that the specified test is faulty.

  • cont..

    as goes for the OTF. There’s nothing in the OTF or in Loftus argument for the OTF to show that it *should* only work for religious faith. There is commonality on relevant grounds between religious belief and other beliefs. you just simply assert that religious faith is all its intended for as an excuse for its incompetence when applied consistently.

  • “..someone points out that all fruit becomes more acidic as it ripens..”

    Nono. The test has to be a test that doesn’t affect ‘stuff in general’ for the analogy to suit me.

    For the point of the analogy to fail, you just make the test such that the point fails.

    Let’s make the test about the blackness of the skin of the banana, and the overgeneralization you complaining that all fruit doesn’t necessarilly show it’s ripeness consistently by it’s skin going black.

    I’m saying, of course repeatedly, that the Outsider Test of Faith is a fair test, a test that you all are happy to use on other faiths, a test that people of all other faiths are happy to use on your faith.

    “When I do the banana test, I point out how everyone else’s banana goes black.”

    “Test your own banana, see if it goes black too!”

    “Nono, the test is flawed, it doesn’t work on all fruit.”

    “But these other guys seem to have that same opinion. When they look at everyone else’s banana, they turn black, but, if you ask them to turn the test on their own banana, they start quibbling about how the test is invalid because it doesn’t cover all fruit.”

    Moral, don’t test bananas if you’re not willing to test your own banana!

    Words to live by.

  • “most of your response is just an elaborate restatement of your position ”

    Of course it is Hugh. I cannot state the test any simpler than Outsider Test of Faith.

    You’re not stupid Hugh. Did you answer how you can argue against all other faiths that aren’t yours but refuse to argue against your own faith?

    No, no you didn’t did you?

    But the OTF is short-hand for:-

    a) your ability to discern that other religions are false
    b)your unwillingness to use the same processes when it comes to your own religion.

    Now you can, if you wish, turn the OTF into something easier to defeat, philosophically, or physically(beat it with a stick), but the idea remains simple:-

    a) your ability to discern that other religions are false
    b)your unwillingness to use the same processes when it comes to your own religion.

    Are you getting this Hugh?

    Please explain what it is about:-

    a) your ability to discern that other religions are false
    b)your unwillingness to use the same processes when it comes to your own religion.

    .. that you do not understand?

    We could add that other religions/faiths also have the same ability to discern that your religion is false, by similar criteria, too!

  • “This means that if Loftus is to be consistent then he mustn’t trust science’s ability to yield knowledge and should instead doubt it, or abandon the OTF altogether, but he seems to want to have his cake and eat it, which was Matt’s point.”

    This is a red herring. Loftus can be totally inconsistent if he want to be, same as you guys. He can trust science’s ability to yield knowledge, same as you guys, or not, same as you guys.

    But he doesn’t have to ‘abandon the OTF’ altogether, at all. Because they’re not connected.

    The OTF isn’t right or wrong, and it’s not right or wrong depending on Loftus’ point of view or worldview or whatnot.

    The OTF is a simple statement of fact. Does your religion pass the standards you set for other religions or even other worldviews!

    You guys are easily confused by the idea that there’s a spirit realm and those ethereal buggers are peeking in on us making judgements on us.

    It’s you Hugh, and you Matt, you guys yourselves who are supposed to perform the test, not you guys on Loftus’ worldview or the ‘bottom-of-garden fairies’ on Loftus’ worldview.

    You perform the test on your religious views using the same criteria that you use to dismiss religious views of those you disagree with.

    You can claim victory by stating that you have, and it passes the test, or you can attack Loftus’ worldview. But you must know that the latter is irrelevant.

    It would be up to Loftus’ conscience, Loftus himself, to perform the test on his own worldview and pass or fail it on criteria that he uses to pass or fail others’ worldviews, right?

    Thus sayeth the fairies at the bottom of the garden.

  • To put it in simpler terms, that perhaps even you two might admit.

    (ahem)

    You guys are outsiders as far as Loftus’ worldview is concerned, yes?.

    You two are FAILING(in the sense of ‘testing’ and not ‘passing’) Loftus, on his worldview, isn’t that right?

    Similarly you guys have reasons why Muslims fail, Hindus fail, Scientologists fail etc. etc.

    Are you with me so far?

    No? Then you’re agostic.

    Oh, you ARE ‘with me’. Then you guys are giving Loftus’ a fail on your(you personally Hugh, Matt) outsider(you’re outside Loftus’ worldview) test(all these criteria his view so ‘obviously’ fails at) of his faith(worldview, to put the word in the broadest broad of broadness of senses).

    Basically you guys are claiming victory because you can fail Loftus using your OTF.

  • Nono. The test has to be a test that doesn’t affect ‘stuff in general’ for the analogy to suit me.

    That’s exactly my point. The aim of my analogy wasn’t to suit you, it was to draw a parallel with the OTF. The OTF isn’t an example of a test that isn’t applicable to other beliefs.

    Please try and understand this, as it’s fairly straight forward. Loftus argues that we should take a skeptical approach to our religious beliefs because according to him they fit two criteria.

    [1]’ The religious diversity thesis: that people from different cultures adopt different religious beliefs;

    [2]’ The religious dependency thesis: which religious beliefs one adopts is overwhelmingly dependent on cultural conditions.

    Now in predicate logic, you treat the term “religious” as a variable, where the variable represents a type of belief. To be logically consistent therefore, if these two theses are true for any other type of belief then the conclusion is still the OTF, but for that type of belief. It’s really that simple!

    There’s really no use replying with another silly analogy or a tautologic permutation of your position without engaging with this objection directly.

    I’d also like to point out that both you and Loftus (and any endorsers of Loftus’ OTF actually) are awfully presumptuous about the nature of people’s decision for their religion and rejection of others, insisting that I only accept my religion out of faith and discredit others with reason and science, which is false.

    So even if I accept the OTF as a valid test, I can simply say that I’ve done it and I still hold to Christianity. What I’m observing is an implicit assumption that it will inevitably lead to the rejection of one’s religion, but why think that?

  • “The aim of my analogy wasn’t to suit you, it was to draw a parallel with the OTF.”

    But, it wasn’t your analogy, you just made it so the test WASN’T specific to bananas. I suggested a more suitable ripe banana test and you’re ignoring it, you’re just saying that your more non-specific test suits you better.

    The ‘test’ I put forward is a better analogy since it tests bananas, which is analogous to the OTF testing religious FAITH.

    “The OTF isn’t an example of a test that isn’t applicable to other beliefs. ”

    As noted above, of course it is, but if you wanted to make it about worldviews, that’s fine by me, it still works if you insist that it’s wrong, as I explained in my previous comment, you are saying that Loftus’ worldview is wrong, it fails your test, therefore the OTF is valid.

    “Please try and understand this, as it’s fairly straight forward. Loftus argues that we should take a skeptical approach to our religious beliefs because according to him they fit two criteria.”

    As I noted in the previous comment, this is irrelevant to the OTF. It doesn’t matter how well Loftus explains it, the OTF explains itself.

    “Please explain what it is about:-

    a) your ability to discern that other religions are false
    b)your unwillingness to use the same processes when it comes to your own religion.

    .. that you do not understand?”

    If you are unable to discern that other religions are false, then you must be a pluralist and/or an agnostic.

    If you are able to discern that other religions are false, then you ought to be able to ‘pass’ the OTF which you applied to those other religions(and failed them), by those same criteria.

    This is very simple Hugh, I believe that most people could answer this without trying to bring in someone else’s worldview and arguing that instead.

    “[1]’ The religious diversity thesis: that people from different cultures adopt different religious beliefs;

    [2]’ The religious dependency thesis: which religious beliefs one adopts is overwhelmingly dependent on cultural conditions.”

    This is Loftus’ observation. Are you Hugh, actually denying that Christians of the same sect tend to live in groups? Are you Hugh, actually denying that one is overwhelmingly more likely to adopt the prevailing religion, since you are overwhemingly more likely to grow up a child of parents of that religion?

    Even if you’re right, so what? You’d have just shown Loftus that his worldview, as far as this observation goes, is wrong, using your OTF on his ‘faith’.(on his view, or belief)

    “Now in predicate logic, you treat the term “religious” as a variable, where the variable represents a type of belief. To be logically consistent therefore, if these two theses are true for any other type of belief then the conclusion is still the OTF, but for that type of belief. It’s really that simple! ”

    Well, Hugh, I have, in previous comments made it clear that that doesn’t hurt the OTF at all.

    “There’s really no use replying with another silly analogy or a tautologic permutation of your position without engaging with this objection directly.”

    Done, and done. Unless you can explain to me how it is that you’re not ‘testing’ Loftus’ ‘faith’ here, and ‘failing’ it. That is, using the OTF on Loftus’ worldview.

    What you’re doing is completely ignoring my position and concentrating on taking on Loftus’ POV, and this matters not to the OTF.

    Sure you can change ‘faith’ to ‘religion’ and expand that to ‘type of belief’, yes, we agree that you are overgeneralizing, fine. But that doesn’t make the OTF any less valid since you are using the OTF to try to invalidate it, by overgeneralizing Loftus case.

    Sadly overgeneralizing doesn’t invalidate it at all, not the slightest bit, not if you stick in ‘predicate logic’ and use that to overgeneralize it.

    My objection to overgeneralizing it is not that it invalidates it, which it doesn’t, it is because it is about a specific type of belief known as religion.

    Can you explain to yourself how a Muslim, a Hindu, a Scientologist etc. etc. are wrong? Yes or no? (This is where you answer yes or no)

    If no, then everyone else’s religion is as valid as your own.

    If yes, then write down your objection to other people’s worldviews that are dissimilar to your worldview.

    Are there any objections where other religions fail your test that your faith would also fail?

    If so, then your religion fails the OTF. It’s that simple.

  • “So even if I accept the OTF as a valid test, I can simply say that I’ve done it and I still hold to Christianity.”

    Exactly! So why the fight? Everyone can say that they’ve simply passed that silly test, right?

    But it cannot be true for everyone, can it? The only way that can possibly be true is if you imagine that everyone is now considering every other religious faith as valid as their own.

    Otherwise, how do you pass it and others do not? Otherwise, for you to pass the test you have for other faiths, you have to pass them too!

  • Here’s a simple analogy. (I hate it when people tell me what to do!)

    “Sir Arthur Conan Doyle believed in the fairies at the bottom of the garden. He wrote Sherlock Holmes stories. To write about geniuses solving crimes, it seems obvious to me that the writer himself must be a genius. If garden-bottom fairies were good enough for Doyle, I’ll never understand why they wouldn’t be good enough for you!

    If I look out my window there is a tree line some 20 or 30 yards away and I can see them, unidentifyable thingies flying around. Some of them must be fairies. Remember that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote some great books!

    Oh I know that if we were to go over to the tree line and observe, we’d likely notice that we could identify the flying thingies as dragonflies or perhaps the odd humming bird, or a cloud of midgies.

    Hey party-pooper, some of them may be fairies, maybe fairies are shy and they don’t like to be ‘examined’, in fact who is to say that fairies, when examined don’t turn out to be dragonflies because ‘that is what they do’?

    Your skepticism and doubt convinces me even more that the bottom of the garden is where the fairies live.

    I mean after all, they are called the fairies ‘at the bottom of the garden’, right? They’re not called THAT for nothing, right?”

    Now tell me I’m wrong, go ahead, I dare you! You’ll be ‘tu quoqued’ so fast, it’ll knock you into the future.

  • Actually Pboy, Loftus is quite clear the OTF applies to any belief that is the subject of disagreement amongst different people, or even to any belief which we are taught from others. He writes.

    My argument is that we should examine any belief learned at our mothers knee, with the scepticism of outsiders, unless we can verify it for ourselves. So Reppert is correct to apply the OTF to politics and ethics as well though we might call this Outsider Test for Beliefs (OTB) at this point.( Christian Delusion p 100)

    Its objected that because rational people disagree about an issue that does not justify scepticism about any particular opinion of it. In other words, it has been argued that the mere disagreement between rational people does not lead us automaticall cause us to be sceptical about that which we think is true. On the contrary I think it can and does…(p99)

    But of course if you can just assert for no reason at all, that it applies only to religious despite the fact that they share the very features Loftus cited to justify the test in the first place. then two can play this game. Believers can just assert that the OTF only applies to non-Christian beliefs, and make the same argument you do, after all you are a sceptical outsider to most non Christain beliefs, such things as Hinduism, paganism, Islam, Marxism, and so on, we Christians are just asking you to treat your own non-Christian belief they way you treat all others.

  • Granted that the widened scope of the OTF doesn’t *directly* invalidate the OTF, but that wasn’t my point.

    But, it wasn’t your analogy, you just made it so the test WASN’T specific to bananas. I suggested a more suitable ripe banana test and you’re ignoring it, you’re just saying that your more non-specific test suits you better.

    The ‘test’ I put forward is a better analogy since it tests bananas, which is analogous to the OTF testing religious FAITH.

    Just because you invent a hypothetical scientific test which tests something specifically, it doesn’t mean it automatically draws a successful parallel to the OTF.

    My take on your analogy served to show that just like a scientific test, there needs to be something about the OTF which actually successfully makes the test specific to religion. The proposed aim of the test does NOT do this, the method does (ie just because you say your test is about banana ripeness and you’ve named it a Banana Ripeness Test doesn’t therefore make it a legitimate banana ripeness test. It’s the method that counts). If any test hopes to be specific then the method needs to be specifically designed based on known specific properties of the test subject. For specificity, the OTF is poorly designed (just like my rendition of your banana test), why?

    Lets return to your analogy. You allege to have designed a test for banana ripeness by testing blackness. I say “What about your test makes it work for bananas?” You would say “Well, the thing about bananas is they turn black when they go ripe!” I then point out to you that there are other fruits that are known to go black when they ripen too but your test fails on them, and so I ask why. You are left with two options:

    1) Present me with a description as to what is special about bananas that your method specifically identifies which explains why it works on bananas and not on other fruit

    2) Redesign your test so it works for those other fruits, and if you can’t, scrap the test.

    Lets return to the OTF. Loftus has alleged to design a test for people to use on their religion to see if it’s true. I say “What about your test makes it work for religion?” Loftus then replies “Well, the thing about religion is

    [1]’ People from different cultures adopt different religious beliefs;

    [2]’ The religious beliefs one adopts is overwhelmingly dependent on cultural conditions. ”

    To which I then point out that there are other types of beliefs that fit these two criteria, but the test yields absurdities. Loftus would either have to tell me how he distinguishes religion and explain why the test should only work for religion and not other beliefs, OR redesign his test to work for other beliefs, failing that, scrap the test.

    Just like how acidity isn’t specific enough to single out bananas, so isn’t blackness, so isn’t those two criteria to single out religion. Hence why my analogy was representative, and yours was just ad hoc.

    So we should be able to agree that the OTF is not religion specific, if we can’t, then lets just agree to disagree and we’ll talk like you concede this point for argument sake, as you did.

    Now the issue not just disagreeing with other views (what you call an application of the OTF). The problem is in the supposed obligation to apply it to our own view. Suppose you insert a belief in say, skepticism. Skepticism has arisen in many forms throughout ancient history, for example ancient western skepticism differs from ancient eastern skepticism, both of which can be further divided into different schools of skepticism advocated by different cultures within them. It is obvious then that even skepticism fulfills Loftus criteria, and thus should be subject to OTF. Obviously the problem is that with OTF you should approach the belief with skepticism – the same skepticism you’re supposed to be skeptical of! It doesn’t take much to see this is problematic.

    So it’s the idea that we have to apply OTF to our own views that I think can be reduced to absurdity and hence what I mean when I say it makes Loftus’ OTF incoherent (I guess now in hindsight that I can see how that isn’t clear, given how you’ve described what you think the OTF is in it’s fundamental sense).

    Can you explain to yourself how a Muslim, a Hindu, a Scientologist etc. etc. are wrong? Yes or no? (This is where you answer yes or no)

    If no, then everyone else’s religion is as valid as your own.

    If yes, then write down your objection to other people’s worldviews that are dissimilar to your worldview.

    Firstly, even if I say no, it doesn’t follow that all religions are just as valid, as if my inability to explain why other religions are wrong somehow affects their truth. As for writing my objections down to all the religions I disagree with, how will that achieve anything here?

    Are there any objections where other religions fail your test that your faith would also fail?

    No, hence why I have the religious views I do. That’s the other problem I have with your militancy with OTF, did it not occur to you that maybe some of us hold the religious views we do because we think our religions succeeds where others’ fail?

  • But it cannot be true for everyone, can it? The only way that can possibly be true is if you imagine that everyone is now considering every other religious faith as valid as their own.

    Well its worth pointing out that some religious people do try and hold that all religions are valid. Secondly, religions such as Christianity are exclusive, that is, if they are true, every other religion has to be false. So if everyone is convinced they’ve tried and tested their religion and has concluded they themselves are right and everyone else is wrong, all that you can infer is that some people are indeed wrong, not that *all* people are wrong. But big wow, we already know that, so the OTF achieves nothing.

    Here’s an idea – try actually engaging people in a discussion about the arguments for/against their specific beliefs instead of proposing some silly test and pretending it will somehow falsify all religion.

  • “Firstly, even if I say no, it doesn’t follow that all religions are just as valid, as if my inability to explain why other religions are wrong somehow affects their truth.”

    Why is it that if you can’t think of a reason that the other faiths are wrong, that you think yours is right? Or ‘more’ right? Muslims are just brought up reading the wrong book then?

    It affects what you think of their ‘truth’, no?

    “..hence why I have the religious views I do.”

    So you’ve read the Quran and the Hindu books and the Scientology bullshit and the Book of Mormon and all that then? No, of course you haven’t, you grew up a Catholic in a Catholic neighbourhood, and ate a cracker and sipped a shotglass of wine when that was appropriate and that is good enough for you, right?

    All this qubbling over what Loftus says is crap, tell the truth Hugh.

    “Eww, if we use predicate logic we can show that the OTF ‘can be’ generalized!’” This demonstrates nothing, nothing at all.

    “Believers can just assert that the OTF only applies to non-Christian beliefs..”

    As soon as they do this, they are applying the OTF. Asserting that Christian beliefs are immune, is, what was it that Matt says, “Intellectually dishonest.”, especially since you to are insisting that the OTF is somehow invalid because it can be generalized.

    “Well its worth pointing out that some religious people do try and hold that all religions are valid.”

    No, that’s not worth pointing out at all.

    “But big wow, we already know that, so the OTF achieves nothing.”

    No, the big wow is that you’ve spent comment after comment to come to this conclusion, which is apparently that overgeneralizing the OTF does nothing to invalidate the OTF at all.

    “..religions such as Christianity are exclusive, that is, if they are true, every other religion has to be false.”

    This is hardly a valid point since it’s no great surprise to hear this about Christianity or other religions. What are you trying to say, that ‘exclusive’ religions all have a pass, every one of them? I don’t think that is what you are trying to say.

    “Here’s an idea – try actually engaging people in a discussion about the arguments for/against their specific beliefs instead of proposing some silly test and pretending it will somehow falsify all religion.”

    I was discussing with you the validity of the OTF which you believe is somehow defeated because you can overgeneralize it. No point going over that ground again, right?

    You and Matt made some very weak arguments that poked at Loftus’ worldview, which, obviously, is Loftus failing your outsider test, validating that you are quite happy to use the OTF on everyone else AND that you are unwilling to admit the validity of it ONLY since you obviously will not try it on your Catholicism.

    This tu quoque, “What about YOUR beliefs then Loftus? Let’s pick at them, see how you like that!” only means that you’re happy to pick when it’s not your thing, therefore you hold your beliefs above the standard you set for everyone else’s.

    Exactly what the OTF is meant to address.

    Addressing your beliefs? Hey, what about the ‘no graven images’ thing? Have you never been in a Catholic church?

    Honestly though, who cares? Just don’t try to tell us that you believe what you believe using the same standards as you imagine everyone else is supposed to believe the things they do.

    Because that is simply dishonest, isn’t it?

    You’re starting to display an attitude fella. Not nice, since it encourages me to have an attitude too.

  • “..but the test yields absurdities.”

    I missed this. What? Explain. If you are just going to say that you could test something absurd and it would be absurd, which I think you are, hey, go for it anyways.

  • “Granted that the widened scope of the OTF doesn’t *directly* invalidate the OTF..”

    Well, it doesn’t *indirectly* invalidate it either, so there’s that.

    “..doesn’t mean it automatically draws a successful parallel to the OTF. ”

    Well analogies are never perfect, are they? But I did say that the test ought to be for ONLY bananas, which you merrilly ignored, which proves what exactly? That you can be ignorant? :o)

    Hey Matt, I didn’t realise that that was you?

    “..we Christians are just asking you to treat your own non-Christian belief they way you treat all others.”

    Doesn’t seem to be what Hugh is saying at all. He seems to think it’s just hunky-dory for you all to treat Christianity with a totally different standard that you treat other, even ‘exclusive’ religions.

  • I missed this. What? Explain. If you are just going to say that you could test something absurd and it would be absurd, which I think you are, hey, go for it anyways.

    So skepticism is absurd is it now is it?? Interesting change of heart you had there!

  • It is my opinion Matt and Hugh that scientific knowledge is only as good as how efficacious they are. It is not important to me, for example, how accurate the Big Bang Theory is, seems like a decent model, meh.

    Similarly it is interesting that life is evolving, but since I’m not planning on living on an ‘evolutionary scale’(similar to that ‘Cosmic scale’ above), while I believe it, it’s not going to bother me when I feel my life slipping away.

    But this religion thing, It sincerely irks me because it is very political and so-called conservative Christians bother me most because they seem to imagine that they have a ‘lock’ on what goodness is and want to force everyone to be ‘good’, when in fact they may well have a ‘lock’ on what ‘godly’ is, which, impossibly seems to run the gammut from dishing out sandwiches to the homeless to ramming large planes into tall buildings, all the whle being none too shy about telling everyone what ‘freedom’ is, as if we don’t know when we are being coersed and when we aren’t.

    Some of you guys really ought to have your head examined, don’t you think? I’m refering to guys like Paul Ryan, who imagines he’s a good Catholic and an honest man, while practically worshipping Ayn Rand and her libertarian policies(Greedy Bastardism), then flatly denying that against all the evidence. (He gives his staff copies of her work, a speech applauding her at some Rand lovefest or other, which is on tape, and so on.)

    The conservative candidates for the next President of the U.S. are all constrained to be YECs, or be shunned! I mean, come on, isn’t THAT ridiculous??

    Of course you disagree that the OTF is valid, of course you would.

    The truth is that you don’t mind having a double standard for your faith versus everyone elses’, so what is this, ““..we Christians are just asking you to treat your own non-Christian belief they way you treat all others.”, nonsense.

    Nonsense.

  • Wow Hugh, thanks for clarifying your statement with, “So skepticism is absurd is it now is it??”

    Hmm… so generalizing the OTF could lead to absurdities how again? Did you miss out a couple of paragraphs?.

  • Doesn’t seem to be what Hugh is saying at all. He seems to think it’s just hunky-dory for you all to treat Christianity with a totally different standard that you treat other, even ‘exclusive’ religions.

    Actually, I was offering an analogy to your position not Hugh’s.

    I get sick of saying this, but Christian’s don’t apply the OTF to other religions, My claim is the test is flawed period no one applies this method to there own beliefs or others belief.

    My claim is that skeptics who claim to accept the OTF cannot consistently apply it, and do so only when its religious beliefs, but conviently put it aside when its their own secular premises. John displayed this above quite clearly, when he stated doubting is the adult position, then immediately claimed that adults don’t doubt scientific beliefs, when I pointed out the contradiction he decided he no longer wants to discuss it. This is pretty much how he always responds when the contradiction is pointed out.

    Of course when you claim the OTF applies to religion and not to other beliefs, you show that your quite happy to selectively apply it. So even if Christians did only apply it to other beliefs and not there own, its hard to see what your objection is, you have spent the last few posts defending the claim that its ok to selectively use it.

    And rants about US politics do not really address this.

  • “And rants about US politics do not really address this.”

    Well we are talking about outsider test of faiths and how you guys can make a big toodoo about the test being easily generalized to be a test of worldview, so I explained my general position on some of the scientific models and made a couple of points about the Christian right worldview in the USA, which, as I pointed out, doesn’t seem to be necessarilly a good thing politically.

    Don’t want to discuss stuff like Catholic and Evangelical libertarians who seem to fail their own test of faith by spelling their god, M.O.N.E.Y.? Fine.

    I also pointed out that I think the real problem you have with the OTF is that you like to use one standard when denouncing other religions and another standard for your own.

    No-one says to themselves, “I’m going to use the OTF now.”, but what you guys do do is argue against others’ perspectives.

    I doubt you can deny that you can argue against the Muslim perspective, the Hindu perspective, the Scientologist perspective etc. etc.since I doubt you imagine that their reasons for being of those other faiths hold a candle to your reasons for having your faith.

    This idea boils down to you having an outsider(you’re not a Muslim or a Hindu etc. etc.) test, for their faith and for you failing them on that test.

    “Christian’s don’t apply the OTF to other religions..” Of course they do. Haven’t you heard that atheists have a belief system, they’re basically saying that atheism is a faith? Haven’t you heard that Atheists are God-haters, whose belief system is bankrupt, who simply love the evil stuff they’re up to, and on and on?

    People who argue against atheism using criteria such as these are failing atheism from a Christian, i.e. OUTSIDERS P.O.V. Of course insiders have counter-arguments that other insiders feel fine about.

    If we ask what happened to the archeological evidence for the happenings in the Book of Morman the lack of such evidence is supposedly ‘telling’, but if I ask you where the archeological evidence for the Exodus is, apparently the lack of that evidence isn’t telling at all.

    Anyway of course you apply the OTF to other faiths and even lack of faith, otherwise you’d have no good reason to prefer your religion over anyone else’s religion or even no religion.

    “My claim is the test is flawed ”

    Well, you seemed to me to be attacking Loftus’ worldview, his faith in all that magical ‘science’ stuff and so on, and other than that just claiming that you can generalize the OTF so somehow that invalidates it.

    But this is ‘doing’ the OTF, and you are apparently totally oblivious.

    As I pointed out it doesn’t matter if you can generalize the test, it doesn’t matter that you can dispute Loftus’ beliefs because, in the end, you are yourself using the OTF to try to defeat Loftus P.O.V.

    Now you might retort that you happen to be the one Christian who doesn’t conflate atheism with ‘a belief system’, but that would just be yet another diversion and being an atheist myself, that was the Christian/Catholic OTFs that came to mind. I also brought up a likely Mormon example.

    “My claim is that skeptics who claim to accept the OTF cannot consistently apply it…”

    Irrelevant.

    “.. and do so only when its religious beliefs..”

    Of course.

    ” but conviently put it aside when its their own secular premises.”

    Tch. tch, hypocrites. But they are no less hypocritical than you guys, you Christians of different spots and stripes, Muslims Hindus etc.

    If your point is that you and I are hypocrites when it comes to the OTF and my point is that all of you all theists are hypocrites when it comes to each other, well, I’ll admit it.

    You won’t. You can dish it out, but you cannot take it.

    “So even if Christians did only apply it to other beliefs and not there own, its hard to see what your objection is…”

    You all have been doing it all along, it’s disingenuous to say the least! So much for TRUTH. Perhaps the ends justify the means?

    “, you have spent the last few posts defending the claim that its ok to selectively use it.”

    Not true. I said that the Outsider Test of Faith is specific to religious claims and the double standard you have when arguing against other religious faiths.

    Simply because you CAN generalize it doesn’t mean that the test, as prescribed, is invalid, no. It is too being disingenuous to overgeneralize the term ‘faith’ to encompass ‘faith in reality’, or ‘faith in science’ as analogous to your ‘faith in divine inspiration’ and ‘faith in objective morality’ and ‘totally unfounded faith in the Arguments for God’ and so on.

    As noted before, if you describe yourself, a Muslim and a Hindu as people of faith, it is disingenuous to describe people of no faith as people of faith, to try to win your point, don’t you think?

    You’re just playing with words to ‘win’, overgeneralizing the meaning of a word to suit yourself.

    How about, The Outsider test for people who believe that there is a supernatural realm?

    Are we to go on refining the obvious meaning of words only for you to admit that you understood what we meant all along but you didn’t want to deal with the OTF and this quibbling is your solution to that problem?

    Seems to me that that is what it amount to.

  • Let’s break it down a bit, just had a thought.

    I say that I have a billion dollars in the bank. You tell me why you think this is unlikely. I am failing your Outsider test for a billion dollars in my bank.

    You say that the OTF is invalid? Well, proponents of the OTF are failing your OTF that the OTF is valid!

    You have faith that there exists a God? Tell me about him? In what manner does he ‘exist’? Where is he? Existing things exist ‘somewhere’. Or is God like ‘space’ ‘existing’ everywhere? But space isn’t a ‘thing’ like a cup or a bolt or a plant, it’s a thing in a different sense altogether, so you’re mixing categories of ‘existing things’ to suit yourself.

    See now, I used my OTG(outsider test for God) on you! I didn’t necessarilly mean to, it’s just that I am obviously an outsider when it comes to belief in the existence of God.

    If you cannot see this, simply reply, “I’m as thick as two short planks! All the lights are on, but nobody is home. I’m two sandwiches short of a picnic. The porch light is flickering. Not firing on all cylinders. Couple of monkeys short of a barrel. The elevator doesn’t go all the way to the top. Toys in the attic.”

  • Hmm… so generalizing the OTF could lead to absurdities how again? Did you miss out a couple of paragraphs?.

    Not quite sure what you’re saying here. A little bit unclear, like most of your writing. Sometimes smug rhetorical questions dont get your point across – in your case, most of the time.

    Anyway I’ve given up reading your gabble since it became increasingly obvious that you are more interested in quoting out of context, attacking straw men, patronizing rhetorical questions and ranty restatements of your position instead of actually paying attention to the points being raised and engaging with them.

  • How rude. How ignorant, but that’s getting to be a trend. And what a liar you are Hugh. You glibly ‘answer’ my question with a non-answer no doubt because, having thought about it you couldn’t come up with a reason that generalizing the OTF could lead to absurdities, isn’t that right?

    Insults, apparently, are your last refuge. Perhaps next time you won’t bother trying to bamboozle us, perhaps, before you pretend that overgeneralizing something, even using ‘predicate logic’(I kind of liked that, sneaky), is invalidating it, and jump straight to the insults.

    Seems likely that it’s more your style, Hugh. You obviously believe that your revealed knowledge is somehow more valid than others’ revealed knowledge for no other reason than that’s the stuff you grew up with, just as Loftus says.

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