February 19, 2011 § Leave a comment
Just to say this blog has moved elsewhere. Hope to see you on the other side!
January 10, 2011 § 3 Comments
A while ago, I wrote a post claiming that Loftus’s brain child, the Outsider Test for Faith (OTF), was unconvincing. A little bit after that, after I started commenting more regularly on his blog, Loftus responded.
Often online discussions devolve into endless block-quotes incomprehensible to anyone but the two discussants. Therefore, I’ll instead take the opportunity to summarize the lines of argument in ascending order of importance. Many of these criticisms parallel those made by others, and I fear I may well have failed to acknowledge all of them. My apologies in advance.
To remind ourselves, the most modern incarnation of the OTF is this:
- Rational people in distinct geographical locations around the globe overwhelmingly adopt and defend a wide diversity of religious faiths due to their upbringing and cultural heritage. This is the religious diversity thesis.
- Consequently, it seems very likely that adopting one’s religious faith is not merely a matter of independent rational judgment but is causally dependent on cultural conditions to an overwhelming degree. This is the religious dependency thesis.
- Hence the odds are highly likely that any given adopted religious faith is false.
- So the best way to test one’s adopted religious faith is from the perspective of an outsider with the same level of skepticism used to evaluate other religious faiths. This expresses the OTF.
Making OTF1-3 valid
3.1. Reductio and Atheist special pleading
3.2. Good arguments and rude dialectics
3.3. Epistemic privilege and the insider test for infidels
Conclusion « Read the rest of this entry »
December 28, 2010 § Leave a comment
The United States has always been considered unusually religious compared to the rest of the developed world. This isn’t right. The US isn’t any more religious than secular Europe: rather, it simply pretends to be.
December 22, 2010 § Leave a comment
There is a common misconception in discussions surrounding evil and God: that when presenting the argument from evil, the conclusion sought is that God is failing to live up to his moral responsibilities – that God isn’t very nice. Yet this is nonsense: the God all standard arguments from evil have in their sights is a God who is morally perfect. It simply cannot be that this God would exist and yet do anything wrong. What the argument is trying to show is that the world with all its apparent evil could not be the the work of this morally perfect God. The conclusion is not God isn’t nice, but that God simply isn’t.
Yet this confusion is fairly common. Perhaps it is partly due to how one often discusses the argument from evil. Often God is ‘put on trial’ where various defenses for his seeming misconduct are offered and scrutinized, and this sort of trial-esque game seems to imply (like a defendant) that his character is in doubt, not his existence. Regardless, it needs to be emphasized that God is not on trial in the sense that he is being called to account for his deeds, but rather the question is whether the world-as-it-seems contradicts the idea of a being with the character and resources that God is meant to have. Not least, this distinction must be made because it is possible that some argumentative moves are licit for ‘trials’, but illicit here.