Monday, January 20, 2014

Peter Boghossian, Faith, and Religious Epistemology



I've recently finished Peter Boghossian's book "A Manual for Creating Atheists".  I listened to it on Audiobook, which helped immensely with being able to get through the book with the way my life is going right now between my work levels and trying to be a father and husband at home.  I can listen while doing mundane tasks at work and while doing chores/exercise/commuting.  If anyone can recommend good intellectual atheist books on Audible I'd be appreciative.

If you've been following my blog, you'll have seen my last post on Faith as "Belief without Evidence" where I engaged Tom Gilson of ThinkingChristian.net and his argument about that not being a valid definition of the word as Christians understand it.

I realize now that my post and approach was a mistake. There's no point in trying to show how the the Christian bible could be read to support Boghossian's definition.  You're playing the interpretation game which is going to be subjective and the Christians will almost always have a way to interpret their way out of hairy passages.

Eventually though, as I got through A Manual for Creating Atheists and thinking on the common thread of responses to it from Christian Apologists Tom and Phil Vischer, I realized something rather important.

The Definition of Faith is A Giant Red Herring


It honestly doesn't matter one iota to Boghossian's central argument in "A Manual for Creating Atheists" whether or not faith is defined as "Belief without good evidence" or as apologists would have it "Trusting in what one already knows to be true".

Boghossian first and foremost attacks religious epistemology.  With the responses apologists have put forward, you would think "A Manual for Creating Atheists" consisted of Boghossian defining faith as "belief without evidence" or "pretending to know what you don't know", explaining how that's obviously a bad thing, and then it's simply "checkmate theists!"

That's not at all what he does, he goes through all the different examples of ways believers, primarily Christians, claim that they can "know" their religion is true.  He takes us through the reasons why it's problematic, and even touches on more advanced topics in epistemology such as coherence theory of truth.

So when we atheists get hung up debating the definition of faith we're distracting from the main point of Boghossian's argument: that religious epistemology is unreliable at best.  His book highlights ways that we can show this to believers in conversations or as he calls them interventions.

It doesn't matter if we use the word faith as a synonym for religious epistemology, or if we use the apologists preferred definition. This is because even on their definition they talk about things they already "know to be true".   All their definition of faith does is push the problem back a step, the important bit is how do they know that Christianity is true?

Answers on that question have already been given, at least partially when it came to the massive comment threads that followed the posts on various blogs on this topic.

There were two major categories given that I want to address briefly: Historical Evidence of the Gospels and Alvin Plantinga's "Reformed Epistemology".

The Argument from the Resurrection

There is a ton of good counter apologetics on the argument from the resurrection or more specifically the historical reliability of the gospel accounts.  I recommend watching the debate between Bart Ehrman and William Lane Craig, as well as this lecture (Part 1 and Part 2) by Dr. Hector Avalos.  Richard Carrier's analogy to the Hero Savior of Vietnam is also a very good read.  That said there are a few things that we need to keep in mind:

No matter what apologists say, history does not support the idea that Jesus rose from the dead.

I can't emphasize the word history enough, because it means something very specific.  The historical method doesn't support the idea that Jesus rose from the dead, and it doesn't do so for a few very good reasons:
  • We interpret historical accounts based on what know happens today.
  •  History tells us what probably happened.
  • We can not calculate the probability of a resurrection miracle without knowing two things:
    • The probability that a god exists
    • The probability that a god (if it exists) would be interested in raising a first century Jewish failed apocalyptic prophet from the dead
Pay close attention the next time you read or listen to an apologist give the argument from the resurrection - it's always about what "biblical scholars" think are solid facts to be gleaned from the gospels, not what "historians" think are solid facts to be gleaned from the gospels. 

This is because history follows the criteria above, and given the world we live in we know:

  1. The probability that god exists is low or inscrutable (ie. arguments from natural theology aren't conclusive).
  1. Even if a god existed we have no way to glean what its motivations would be, and many religions claim that this being has performed various miracles that testify to the truth of their religion.
  1. Despite whether or not a god acted in a way in the past it seems very clear that it is no longer active today as many religious texts claim it was active in the past.  In fact we have very good inductive evidence that many miracle claims tend to be perfectly natural occurrences.  

Note we don't even have to get into augments about how reliable the gospels are in terms of how far they were written from the events, who they were written by, or whether or not testimony is a reliable way to gain knowledge.

That last bit is key, since that argument comes up a lot and the immediate undercutting defeater is that while testimony can be considered reliable it is generally not considered reliable when the testimony violates our background knowledge.  When it does that, we need at least different, preferably better, evidence.

This can be demonstrated immediately.  If I told you I watched TV with my wife last night then you'd probably believe me, even though if your'e reading this you don't really know me personally.  But if I told you that last night my wife and I took a quick trip to the surface of the moon you'd be pretty sure I was lying.

This is because a couple watching TV together at night is something that's within your background knowledge. Conversely people being able to get to the surface of the moon and back in one night goes against quite a bit of your background knowledge.

This is the objective, consistent method that history rejects miracle and paranormal claims that lead to contradictions, such as multiple exclusionary religions being true.  This is why whether or not the gospels were actually written by supposed eye witnesses doesn't matter (they probably weren't).  We have multiple, independent, even living eye witnesses to the miracles of Sathya Sai Babba.  We have multiple independent witnesses to the miracles of Joseph Smith.  History rejects those claims for the reasons I've outlined above, and so it also rejects the miracles of Jesus.

The key here is that the historical method doesn't support the idea that Jesus rose from the dead, pretty much on the basis that the prior probability is too low.

A Brief Aside on Begging the Question

Many apologists are keen to object here and say that even if this is the case, then using the historical method to evaluate the claims of the gospels is begging the question.  I'm going to explain why that's not the case.

Notice none of what I've written says that miracles are impossible, or even that we could not know that specific miracles occurred in the past on the basis of testimony in principle. 

Note the emphasis on "in principle".  It just so happens that in our actual world we currently can't know if a specific miracle happened on the basis of historical testimony because the prior probability is going to be too low.  However, if a god exists then it doesn't necessarily have to be this way. 

The reason we can't know if a miracle occurred is because everything we know about the world is that it works in a particular way, according to what we call the laws of nature.  It would be begging the question to say that those laws couldn't be violated, but we don't need to say that. All we need is the immense amount of inductive evidence we have of the laws of nature working combined with the fact that every empirical investigation of miracle/paranormal claims turning out to have naturalistic explanations.

So if we have historical claims of miracles, especially from the time before science transformed our understanding of the world - they probably were fabrications or a misunderstanding of things that actually occurred, much like today.

So how isn't this begging the question? Because if a god exists, then the world doesn't have to be this way.  We could have instances where Christians, and only Christians, could perform very minor miracles. 

Let’s go with a common one: the Catholic doctrine of Transubstantiation. This is where the communion wafer and wine are supposed to transform into the literal body and blood of Jesus Christ.  But rather than the unfalsifiable claims Catholics make about this "miracle" today, it could be detectable, and happen outside of the body. 

Imagine if you would, if every priest in every mass was able to perform some ritual and have bread and wine turn into flesh and blood.  Imagine that this has happened for two thousand years, and after the introduction of science we were able to identify that no matter where and when it happens that it's always the same DNA in the flesh and blood on the alter.

In this case, we would have strong inductive evidence that Christians can perform things that violate the laws of nature as we understand them. It could be done in controlled conditions, and be as well established empirically as we establish anything in science empirically.

That would give the historical method enough to raise the prior probability and allow it to conclude that the miracle claims of the gospel accounts were true yet still reject the miracle claims of other contradictory religions both ancient and contemporary.

Reformed Epistemology and the Sensus Divinitatus

Once we take history off the table of evidence, in fact when we systematically take down all the various arguments from Natural Theology off the table, apologists have one last trick up their sleeve - Declare that they don't need any evidence and that belief in god and their specific religion is "properly basic".

There's quite a bit I want to write on Plantinga's Reformed Epistemology and the Sensus Divinitatus specifically, but basically what it means is this:

There are certain fundamental things we can't really appeal to evidentially in order to truly answer the question about: 
  • The existence of the external world
  • The existence of other minds besides our own.
This is effectively one of the bedrock problems in epistemology, since it's effectively how do we show that solipsism is false.  The problem is that there is no non-question begging answer to the question of solipsism.

Rather than see this as an epistemological black hole, Alvin Plantinga saw ripe soil to hide god in.

Effectively Reformed Epistemology boils down to this:

  1. There could be something called the sensus divinitatus, or a sense of the divine
a.    The sensus divinitatus is either not functioning in atheists, or they're lying when they say they don't have it
  1. The sensus divinitatus is direct experience of god in a different way than our other senses.  It reveals that god exists and that the claims of our religion are true.
  1. Just as we axiomatically regard our senses as generally reliable, so too can theists regard the sensus divinitatus as reliable so long as there are no undercutting defeaters. 
a.    Thus just as we have warrant to believe that the apple is red when we see it, even though we could be perceiving things incorrectly theists have warrant to believe their god exists and their dogmas are true
  1. The only undercutting defeater of a potential properly basic belief is to show a logical contradiction in that belief.

Smells like bullshit? Yep. 

But this is their defence, the ultimate trump card.  In fact here's a video where William Lane Craig says that wholly apart from any evidence, this is the way he knows Christianity is true (he calls it the "inner witness of the Holy Spirit").

Basically it boils down to the claim that a believer just knows god exists and their religion is true via divine revelation and you silly atheists can't prove they're wrong!

Much like the problem of solipsism in epistemology, there is no non-question begging response to this assertion. Tom Gilson even used the nice rhetorical trick that if we atheists say the Christian doesn't have a sensus divinitatus then we're doing the dreaded: "Pretending to know what we don't know" which he (rightly!) regards as "not a correct definition of faith" and "a really bad thing to do". 

There are a few problems here, and I hope to write more on this in the future, but I'll touch on the key points:

The sensus divinitatus or rather “subjective religious experience” is demonstrably an unreliable way of knowing things are true.

This is because even Plantinga admits that the defence of the sensus divinitatus works for almost every single non-contradictory religion out there. Muslims use it, Mormons famously use it (they call it a "burning in the bosom"), and so on.  Peter Boghossian specifically addresses this in "A Manual for Creating Atheists" as instances where believers say "I just know in my heart that it's true."

What’s worse is just like the atheist can't say the Christian doesn't have one, so too the Christian cannot say the Muslim/Mormon/Hindu/etc does not experience the same thing. 

In fact it gets worse when it comes to atheists, since Christianity does claim that if someone honestly seeks god with their heart, he will reveal himself.  Many atheists claim to want to know if god exists and prayed fervently for such a sign, yet they didn't receive it. I'm one of them. 

The only thing Christians can do in response to beg the question and pretend to know what they don't know, and say that well we really must not honestly seek god with all our heart, because otherwise we'd have it.  Effectively they call us liars.

The Atheist Stands Supreme

Faced with this problem, the atheist stands in the unique position with regards to this extraordinary claim.  While the claim of the sensus divinitatus is ultimately unfalsifiable, we can evaluate all the claims and come to an inductive conclusion about whether or not it's probably true or not.

The atheist doesn't have to call any religious person who claims a sensus divinitatus a liar. We accept that they feel or experience something.  However we point out that their claims lead to contradictory conclusions, and that we lack such experiences.  We can also show that religious belief and subsequent claims of the sensus divinitatus follows geographic distributions.  Basically if you grow up in a Muslim country, chances are you'll be a Muslim and have an Islamic SD, if you grow up in a Christian country, you'll have the Christian SD.  So it is with the Hindu's, the Mormon's, etc.

We also know from psychology that humans have overactive agency detection - that is we attribute agents to events or experiences where there are no agents around.

To recap: we know that not all of the SD can be true, the fact that we know we have overactive agency detection in even non-religious situations and the fact that religious belief/SD claims follow geographic locations. This leads us to believe that SD claims are most likely just psychological re-enforcement of religious beliefs. 

The atheistic explanation is the only one that can explain the different experiences and lack of experiences in a way that's consistent, or doesn't push the problem back a step like the theistic solution of devils or demons causing false SD experiences.

There's a lot more I can say here, but ultimately it can be shown that in terms of religious epistemology, the sensus divinitatus is going to fall short as a reliable way to know things.

A final defence of Peter Boghossian's definition of faith

I'd like to remind readers that at no time in this did the definition of "faith" come into play.  It's always about religious epistemology, or "how you know your specific religious claims are true".

Why then does Boghossian spend so much time on defining faith in the way he does? Why bother?  Because it's accurate when the word "faith" is used today in a religious context.

The reason is that even if what Gilson and other apologists say is true, when we use the word faith today in a religious context, it's always connected specifically to religious facts we know.  Remember as Gilson would define it faith is best understood as "Trusting in what one already knows to be true".

So if Boghossian shows there is an inescapable problem with religious epistemology then the apologist’s definition of faith is going to be tainted by that fact.

To be clear let me end with parsing Gilson's definition combined with Boghossian's central argument against religious epistemology:

Christian faith would be "Trusting in what I know to be true about the claims of the Christian religion".  Boghossian shows that one cannot have a reliable method to discern religious truth, so substituting that in for Gilson's definition we get:

"Trusting in what I cannot know to be true about the claims of the Christian religion" which is just a longer way of saying that "Faith is belief without good evidence".

43 comments:

  1. Interesting article! You're making good points on how to debate the W.C. Lane and Plantinga.

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  2. The atheist explanation CANNOT explain the SD, especially when a Deistic God or a generic Theistic God could very well exist and explain it as well, I guess you didn't think about that....

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    Replies
    1. Really? A generic theistic god would give completely contradictory accounts via the SD, distributed so precisely along geographic regions that track historical adherence to religions? You do realize that in Reformed Epistemology the SD doesn't just say that "god exists" but rather that the specific truth claims of a given religion are true, don't you?

      Why would a generic theistic god lie? A deistic god is by definition non-interventionist, so I'm not seeing how that's at all relevant.

      In fact the only way the general theistic god works is if you adopt some kind of universalism in terms of religions, and at that point you're done endorsing Christianity, Islam, Mormonism, Hinduism, etc.

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    2. So one minute you say this,

      "


      A Counter ApologistJanuary 20, 2014 at 7:19 PM

      Really? A generic theistic god would give completely contradictory accounts via the SD, distributed so precisely along geographic regions that track historical adherence to religions?"

      but then the next minute you say this:

      "In fact the only way the general theistic god works is if you adopt some kind of universalism in terms of religions, and at that point you're done endorsing Christianity, Islam, Mormonism, Hinduism, etc. "

      Therefore you just contradicted yourself, and conceded my point.

      You just admitted that it was metaphysically possible for a generic Theism to be involved with the SD, I told you that you didn't think things through, this is because of the lazy, narrow minded thinking I see all the time from you village atheists. It's as if you truly believe that if Christianity is shown to be false, then atheism must be true, it's a silly dichotomy that makes me laugh to no end.

      "Why would a generic theistic god lie? "

      Why not? You make it like it's so obvious that an evil god couldn't exist and lie, perhaps you should read up on Stephen Law's 'evil god challenge'

      So this doesn't refute anything I said,

      "A deistic god is by definition non-interventionist, so I'm not seeing how that's at all relevant. "

      Yeah and??? I don't see why we should put restraints on a Deistic God and state that if a Deistic God exists, we still wouldn't be able to feel its presence. Once again you are working with an empty tautology that wasn't thought through

      " You do realize that in Reformed Epistemology the SD doesn't just say that "god exists" but rather that the specific truth claims of a given religion are true, don't you"

      The SD can be used for a deity, it doesn't necessary HAVE TO refer to a religion, we don't HAVE TO go by John Calvin or Alvin Plantinga

      Religion is also a very vague term, though even if I conceded to this all I have to do is just say 'well I'm going to make a religion that worships a generic God' so what is going to stop me?

      I can do the same for a Deistic God as well, again what is going to stop me?

      Therefore, my claim is not inconsistent with the SD and there are easy ways to get around your rebuttal.

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    3. Remember Counter apologist, (still laughing at how silly this name is, did a toddler family member of yours come up with that name?)

      This is what I argued for in the first comment:

      "The atheist explanation CANNOT explain the SD, especially when a Deistic God or a generic Theistic God could very well exist and explain it as well, I guess you didn't think about that...."

      So when you say this:

      "In fact the only way the general theistic god works is if you adopt some kind of universalism in terms of religions, and at that point you're done endorsing Christianity, Islam, Mormonism, Hinduism, etc. "

      It does NOTHING to my initial argument, as I wasn't arguing for Christianity, Islam or Mormonism, Hinduism etc.

      Keep in mind that sects of Hinduism would claim that all religions are true anyways lol, please learn about the Advaita Vedanta doctrine

      So you reply is just silly and redundant as there are sects of Hinduism that are universalists anyways, perhaps you should start countering your own claims, I think some skepticism against yourself might make you a better thinker.

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    4. I see you'll be playing the role of the ironically disrespectful theist. This should be fun.

      First you say I contradict myself, I did not. I first pointed out the wild implausibility of a generic theistic god effectively lying to people and doing so spread across isolated geographic boundaries. That fact alone gives strong weight to the atheistic explanation.

      Notice I didn't say it was impossible, I just said that even if we go with that wildly implausible definition - then the SD in the version that Plantinga and Calvin use it in - is necessarily false. Christianity/Islam/Mormonism/etc would be necessarily false in this case.

      In the case of the "evil god" ala Stephen Law the same thing applies, those religions would be falsified with that explanation. As would certain sects of Hinduism. Sure there are others that wouldn't be, and that's fine.

      I'm more than content refuting the use of SD and Reformed Epistemology to support Christianity/Islam/Mormonism/etc.

      As for the deistic god, by definition it wouldn't intervene. That's what makes a deistic god different from a "generic theistic god" which you've already invoked. For someone who wants to nit pick my sentences so that you lay accusations that I learn about various sects of religions, I would think you'd have your terminology straight.

      There's also universalist versions of Christianity, not just Hinduism (and there are monotheistic versions of Hinduism) - what's your point? Do I need to qualify every single comment to cover every possible variation? Even on these universalist segments, that god couldn't lie, and so the SD would be falsified.

      Honestly your entire screed is redundant since I'm explicitly arguing against a very specific version of the SD that warrants belief in specific religions.

      If you want to make up your own SD, then you certainly can, but I can't argue against it until I've heard about it. And BTW, your theory would still have to account for:

      1.) Why it varies so specifically geographically.
      2.) Why atheists don't have it.
      3.) Why this generic god wouldn't give it to atheists who wanted to experience it.

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    5. I'd also like to point out that you claim the atheist explanation "CANNOT" (CAPS FTW!!!!) explain the SD, yet you've made no argument for that point.

      All you did is state that there's a generic theistic explanation that could be stretched to fit the data, but only in a way that would invalidate the specific form of SD that I've explicitly argued against.

      I'd say my argument stands pretty well, you're just trying to move the goal posts.

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    6. "I see you'll be playing the role of the ironically disrespectful theist. This should be fun."

      Ah didn't take long for you to play the victim card now did it?

      "First you say I contradict myself, I did not. I first pointed out the wild implausibility of a generic theistic god effectively lying to people and doing so spread across isolated geographic boundaries. That fact alone gives strong weight to the atheistic explanation."

      So what? We have to handle this A PRIORI, so why should we rule a Theistic God that cannot lie?

      "Notice I didn't say it was impossible, I just said that even if we go with that wildly implausible definition - then the SD in the version that Plantinga and Calvin use it in - is necessarily false."

      Makes no sense, how can something be necessarily false but yet not impossible at the same time?

      p is logically necessary =df ~p yields a contradiction.

      p is logically contingent =df its not the case that p is logically necessary or impossible.

      If something is necessarily false then it is also impossible, please learn the basics of logic. ty


      "Christianity/Islam/Mormonism/etc would be necessarily false in this case"

      Well then this is a strawman anyways, as I wasn't saying anything about Christianity, Islam or Mormonism at that point of the argument

      "In the case of the "evil god" ala Stephen Law the same thing applies, those religions would be falsified with that explanation."

      I would assume so, though I don't think that is so obvious

      " As would certain sects of Hinduism. Sure there are others that wouldn't be, and that's fine."

      No it isn't fine, because you are then ruling out univeralist sects of whatever religion to be false a priori. Even Christians have universalists, so this doesn't dismiss anything, even WHEN we factor in religion.

      "I'm more than content refuting the use of SD and Reformed Epistemology to support Christianity/Islam/Mormonism/etc."

      And I'm more than content showing that an atheist solution to SD isn't so obvious here, this is because I don't use the SD anyways, however I still think the refutations against it are terrible.

      "As for the deistic god, by definition it wouldn't intervene. That's what makes a deistic god different from a "generic theistic god" which you've already invoked. For someone who wants to nit pick my sentences so that you lay accusations that I learn about various sects of religions, I would think you'd have your terminology straight."

      This is a red herring, what I'm asking is 'why couldn't a Deistic God still invoke a SD in humans, whilst not interfering?'

      Delete
    7. "There's also universalist versions of Christianity, not just Hinduism (and there are monotheistic versions of Hinduism) - what's your point? Do I need to qualify every single comment to cover every possible variation? Even on these universalist segments, that god couldn't lie, and so the SD would be falsified."

      As I've argued with Law on this same point, a lying deity doesn't refute the religion, it just makes the deity a liar and the promises of the deity are suspect, though we still can't tell if the events really happened or not.

      "Honestly your entire screed is redundant since I'm explicitly arguing against a very specific version of the SD that warrants belief in specific religions."

      I'm arguing for Theism, I don't care about these specific religions, though I still think your objections towards these specific religions aren't very good.

      "If you want to make up your own SD, then you certainly can, but I can't argue against it until I've heard about it. And BTW, your theory would still have to account for:"

      Well then I'll take this as a concession then, and reject this statement in your article.

      "The atheistic explanation is the only one that can explain the different experiences and lack of experiences in a way that's consistent, or doesn't push the problem back a step like the theistic solution of devils or demons causing false SD experiences."



      "1.) Why it varies so specifically geographically.
      2.) Why atheists don't have it.
      3.) Why this generic god wouldn't give it to atheists who wanted to experience it."

      1) Is dubious since the existence of a generic God or Deistic God doesn't depend on what people believe or whether or not they know everything about this God down to a T, what matters is whether or not a Generic God or Deistic God exists.

      2) Same thing, the existence of a God doesn't depend on whether or not atheists believe in it.

      3) Why is this God obligated to do so? You just beg the question here, and assume that even a Generic God has to give atheists a SD just because they want to experience him, but why?

      Therefore your argument fails.
      “I'd also like to point out that you claim the atheist explanation "CANNOT" (CAPS FTW!!!!) explain the SD, yet you've made no argument for that point.”

      Simple, we can start here, Assume that God does not exist: People do have an SD, but SD is obviously false as God does not exist, but this means many humans have been deceived due to faulty cognitive faculties that led these humans to believe in an SD, well what else are we being deceived about? Why should we trust our cognitive faculties to begin with, when throughout thousands of years a good portion of humanity has been living a deception?

      “All you did is state that there's a generic theistic explanation that could be stretched to fit the data, but only in a way that would invalidate the specific form of SD that I've explicitly argued against.”

      No it wouldn’t it would give us an easy explanation to why so many people have a sense of God, the alternative as we see above leads us to be skeptical that our cognitive faculties are not deceiving us on other things.

      “I'd say my argument stands pretty well, you're just trying to move the goal posts.”

      Well luckily the truth doesn’t depend on what you think…..

      Delete
    8. "Ah didn't take long for you to play the victim card now did it? "

      Pointing out the immense irony of someone whose username identifies them as a Christian comes in here and starts acting like an asshole isn't playing the victim. You'll notice when I go on other blogs and comment, or even criticize people here, I'm respectful at a minimum.

      I am absolutely staggered at how you continually miss the point, lets see:

      "Makes no sense, how can something be necessarily false but yet not impossible at the same time?"

      Followed up with:


      "Well then this is a strawman anyways, as I wasn't saying anything about Christianity, Islam or Mormonism at that point of the argument"

      My article is going against the version of the SD and Warranted belief outlined by Plantinga, which entails defenses of belief in specific religious doctrines to be properly basic via the SD.

      I am not arguing against whatever goal-post moving theory you're trying to bake up, since that's not what is espoused.

      FWIW, I'll say it again - if a theistic god lies along geographic boundaries about which contradictory religious are true - then Plantinga's SD is necessarily false since that SD entails warrant for belief in specific religions that are mutually contradictory. Islam can't be true and Christianity be true at the same time, at least without going universalist, and even then the method of salvation would be contradictory between those two.

      Are you clear now on what would necessarily be false (Plantinga's SD) and what would be implausible (your ad hoc theory)?

      Delete

    9. "I would assume so, though I don't think that is so obvious"

      An evil god contradicts the very definition of god espoused by those religions (Xtianity, Mormonism, Islam). The existence of that deity would mean those religions, and ones like them, would necessarily be false.

      "
      No it isn't fine, because you are then ruling out univeralist sects of whatever religion to be false a priori. Even Christians have universalists, so this doesn't dismiss anything, even WHEN we factor in religion."

      It absolutely dismisses the non-universalist versions of it, which is more than good enough for me if that's all it did. However, it also reveals contradictions on what would be the method of salvation (Jesus's death vs. Mormon rituals vs. recognizing Allah) - so even there we have contradictions.

      You'd have to strip away a whole lot of revelation via SD that does contradict to get to whatever version you're trying to move the goal posts to.

      "This is a red herring, what I'm asking is 'why couldn't a Deistic God still invoke a SD in humans, whilst not interfering?"

      So a deistic god (that doesn't interfere with the universe after creation) would interact with humans via the SD. Because interacting isn't interfering. Right.

      If you want to go "generic theistic god" then go for it, but if you're going to get pedantic with me you can expect it right back.

      "
      As I've argued with Law on this same point, a lying deity doesn't refute the religion, it just makes the deity a liar and the promises of the deity are suspect, though we still can't tell if the events really happened or not. "

      I'm not that surprised you miss the entire point of Law's argument given how badly you've done with mine. His argument is that if we reject the existence of an evil god as implausible on the basis of our experience, then to be consistent you should reject the existence of a good god.

      Law's not arguing against some deity that can lie, he's arguing against the tri-Omni god of monotheism, much like I am.

      As for your three point response, that only works if there is no afterlife where people are rewarded or punished whether or not they believed in whatever ad-hoc god you're constructing to avoid objections to this newfangled SD you're cooking up.


      "Simple, we can start here, Assume that God does not exist: People do have an SD, but SD is obviously false as God does not exist, but this means many humans have been deceived due to faulty cognitive faculties that led these humans to believe in an SD, well what else are we being deceived about? Why should we trust our cognitive faculties to begin with, when throughout thousands of years a good portion of humanity has been living a deception?"

      Wow, so you're running around with a half-baked version of Plantinga's evolutionary argument against naturalism?

      We already know our faculties aren't always reliable, the question is if they're more reliable than not. We already know we have over-active agency detection. We already know we can be fooled by optical illusions. We already know that people can be brain washed.

      The fact that people can be deluded into thinking something is true when it's not isn't an argument that we can't trust our cognitive faculties at all.

      If anything it would lead us to be better evidentialists or more empirical.

      "No it wouldn’t it would give us an easy explanation to why so many people have a sense of God, the alternative as we see above leads us to be skeptical that our cognitive faculties are not deceiving us on other things."

      Your solution would necessarily lead to falsifying a great majority of the beliefs that self-identified Christians, Muslims, or Mormons hold. It would also falsify Plantinga's version of the SD which acts as justification for believing in these contradictory doctrines.

      Delete
    10. “Pointing out the immense irony of someone whose username identifies them as a Christian comes in here and starts acting like an asshole isn't playing the victim. You'll notice when I go on other blogs and comment, or even criticize people here, I'm respectful at a minimum. “

      hahaha like I’m supposed to buy that BS? This whole article is one giant whiny complaint about how you don’t like apologists, if anything it looks like you are trying discreetly to commit to well-poisoning.



      “My article is going against the version of the SD and Warranted belief outlined by Plantinga, which entails defenses of belief in specific religious doctrines to be properly basic via the SD.”

      Yeah and? Did you happen to catch my initial post?

      “I am not arguing against whatever goal-post moving theory you're trying to bake up, since that's not what is espoused.”

      Then concede the point in which you state ‘atheism can explain SD’ and I’ll be on my way, it’s really that simple, or are you one of those atheists who have a tough time admitting a fault to an apologist? Pride does get in the way sometimes…

      “FWIW, I'll say it again - if a theistic god lies along geographic boundaries about which contradictory religious are true - then Plantinga's SD is necessarily false since that SD entails warrant for belief in specific religions that are mutually contradictory. Islam can't be true and Christianity be true at the same time, at least without going universalist, and even then the method of salvation would be contradictory between those two.”

      I don’t care, I’m not defending Plantinga’s SD, I’m just making a rebuttal to one of your objections.

      “Are you clear now on what would necessarily be false (Plantinga's SD) and what would be implausible (your ad hoc theory)?”

      Sure, but I don’t care, so my response to you here is: Coolstorybro

      Delete
    11. “An evil god contradicts the very definition of god espoused by those religions (Xtianity, Mormonism, Islam). The existence of that deity would mean those religions, and ones like them, would necessarily be false.”

      Not exactly, perhaps you should try skepticism. The definition of the god would come from a lying deity anyways, so this doesn’t falsify the deities existence. Those definitions would just come from authors who experience their respected God, but were deceived anyways, however this doesn’t refute the actual existence of the deity, because that could have been part of the deities plan. What are we going to say, the deity can’t do that? If it’s evil, then it obviously can.



      “It absolutely dismisses the non-universalist versions of it, which is more than good enough for me if that's all it did. However, it also reveals contradictions on what would be the method of salvation (Jesus's death vs. Mormon rituals vs. recognizing Allah) - so even there we have contradictions.

      You'd have to strip away a whole lot of revelation via SD that does contradict to get to whatever version you're trying to move the goal posts to.”

      But what if the Christian universalists are correct with respect to Salvation? It seems like you are just assuming exclusivism here, but you haven’t given an argument for it. I don’t hold to Christian universalism, but it’s not that easy to just assert “well there are contradictions’ and think the debate is over, you should trying demonstrating the contradictions and it might just make your case a little bit better. I don’t know what that street epistemology cult teaches you, but bare Assertions are not arguments, and they commit to a fallacy. Ie: Ipse dixit



      “So a deistic god (that doesn't interfere with the universe after creation) would interact with humans via the SD. Because interacting isn't interfering. Right.”

      That’s not interacting, it’s giving the creatures he created a SENSE

      A Sense of something =/= interacting

      A sense is PERCEPTUAL, while interaction is an actual BEHAVIOR

      “If you want to go "generic theistic god" then go for it, but if you're going to get pedantic with me you can expect it right back.”

      You haven’t refuted my point about the Deistic God, so either try harder or concede the point.



      “I'm not that surprised you miss the entire point of Law's argument given how badly you've done with mine. His argument is that if we reject the existence of an evil god as implausible on the basis of our experience, then to be consistent you should reject the existence of a good god.

      Law's not arguing against some deity that can lie, he's arguing against the tri-Omni god of monotheism, much like I am. “

      Actually you’re leaving out a few important parts, as philosopher Glenn peoples points out, Law is simply playing Devil's Advocate you see. What he's saying is this: Look at all these wonderful a posteriori arguments for the existence of God - Kalam, fine-tuning, moral, theodicy’s etc. However ALL of them work equally well for an evil god hypothesis. He is then suggesting that the evil god hypothesis is a ridiculous notion [just because everyone rejects it] and therefore why should any of the arguments for a good god be taken any more seriously. Therefore what I would suggest is this is exactly where an a priori argument is necessary to counter such scepticism [as did Descartes you won't be surprised to hear].

      Delete
    12. “As for your three point response, that only works if there is no afterlife where people are rewarded or punished whether or not they believed in whatever ad-hoc god you're constructing to avoid objections to this newfangled SD you're cooking up.”

      Ok and??? I don’t know if I necessarily agree with that, but even if I did why can’t a Theistic God exist, but yet life still end at the grave?



      “Wow, so you're running around with a half-baked version of Plantinga's evolutionary argument against naturalism?

      We already know our faculties aren't always reliable, the question is if they're more reliable than not. We already know we have over-active agency detection. We already know we can be fooled by optical illusions. We already know that people can be brain washed.

      The fact that people can be deluded into thinking something is true when it's not isn't an argument that we can't trust our cognitive faculties at all.

      If anything it would lead us to be better evidentialists or more empirical. “

      It’s not that easy, and all I see here is a bit of faith that you put into your purposeless, meaningless, unintelligent, nonrational, unconscious NATUREDIDIT mechanism, once you concede the fact that we can be fooled by illusions you basically concede the probability premise whilst opening yourself up to a modern day Cartesian Evil genius and welcomed global skepticism, so you really don’t want to do that, trust me…this is one of the reasons.

      The very fact we think that truth is something real and not just a concept in our brains. This is completely without justification. Ascribing a natural non-teleological process to answer all these phenomena reduces them to the status of being mere illusions. This is why some naturalists go so far as to suggest that consciousness is an illusion. Because they want to reduce everything down to its working parts. On NATUREDIDIT + evolution, therefore, what we call 'truth' appears to be no more than just information which holds a heuristic benefit to survival. Alvin Plantinga as you mentioned makes a good case for this. If 'truth' is also the product of minds and not a mind then it seems difficult to refute the implication that there is not truth but truths. That it is inherently subjective and not objective [although majority agreements can cause the illusion of the latter].
      it does not look as though knowing what's true is all that necessary for survival so it's a huge epistemic leap to think we do. The naturalist (you) has a problem here and I only see an appeal to faith on your part.


      “Your solution would necessarily lead to falsifying a great majority of the beliefs that self-identified Christians, Muslims, or Mormons hold. It would also falsify Plantinga's version of the SD which acts as justification for believing in these contradictory doctrines.”

      First of all if we are still talking about the EAAN, keep in mind it is a reduction ad absurdum against reductive and non-reductive materialism lol Secondly, I don’t use the argument for SD so I don’t care, and I wouldn’t care about refuting the majority of beliefs that Christians would hold either considering that a vast majority of them don’t even take Bible Scholarship and Philosophy seriously in the first place, so if Christianity has a correct way it ought to be believed then for all those who believe it in the wrong way, tough… Though I don’t find the SD to be persuasive, however I’m still arguing against your precious atheism claim, which stated atheism being the best way to explain SD, and that’s been my point from the beginning, the fact that you keep bringing up Christianity and Islam speaks volumes, as it looks to be a red herring. So either stick to my first response of concede the point that is in contention. ty

      Delete
    13. "hahaha like I’m supposed to buy that BS? This whole article is one giant whiny complaint about how you don’t like apologists, if anything it looks like you are trying discreetly to commit to well-poisoning. "

      My post here and my interactions there are always respectful, I do not throw out insults or degrade my interlocutors. You can go ask those apologists I've had extended discussions with. There's also the whole bit about my not signing up for some religion that tells me not to be an asshole to other people. That's fine, I'm just noting the irony here. Hypocrisy among Christians is a great way to show people that the belief systems have nothing to do with being a moral person.

      "Then concede the point in which you state ‘atheism can explain SD’ and I’ll be on my way, it’s really that simple, or are you one of those atheists who have a tough time admitting a fault to an apologist? Pride does get in the way sometimes… "

      This is staggering. I said, rather explicitly in my post, that atheism is the best explanation of the SD. I even mentioned the possible explanation of demons giving false SD out and pushing the problem back a step.

      Your reply about how it is a god who could be lying to people combined with either universalism or life still ending at the grave is also an explanation. I have already stated that this could be an explanation, however implausible, but in order for it to work, it would falsify a large majority of beliefs held in the major monotheistic religions and it falsifies the SD as Plantinga and other apologists want it - which was my entire point in that section.

      As for your half baked version of EAAN I have a quick response to that in the post before this one, and there have been plenty of other responses I shall not rehash here. Your objection that the atheist solution doesn't work because it leads us to distrust our cognitive faculties is absolutely laughable considering your proposed solution introduces a watered down version of the Cartesian demon! How can you trust your own faculties if a lying god exists? At a minimum it renders this new SD you're proposing as unreliable - which is the defeater when it comes to epistemology.

      And FWIW, the lying god falsifies those other religions because even if you're correct and the lying god exists, then Christianity is still necessarily false since Christianity entails a god that can't lie.

      Delete
    14. "My post here and my interactions there are always respectful, I do not throw out insults or degrade my interlocutors.”

      Right, except here, from your own post:

      “Smells like bullshit? Yep. “

      “The only thing Christians can do in response to beg the question and pretend to know what they don't know, and say that well we really must not honestly seek god with all our heart, because otherwise we'd have it. Effectively they call us liars.

      The Atheist Stands Supreme”

      Yes, respectful indeed!!!!

      “ You can go ask those apologists I've had extended discussions with. There's also the whole bit about my not signing up for some religion that tells me not to be an asshole to other people. That's fine, I'm just noting the irony here. Hypocrisy among Christians is a great way to show people that the belief systems have nothing to do with being a moral person.”

      Actually the most it can do is give you ammo for a tu quoque, but a tu quoque isn’t very convincing, plus I don’t see why we should judge the truth of a worldview by its social impacts. We could have a world in which virtually every Muslim is morally superior to non-Muslims, but I don’t see how would be evidence for Islam being true.


      “This is staggering. I said, rather explicitly in my post, that atheism is the best explanation of the SD. I even mentioned the possible explanation of demons giving false SD out and pushing the problem back a step.”

      Demons? Then that leads to agnosticism, not atheism. If we have a Cartesian Demon playing with us, then we are pretty much succumbed to illusion in our reality, whilst not knowing much about the objective reality.

      “Your reply about how it is a god who could be lying to people combined with either universalism or life still ending at the grave is also an explanation. I have already stated that this could be an explanation, however implausible, but in order for it to work, it would falsify a large majority of beliefs held in the major monotheistic religions and it falsifies the SD as Plantinga and other apologists want it - which was my entire point in that section.”

      Again I don’t care if you falsify the SD that Plantinga uses with respect to religion + THeism, though I do care about your objection against Theism. Also after thinking about this, I don’t think this harms religions that much anyways, as why couldn’t the SD at least give us ‘partial truths’ about a religion? If you notice one thing common amongst religions, a good number of them follow the golden rule, so if the golden rule is indeed a moral fact then all these religions possess a partial truth with respect to the nature of reality. So while I wouldn’t use this as an argument for religion, I still don’t see it being used as an argument against a religion either. The SD could be a sense that applies in which one feels the creator and sustainer of the universe, so even if people have a different interpretation of what follows after, I believe most religions would agree that their religion is out to answer the question ‘why is there something rather than nothing’. With that being said, at least the SD can still be compatible with a widespread belief of ‘something greater’ or ‘a creator and sustainer’ or a ‘necessary being’.

      Delete
    15. “As for your half baked version of EAAN I have a quick response to that in the post before this one, and there have been plenty of other responses I shall not rehash here. Your objection that the atheist solution doesn't work because it leads us to distrust our cognitive faculties is absolutely laughable considering your proposed solution introduces a watered down version of the Cartesian demon! How can you trust your own faculties if a lying god exists? At a minimum it renders this new SD you're proposing as unreliable - which is the defeater when it comes to epistemology.”

      Because if a lying God exists we’d have good reasons to think that he would still want genuine pain, and we can’t have genuine pain and suffering if our cognitive faculties are not reliable, therefore if we didn’t have cognitive faculties that were reliable in this area, how could the evil god be a perpetrator here? The reason why I bring this up, as you probably think it’s odd for a Theist to be using this as a sort of defense, is to show the other possibilities, and it is also a good thought experiment IMO that will probably help me tackle the weaknesses in Stephen law’s ‘Evil god challenge’

      It’s a sort devil’s advocate approach, however it still works for your argument.

      “And FWIW, the lying god falsifies those other religions because even if you're correct and the lying god exists, then Christianity is still necessarily false since Christianity entails a god that can't lie.”

      No it doesn’t, because Christianity would have been written by a liar to begin with, so the whole ‘god can’t lie’ is part of the deception, therefore this doesn’t falsify the God, as it was all part of the evil deities plan. Do you follow?

      I’m wondering how the liar’s paradox would work here as well, (if it’s even necessary) so I’m going to go have a think with that as well.

      This may be my last response, or perhaps I'll have one more. As I still don't see my initial objection being properly dealt with on your part.

      Delete
    16. "Your objection that the atheist solution doesn't work because it leads us to distrust our cognitive faculties is absolutely laughable considering your proposed solution introduces a watered down version of the Cartesian demon! How can you trust your own faculties if a lying god exists? At a minimum it renders this new SD you're proposing as unreliable - which is the defeater when it comes to epistemology.”

      Oh and try and stay away from tu quoque responses as it doesn't get YOU at of your jam. But as we've seen even an evil god passes the test, and I've barely used any other points against atheism not having enough juice to justify reason.

      Delete
    17. I said the SD smells like bullshit, and I can't insult ideas, only people. Not sure how the point about Chritsians begging the question (and calling atheists liars) when we say that we did seek god and got nothing is insulting. That's effectively a tu quote from Tom Gilson's writings on the SD where he says the same thing - it IS begging the question to say that someone didn't have the experience, or intentions they say they had.

      You on the other hand come in here and insult me. As for judging the truth of a claim, Christianity says it's followers are supposed to be transformed and Christ like, if they're following the teachings properly anyway. So even if I was being disrespectful to people (and I wasn't), it doesn't seem like you're following your gods teachings very well.

      "Again I don’t care if you falsify the SD that Plantinga uses with respect to religion + THeism"

      Well considering that was my entire point in the post, I'm not seeing why I should continue to bother replying.

      Your point about theism is still rather laughable considering you need a lying god to get out of the problem, which contradicts the religions teachings on what god is even like.

      "No it doesn’t, because Christianity would have been written by a liar to begin with, so the whole ‘god can’t lie’ is part of the deception, therefore this doesn’t falsify the God, as it was all part of the evil deities plan. Do you follow?"

      Oh I follow, but I'm not but before you miss my point again I'll make my point explicit: If a god lies to someone about what it is like, then the subsequent belief system is necessarily false, since it's based on a lie. I'm not saying that it falsifies belief in the lying god, but it does falsify necessarily Christianity (and Islam, Mormonism, etc) as each of those are based on a lie.

      I'll tackle the meat of your original objection in the next section.

      Delete
    18. "Because if a lying God exists we’d have good reasons to think that he would still want genuine pain, and we can’t have genuine pain and suffering if our cognitive faculties are not reliable, therefore if we didn’t have cognitive faculties that were reliable in this area, how could the evil god be a perpetrator here? The reason why I bring this up, as you probably think it’s odd for a Theist to be using this as a sort of defense, is to show the other possibilities, and it is also a good thought experiment IMO that will probably help me tackle the weaknesses in Stephen law’s ‘Evil god challenge’ "

      It's almost fun to watch you descend into the levels of ad-hoc on display here.

      First off, how do you know that this is an evil god rather than just a lying one? How do you even remotely know that this god wants us to feel "true pain", how would the pain be any less different than sowing chaos and confusion among the world by having different religions be revealed? What if the god really just wants us to be constantly confused and muddled, with almost but not quite reliable faculties?

      Here's the answer to those questions: You can't know any of that, especially not a priori, once you've admitted a lying god/demon into the mix. Since some of our perceptions would necessarily be false as a result of your "lying god solution" to the SD problem, we have no way to know if other parts of our experience were also deceptions - and you're stuck playing the Descartes game.

      What's worse is that even on Plantinga's normal SD, this kind of thing ends up happening - since people who are not believing the One True Religion, whatever it is, are necessarily interpreting their SD incorrectly. This problem gets introduced immediately on invoking the SD in a world where there are multiple religions.

      "Oh and try and stay away from tu quoque responses as it doesn't get YOU at of your jam. But as we've seen even an evil god passes the test, and I've barely used any other points against atheism not having enough juice to justify reason."

      Actually tu quote does work here since if it's a problem for everyone, then it's not much of an objection against my solution, and my solution is far simpler than Plantinga's or yours.

      That said, there have been plenty of thorough responses to the EAAN, Stephen Law has one, as does Massimo Pigliucci, but here's a rather recent video describing how evolution can lead us to truth seeking faculties: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRA06xlzOq0

      Evolution works out a hell of a lot better than a deity that we know lies to us.

      Delete
    19. “I said the SD smells like bullshit, and I can't insult ideas, only people. Not sure how the point about Chritsians begging the question (and calling atheists liars) when we say that we did seek god and got nothing is insulting. That's effectively a tu quote from Tom Gilson's writings on the SD where he says the same thing - it IS begging the question to say that someone didn't have the experience, or intentions they say they had.”

      The SD smells like BS? Don’t you mean “Effectively Reformed Epistemology” as you stated it boils down to this, right before you made the claim of ‘smells like BS’

      “You on the other hand come in here and insult me.”

      Really where? I don’t see one insult?

      “ As for judging the truth of a claim, Christianity says it's followers are supposed to be transformed and Christ like, if they're following the teachings properly anyway. So even if I was being disrespectful to people (and I wasn't), it doesn't seem like you're following your gods teachings very well.”

      An appeal to pity on me? Are you serious? God tells us that we are imperfect, with that being said what are you expecting from me? Do you expect every Christian to come in here and be your doormat, and yet cry ‘insult’ just because we don’t pucker up and kiss your butt.



      “Well considering that was my entire point in the post, I'm not seeing why I should continue to bother replying.”

      Because I attacked a claim that was in your post

      “Your point about theism is still rather laughable considering you need a lying god to get out of the problem, which contradicts the religions teachings on what god is even like.”

      No I don’t need a lying God, that was just one option, you seem to think that this is an all or nothing response on my part, but in reality it isn’t. I don’t see why a generic God who doesn’t lie, and yet has the attribute of being omnibenevolent wouldn’t fit the bill either.



      “Oh I follow, but I'm not but before you miss my point again I'll make my point explicit: If a god lies to someone about what it is like, then the subsequent belief system is necessarily false, since it's based on a lie. I'm not saying that it falsifies belief in the lying god, but it does falsify necessarily Christianity (and Islam, Mormonism, etc) as each of those are based on a lie.”

      How? What exactly makes the religion a religion? Why couldn’t the Resurrection be true, but yet we still have a lying god? I hold the metaphysical implications to be of much more importance, than the religious beliefs that come along with it. That is to say, if a Resurrection did happen, then that is what makes Christianity true. The event has more importance than the promises of the deity, this is because the event is not in question.

      Delete
    20. “It's almost fun to watch you descend into the levels of ad-hoc on display here.”

      I’m glad to see your respectful tone here, as now I’m amusing you. However I think you should put your arrogance to the side for now and open up a beginners book on ‘Theories of truth’

      Calling out something in which you perceive as an Ad-hoc objections doesn’t always work on claims that assert mind independent truths, for instance if there really was a lying God that existed, it wouldn’t matter if I came to this conclusion via an appeal to ad-hoc reasoning, although what does matter is if this is the case in reality. The existence of the evil deity doesn’t depend on my argument, so it really doesn’t matter if you want to call out ‘oh that’s ad-hoc’ because even if it was that doesn’t refute the substance of the argument in question.

      “First off, how do you know that this is an evil god rather than just a lying one? How do you even remotely know that this god wants us to feel "true pain", how would the pain be any less different than sowing chaos and confusion among the world by having different religions be revealed? What if the god really just wants us to be constantly confused and muddled, with almost but not quite reliable faculties? “

      This is easy, because we have flip everything around just as Law does. By definition a Good God entails the property of maximal greatness, whilst an evil God would entail the exact opposite. So a Good God would entail the nature of honesty over deception, love over lust, selfishness over selfish, kindness over hate, happiness over pain etc.

      If the evil god wants us to be constantly confused and muddled then we aren’t genuinely expressing pain, in fact the evil god could have just very well have made a virtual world in which nothing is real, but yet with this being said there is ultimately no meaning when someone suffers because it’s all fake, an illusion put forth by an evil genius. Though if this world is real and not an illusion, and we are capable of experiencing genuine pain when the time arises, then I can expect an evil god would benefit more from that. The same goes for a Good God and why he wouldn’t create some virtual reality, or a world in which we can’t genuinely choose good over evil etc. If your objection worked I’d like it, because then I’d have a better answer for Stephen Law, however this symmetry here saves him.

      Delete
    21. “Here's the answer to those questions: You can't know any of that, especially not a priori, once you've admitted a lying god/demon into the mix. Since some of our perceptions would necessarily be false as a result of your "lying god solution" to the SD problem, we have no way to know if other parts of our experience were also deceptions - and you're stuck playing the Descartes game. “

      No, because the evil God wouldn’t want inconsistency, because he obviously wouldn’t want us to be kind and yet cruel at the same time. So I don’t see the evil god designing us for contradiction, because there would be no benefit. This is one advantage, the disadvantage for the purposeless, nonrational, unconscious naturedidit mechanism is that the distinctive thing about reason is that it connects us with the truth directly. Perception ends up connecting us with the truth, but only indirectly, and perception is not a form of insight. As Thomas Nagel points out: Take a tree for example, I do not see the tree immediately, even though it may seem so prior to reflection. Rather I am aware of it because the tree causes a mental effect in me in virtue of the character of my visual system, which we may suppose has been shaped by natural selection to react in this way to light reflected from physical objects. Having such a system, together with other perceptual motivational dispositions, enables me to survive in the world. So it is only in a complicated and indirect sense that when I see a tree, it is because it is there.

      A Lying God is not the same as a lying demon either, as the lying god in this example would be the necessary being that is responsible for all contingent affairs, however the demon does not share the same definition as it would be contingent.

      So a lying God could create a world of similar to a virtual world, but why do that when he doesn’t need too? He could make us suffer through the objective world, and with this being said, we have good reasons to trust our cognitive faculties with respect to perception, emotion, desire, aversion and most importantly conscious control of belief and conduct in response to the awareness of reasons.

      Delete

    22. “What's worse is that even on Plantinga's normal SD, this kind of thing ends up happening - since people who are not believing the One True Religion, whatever it is, are necessarily interpreting their SD incorrectly. This problem gets introduced immediately on invoking the SD in a world where there are multiple religions.”

      Not really, like I said before as long as there are partial truths in effect here then I don’t see a problem with his SD. So even though I don’t use Plantinga’s SD I still haven’t seen many good objections to it, at least not from atheism. I think a Generic Theistic God actually provides a better explanation for SD than expanded Theism (Theism + Religion) A lying God isn’t even necessary, because these religious people are genuinely talking about the being that is the creator and sustainer of the universe. So what if they have different interpretations? That doesn’t mean that they aren’t sensing ‘something’ and this is all that one needs. I also don’t see why God needs to make us know him down to a T either, so there is no obligation there on his part.



      “Actually tu quote does work here since if it's a problem for everyone, then it's not much of an objection against my solution, and my solution is far simpler than Plantinga's or yours.”

      You don’t want to bite a bullet to a tu quoque, simply because there could be other options available in which we don’t know about. So you’d end up making an arguing from incredulity, unless you have good reasons to think otherwise. We haven’t even talked about Pantheism, or Panentheism so the tu quoque stands. And you may think it’s simple, but all I’ve seen from you so far is an appeal to blind faith. It’s as if you take it on faith the fact that this nonrational, purposeless unconscious, unintelligent mechanism got us here by ‘winging it’.

      “That said, there have been plenty of thorough responses to the EAAN, Stephen Law has one, as does Massimo Pigliucci, but here's a rather recent video describing how evolution can lead us to truth seeking faculties: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRA06xlzOq0

      Evolution works out a hell of a lot better than a deity that we know lies to us.”

      I’m not watching YT videos, so do you have any actual academic works I could look at? And have they addressed Plantinga in his newest book? Evolution + Naturalism is a blind faith position that has a very special epistemic problem. How do I know that I am not just evolved PURELY for the purposes of survival and nothing else? This means that what I take to be true is just what my genes want me to take as true because it is best for the heuristic purposes it is being put to task to perform. On naturalism a naturalist has a very good reason to think she may well be permanently deceived about a great many things!

      Delete
    23. "Really where? I don’t see one insult?"

      It would be here:

      "Remember Counter apologist, (still laughing at how silly this name is, did a toddler family member of yours come up with that name?) "

      "
      How? What exactly makes the religion a religion? Why couldn’t the Resurrection be true, but yet we still have a lying god? I hold the metaphysical implications to be of much more importance, than the religious beliefs that come along with it. That is to say, if a Resurrection did happen, then that is what makes Christianity true. The event has more importance than the promises of the deity, this is because the event is not in question."

      Christianity is more than the resurrection, it also entails belief in a tri-omni god which would entail a god not lying. If you want to go off some of the most fundamental and widely held creeds of Christianity then that's fine, but it's again not what I'm arguing here.

      "
      This is easy, because we have flip everything around just as Law does. By definition a Good God entails the property of maximal greatness, whilst an evil God would entail the exact opposite. So a Good God would entail the nature of honesty over deception, love over lust, selfishness over selfish, kindness over hate, happiness over pain etc."

      You've moved from "lying god" to "maximally evil god", another shift in the goal posts, which again detracts from the position I've stated:

      That the SD, if it even exists, is at a minimum unreliable.

      The atheist provides a consistent explanation for any supposed SD, where as you're appealing to lying, now necessarily maximally evil gods to pull it off.

      What's even better is that you think we can't experience genuine pain and anguish if our cognitive faculties aren't reliable, which is just false. All we need to experience pain is the ability to feel physical sensations, not have cognitive faculties that reliably produce true beliefs.

      It's also a massive rabbit hole from the issue of an SD, if it exists, being reliable - which it can't be on your theory (or even Plantinga's) since it's necessarily false in a majority of cases in our actual world, and even in your hypothetical.

      "I’m not watching YT videos, so do you have any actual academic works I could look at?"

      This is especially ironic considering it's a lecture by a professional philosopher: "Paul Griffiths of the University of Sydney is a philosopher of science with a focus on biology and psychology. He explores the evolution of cognition in light of evolutionary debunking arguments."

      The final bit of irony is here though:

      "On naturalism a naturalist has a very good reason to think she may well be permanently deceived about a great many things!"

      And yet this isn't the case in a world where we know a god is necessarily lying to us? Absolutely staggering.

      Delete
    24. ""Remember Counter apologist, (still laughing at how silly this name is, did a toddler family member of yours come up with that name?) "

      you call that an insult? That's more of me being sarcastic than being insulting.

      "Christianity is more than the resurrection, it also entails belief in a tri-omni god which would entail a god not lying. If you want to go off some of the most fundamental and widely held creeds of Christianity then that's fine, but it's again not what I'm arguing here."

      You still aren't getting it, all those creeds were given by a lying God, therefore it doesn't matter if the creeds are legit or not, what matters is whether or not THAT GOD EXISTS, do you follow yet?

      "You've moved from "lying god" to "maximally evil god", another shift in the goal posts, which again detracts from the position I've stated:"

      Please learn theology, there is either an evil God or a Good God, right? So why we would have an evil God that can lie, but is not maximally evil? If this evil God is not maximally evil, then that means there could be a Bigger God that entails more evil than it does, so why call this evil God a God when we don't even know if it possess the property of being maximally evil? Theology 101, but don't worry I know how bad atheists are at doing theology, hence pretty much why the majority of them are atheists.

      Delete
    25. "That the SD, if it even exists, is at a minimum unreliable."

      I don't see how that follows, why is that we feel a sense of God? Is it because the purposeless, unintelligent, unconscious, nonrational naturedidit mechanism doesn't know what it's doing, or is the feeling somewhat genuine, because it accurately reflects nature? Oh wait was the purposeless, unintelligent, unconscious, nonrational naturedidit mechanism accurately reflecting nature by telling us that there is a God???? Oh snap how does that work?

      "The atheist provides a consistent explanation for any supposed SD, where as you're appealing to lying, now necessarily maximally evil gods to pull it off."

      There is nothing consistent about appealing to a nonrational mechanism to which somehow magically caused rationality to come into existence. The evil God still possesses 'reason' with this 'reason' the evil God follows rationality coming from rationality, instead of rationality coming from nonrationality. The former makes a lot more sense as it doesn't rely on a 'just wing it blind' and hope for the best.

      "What's even better is that you think we can't experience genuine pain and anguish if our cognitive faculties aren't reliable, which is just false. All we need to experience pain is the ability to feel physical sensations, not have cognitive faculties that reliably produce true beliefs. "

      I see no good reasons to think that an evil God would be more satisfied with a genuine pain of losing a penny, rather than genuine pain of losing a loved one. If we feel pain because we lost a penny, how does this satisfy the evil God? Ball is in your court here to explain this.

      "It's also a massive rabbit hole from the issue of an SD, if it exists, being reliable - which it can't be on your theory (or even Plantinga's) since it's necessarily false in a majority of cases in our actual world, and even in your hypothetical."

      It's only necessarily false if a God does not exist, all that matters is whether or not a God exists, you seem to be stuck on this proposition that implies that the SD is obligated to give us every fact about God to the point where we must know God down to a T, though you don't give any reasons for this. Like I said before all that matters is THE SENSE, not contradictions in interpretations, though you sort of ignored that, and I think I know why, you just don't like the conclusion.

      This is especially ironic considering it's a lecture by a professional philosopher: "Paul Griffiths of the University of Sydney is a philosopher of science with a focus on biology and psychology. He explores the evolution of cognition in light of evolutionary debunking arguments."

      Go ahead give me an argument that he puts out, let's see if I can knock it down.

      "And yet this isn't the case in a world where we know a god is necessarily lying to us? Absolutely staggering. "

      Do you understand that the evil God is just one possibility? Obviously you don't so I'm calling out a strawman here, oh and you didn't refute the evil God anyways, because you're bad at theology.

      ty

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    26. By the way since you are linking YT videos, here is something from an atheist philosopher in Thomas Nagel who actually defends the Plantinga with respect to the SD and exposes the fact that people like yourself (and Grayling) don't even understand what Plantinga is arguing.

      http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/maverick_philosopher/2013/05/sensus-divinitatis-nagel-defends-plantinga-against-grayling.html

      ^QED

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    27. You're increasingly proving yourself as not worth my time given how often you've ignored points put forward and just blatantly move the goal posts. I think this will be the last series of replies for you.

      "You still aren't getting it, all those creeds were given by a lying God, therefore it doesn't matter if the creeds are legit or not, what matters is whether or not THAT GOD EXISTS, do you follow yet?"

      And all I've said is that in your scenario those creeds, which means Christianity, would be false. If you want your lying god, you may have it. It simply removes any warrant that the SD would give to belief in any of those religions and even that of the lying god, unless the lying god told you he exists via SD.

      "Please learn theology, there is either an evil God or a Good God, right? So why we would have an evil God that can lie, but is not maximally evil?"

      If you want to get technical theology wise, there is no such thing as an evil god, there's only a great demon or a god. Of course my point is that we don't need a maximally evil being to get the lying demon who created the entire universe and everyone in it - and that you can't know if it is a maximally evil being based on the fact that it's lying to you. You're trying to limit yourself to a dichotomy when there's quite a bit more options.

      "I don't see how that follows, why is that we feel a sense of God? Is it because the purposeless, unintelligent, unconscious, nonrational naturedidit mechanism doesn't know what it's doing, or is the feeling somewhat genuine, because it accurately reflects nature? Oh wait was the purposeless, unintelligent, unconscious, nonrational naturedidit mechanism accurately reflecting nature by telling us that there is a God???? Oh snap how does that work?"

      This paragraph is nearly incoherent. It follows because if the SD doesn't exist, then you just have feelings that you're interpreting incorrectly - you're attributing events to an agency where there is none, like the rustling bushes.

      But even if the SD does exist, then it could justify any religion, and so it isn't a reliable way of knowing things if one is to consider the SD as a path to knowledge.

      "There is nothing consistent about appealing to a nonrational mechanism to which somehow magically caused rationality to come into existence. The evil God still possesses 'reason' with this 'reason' the evil God follows rationality coming from rationality, instead of rationality coming from nonrationality. The former makes a lot more sense as it doesn't rely on a 'just wing it blind' and hope for the best."

      I find this very amusing since you're talking out of both sides of your mouth. All that's required for the evil being, or even for nature is to distinguish between "pain" and "not pain". That's all the evil god needs to establish BTW, the rest of your belief mechanisms could be terrible at generating true beliefs (or at least this would be the view if you're going to separate things like differentiating between two distinct states and rational processes).

      Of course we could say that on the basis of being able to distinguish between a binary choice like that which directly impacts our survival, we could develop our cognitive faculties in such a way to build upon that and arrive at rationality. But then you'd have to give up the silly EAAN. You can't really have it both ways, either pick the evil demon doesn't need to give us reliable belief mechanisms only that we distinguish pain from not pain, or acknowledge that binary choices like that can serve as the basis for rationality.

      Delete
    28. Continuing...

      "I see no good reasons to think that an evil God would be more satisfied with a genuine pain of losing a penny, rather than genuine pain of losing a loved one. If we feel pain because we lost a penny, how does this satisfy the evil God? Ball is in your court here to explain this."

      Hilarious. The evil demon could make it such that when we lose a penny we feel more sad than we do now by losing a loved one. The pain is the same either way, and he can further delight in the irony of it all.

      "It's only necessarily false if a God does not exist, all that matters is whether or not a God exists, you seem to be stuck on this proposition that implies that the SD is obligated to give us every fact about God to the point where we must know God down to a T, though you don't give any reasons for this. Like I said before all that matters is THE SENSE, not contradictions in interpretations, though you sort of ignored that, and I think I know why, you just don't like the conclusion."

      Well since on Plantinga's SD, the "sense" gives people warrant for a lot more than "god exists" it goes further to things like "Christianity is true". Either way, the SD sense that every religion claims to have is false in most cases since of that last part. You keep trying to move the goal posts away from what Plantinga claims the SD does.

      "Do you understand that the evil God is just one possibility? Obviously you don't so I'm calling out a strawman here, oh and you didn't refute the evil God anyways, because you're bad at theology. "

      What other ones? Pantheism that you mentioned before which goes completely against any kind of agency for the god-spirit thing that they think exists? You want me to argue against entities you've not even really brought up?

      "Go ahead give me an argument that he puts out, let's see if I can knock it down."

      It's not my job to distill an hours lecture for you to satisfy some rabbit hole argument you're bringing up to side track an argument against the SD. Suffice it to say there's been plenty of responses to Plantinga on the EAAN.

      "By the way since you are linking YT videos, here is something from an atheist philosopher in Thomas Nagel who actually defends the Plantinga with respect to the SD and exposes the fact that people like yourself (and Grayling) don't even understand what Plantinga is arguing."

      I'm well aware of what he's arguing for, he's arguing for warrant to believe since he doesn't like attacks on religious epistemology. My point is that such a sense provides warrant for a very great many contradictory things, and this is something Plantinga bites the bullet on. Further, many apologists like William Lane Craig, Tom Gilson, and others claim that one can "know" god exists via something like the SD, in which case Grayling's comments gain back quite a bit of their bite.

      Delete
    29. "You're increasingly proving yourself as not worth my time given how often you've ignored points put forward and just blatantly move the goal posts. I think this will be the last series of replies for you."

      bare assertion with no support that actually sounds more like a complaint rather than an argument, though I'm surprised as you seem to have a tough time dealing with a little pushback.


      "And all I've said is that in your scenario those creeds, which means Christianity, would be false. If you want your lying god, you may have it. It simply removes any warrant that the SD would give to belief in any of those religions and even that of the lying god, unless the lying god told you he exists via SD."

      no it wouldn't be false, because the religion is still Christianity, and the head of that religion is....wait for it.......wait for it....the lying God, I don't understand why you are having such a tough time with this, all you have to do is flip everything around on an ontological level.


      "If you want to get technical theology wise, there is no such thing as an evil god, there's only a great demon or a god."

      Whoa, now I wish it were that easy to refute Stephen law's evil god challenge,

      "Of course my point is that we don't need a maximally evil being to get the lying demon who created the entire universe and everyone in it - and that you can't know if it is a maximally evil being based on the fact that it's lying to you. You're trying to limit yourself to a dichotomy when there's quite a bit more options."

      This is silly, if the demon is a supernatural or suprahuman being that is contingent, then what is the demon contingent upon? It's as if you are forced to posit a necessary supernatural or suprahuman being to posit the demons existence, as the demon would be contingent upon a higher being. Unless you want to argue the fact that demons can pop into existence ex nihilo? Good luck with that, so your claim is false.

      "This paragraph is nearly incoherent. It follows because if the SD doesn't exist, then you just have feelings that you're interpreting incorrectly - you're attributing events to an agency where there is none, like the rustling bushes.

      But even if the SD does exist, then it could justify any religion, and so it isn't a reliable way of knowing things if one is to consider the SD as a path to knowledge. "

      Wrong what I'm saying is, if the SD exists and Theism is assumed to be false, then why should I be optimistic about my cognitive faculties? If it can justify any religion, so what? All religions that argue for a being that is creator and sustainer of the universe would be correct, so now we have to get to the interpretations, but why should we go that far, when we'd already have a partial truth? Why assume that if a God existed he would want us to know so much about him? By the way, if you ever get a chance to actually understand Alvin Plantinga and the SD, he isn't making the SD a truth claim, he is using it as a warrant claim.

      Delete
    30. "I find this very amusing since you're talking out of both sides of your mouth. All that's required for the evil being, or even for nature is to distinguish between "pain" and "not pain". That's all the evil god needs to establish BTW, the rest of your belief mechanisms could be terrible at generating true beliefs (or at least this would be the view if you're going to separate things like differentiating between two distinct states and rational processes)."

      Again this is egregiously false, if I have a false belief in the fact that someone raped a relative of mine and laughed about it, why would this satisfy the evil God? It makes more sense for the fact that when someone rapes a relative of mine and laughs about it this belief of mine would not only accurately reflect reality, but it would be a genuine pain on my part.

      So you haven't answered anything, and I'm not speaking on both sides of my mouth, it's moreso the fact that you use terrible theology. If a Good God or Evil God wanted to give us false beliefs of the world he/she could have created a virtual reality in which nothing is ultimately real, but with this reality nothing is genuine, and everything is fake INCLUDING my pain or love that both God's would think it would be better for me to have rather than to lack. So you have no argument.

      "Of course we could say that on the basis of being able to distinguish between a binary choice like that which directly impacts our survival, we could develop our cognitive faculties in such a way to build upon that and arrive at rationality. But then you'd have to give up the silly EAAN. You can't really have it both ways, either pick the evil demon doesn't need to give us reliable belief mechanisms only that we distinguish pain from not pain, or acknowledge that binary choices like that can serve as the basis for rationality."

      But survival isn't the primary plan for the evil god, and that's what separates the evil god from your purposeless natural mechanism, teleology and/or intention rather than a purposeless causal mechanism.

      As far as 'truth' goes we have the ability to discriminate between truth and falsity. However, to talk about one physical state being true of another physical state makes no sense. Rational inference implies that states of a person can be true or false.

      "Hilarious. The evil demon could make it such that when we lose a penny we feel more sad than we do now by losing a loved one. The pain is the same either way, and he can further delight in the irony of it all."

      The pain is the same way, but it isn't genuine pain (why is this so difficult to comprehend) there was no built up in losing the penny, there was no let down, there is a possibility for more consequences that effect other people. If the pains are equal, and I lose a penny, how would that cause pain towards other people? Obviously the simple solution is make pain genuine, and to increase pain amongst others to its maximal potential.

      Delete
    31. "Well since on Plantinga's SD, the "sense" gives people warrant for a lot more than "god exists" it goes further to things like "Christianity is true". Either way, the SD sense that every religion claims to have is false in most cases since of that last part. You keep trying to move the goal posts away from what Plantinga claims the SD does."

      I'm not moving the goalpost, you just don't understand the argument. Plantinga is not making an argument for the truth of Christianity. /facepalm You just admitted that he was speaking of 'warrant' though warrant =/= truth. Please learn Plantinga ty

      "What other ones? Pantheism that you mentioned before which goes completely against any kind of agency for the god-spirit thing that they think exists? You want me to argue against entities you've not even really brought up?"

      What about philosophical Theism? I gave you an argument for it, and then you left. And yes, I want you to argue against all other possibilities because you think atheism makes the best sense of SD, but yet you failed to bring up why atheism > all other possibilities. This was actually my first point that I raised, before you went into your tangent.

      'It's not my job to distill an hours lecture for you to satisfy some rabbit hole argument you're bringing up to side track an argument against the SD. Suffice it to say there's been plenty of responses to Plantinga on the EAAN. "

      Here is a tip, just because someone makes a response to an argument, that doesn't magically make it the case where the argument was refuted.

      "I'm well aware of what he's arguing for, he's arguing for warrant to believe since he doesn't like attacks on religious epistemology. My point is that such a sense provides warrant for a very great many contradictory things, and this is something Plantinga bites the bullet on. Further, many apologists like William Lane Craig, Tom Gilson, and others claim that one can "know" god exists via something like the SD, in which case Grayling's comments gain back quite a bit of their bite."

      What was that about double-talk? Or are you trying to have your cake and eat it here?

      Remember this?

      "Well since on Plantinga's SD, the "sense" gives people warrant for a lot more than "god exists" it goes further to things like "Christianity is true".

      Maybe you should take some time off, I think you should start with cleaning up your contradictions as it may help you out in the long run.

      Delete
  3. Great post. Boghossian's methods will undoubtedly be effective, however it is still useful to know counter-apologetics for encounters with people who have been exposed to apologetics. On that front, you may be interested in this "Case Against the Resurrection" playlist. I think some of the speakers here do a better job than Ehrman dismantling the central claim of Christianity. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLf113iNh-64a8_1bdkrX7kHqPa88_hjfR&feature=mh_lolz

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    1. Boghossian has been ripped apart to no end by non-fundamentalist Theists. Petey Boghassion is an absolute joke and the only people who take him seriously are irrational, ignorant village atheists who are emotional anti-Christians.

      Here Boghossian gets his:

      http://deeperwaters.wordpress.com/2014/01/20/book-plunge-a-manual-for-creating-atheists/


      Boghossian is also afraid to engage with non-fundy Christians, I wonder why....

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    2. Staggering review. Boghossian actually does briefly address some of the more popular natural theology arguments in his book. This is the other red herring when you attack religions epistemological weak point, they try to point to natural theology, even when their own epistemology says that they don't need those arguments. And it's not like those arguments haven't been debunked already in other works - his book is on epistemology.

      I also love the deliberately misrepresentative quote about "Avoiding Facts" when that section is talking about how correcting theists when they have their facts wrong (on say evolution) isn't helpful since research shows it forces people confronted with these things to dig in all the more.

      His approach says "focus on the epistemology" because that leads to doxastic openness and unlike presenting the correct facts it keeps the conversation going rather than shutting it down.

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    3. "Staggering review. Boghossian actually does briefly address some of the more popular natural theology arguments in his book. "

      Really where???? All I saw was this:

      "The problem with agnosticism is that in the last 2,400 years of intellectual history, not a single argument for the existence of God has withstood scrutiny. Not one. Aquinas's five proofs, fail. Pascal's Wager, fail. Anselm's ontological argument, fail. The fine-tuning argument, fail. The Kalam cosmological argument, fail. All refuted. All failures."

      Though I don't ANYWHERE in his book exactly where they fail, the footnote doesn't state anything, so Peter just assumes and hopes no one will be skeptical about this.

      " This is the other red herring when you attack religions epistemological weak point, they try to point to natural theology, even when their own epistemology says that they don't need those arguments. And it's not like those arguments haven't been debunked already in other works - his book is on epistemology."

      I'd love to see Peter try and Debunk the newer arguments that one would see from Timothy O'Connor, Alexander Pruss, Richard Swinburne, Robert Adams, Victor Reppert, Tim Mcgrew, Charles Taliaferro, and Robert Maydole just to name a few.

      but I guess he is happy targeting low hanging fruit in churches with his street epistemologists. So do you think the Reason whisperer is going to air his epic debates with fundies who hold dearly to fideism?

      "I also love the deliberately misrepresentative quote about "Avoiding Facts" when that section is talking about how correcting theists when they have their facts wrong (on say evolution) isn't helpful since research shows it forces people confronted with these things to dig in all the more"

      So why would he refer to it as 'avoiding facts' LOL

      "His approach says "focus on the epistemology" because that leads to doxastic openness and unlike presenting the correct facts it keeps the conversation going rather than shutting it down."

      If he is so open, then why doesn't he engage an actual Theist philosopher and test his openness against a formidable interlocutor? Why not engage another epistemologist such as Robert Audi, who has written the 'Cambridge Dictionary To Philosophy' published by Cambridge University?

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  4. I have to say this is a good point of view - I've been following arguments on Thinking Christian (and elsewhere) for a while (and participating a bit, before I had to stop for various reasons) and would like to add a couple of points which may be of use.

    Firstly that Tom, Phil et.al aren't the intended audience for this book! This is a book written by an atheist for atheists. I'm not saying that they shouldn't read it, of course, they're free to do that, but it isn't speaking to them. It a description of, a training manual for, a method, or principles of how to engage theists and try to change their ways of thinking about stuff. It doesn't, in and of itself try to change people's minds. So actually, thanks for the help, Tom, on the definition of faith, but we're talking amongst ourselves here.

    Personally, PB's definition of faith resonates for me - I'd describe, with hindsight, my own faith when I was a believer (and quite and enthusiastic and faith filled one) as wishful thinking, which I think covers "pretending to know" pretty well. Only one data point, of course, but I'd have reacted in much the same way as Christians appear to be had someone tried to tell me that was my definition of faith 5 years ago.

    My second point is that actually, the definition of faith doesn't matter, what matters are the results. If this definition of faith helps the Atheist in the Street (tm) then it is good. Indeed, the whole thing is like a scientific method! (That really shouldn't be a surprise ;) Is this use of the word faith helpful when talking to theists on the street (or whereever)? That is actually a testable thing, you could construct an experiment with one group using the definition and another not, and see who gets the best results. You'd probably need quite a large sample, and it would probably be wholly un-ethical, but it is plausible :)

    I've thought often that maybe it would have been better if Peter would have avoided defining faith in this way, so as to avoid all this arguing about its definition, however actually, I now reckon he's even cleverer than we all thought. What Gilson and Vischer have managed to do, by writing pages and pages about what is actually an irrelevant issue, is to bring huge visiblity to the Manual in just the places where atheists engaging with thesist are hanging out. I'm sure his marketing budget is thanking all the Christians out there for the free publicity :D

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  5. I thought the link below was a good explication of historical methodology, and why the talk of "NT facts" is misleading and best.

    http://vridar.org/2010/08/09/historical-methods-how-historical-jesus-studies-fall-over-before-they-start/

    The next link is also an excellent discussion about how the NT is read by historians (hint: it's not like what apologist NT scholars will tell you. At all.):

    http://adversusapologetica.wordpress.com/2013/08/18/ancient-historical-writing-compared-to-the-gospels-of-the-new-testament/

    I also thought this pdf does a nice job of (gently) breaking it to Christian students that they're going to be studying the NT as historians, and not as Christians, and what this will mean for them. I was a history major in college, and the teaching of history was so thoroughly imbued with the statements put down in this document that it really didn't need mentioning. But some people, I guess, just need to see it in black and white.

    http://catdir.loc.gov/catdir/samples/cam033/2001043103.pdf

    Basically, anytime "and then something supernatural happened" is mentioned, you've left the "doing History" bus. History is the examination of natural explanations for established facts. There's not much of either in the NT.

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    1. This is great stuff! Would you mind if I reblogged this and credited you? If you had a blog or something you'd like linked to please let me know.

      Delete
    2. Ha. Thanks for saying it's great stuff, but it's not mine -- I'm just referencing it. Please feel free to use as you see fit, but I'd prefer no credit. Like I said, it's just "the information" -- written by other people, so my gratitude is to them.

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  6. Randal Rauser wanted you to read his book "Swedish atheist...", you can find an excellent review on Advocatus Atheist
    The link below is on Chapter 8, but there is an analysis for every chapter.

    http://advocatusatheist.blogspot.com/2013/11/reviewing-randal-rausers-swedish.html

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