A redated post.
I wrote a comment on Debunking Christianity that I would like to share here.
Victor wrote: If this is a reason to reject the maxim of my undergraduate philosophy teacher (an atheist) "You ought to believe what you already believe, unless you have evidence that what you believe is not true," then I wouldn't endorse that kind of skepticism.
Scott replied: The problem with applying this maxim to a particular religious belief is the means in which you've acquired that belief and the inability to provide clear evidence that your belief is not true. It's as if you've thrown up your hands and claimed you're stuck with your belief since there is no other method in which you could attempt to identify whether it is factual or not.
VR: No. I have considered evidence for and against theism, and for and against Christianity. I just don't know if real neutrality is possible or even desirable. That's my only beef.
I think naturalism is self-refuting because it is inconsistent with the fact that human beings perceive logical relationship and act on that basis. If they were purely physical systems in a purely physical world, this would not be possible. We could not literally do mathematics, which is the very foundations of the science on which naturalism rests its case. If naturalism is true, then there are no scientists, and there is no scientific method, and we're all epistemically screwed.
In fact it's a little amazing to me that someone could accept the outsider test for faith and not accept the argument from reason against naturalism. The OTF says that if our religious views have sociological causes, they aren't rational, which suggests to me that atheists must have purely rational causes for their beliefs. But if naturalism is true, then everyone has natural, physical causes for all beliefs, and this got to be ten times more damaging than sociological causes. If naturalism is true, then there is no real mental causation, just physical causation that mimics mental effects.
I think that Christian theism has some problems in the area of the problem of evil, but these are not worse problems than naturalists have in explaining consciousness, for example. Atheists argue that if theism is true, then there would be no suffering, but if naturalistic atheism is true, there can only be pain behavior, not real pain, because pain is a subjective qualia that has no place in the naturalistic world of objective physical states. Hence, if naturalistic atheism is true, then there should be no suffering either.
I am amazed at how monotheism could have taken hold of the mind of the people of Israel, after a long struggle with paganism, and that the little nation of Judah could have escaped dispersion from the Assyrians, which would have destroyed that nation's identity permanently. To the ancient mind, it was a lot easier to be a polytheist than to be a monotheist. How could this have been reversed in an tiny and otherwise nondescript country like Israel, when it did not happen anywhere else? Not in Greece, not in Egypt, not in Babylonia, and not in Rome.
I have yet to see an account of the beginnings of Christianity that is any better than the one that Christians offer. If there were not miracles, then how do you get a bunch of people firmly convinced that Jesus rose from the dead and getting in the faces of the Jewish and Roman establishment to spread that belief? What happened to these people? How could Jews start accepting an incarnate deity? How could they change the Sabbath, and not try to apply the Jewish Law to Gentile converts? Mass hallucinations, and then their biggest persecutor, Saul of Tarsus gets one? Just a coincidence?
How do you explain the intimate, detailed familiarity that Luke shows with the Mediterranean world if he was never a companion of Paul and didn't see what he wrote about? I don't even know how many people are on the city council of the nearby cities of Avondale or Glendale here in the Phoenix area. But Luke provides this kind of detail, and the archaeology backs him up time after time.
No other religion has the kind of archaeological support that Christianity does. Have they found that battleground in Palmyra, New York, where the book of Mormon says a huge battle took place? Thought not. Is there a good DNA match between Jews and American Indians? You mean they look more like Orientals? Who witnessed Muhammad reciting and transmitting the Qu'ran?
I even think that there are present-day miracles that provide evidence for God. We had some discussion of that on Dangerous Idea as well.
Now if you say "Anything but the Supernatural" this may all seem irrational to you. But maybe some naturalists need to take the Outsider Test and see how things look from the perspective that miracles are possible. I could argue that you have been brainwashed by the scientific establishment to rules these possiblities out. But I won't. The world just makes more sense from the perspective of Christian theism than it does from any other perspective.