Thursday, September 30, 2010

The test and the answer key

JWL: You must seek to justify what you consider the facts apart from faith. Now you might not like me engaging you in this argument after you recognize the validity of the OTF all you want to, but if you truly wish to be an outsider to your own faith then to evaluate it properly an outsider like me can be of extreme value to you.

So, let me be of service. ;-)


VR:  No. That's where you start turning the Outsider Test for Faith into an Insider Test for Infidels. The OTF is a thought experiment, nothing more. Just because you invented the term for the test (the idea has always been around in some form or another), doesn't mean that you have the answer key in your desk drawer. I'm not convinced that there is any rational obligation to make one's faith depend on passing it. The argument you present in your book for why religious beliefs must pass the OTF is full of holes.

In one sense, you really never do get outside. When you go from theism to atheism, atheism becomes inside and theism becomes outside. I think the presuppositionalists have this much right; I don't think there is any real neutral ground.

But it is healthy to ask the question "What if I had come into all of this with a different experiences and background than what I in fact have?" But that's a question I have been asking since I was 18, and it's part of why I majored in philosophy. That's part of the good faith effort to be intellectually honest.

In particular, I don't believe in the Feldman-type argument where we have to stop holding positions because our epistemic peers disagree. I think that kind of thing stultifies thought, and as I understand the philosophy of science, I think it would stultify science.

I take it that cognitive science shows us that rationality is difficult. Of course, I've been arguing that rationality isn't even possible if naturalism is true, an argument you somehow don't feel any need to even respond to. But setting that aside, if it is difficult to be rational, then the OTF, or the deconversion the OTF is supposed to engender, is not going to make people automatically rational. It is one tool among many that we might use to help us become more rational, nothing more.

There is an appeal to intellectual honesty and fairness which is legitimate, but not an overwhelming argument against Christianity. What gets loaded on top of it, though, is what concerns me: a lot of unrealistic and questionable epistemology, a lot of highly questionable psychologizing, and an evaluation of the available evidence which is very different from mine. In fact, the claim that Christianity can't pass the test is backed up by statements that strike me as demonstratably false, such as the claim that Christians operate with a double standard when they, for example, reject Islam and accept Christianity. They appear for all the world to be submitting both religions to the same test, and claiming that Christianity comes out better.

And part of what you are calling faith, particularly an individual person's religious experience, is relevant evidence for people to use in evaluating their beliefs. 

That's what I object to: The Outsider Test for Faith Test, based on how closely your answers fit Loftus's answer key.

35 comments:

John W. Loftus said...

Hmmm, so, skeptics like me can't be of service as outsiders once you admit there is something to the OTF?

That's inconsistent.

And to say I am the judge whether your faith passes the test is, well, how shall I say this, ignorant.

I can certainly be involved once that debate starts so long as you wish to involve me. But no outsider is the judge unless you allow us to be, and I could only wish you would, for then you'd have a fair and impartial verdict on attempts by you to take the OTF. Sorry if you wouldn't like our unanimous verdict, since our judgment would be that your faith is false and that you are not consistent in applying the OTF. That's just the way it is. I guess you can always shoot the messenger too.

Fishermage said...

You may have some very interesting ideas, John -- but you are NO skeptic. You are an evangelist for your metaphysical position.

If you want to "help" Victor or any theist evaluate his belief with the outsider test, then you need to find a real skeptic.

John W. Loftus said...

Fishermage, so let's see if I understand you. Are you suggesting that anyone who is passionate about changing people's minds is not a skeptic?...that a true skeptic ignores religion altogether? Or what?

Eric said...

"But no outsider is the judge unless you allow us to be, and I could only wish you would, for then you'd have a fair and impartial verdict on attempts by you to take the OTF. Sorry if you wouldn't like our unanimous verdict, since our judgment would be that your faith is false and that you are not consistent in applying the OTF. That's just the way it is."


John I have a couple of questions about this:

(1) Did you mean to apply this -- "Sorry if you wouldn't like our unanimous verdict, since our judgment would be that your faith is false and that you are not consistent in applying the OTF" -- to Victor only, given the discussions the two of you have had so far, or do you mean to apply it to all believers who claim their faith has passed the OTF?

(2) If you're applying it to Victor only, then what is it that he's said that stands out as most telling as far as his not applying the OTF consistently? If you mean to apply it to all believers, then you're saying that there really is one honest outcome when a theist takes the OTF, viz. repudiating his theism. But how can you possibly justify this (if you meant to apply the quote above to all believers, that is).

(3) Why would failing the OTF lead to the conclusion that one's faith is false ("then you'd have a fair and impartial verdict on attempts by you to take the OTF. Sorry if you wouldn't like our unanimous verdict, since our judgment would be that your faith is false")? Wouldn't it just lead to the conclusion that one has inconsistently applied certain generally accepted intellectual standards to his religious beliefs?

Fishermage said...

No, I am saying that from what I have seen from your behavior, you are not just passionate.

I certainly could be wrong, since I only know you from what I have seen here and from a few trips to your website, but I am seeing that you seem to have just as much vested interest in keeping to your faith-position as any evangelist.

I do however believe that someone else might be so qualified, just not someone who considers Christianity "bunk" and such, or that anyone who believes in Christ is "brainwashed."

That goes well beyond mere passion for skepticism.

I'd love you to prove me wrong, but so far this is what I am seeing from you.

John W. Loftus said...

Eric, I think it's reasonable to think a particular idea or theory is false if it cannot be justified. I don't think any so-called "revealed religion" can pass the OTF so none of them are justified. I conclude they are all false. But this is not the fault of the test itself. It's the fault of these religions unless someone can show me why the OTF is either faulty or unfair.

John W. Loftus said...

Fishermage said...I only know you from what I have seen here and from a few trips to your website.

How often do you make judgments based on anecdotal evidence? Do you conclude petitionary prayer is efficacious based on selective observation too, by counting the hits and discounting the misses?

Interesting perspective you have there. Which is two comments in a row where you don't know what you're talking about and should give you pause to think you can be reasonable in evaluating your faith since the same skills are required.

Victor Reppert said...

What I object to is the idea you go around talking about cognitive science and human irrationality, and then arbitrarily declare yourself to be immune from all the intellectual frailties of rest of the human race. You don't just ask people to take the OTF as an intellectual experiment in their own minds, you set yourself up as a neutral, "outside" observer, when in fact you are a passionate, highly partisan, opponent of Christianity. If the human race is as irrational as you say, then you are going to be hard-pressed to explain how intellectual saints such as yourselves can emerge from such a murky intellectual swamp.

There is no real outside when it comes to belief systems. We do what we can to try to be objective. We can't do better than our best.

Your position is a faith stance just as much as Billy Graham's is. Your refusal to admit as much changes nothing.

Eric said...

"Eric, I think it's reasonable to think a particular idea or theory is false if it cannot be justified."

John, I tend to agree, but it seems to me as if the OTF doesn't necessarily show for any theist that his faith is unjustified, but that he hasn't been consistent in the application of the generally accepted principles of intellectual inquiry.

Here's an example of what I mean: Let's say I, as a Christian, take the OTF. Now part of that will certainly involve my taking a look at the Bible. I'm not a student of textual criticism, so I may reach any number of conclusions that would seem to disconfirm my faith. But would that entail that Christianity as such, as far as the textual critical issues are concerned, is unjustified? Well, here's where we alter the thought experiment: It's not me taking this part of the OTF as a Christian, but Daniel Wallace.

See my problem? You could replace a Christian ignorant of science with Francis Collins or John Polkinghorne for the scientific issues the OTF would raise for a Christian, or Swinburne, Plantinga, Reppert, Moser, etc. could replace the Christian ignorant of philosophy for the philosophical issues raised by a Christian's taking the OTF, and so on.

Just because any particular Christian cannot pass some part of the OTF he's taking doesn't entail, it seems to me, that Christianity is unjustified.

Does that make sense?

John W. Loftus said...

Vic, I am really surprised by your ignorance. I do not have a belief system. I reject faith. This is not merely two different language games. It's a matter of understanding basic definitional distinctions which, if they are denied make no sense of the terms believer and non-believer, theist or atheist, and skeptic.

In any case, about human irrationality, this is something we should agree about--who told you I thought otherwise?


You don't understand the implications of the book "Mistakes Were Made but Not by Us" for your faith. We're all in the same epistemological boat and yet you don't understand what that means. It means we're all in the same boat. Again for emphasis, WE ARE ALL IN THE SAME BOAT.

That's how human beings think. The sciences conclusively show that this is how we all think. Except that people who think better than others are the very ones who understand this about ourselves. For once someone understands what the sciences tell us a person informed about this will question that which he claims to know. Such a person will be more demanding of hard cold evidence before concluding much of anything. Such a person will, in the end, be a skeptic.

You just doesn't get it. We are all in the same boat THEREFORE we should be a skeptics. It's the only reasonable position to take based on the sciences. The only way to escape this conclusion is to reject the sciences.

Fishermage said...

I don't usually make judgments based on anecdotal evidence at all, to the best of my knowledge -- or at least I try not to.

I do however make tentative judgments based upon my observations.

I don't consider whether petitionary prayer is effective at all; it's not relevant to my views. I don't care about hits and misses; for me, prayer is merely to draw myself closer to God in my own heart.

As far as not knowing what I am talking about, perhaps that's true, but you certainly haven't made any point that reveals this.

I just don't think you are qualified to give the outsider test to anyone; you aren't an outsider -- as your behavior shows. Again this comes from what I have seen of you thus far; nothing anecdotal -- reading your words here and there.

You thus far seem to be an evangelist for a non-religious metaphysical position that you have staked out and as such are no skeptic.

I haven't seen anything from you to think otherwise.

John W. Loftus said...

Eric, what you said makes sense, yes, and in fact that's what people do who specialize in certain fields but lean on conservatives in other fields do. That's why Vic is a specialist in natural theology but believes anyway because he's not a Biblical scholar.

That's where I come in. I'm a counter-apologist. I specialize in all things Christian, although actually achieving this is beyond any mortal that's what I'm trying to do.

But in any specific field Dan Wallace needs to take Bart Ehrman's arguments seriously.If he did so then he could say his scholarship in defending the OTF was tested.

All a person can do is what he can do. If it appears to him from his study of the issues that his faith fails then he cannot say justifiably tell himself that although he cannot answer the questions others probably can. Otherwise I suppose anyone can believe anything that doesn't make sense by saying someone else can probably make sense of it.

Does that make sense to you?

John W. Loftus said...

Tell ya what then Fishermage, let's ignore one another from now on. Three ignorant comments in a row from you is enough for me. You really ought to question whether your thinking skills are up to evaluating your faith.

Fishermage said...

Well, I don't believe in ignoring interesting characters, and you certainly ARE that.

You may feel free to ignore me any time, Brother John.

Victor Reppert said...

Dan Wallace wrote a detailed rebuttal to Ehrman's arguments. What in the world makes you think he doesn't take Ehrman's arguments seriously.

I know enough biblical scholarship to be able to detect unsupported presuppositions and hostility bias in the writings of people like Tobin, Carrier and Price, and Babinski, people you trusted to write the Bible chapters in The Christian Delusion.

You are not a real outsider. You are not coming from another planet, or even another culture. You are far from non-partisan. You are, like most skeptics about Christianity, very selectively skeptical. You are a former fundamentalist who has changed his brand of fundamentalism.

Eric said...

"But in any specific field Dan Wallace needs to take Bart Ehrman's arguments seriously."

I agree.

"All a person can do is what he can do. If it appears to him from his study of the issues that his faith fails then he cannot say justifiably tell himself that although he cannot answer the questions others probably can."

Again, I agree. But this seems to lead not to the conclusion, say, for the Christian who takes the OTF, that Christianity is unjustified, but that some particular Christian's faith is unjustified. I agree that we can't just sit back and say that someone else probably has the answers I lack, but I'm having a difficult time understanding how you get to the conclusion that P is unjustified from the premise that some particular person S has an unjustified belief that P. Let me clarify that:

(1) If S fails the OTF for his belief B, then S's belief that B is true is unjustified.

(2) S fails the OTF for his belief B.

(3) Therefore, anyone who believes B holds an unjustified belief that B.

The conclusion doesn't follow, right? What follows is,

(3') Therefore, S's belief that B is true is unjustified.

You seemed to me to be saying, in the post I referenced earlier on this thread, that (3) follows, e.g. if *a* Christian takes and fails the OTF, then Christianity is unjustified, but that's not the case, as I showed above. (If I misunderstood you, let me know.) Now we cannot go from (3') to (3), so it seems to me that anyone's failing the OTF cannot, as far as I understand it, logically imply that his belief is unjustified in itself, but only that he wasn't justified in holding it.

mattghg said...

No true Scotsman.

- No Chrstian could really do the OTF and remain a Christian.
- What about Victor? He did the OTF and came out fine.
- No, he didn't really do the OTF.
- How do you know?
- Because he's still a Christian.

Sheesh.

Jayman said...

John:

I don't think any so-called "revealed religion" can pass the OTF so none of them are justified.

In your opinion, is a man justified in his religious beliefs if he has a direct miraculous encouter? To take a biblical example, was the apostle Thomas unjustified in believing in the resurrection of Christ after he placed his hands in Christ's wounds? For the sake of this question, please assume that Thomas had just such an experience.

If you answer "yes" then clearly a revealed religion can pass the OTF in the case of at least some people. If you answer "no" then no belief at all can pass the OTB because all our beliefs are mediated through our senses.

You just doesn't get it. We are all in the same boat THEREFORE we should be a skeptics. It's the only reasonable position to take based on the sciences. The only way to escape this conclusion is to reject the sciences.

But wouldn't a skeptic entertain and possibly adopt an anti-realist approach to science? In The Christian Delusion you do not truly subject your belief in the external world to the OTB. You merely appeal to our everday experiences/intutions but don't truly consider whether those experiences are an illusion. Based on the arguments I've seen from you, you should be agnostic regarding the existence of the external world. Since science assumes the existence of the external world, you should also be an agnostic regarding the sciences. Yet, inexplicably in light of the above, you describe yourself as an adherent of weak scientism!

Anonymous said...

Oh boy. Where to begin with this nonsense.

* John keeps yelling about how a skeptic will demand evidence - but evidence is exactly what Christians, and others faiths, supply. Evidence ranging from philosophical argument to historical argument to even scientific argument to otherwise. If being a skeptic simply means "requiring evidence", then Victor Reppert is a skeptic, and so is practically every theist who disagrees with John.

* Note that John himself doesn't seem to understand a major point of "Mistakes Were Made but Not by Us". The "mistakes" in question are not beliefs borne of absolutely no evidence, but of having evidence and interpreting it poorly. Let me stress that: Merely having evidence does not solve the problem. And once again: If skepticism merely is the demand that one's beliefs should be bolstered by evidence, then almost all theists are skeptics anyway. Further, if skepticism is simply the recognition that, while you may have this or that belief, you may be wrong - surprise! Almost all theists are skeptics anyway, and quite a number of atheists are seemingly not.

* John repeatedly makes a puppet of "science", yelling about what "science says" and "science shows". But "science" doesn't say anything. Scientists do. The evidence does not interpret itself - humans (we fallible creatures) do. And to merely disagree with how to interpret the evidence is not to "reject science", anymore than Einstein 'rejected science' by not accepting the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics.

* Just ask yourself this: Does John seem like a skeptic? And by this I mean, someone who recognizes that his views of others (Like Victor), himself, and his beliefs (Do you really believe John has no beliefs that are not 100% certain?) could be - and indeed, if he truly accepted the conclusions of the 'scientists' he's talking about, likely are - mistaken? Does it seem as if John is deluding himself, committing himself to certainty about himself and others, when the very evidence he cites should chasten him and make him skeptical of those beliefs, and allow for doubt?

At this rate, John could make it into a sequel to "Mistakes were made but not by us". Not as an advocate, but as an ironic example of someone afflicted with the problems they highlight.

John W. Loftus said...

"Do you really believe John has no beliefs that are not 100% certain?"

I am as certain as you are that people are wasting time and money on cold fusion. I know someone is making headway in that field so don't get me wrong. I am as certain that your faith is wrong as I am that Scientology or Mormonism is wrong.

We are all justifiably certain that some ideas and theories are wrong. It's easy to do. We merely conclude the case has not been made.

But these are not beliefs of mine. I am not affirming anything. I'm denying something. I deny the cases have been made. Some cases I have never even considered before but tell me of them and I'll deny them with the wave of my hand without further thought. We all do this. So I am not doing anything out of the ordinary when I do so.

Take what happened at Custer's Last Stand as an example. What happened? Well I know for certainty what did not happen and I could name you off hand about a hundred things that did not happen. Jesus didn't appear and kill his company. THAT didn't happened. My great great great grandmother was not killed there. And on and on and on I could go.

But once I switch to making a positive or affirmative case for what did happen at Custer's Last Stand I am on different territory. There is a great amount of debate about it and the cases made seem reasonable. It's hard to know what exactly did happen. But it's easy to know what did not happen. We do it all of the time. Christians are in the position of arguing what happened in the Bible, repeatedly, over and over, and that their historically conditioned understanding of these texts is the correct one. Coupled with the extraordinary claims found in it that are similar to what we read in other ancient cultures, claims we deny when others make them. I can easily deny the case they make much as I can deny the case that Mormon's make.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Peer review is a good outsider test for X. Submit the OTF to a peer-reviewed journal to see if it can pass the outsider test for outsider tests.

Anonymous said...

I am as certain as you are that people are wasting time and money on cold fusion. I know someone is making headway in that field so don't get me wrong. I am as certain that your faith is wrong as I am that Scientology or Mormonism is wrong.

Unless you know who I am, John, you don't know my faith, my thoughts on cold fusion, or really all that much else. This is just yet more (in this case, modest) evidence that you either don't understand or are equivocating on quite a lot of ideas that are central to your claims. (Belief system, faith, science, and more.)

I believe "Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me)" talks about this sort of thing.

We are all justifiably certain that some ideas and theories are wrong. It's easy to do. We merely conclude the case has not been made.

No, John. There is a difference, a huge one, between "I am justifiably certain that these ideas and theories are wrong" and "I conclude the case for this idea or theory has not been made". Again, you either are lacking some very basic knowledge, or you're equivocating. To conclude (aka, believe) a case has not been made allows for the possibility of truth of the claim, and even admits that the evidence can be read as supporting the claim to various degrees of strength, but this or that threshold of certainty has not been reached. Being "justifiably certain that a theory or belief is wrong" closes the door on that. It marks the end of a skeptical stance.

But these are not beliefs of mine. I am not affirming anything. I'm denying something. I deny the cases have been made. Some cases I have never even considered before but tell me of them and I'll deny them with the wave of my hand without further thought. We all do this. So I am not doing anything out of the ordinary when I do so.

John, you have to be aware of this: You can both deny something, yet have beliefs involved in your denial. You can't even evaluate whether or not a case has been made without having both beliefs and a belief system. And once you admit this - and really, you've already admitted this just by saying that you come to conclusion, that you evaluate questions by given standards, and more - the game is over for your arguments here. You do have beliefs, a belief system, and faith after all.

What's more, I admit that you're not doing anything out of the ordinary. In fact, what you're doing is very common, and is talked about extensively in 'Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me)'. You are obfuscating, applying unequal standards (THOSE people have beliefs and belief systems, but me, I don't have either of those things! Why, I DENY things, I don't BELIEVE things!), and it's becoming difficult to discern to what degree you're aware of your failings here.

But what I find very odd is that your response to a book covering scientific studies on the sheer extent (both in terms of depth and breadth) of human capacities for self-delusion, about being certain about things despite clearly being wrong, is to run around talking about your certainty of knowing how so many people who disagree with you are wrong, how all these various beliefs are wrong, your knowing what people you don't even know (myself and others in this thread) REALLY think, your knowing (with certainty!) why you hold the views you do, and so on. This is like someone reading the book and saying, "Whew, now I see why all those people I disagree with act the way they do!"

What you're displaying here is not skepticism, John. It's just another brand of fundamentalism, as others have pointed out. Do you know it, or are you actually unaware of this failing? I have my opinion.

But I'm not certain.

Victor Reppert said...

Every denial is, implicitly, the affirmation of the contradictory proposition. Elementary logic.

John W. Loftus said...

Look there are cults. There is a sociological definition of them and a theological definition. Theologically a cult has a heretical theology, while some sociologically definitions include such things as being brainwashed with a charismatic leader, and so forth.

Am I a fundamentalist? I'm certainly not one theologically. The sociological definitions must therefore apply. But when it comes to these definitions who really cares if I am? Why should that even matter at all? I am who I am. This is probably my personality, and if you believe in God my upbringing and genetic make-up gave me this personality. If nothing else I cannot change it now any more than you can. Try it and let me know the result. So I cannot do differently. Want to fault me for who I am? Go ahead, all you want to. But you must still deal with my arguments. So in the end that is an ad hominem argument against me and irrelevant to the case I make. Try sticking to the case next time okay, if you want me to respond.

Actually I deny I am a sociological fundamentalist. I was a liberal. I hang out with liberals, I spoke at the SBL annual meeting with liberals, and my next book has a chapter by a liberal. I have a conference call with the students in Dan Lambert's classes after every semester where he uses my book. He and I are collaborating on a joint seminar at a prestigious Religion and Society Conference in January, and another Christian scholar yet to be named is co-writing a book with me.

Does that sound like a fundamentalist? granted I come here white hot sometimes but I maintain that when I do it's because of Vic's ignorance, even if I do like him personally.

"You do have beliefs, a belief system, and faith after all."

*Sigh*

I have a worldview, yes. But I am a non-believer. I no more believe in supernatural beings and forces (which is what it usually means to have a religion) than you are a non-believer who does not.

I do not have the space or the time to clarify further. Any attempt to define the words religion, believer, non-believer, skepticism than means anything must use the terms in appropriate ways.

You do not. I cannot help you see that. That should end that.

John W. Loftus said...

Oh, and while I was commenting there goes another round of Vic's ignorance.

He thinks a denial is an affirmation.

Sheesh. I'm so glad I left that mind set.

Victor Reppert said...

More precisely, it entails an affirmation. Thus to deny

1) God exists.

entails the affirmation

2) God does not exist.

What could possibly be the objectino here?

John W. Loftus said...

The ignorance is in thinking such a logical thing is relevant. Technically speaking your right, but then you'd be right if you interjected that swans are white too. I would say what relevance doe that have to what we're talking about.

Then there is the problem of language itself. You are making an affirmative case on behalf of something. I am denying it, while most others in the world have never heard of it, don't understand it, and/or ignore it.

next

John W. Loftus said...

So the real distinction is between an affirmative case and one that has not been sufficiently made. That's what the real difference is.

John W. Loftus said...

So you affirm the Pope can fly. I deny it. And you come around saying I have a belief in the non-flying ability of the Pope?

That's just ignorance sophistry to make your belief seem respectable.

John W. Loftus said...

I emphatically deny the language game of my having a belief in the non-flying ability of the Pope. That's a propositional statement which really means you have not made your case. I do not believe you.

Victor Reppert said...

I suspect that affirmative vs. negative counts for something, but the presumption of a "default" position based on affirmative vs. negative strikes me as based on an oversimplification. For example, someone who says "The physical world exists" is making an affirmative claim, while someone who is making the claim "The physical world does not exist" is not making an affirmative claim. And both sides can account for our experience, so you can't just kick a stone and expect to refute Berkeley. Proof-burdens are pretty context-dependent and person-relative, and I maintain this not as a religious person, but as someone who took epistemology and probability courses in graduate school.

Alvin Plantinga started with the idea of belief in God as properly basic, but then had to work through all the extant epistemological theories to develop his overall epistemology.

My charge of fundamentalism is based on observing you in dialogue, particularly the refusal on your part to question and doubt your own arguments, and to acknowledge legitimate points on the other side. Worse, at times you say this is all about persuasion, which to my mind undermines the appeal to intellectual honesty which is what I consider to be the legitimate core of the OTF.

John W. Loftus said...

"..particularly the refusal on your part to question and doubt your own arguments, and to acknowledge legitimate points on the other side."

There are not many legitimate points on your side, but I have done so.

And I don't know what it could possibly mean to doubt my doubts, or to be skeptical of skepticism, or to disbelieve the sciences. It's like asking me to question the basis for thinking itself, or asking me to doubt the virtues of skepticism. I can't do that. What's the alternative?

Care to make sense of any of that?

"Proof-burdens are pretty context-dependent and person-relative, and I maintain this not as a religious person, but as someone who took epistemology and probability courses in graduate school."

Okay, here I definitely agree, yes. And I based my book WIBA on this understanding. And I did an analysis of what this means for Christianity. There are proper distinctions to be made between positive affirmations and denials, probabilities and possibilities, and extraordinary claims and ordinary claims. I made these distinctions there.

"Worse, at times you say this is all about persuasion, which to my mind undermines the appeal to intellectual honesty which is what I consider to be the legitimate core of the OTF."

I know your faith is wrong, false, delusional to the core. I know much more than I can say and I can say much more than I can write (via Michael Polanyi). I say as much as I can but in the end the intellectually honest thing is to admit much of what we do is to persuade others precisely because human beings are so inept at thinking and weighing the evidence. And in the process I do offer good arguments anyway.

If you think it's intellectual dishonest to persuade people of an opinion then tell me you would never do it. Tell me this in the context of someone about to rape a child, strap a bomb to his chest, abuse children by telling them they're going to hell, swat his wife, or vote for the political candidate who will take our country to disaster, or be a politician of any kind?

You can claim the high moral ground here but this is utter stupidity, the kind theists are forced into to defend their faith. It makes otherwise brilliant people like you look stupid.

Anonymous said...

I have a worldview, yes. But I am a non-believer. I no more believe in supernatural beings and forces (which is what it usually means to have a religion) than you are a non-believer who does not.

I never said you were a (theistic?) "believer", John. Nor did I say word one about supernatural beings and forces. You are the one who said you had no beliefs, period. No belief system. No faith. And again: That is demonstrably untrue, and equivocations won't change this. I think you realize that now, hence admitting that you have a worldview.

What's a worldview? "One's personal view of the world and how one interprets it; The totality of one's beliefs about reality; A general philosophy or view of life"

You, John, have beliefs. You have a belief system. Again, do you realize that your equivocations, your getting worked up and saying that these are all "word games" and that everyone else is wrong and you are right, could pretty much be pulled right out of "Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me)"? And that's assuming you aren't consciously engaging in sophistry here. It's hard to tell, and one more time: I'm not certain.

And I don't know what it could possibly mean to doubt my doubts, or to be skeptical of skepticism, or to disbelieve the sciences.

Who has told you to do this? Where? The problem isn't that you have doubts (If that made someone a skeptic, then most theists are skeptics by admission), or saying you should disbelieve the sciences (Again, "the sciences" don't talk. People do. People make observations. If you think being a scientist or having a scientific belief makes one immune from delusion, again, read the book you've cited.) It's been pointed out that when you say things like...

I know your faith is wrong, false, delusional to the core.

..You are not a skeptic on that topic. To KNOW something is "wrong, false, delusional to the core" is to have a belief (in this case, a tremendously strong one, one that allows for no possibility of being wrong) and word games won't dismiss that. If you say it's impossible to lack at least some beliefs like that - if it's impossible to say "Well, I could be wrong. I don't know for certain. This is what I evaluate, this is what I think is the case given my knowledge and other beliefs, but I believe I'm fallible", then you are denying the possibility of being a skeptic in the true sense of the word. Down goes your argument here from another angle - you no longer embrace skepticism or doubt. You embrace certainty, belief, and faith that's merely of a different type than people you disagree with. A case could be made there, but it would have to be a different case than you've put forth.

Anonymous said...

If you think it's intellectual dishonest to persuade people of an opinion then tell me you would never do it. Tell me this in the context of someone about to rape a child, strap a bomb to his chest, abuse children by telling them they're going to hell, swat his wife, or vote for the political candidate who will take our country to disaster, or be a politician of any kind?

John, the fact that you have to bring up context at all - to admit that even you think that persuading a person not due to reason or honest argument depends on the situation - would only bolster Victor's point. Because then we would have to look at the context you are, by your own admission, using your tactics in.

Your defense here could be put this way: "Okay, fine, now and then I shoot people in the head. Are you saying it's WRONG to shoot people in the head, Victor? What if it was someone who was about to press a button that would start a global nuclear war? Would you try to claim the moral high ground with you "you shouldn't shoot people in the head" posturing THEN?"

All Victor has to say is, "John, the context here is you're standing on top of a tower aiming at random children in a park." to shut you down.

Anonymous said...

What's so special about the outsider test? Isn't it just about thinking hard, minimizing ones presuppositions, and drawing valid conclusions from premises that are reasonably (don't have to be certain) true? Isn't this what thoughtful people already do? What am I missing here?