Sunday, December 26, 2010

Contingency, Science, and the OTF

No John, you're missing the point. What we have is a failure to communicate. In my view the question of who "I" would be in another culture is difficult to raise meaningfully because not only does the religion of choice change, but also the freedom to question one's beliefs differs. So saying that I would be a Muslim in a Saudi society doesn't mean a whole lot because the freedom to so much as question Islam is not granted. What makes someone in a Muslim or a Mormon culture me? Possible world semantics has the problem of identifying either persons or counterparts across possible worlds. When people make statements like "If you had been born in Saudi Arabia you would have been a Muslim," we need an account of the counterpart relation. 

My next point is that I have been influenced by a lot of other things besides my upbringing. My home church exposed me both to liberal Methodist theology and conservative evangelicalism. So it was not monolithic; it was a mixed bag. Lots of people grow up Christians and leave the fold, sometimes because of unbelief, and sometimes just they drift away without really thinking very hard about it. I was NEVER an unquestioning believer and I always took anything that seemed to me like brainwashing very ill. So the meaningful question is whether someone coming out of the Saudi Islamic community who questioned their religion as much as I did would come out as a Muslim. And the answer seems to me to be that a questioner like me would not be welcome in the Saudi community. I would be forced either to stop questioning or leave the fold. So there is no Saudi counterpart to me in any sense that is meaningful to the justification of my religious beliefs. My religious beliefs were, right from age 18, consistently exposed to criticisms from, I won't say all sides, but by many sides. It's anybody's guess how I would have evaluated the evidence had my ideas been formed in some other intellectually open environment. 

So I never said that I would still be a Christian philosopher like myself if I had grown up in the Saudi culture. You are reading me in a delusional way, I hate to say it, when you say that. 

You also missed my point about bad experiences. The point is that there are contingencies in all of our backgrounds, and if contingencies are sufficient to call beliefs into question, then your beliefs would be just as questionable as mine. But contingencies, in and of themselves, are not sufficient to call beliefs into question. 

So you, thinking your way from inside Christianity, assuming that it was true, concluded that it was all false. Fine, I am sure this was a serious intellectual effort. However, nothing guarantees that our intellectual journey will reach the right destination. It isn't humanly possible to consider all the relevant parameters. We call it as we see it, but nothing guarantees our infallibility, even if we end up crossing the aisle. Otherwise, Antony Flew's journey to theism or C. S. Lewis's journey from atheism to theism to Christianity would be proof that theism and Christianity are true. The idea that you MUST have reasoned correctly because you left the fold, and were motivated not to leave just doesn't hold water. 

But then you say, well, what we have to do is to go by the sciences. But whose sciences? The science of Francis Collins, or the science of P. Z. Myers? The science of John Polkinghorne, or the science of Victor Stenger? The science of Michael Behe, or the science of Richard Dawkins? Questions of religion are not strictly speaking scientific questions (unless one operates with an expanded notion of science, an idea that I am not unfriendly to, actually, but other people scream bloody murder when I suggest it), so you have to extrapolate from the sciences in order to get any kind of results. And then you have to ask questions as to why matter exists, or, further, why science exists. I have argued that if "scientific" naturalism is true, then it is not possibly true that humans literally add, subtract, multiply, divide, and take square roots of numbers. Hence if scientific naturalism is true, then science itself cannot exist. As I see it, the Christian world-view is the scientific world-view. Modern science was founded on the Christian watch, and presupposes a rational universe and rational minds to understand that universe that we would have no reason to believe in unless there is a God. 

The fact that you think that my recitation of something that is pretty much standard philosophy of science is some kind of tirade against science shows that you don't understand the very science that you claim to believe in so strongly. Richard Swinburne's philosophical theology is the most comprehensive attempt to bring scientific thinking to religious questions, but I know you don't like his conclusions. You see, when you say "follow science," what I fear is that a "heads I win, tails you lose" game is being set up. If I point to something in science that supports religion, you say "That's not science." If you point to something in science that refutes religion, then it is science. 

41 comments:

Bob Prokop said...

If religion (and Christianity, specifically) is supposedly so anti-science, then how do we explain:

Copernicus - discoverer of the solar system, and a Catholic

Isaac Newton - developer of calculus, and a Christian

Gregor Mendel - pioneer of genetics, and a Catholic

Max Planck - discoverer of quantum mechanics and modern physics in general, and a warden in his church

Faraday - pioneer in study of electricity, and a Presbyterian

Kepler - mathematician and astronomer, and a Christian

etc., etc., etc.

And these were not just "nominal" or "cultural" Christians. They were active, committed believers.

Oh, why do I bother? The plain fact is, there is NO conflict between science and religion.

NONE!

Boz said...

OP said: "In my view the question of who "I" would be in another culture is difficult to raise meaningfully because ..."

Victor, I agree. We are products of our DNA and our environment. If either of these change (and the life is re-run from the beginning), the outcome will be a completely different person.

Also, to be charitable to the OTF, we could re-word the statement as "If a person is born in Saudi Arabia they would be a Muslim", and the argument is unaffected.

Walter said...

Oh, why do I bother? The plain fact is, there is NO conflict between science and religion.

NONE!


I guess that you did not grow up in a fundamentalist household that held YEC views like I did? There most definitely was a conflict between what I was learning in the classroom and what I was being told from the pulpit.

As to your many examples of great scientists, is it not possible that they achieved great things despite their religious beliefs and not because of them?

Doug Benscoter said...

For these scientists, it was actually their belief in God that led to their conclusion that the universe was (and is) ordered and intelligible. Religious belief, though not necessarily YEC, provides a rational foundation to belief in a rational world.

normajean said...

These genetic fallacy stunts may go away if the rumors are true about ridiculous numbers of people going Christian in China AND Arab countries around the world, yalla =D

WAR_ON_ERROR said...

It seems Loftus has exhausted his ability to meaningfully interact with you.

Your point about the differences when there is a variety of enculturalization is well taken. I think it is probably still somewhat meaningful even for an intellectual Christian with a diverse background to more probably end up as a Christian thinker in the United States than a Muslim thinker, but at some point John's brute attack at culture bias needs to be tempered with addressing the arguments you present in defense of your worldview. I'm sure he's hit up the argument from reason somewhere (and others), so it seems you two are just butting heads for no particular reason. Enjoy.

Ben

GREV said...

Anyone been reading God's Undertaker or Why There Almost Certainly is a God?

GREV said...

Totally unrelated but getting into a new biography of Nietzsche.

Bob Prokop said...

Walter,

I will grant you that there is a conflict between SOME science and SOME religions (such as, say, between archaeology and Mormonism), but I will stand firm on my general point, which is there is no conflict whatsoever between belief in God and science.

I myself am an avid amateur astronomer. In addition to observing, I read a ridiculous number of books and periodicals on the subject. And for myself, the more I learn about our amazing universe, the more I see the truth of the psalm, which says "The Heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament His handiwork".

Anonymous said...

If Loftus had grown up in an oppressive, Islamic hell-hole, then he wouldn't be an atheist today.

Ergo, atheism is false.


QED

Winston Smith said...

The OTF is a smokescreen.

John Loftus has already clearly stated that even if he were to admit that Christianity had been proved to his presumed satisfaction, that he WOULD NOT follow it.

Moever, given his belief that we are here by chance...that is his word, "chance". and he explains it in the last chapter of his book WIBA...then his beliefs are UNFALSIFIABLE.

Before John congratulates himself, that is not a good thing.

Falsifiability, at least in principle, is a component of the Scientific Method, and distinguished it from "pseudo science".

Thus, since John's beliefs are not falsifiable...since he can always fall back on the mantra "chancedidit"...they are not SCIENTIFIC in any demonstrable sense.

Therefore, all of his "cumulative case" message is just so much posturing.

As such, the is NO PROOF for the existence of God and Christianity that he will accept...even in Principle...and therefore his DB Christianity challenge is also a fraud.

Am I wrong, John?

Then my CHALLENGE IS...give me an a example of some proof, at least in principle, if not in practice, that you will accept.

I will then show you how, according to your presupposition that "chancedidit" that you would not.

WAR_ON_ERROR said...

@Winston,

"John Loftus has already clearly stated that even if he were to admit that Christianity had been proved to his presumed satisfaction, that he WOULD NOT follow it."

Is that because he disagrees strongly with the morality of the Christian worldview? It only makes him look bad, if w/e reason he gives for not following it is bad. You don't even provide that reason for consideration, which makes it seem as though you are an untrustworthy source of mere uncritical slander.

Ben

Anonymous said...

Hey, "War on Error",

What is your picture supposed to be? A tree stump? A mushroom? A Snuggie with the arms folded in front? A snake looking straight at me? Those have been my best guesses so far.

WAR_ON_ERROR said...

Hey Anon,

I see you around the internet a lot. Practically everywhere. Maybe you are just jealous that I have a profile pic? :p

Ben

Bob Prokop said...

My own first impression was that it looked like an alien. But now that "anonymous" mentions it, I'll go along with mushroom!

Walter said...

I will grant you that there is a conflict between SOME science and SOME religions (such as, say, between archaeology and Mormonism), but I will stand firm on my general point, which is there is no conflict whatsoever between belief in God and science

I appreciate that modern-day Catholicism seems a little more "science friendly" than the fundamentalist Protestant Christianity of my youth.

Do you believe in a 4.5 billion year old earth and divinely guided evolution? If so, where does man's fall from grace fit into that framework? Do Catholics believe that God "ensouled" a couple of apes who then rebelled, causing God to curse all the descendants of those smart apes? Inquiring minds want to know. :)

Anonymous said...

"..where does man's fall from grace fit into that framework"

I choose to believe that time itself is fallen, and that therefore the Fall knocked man down into a different time-bound narrative altogether (i.e. the narrative in which some form of evolution gave rose to the species).

Bob Prokop said...

Walter,

To answer your questions, and speaking only for myself here.

I most certainly believe in an approximately 13.7 billion year old universe. I am a complete agnostic on the issue of “multiple universes” that some people use to get around the Beginning of Time problem.

I have no problem with the science of evolution. I do most definitely take issue with many of the pseudo-theological conclusions that are all too often drawn from evolution (such as humans being the result of random chance, the idea that we are merely animals and nothing more (read Chesterton to cure yourself of that notion), or the denial of a Divine Hand in the ordering and history of the universe and of life).

As to the Fall of Man, Victor will recall that way back in our college days, I said that the Fall was possibly the only part of Christian doctrine that was a self-evident fact, needing no argument or apologetics – just look around. Our fallen nature is screamingly obvious to any objective observer.

Concerning Adam and Eve, I regard that story as pure mythology – in C.S. Lewis’s sense of the word – mythology being a story that, while not literally true, nevertheless tells us a great Truth in a most effective way. By the way, I love how Lewis drew in all of humanity’s great stories into the Christian embrace by saying that they became, in a very specific way, literally true in the Gospel.

Morrison said...

WaronError, Winston has a point. I disagree that the reason is critical, because John clearly states in his book on "Reflection" (a follow up to WIBA) that it doesn't matter if Christianity is proved or not, he is not going to follow it.

So what if his reasoning has something to do with morality? He is a moral relativist, and I don't accept his being in a position to judge.

And given your own agenda, I frankly don't accept YOU as a realiable source, since there is no slander of John involved.

And, of course, you totally ignore the point that John's atheism, based as it is on "chancedidit" (hahaha, I like that) is in fact Unfalsifiable and thus not in any mainstream sense "scientific", even though he likes to pretend he is so "scientifically minded".

Thus, his debunking challenge is disingenous, at best.

I would like him see to meet Winston's challenge.

That is, give us an example of something that, at least theoretically of "in principle" as Winston puts it, would prove the existence of God.

He won't, because he can't.

No matter what happened he wouldn't believe.

Even if a man rose from the dead.

WAR_ON_ERROR said...

@Morrison

"So what if his reasoning has something to do with morality? He is a moral relativist, and I don't accept his being in a position to judge."

If Loftus' moral frame of reference is important to him, it's important to him. He is entitled to appeal to the people that happen to feel the same way at the expense of the value system of Christianity. If you get into the reasons why it is important to him, Christians might accidentally find common ground (beyond pointing and laughing at the word "relativism") which ends up backfiring on their own worldview. But that would be a well-worn debate for another day.

Ben

Anonymous said...

Since we're on the issue of the Fall:

How is the idea of all evil (moral evil + natural evil) originating via the Fall compatible with the fact of all of the animal suffering - predation, parasitism, extinction, diseases, etc. - that went on before the Fall? Indeed, things like predation and mass extinction are central to the very idea of evolution in the scientific sense.

Mind you, I'm no PETA member or "animal rights" extremist of the Peter Singer variety; you're not going to hear complaints from me about how "evil" I think the manner in which snakes kill mice is (suffice it to say, I simply find it immensely aesthetically displeasing). But I do think that, as creatures go up the ladder of sentience (e.g. dolphins, chimpanzees, elephants, dogs), this "problem of suffering" poses a legitimate problem for Christian theism. Clearly all evil did not originate via the Fall if some form of evolution is true, as predation is, for instance, central to the very idea of keeping Earth's animal population in check. But if so, where does it come from, if not from the first human wills? And (what I'm especially interested in) what must a robust Christian narrative look like that incorporates this fact?

Morrison said...

I notice that you are still ignoring the point that his atheism is Unfalsifiable and that there is nothing, even in theory (or, in Principle as Winston puts it) that he would accept as proof for the Existence of God.

As to John's moral frame of reference being important to him because it is important to him, well, that does not convince me.

John's standard is to "live life to the fullest" which, from what I have seen of his explanation of that in the first chapter of his book, seems to be pretty hedonistic.

But I don't really care that much, I want to see an example of something that he would accept as proof.

Bob Prokop said...

I think he'll get his "proof" one nanosecond after his death. (Don't get me wrong here, I'm not one of those who threaten non-believers with some sort of punishment in the afterlife. I'm just saying that there will be no denying the Truth at that point.)

Walter said...

As to the Fall of Man, Victor will recall that way back in our college days, I said that the Fall was possibly the only part of Christian doctrine that was a self-evident fact, needing no argument or apologetics – just look around. Our fallen nature is screamingly obvious to any objective observer.

Atheists can just claim that the world around us is evidence of our selfish, primate nature--that there is no reason to believe that we ever fell from a state of perfection. We never were perfect.

I also don't see how "original sin" can work unless you posit a single primordial pair of humans that contracted the "disease" of sin, then passed the "disease" on to their descendants. This seems to fly in the face of evolutionary theory which claims that modern humans did not descend from just two people.

Morrison said...

Amusing point, Bob, but I don't think John would accept even that as proof.

Even in hell, as a theoretical propostion, he can claim "I refuse to believe this is happening to me. I must have had a bad experience from anesthesia during that surgery for the knee replacement, and I will come out of it soon."

Years later, as we measure time, he could still be claiming, "This only seems like its forever. Its a nightmare. The doctors will bring me out of it soon. This can't be real."

Nope. There is no proof he will ever accept.

WAR_ON_ERROR said...

@Morrison:

"I notice that you are still ignoring the point that his atheism is Unfalsifiable"

If Loftus says he wouldn't follow Jesus even if he were proven to exist, that doesn't mean his atheism is unfalsifiable since theism being true is part of the hypothetical scenario...by definition. There's that whole ontology/relationship thing so often conflated.

Ben

Anonymous said...

Morrison didn't say that John's athesism was Unfalsifiable just because John said he would not follow Christianity even if he were to admit it had proved.

He also said it is unfalsifiable because John relies on "chancedidit" as an explanation for existence, life and mind. He falls back on that in the last chapter of WIBA.

So, he can always fall back on "chancedidit".

If you disagree, give us an example of something that could, given John's presuppositions, falsify his atheism.

It will then be demonstrated that your example fails.


A Real Freethinker, not a Fake One

WAR_ON_ERROR said...

@Anon,

Thanks for pointing that out.

I don't have my copy of WIBA with me at the moment, but if Morrison and Winston are referring to page 403 (as I can search on Amazon), Loftus is referring specifically to the teleological argument which is one among many and therefore shouldn't be used on Loftus' behalf to account for every possible configuration of evidence. If "chancedidit" is no better than "goddidit" then if we listen to our own criticisms consistently the logical thing to do would be to be an agnostic. Which is exactly what Loftus advocates repeatedly on behalf of the OTF as the default position.

It would not be hard to imagine a cosmology much like the Bible embraces with a flat earth and a hard sky (with waters stored above the firmament and God's house on top of that) like God's personal snow globe. Such evidence would strongly indicate that the earth was constructed and God's center of attention. Just because modern Christians have dropped those expectations and attempted to get out of what the Bible consistently says on the topic doesn't mean that wouldn't be a much better teleological evidential situation. Instead we get a vast, cold, a-centric killer cosmos that is much more amenable to "chancedidit" interpretations.

Just as an easy example from Loftus off the top of my head, if the evidence for young earth creationism had been persuasive instead of the strong indications of a much more ancient earth (as we see from his deconversion story), Loftus wouldn't have had as much a reason to doubt Christianity to begin with. He may have simply remained a backsliding, defunct pastor instead of an apostate without any intellectual legitimacy to his other subjective emotional circumstances. That's not uncommon among Christians even if Christians here feel free to speculate pejoratively against Loftus in particular.

Ben

Morrison said...

I am still waiting for an example of something that could, in principle at least, falsify atheism.

Crudely stated, Loftus relies on a verision of the "chance did it" argument in WIBA but more specifically he is relying on the concept that mindless undirected forces can account for all existence; the universe itself, life, mind, and reason itself.

And he relies on this despite the fact that he can not demonstrate it; in the process ignoring the mathematical order of the universe and the abscence of spontaneous generations by simply dismissing them.

A young earth would not change his mind, he would just rely on a different formulation of the "mindless forces" argument much as Stephen J Gould concocted "punctuated equilibrium" to explain unexpectedly rapid changes in the fossil record.

So, I am still waiting for an example of something that could in theory falsify atheism as presented by Loftus.

Morrison said...

I might add that a universe constructed much as you portray the Biblical Cosmology as representing, which I do no accept is a accurate representation of Biblical Cosmology (but which is a separate argument), could be explained in this way: "We have discovered that we are living in an environment that has been developed and maintained by an advanced alien species, which we can not presently identify."

And don't laugh, I have actually run into an atheist group on campus that maintains we were "seeded" here by an alien intelligence. Of course, the alien intelligence is, you guessed it, a product of mindless forces. The only difference is that they started evolving in another Galaxy over a Billion Years ago, so they are way ahead of us. LOL!

"chancedidit"

Undemonstrable, self refuting as to reason in particular, and thus Irrational.

WAR_ON_ERROR said...

@Morrison:

Perhaps I was unclear. Discovering that the evidence of the natural world supported a 10,000 year old "snow globe" cosmology (rather than a 14 billion year old 150 billion + light year wide universe of chaos) would probably falsify atheism for Loftus. Chance would fail to account for that arrangement of evidence in his view. Loftus would still find that God to be a jerk if various Biblical moral "truths" remained intact, but that would make him a maltheist, rather than an atheist.

I can email him and ask him if you like, though he's not fond of me for criticizing his book.

Ben

WAR_ON_ERROR said...

@Morrison:

Oops, didn't see your second post.

I've covered the issue of Biblical cosmology thoroughly on my blog, but we can set that aside if you like.

The alien hypothesis would have to be ruled out by any reasonable person, so no, I'm not going to laugh. However, a much more powerful being (or beings) responsible for the genesis of our world would be called "gods" by normal people.

If you are complaining that Loftus rejects the philosopher's god, it might be because he finds those definitions to be the equivalent of circular squares. The hypothetical evidence wouldn't be evidence, but instead mistakes in reasoning which would have to be demonstrated in argument form. I'm not sure you are waiting for something reasonable.

Ben

Morrison said...

War On Error, as I said, the representation of Biblical Cosmology is a separate argument, but I don't see how Loftus could rule out the "aliensdidit" idea given his assumptions.

Further, I have specifically challenged him to give an example of something that could falsify his atheism, but he reacted in such an angry way I realized that he knew I was onto something.

By the way, I sincerely like your "maltheist" idea! I am not familiar with that concept and will take a look at it.

WAR_ON_ERROR said...

@Morrison:

"Maltheism" isn't my invention, btw. As far as JudeoChristian theism is concerned, it is at least as old as the 1st century Gnostics who thought Yahweh was a lesser evil deity and that there was a greater perfect deity beyond the OT god's meddling (if I have my facts straight).

Loftus is immature, to be sure, and I've criticized him at length for it, insofar as it shows up in his books, and therefore reaped all the same juvenile insults he hurls at everyone else. I don't think that proves much other than his own slice of personal insecurity.

We could just as soon take all of his arguments from his "cumulative case" that he lays out in his book, WIBA and simply invert them for a compelling contrary case. Instead of mainstream Biblical scholarship supporting non-Christian views it could demonstrate them, instead of science being forced to rely on methodological naturalism we could find ourselves in the Hogwarts school of magic situation instead where we are always forced to test for magical explanations since they are so prevalent, instead of evolution being the scientific consensus special creation could, all of the philosophical proofs of God's existence could hold up to scrutiny and be vindicated by all of our top minds, we could find the Biblical moral paradigm the paragon of all goodness and impenetrable to any and all criticism by a landslide, etc. Pick a chapter of WIBA and reverse the implications. Add them up. That's your answer. If Loftus doesn't support that, then he's probably being as fundamentally unreasonable as many Christians claim.

Ben

Morrison said...

WOE, a very intriguing answer.

(And good stuff on Maltheism. I am starting to think that is what John REALLY is; again, though, irrationally since he is a moral relativist. Of course, that is yet another argument.)

However, I think "aliensdidit" could still refute every one of your points in your previous post.

And sure, such aliens might be seen as "gods", I think Isaac Asimov once proposed a similar idea, but they would not be the Creator God but would themselves be a product of, yep, mindless forces.

(John quips in his book about the joke "its turtles all the way down" but his position is its "chance all the way down"; or, more accurately, "mindless forces all the way down".)

But in fact, the point is that Loftus is unreasonable. His assumptions that mindless forces can account for existence, life, and reason are undemonstrable and self refuting.

He even says in WIBA, and I don't have it with me but will pull it out later, that he had to finally fall back on "chance" because nothing else worked for him.

As a famous man once said, "They won't believe, even if one rises from the dead".

The bottom line is that Loftus doesn't want it, and thinks he has insulated himself from ultimate accountability before God by his "chance" mantra.

So, I would tend to agree that there is much more going on here than meets the eye.

Morrison said...

By the way, not to be picky, but my argument about the atheism Loftus claims to believe is based on his assumptions, not the reverse assumptions that you lay out, so actually you are arguing a different case.

However, I think I can show that case is also unfalsifiable.

More later.

Morrison said...

By the way, not to be picky, but my argument about the atheism Loftus claims to believe is based on his assumptions, not the reverse assumptions that you lay out, so actually you are arguing a different case.

However, I think I can show that case is also unfalsifiable.

More later.

WAR_ON_ERROR said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
WAR_ON_ERROR said...

@Morrison:

I don't know how Loftus would answer the question you posed. You say he freaked out, and perhaps he did. I'm just offering the most obvious response from his perspective.

"Aliensdidit" could account for a lot of a reverse WIBA evidential situation, but couldn't account for the philosophical proofs working out. And the philosophy of supreme chance vs. supreme teleology is the focus of your "attack" on Loftus. Is the fact that a circle cannot also be a square unfalsifiable? We might wake up tomorrow and realize our definitions are actually compatible. There are many elements of the philosopher's god that appear to be logical contradictions of that sort (atemporality, divine simplicity, immaterialness, the logical problem of evil,etc.), so if "chancedidit" is the only other option, then are we not allowed to conclude it for some reason? And again, Loftus has repeatedly said the default position is agnosticism. Not "chancedidit," atheism, or metaphysical naturalism. Perhaps all these things are too difficult for humans to discern. Well, okay. Why are we blaming Loftus for that?

It is silly to say, but Loftus has relationships with people. Like his wife, family, friends, co-workers. He doesn't come up with philosophical disproofs of everyone just because (even though there are philosophical perspectives available to that end). That's basically what the accusations against him are like in regards to the Christian god question like he would just have to refute literally any evidential situation, even if we could come up with some philosophical technicality to eek out of the most absolute version of it.

I think someone said above that Loftus wouldn't believe even if he were burning in hell in the presence of God. Really? How could someone possibly know that? Those are just the kinds of things hostile ideological opponents say about each other that are silly and unproductive. It is a flagrant cognitive bias to say that because you don't personally think much of philosophical arguments x, y, and z that no one else possibly could. People are different. That doesn't make them dishonest.

Ben

Morrison said...

WOE, of course Loftus could have a different take on, or reaction to, a phenomema than I would.

But, given his undemonstrable assummptions that all existence, life, mind, and reason itself are the result of mindless processess, he would have no logical base for doing so.

Whether the arguments were philosophical, or experiential, or some combination thereof, they would could still be related back to his assumptions.

And the fact that he can not demonstrate his assumptions (and does not have scientific training but says that we MUST "trust science") but simply dismisses that criticism shows that he is in fact dishonest...expeciallly when combined with his own admitted lies, and actions he has taken against others. (And sure, he has relationships, but in his own book he admits that he betrayed his closet relationships.)

"Chancedidit". CHANCE is the very word he chose in WIBA...there is a reason for that.

That is what his argument comes down to in WIBA.

(Of course, even he does not really believe that, that is why he is "without excuse")

WAR_ON_ERROR said...

But Morrison,

I don't think slandering one atheist means that the philosophical arguments in WIBA against the existence of the Christian god means those arguments are less defensible than their Christian counterpart arguments (especially since Loftus is often quoting other atheists). I don't know what assumptions you are speaking of and the terms of this discussion are too vague to continue on as they now stand.

I don't think you've shown that Loftus lies all the time or betrays his relationships all the time or as though he never matures or learns his lesson in any way at all. Clearly he has standards of evidence and does not default to philosophically refuting everything he doesn't like out of existence. Does he like Republicans? No. He still thinks they exist.

It remains logically possible to honestly believe your philosophical arguments negate the logical possibility of encountering evidence that can persuade you otherwise such as in the example of ever meeting a circular square even if you happen to be mistaken in your reasoning. You presumably don't agree with the many atheist arguments to that end, but many atheists (including myself) do. This does not seem to be coherently factored into your account of Loftus as a reasonable possibility and the assumption of conspiracy/guilt is only one possible explanation of his behavior.

I'm sure that suits Christian audiences who prefer to believe that, but I don't see that it has been reasonably established. Since I don't think it really matters in the grand scheme of things (since Loftus doesn't speak for all atheists), I'm just going to leave you to your opinion if you don't mind (or unless you have something constructive to add).

Ben