Friday, January 14, 2011

A critique of the Loftus' argument that science debunks Christianity

I was going to do this myself, but CL beat me to it.

9 comments:

John W. Loftus said...

Any careful reader will see that what I said is not addressed head on in your link. Besides, to me it's like Mormons claiming that science doesn't do what it has done. Yeah, right. These are my claims. I cannot say all I know in one post. My conclusions come from years of study. Books have been written in defense of these claims. I've got better things to do right now than bother writing a booklet type of a response.

Alert: I am inundated by challenges like these almost everyday. I can only respond to a few. When I do I trash the opposition. Because of this my detractors will unjustifiably think that the person with the last word is right. Such stupidity is revealed if so.

What surprises me is the level of ignorance Vic has in thinking this post he links to does anything to exonerate his faith. It's exactly what Jason Long said in his chapter for The Christian Delusion based on good solid scholarship that looking for answers when in need of resolving cognitive dissonance is like eating anything you can get your hands on when extremely hungry. Have a banquet here Vic if this is what satisfies your need.

John W. Loftus said...

For anyone wishing to see mainline scholarship on these questions watch these two programs and get back with me. While you're looking into this, read the books by Israel Finklestein, William Dever and Hector Avalos. You might also read my books.

steve said...

Read books by John Currid, Kenneth Kitchen, James Hoffmeier, Alan Millard, Richard Hess, &c.

Victor Reppert said...

First, can the Mormon comparisons. Mormons for the most part avoid claiming that historical evidence supports Mormonism. Their apologetics consists of arguments to the effect that their religion isn't refuted by counterevidence, and that their beliefs are positively confirmed by one's own personal "testimony." What Mormons have been doing with the DNA claim has been to retreat from the historic Mormon position where contemporary Native Americans are identified as Lamanites, that is, descendants of people who were written about in the Book of Mormon. I think it slightly preposterous to suggest that the epistemic situation of Christianity is really no different from Mormonism.

I don't see anything in archaeology that suggests that the Exodus can be disproven in the same way that the historical Mormon claim that Native Americans are Lamanites has been disproven. At most, perhaps we don't have the confirmation we wish we had. It would be nice if you have the kind of archaeological confirmation for the whole Bible that you have for the second half of Acts of the Apostles (a confirmation that, of course, gets pooh-poohed whenever it is mentioned), but alas, we don't have anything that good for the Exodus. (It is interesting how, when archaeology confirms the Bible, it is not important, but when archaeology fails to confirm the Bible, it's important. Heads I win....).

I would say that I do agree with the writer of this critique in that I think that you show a lack of discernment in perceiving wider implications for scientific discoveries. My favorite example was where you grabbed onto an ABC News article about the genetic basis for infidelity, and treated it like established science, not noticing that it's too early in the game to be making those sorts of pronouncements. As an example of someone, also an atheist and a practicing scientist, who is far better than you are at drawing careful implications from scientific developments, I would mention Blue Devil Knight.

Your mention of years of study is simply an appeal to your own authority, and for reasons I noted above, I am less than impressed. Going from science to broader implications involves two steps which have to be done carefully. First, you have to be sure that this is really good science, and you have to have a sense of how wide of support it has within the scientific community. Second, you have to be able to see how much real support the science actually provides to the claim you want to defend. Even fundamentalists insist that you have to exegete Bible passages if you want to use them. The same holds true, surely, for the Book of Science.

Anonymous said...

Loftus wrote, "I cannot say all I know in one post."

Are you sure? Blogspot allows over four thousand characters in a comment, you know.

Anonymous said...

John Loftus should just write a book and spare us all the blizzard of comments.

Anonymous said...

Hey everyone, make sure you check out Loftus' books.

He's never got the time to ever provide anything remotely resembling a good argument on blogs and such, but thats only because he's so busy penning his awesome books which are full of persuasive reasons why his position is so irrefutable!

cl said...

Victor,

Hey, thanks for the mention. I was wondering where the spike in traffic came from.

Along the lines of what we've been talking about, here's something else seemingly small that I think actually speaks volumes. As opposed to feeding your readers a pre-canned conclusion, you, in the title of your rebuttal to John's unjustified Exodus claim, ask the question: Has archaeology disproven the Exodus? Then, instead of injecting your answer into the reader's brain, you politely and impartially leave evidence for the reader to chew on, presumably to come to their own conclusion.

Contrast that with Loftus' propagandizing delivery in his "science debunks Christianity" screed. John tells his readers what to think, and only presents that which he thinks bolsters his case for atheism. He overstates his claims, and draws conclusions to Z from premises A and B. Then, the unquestioning come along, latch onto this type of stuff as "reason," and, voila! Herds of Loftites.

You encourage your readers to think, and that's it right there. That's what people need, regardless of whether they align themselves in your camp or not. Your professionalism and impartiality are not going unnoticed.

cl said...

Sorry, Mr. Loftus, but you need a good fisking:

Any careful reader will see that what I said is not addressed head on in your link.

False. I addressed what you said, and frankly, John, what do you know about careful reading? You're out there brainwashing impressionable minds with hogwash claims like, "Archaeology has shown us there was no Exodus," and, "with evolution we no longer need a creator." Take a little responsibility.

I cannot say all I know in one post.

I've not criticized you thus. Rather, I submit that you should *not* say what you *don't* know in any *post* - and when called on it - you should supply emendations and/or recant.

My conclusions come from years of study.

Really? Years of study led you to conclude that, "Archaeology has shown us there was no Exodus," and, "with evolution we no longer need a creator?" And you want to admit that?

Books have been written in defense of these claims.

Books have been written in defense of a flat Earth, too. Your point?

It's exactly what Jason Long said in his chapter for The Christian Delusion based on good solid scholarship that looking for answers when in need of resolving cognitive dissonance is like eating anything you can get your hands on when extremely hungry.

Yes, why that's a very apt visual Long created. He's talking about people like you, John. Good scholarship? You tell people, "Archaeology has shown us there was no Exodus," and, "with evolution we no longer need a creator," and that's supposed to be good scholarship? I call that "eating anything you can get your hands on when extremely hungry."

For anyone wishing to see mainline scholarship on these questions watch these two programs and get back with me.

Didn't you already get a 15-yard-penalty for changing the subject? I am familiar with your sources, John. I am asking to *you* take responsibility for *your* claims.

Will you?