Monday, December 10, 2012

Loftus comes out as an ideologue

Here. Who knew?

43 comments:

B. Prokop said...

Hah! John writes "I don't believe anything to be doubtful about" just a few paragraphs after writing "In a lesser sense I'm an ideologue when it comes to the possibility there is a supernatural force (or being) out there, although I'm less sure of that. Who knows for sure, right?"

Now if that ain't being doubtful about a belief, I don't know what is!

unkleE said...

10 atfoldiThe Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines belief this way:

"Contemporary analytic philosophers of mind generally use the term “belief” to refer to the attitude we have, roughly, whenever we take something to be the case or regard it as true."

On that definition, John clearly has beliefs, on what he ate for breakfast, on what he thinks about ducks and what he thinks about christians, and a whole lot more. The only person who has no beliefs is one who is permanently in a vegetative state.

What he means I think (assuming he accepts the philosophical definition) is that he doesn't believe he has any unjustified beliefs about a few important questions relating to the existence of God and the truth of christianity. Even there, he almost certainly has some unjustified beliefs (perhaps his often stated view about the state of mind of christians).

But he is using belief in a different way than the analytic philosophers, and it would be interesting to ask him exactly what definition he is using.

So it is not surprising that he comes out as an idealogue. Randall's test isn't an objective test of the rational arguments as John seems to take it, but a subjective test of whether one is really willing to think one could be wrong, and really willing to be self critical. perhaps even really willing to think about one's "beliefs" as an outsider!

I as a christian can think of many reasons to doubt my belief in Jesus, just as if I was an atheist I could think of many reasons to doubt that "belief". I just think there are more reasons to doubt atheism than christianity. John's inability to think of any reasons against his "belief" is very telling.

John W. Loftus said...

Dr. Lindsay's definition of faith:

Faith (n.): A cognitive bias in which a person overestimates the prior probability, overestimates the positive consequent, and/or underestimates the negative consequent in a Bayesian analysis.

------

While I'm at it here is his Bayesian Analysis of the Outsider Test for Faith.

Crude said...

So according to Lindsay, no one had faith prior to the 1700s, and few people have faith now. On the flipside, since atheists (including John) may be overestimating/underestimating the probabilities and consequents in their Bayesian analyses, it's an open question whether said atheists have faith.

Alright.

Crude said...

I'll also ask again.

Is someone who is agnostic on the question of naturalism's truth irrational, John? Say, a professional philosopher?

unkleE said...

"Faith (n.): A cognitive bias in which a person overestimates the prior probability, overestimates the positive consequent, and/or underestimates the negative consequent in a Bayesian analysis."

Thanks for answering my question John, but are you then assuming that faith = belief? If so, why? If not, how is this definition relevant?

But regardless, this is an amazing definition, and almost totally useless in real life. How many people, how many christians, do Bayesian analysis, ever? How many people have this "cognitive bias" about matters other than religion, even about science?

I guess it shows that if one makes up one's own unusual definition, one can argue almost anything - but only to those who accept the definition. I'll stick with Stanford. My earlier comments stand, I think.

John W. Loftus said...

Crude you don't know what agnosticism is. Look it up and choose the definition that suits your faith, as I know you will.

unkleE, even philosophers have adopted the terminology of Christianity in the west without thinking what it entails. There's no reason why I must accept it just because they do, or, is it the case that the majority is always correct?

Bayesian thinking is required thinking about such matters. you do not have to do the math but it's how to think about such things.

See this explained simply by Richard Carrier at the 52:25 minute mark.

mattghg said...

Who knew?

Who didn't know, more like...

Crude said...

Crude you don't know what agnosticism is. Look it up and choose the definition that suits your faith, as I know you will.

Is there a particular reason you're avoiding my question, John? It's a very simple, straightforward one - yet you're doing all you can to avoid answering it.

B. Prokop said...

Decided to take Randal Rauser's test. Here are my "Three Troubling Things":

1. The shameful history of antisemitism,

2. The Schism between the Western (Catholic) and Orthodox churches,

3. The highjacking of Christianity in America by the far right.

Number one came to mind in a nanosecond. Number two took a minute or two to decide on, and the third finally had to muscle out a few other contenders for last place.

So am I an ideologue or not? Not sure how this test is supposed to be graded.

Victor Reppert said...

I'd go with the problem of evil, 1, and 3. Plus some of the "prophecies" Matthew uses for Jesus.

Victor Reppert said...

You test negative, Bob.

B. Prokop said...

Interesting that you list the Problem of Evil as (intellectually) "troubling". I maintain that it is a problem only for atheists. In a godless universe, evil shouldn't exist. All should be as it is supposed to be. A purely materialist reality has no mechanism by which anything can go "wrong".

John W. Loftus said...

No. no. No.

It's the problem of suffering for an atheist.

ozero91 said...

Or rather, the Problem of Unexplained Suffering. And the PSR demonstrates that everything must have an explanation, such as why contingent causal chains exist, why purposeless suffering exists, etc etc.

B. Prokop said...

What is "PSR"?

B. Prokop said...

So, John, you are saying that evil does not exist? Only suffering?

John W. Loftus said...

Yes, what do you think of me anyway? Sheesh!

Crude said...

What is "PSR"?

Principle of Sufficient Reason.

I see John is still ducking the naturalism question. Good - I have something to ask him in each thread I see him in now.

Eric said...

"Faith (n.): A cognitive bias in which a person overestimates the prior probability, overestimates the positive consequent, and/or underestimates the negative consequent in a Bayesian analysis."

But it's important to point out that Lindsay derives this definition from what he takes to be "the best [version]" of "the common definition" of faith, viz. "Belief without evidence or in spite of contradictory evidence."

Of course, this is not "the best version" of "the common definition" of faith in the dominant Christian philosophical and theological traditions, so his Bayesian conception of faith has no purchase vis-a-vis Christian faith. It's a straw man, plain and simple, and an obvious one to boot. In fact, it's so obvious that only a New Atheist could fall for it...

B. Prokop said...

What do I think of you? I think that you are merely proving Dostoevsky right, when he wrote (in The Brothers Karamazov) that without God there is neither good nor evil. ("Net bessmertiya dushi, tak net i dobrodeteli, znachit, vse pozvoleno.")

B. Prokop said...

As for a definition of Faith, I am eagerly awaiting the 2013 publication in English of Pope Benedict's newest encyclical, the title of which is something like "What is Faith?"

ozero91 said...

An off-topic question to throw out to the masses. This may sound trivial, but would God be "supernatural" if he was the only concrete entity that existed? In other words, would God be "supernatural" if there was no such thing as "natural?"

B. Prokop said...

To (mis)quote admiral Nimitz: "Delete all after trivial."

Eric said...

Here are a couple of revealing comments from Dr. Lindsay:

"The feeling that is keeping Dr. Rauser awake at night is cognitive dissonance. Surely he's read how Pascal struggled with it and then finally "beat" it with a lame wager that might be the most heavily beaten dead horse in the history of apologetics."

Yep, a typical misreading of Pascal, no doubt premised not on having read through the Pensees, a truly profound work that Lindsay smugly reduces to a joke, but on a Rationalwiki article on "the wager" (if that)...

"I must have missed something. When did "metaphysics" start having anything to do with "constituent reality" after the invention of real science pretty much kicked it out of that department?"

No need to comment specifically on the utter stupidity of that one...

Crude said...

Yeah, Linday's a piece of work and a half.

ozero,

This may sound trivial, but would God be "supernatural" if he was the only concrete entity that existed? In other words, would God be "supernatural" if there was no such thing as "natural?"

Man, don't get me started. I'll just say 'natural and supernatural have become near useless' and leave it at that, unless someone bugs me.

Tim said...

"Bayesian thinking is required thinking about such matters. you do not have to do the math but it's how to think about such things.

See this explained simply by Richard Carrier ..."

Oh dear.

ozero91 said...

Crude,

I was thinking that "being supernatural" is not a real/inherent property or attribute of God.

B. Prokop said...

Ozero,

The distinction prevents one from falling into the trap of pantheism.

Eric said...

"I was thinking that "being supernatural" is not a real/inherent property or attribute of God."

Ozero91, the prefix "super" implies that it's relational, and hence at least prima facie is not intrinsic. (Relational properties can be intrinsic, but that doesn't seem to be the case here, at least at first glance.)

ozero91 said...

"The distinction prevents one from falling into the trap of pantheism."

Then what are your thoughts on panentheism?

Supernatural, as I see it, describes a relationship. It's not a "thing" that can be "had," unlike omnipotence.

ozero91 said...

Okay, I guess we can dispense with the trivialities. I think I answered my own question just as Eric posted a response.

ozero91 said...

"I must have missed something. When did "metaphysics" start having anything to do with "constituent reality" after the invention of real science pretty much kicked it out of that department?"

BRB guys, I'm in the process of using a telescope to prove that atoms don't exist.

B. Prokop said...

Pantheism denies creation, and is completely irreconcilable with Christianity.

sure, there are pantheistic religions out there, but they ain't Christianity.

B. Prokop said...

Once again, an abbreviation I am not familiar with - BRB ???

Eric said...

Be Right Back

OMG, you didn't know that? LMAO ;)

(I only just learned what STFU means the other day...)

Eric said...

I should have added, But I won't repeat it in such learned company!

B. Prokop said...

Hah! And here I thought it was yet another "insider" abbrev amongst philosophers.

ozero91 said...

"Pantheism denies creation, and is completely irreconcilable with Christianity.

sure, there are pantheistic religions out there, but they ain't Christianity."

I didn't say pantheism, I meant panENtheism.

"Panentheism is a belief system which posits that the divine (be it a monotheistic God, polytheistic gods, or an eternal cosmic animating force), interpenetrates every part of nature and timelessly extends beyond it. Panentheism differentiates itself from pantheism, which holds that the divine is synonymous with the universe."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panentheism

B. Prokop said...

Oops! Missed that extra syllable there.

I got nothing to say on this one - never heard of panentheism before.

Is it related to the term immanence?

ozero91 said...

Pantheism claims God is immanent.

I think regular theism, or at least neo-theism, claims God is transcendent, but can "enter" and act in nature. Which would be a miracle, if we define a miracle as an act of God.

I think panentheism claims God is immanent and transcendent.

B. Prokop said...

I'm perhaps out of my league here, but I think immanence is a quite orthodox concept, and is not exclusive to pantheism. However it seems the term is used quite differently by various writers. I've seen the phrase "the immanence of God" more than once used by Catholic writers who are most certainly not pantheists, so there has to be more than one understanding to the idea.

I'm hesitant to weigh in on your question, since I'm apparently not that up on the nuances.

I'm so glad there's still so much to learn! It would be dull, dull, dull otherwise.

unkleE said...

John,

"unkleE, even philosophers have adopted the terminology of Christianity in the west without thinking what it entails. There's no reason why I must accept it just because they do, or, is it the case that the majority is always correct?"

Words are not important, it's the concepts that matter - words are just labels. It's not a matter of accepting anyone's viewpoint, but it's quite clear that without shared definitions, conversation is very difficult. I have already indicated that I don't share your definition of "faith", so if we were to talk more about that, we would need to be aware that we are talking about two different things.

Since we both grew up in the west, using the common definitions makes most sense. If you choose a different definition of key words, then communication can only take place once your definitions are given, so we can understand what concepts you are talking about. If that isn't done, it's quite possible for you to unwittingly move from one use of the word to another, creating confusion.

Would you care to define what you mean by "belief"? Does your reply indicate that to you it means the same as "faith"? If so, what word would you use for the concept "the attitude we have, roughly, whenever we take something to be the case or regard it as true"?

Thanks.