Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Whose side are you on, Jeff?

Jeff Lowder has been criticizing Loftus on some of his arguments. Since both are atheists, John asks why Jeff is doing this:

This ends our exchange so far. I've written a lot about these subjects so consult them for more. What I want to know is why Lowder is playing the devil's advocate. He either thinks religion harms people or he doesn't. He either thinks faith based processes are unreliable or he doesn't. I can only suppose he doesn't think so, or at least, not to the degree I do.


So I respectfully challenge Lowder to tell us if he thinks religion harms people, and if so, how much he's alarmed by it. I also challenge Lowder to tell us whether faith based processes are unreliable, and if so, how unreliable they are.

The fact that John asks this question is telling. Does religion harm people? Does atheism harm people? I happen to think there are people alive today who would take their own lives forthwith if the could no longer believe in God. The idea that everyone would become a cheerful humanist if they were pried loose from their religious beliefs is, to my mind, a delusion. Now, if someone declares atheism to be true as the result of an honest and fair pursuit of the truth, then if someone takes their own life because of it, I can't fault them morally. If they commit suicide because of a successful propaganda campaign on behalf of atheism, not so much.   Again, Loftus relies on catchphrases like "faith based processes," which are inherently ambiguous. Clarity is not one of his strong points.   Even when we can win more converts by violating it (at least in the short run), maintaining the honesty of the process of thinking about religion is absolutely vital. It is called following the argument where it leads. Anscombe criticized Lewis's argument, Aquinas rejected Anselm's argument, and Plantinga criticizes various theistic arguments. When I read some atheists, I think "These people wouldn't recognize evidence for God if it bit them."   I will never forget the time when Jeff first asked me to put the first argument from reason paper on the Secular Web, and also asked for my paper on miracles.   Jeff has responded to John, here.

36 comments:

steve said...

Loftus is trying to claw his way to the top of the secular dunghill by pulling other climbers off the ladder. Carrier is much the same.

Papalinton said...

Victor
Is this your way of demonstrating what a 'good' atheist looks like and what a 'bad' atheist looks like? If it is, then there is little to write home about.

This is largely a difference between approaches of interaction. Jeff, unconcerned with the substance of the argument against religion, a stickler for the way the argument is structured to fit the conventional philosophical model; Loftus, robustly challenging all claims theists make about the natural world. One minor deviation from that model, according to Jeff's judgment, renders the totality of Loftus's argument a failure. His interest lies in the philosophical framework of the argument rather than the content. This is pretty much spelled out in his Point 3 HERE.

This is further evidenced in his not having or forming an informed opinion on one of the very central issues at the core of this debate, that is, whether religion 'poisons everything' [as Hitchens would have it], or otherwise. This is to me a disconcerting sign of intellectual equivocation, a timid reluctance to apprise oneself of the various arguments. His acknowledgement, " I'm not prepared to say which happens more often [bad religion/good religion] because I don't know" is somewhat incongruous and even a little disingenuous given that as the debate on this very issue rages all around him, of which he knows nothing, and into which he blithely wishes to insert his twopence worth.

Victor, your commentary in relation to this dialogue is somewhat distasteful and low-brow.


Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

Papalinton -- How, precisely, do you know that I am "unconcerned with the substance of the argument against religion"? Oh, that's right, you DON'T.

For the record, if I see an argument that has what you call the wrong structure "to fit the conventional philosophical model" but I think it can be fixed, I'll propose a fix that keeps the "content" but actually works. If you bothered to read my posts on a regular basis (and if you understood them), you would see that. In the case of John's noseeum arguments, I don't see a way to rehabilitate his arguments, so I didn't try to fix them.

So your attempt to characterize my objections to John's arguments as nitpicking ("one minor deviation from that model renders the totality of Lofuts's argument a failure") is completely beside the point. It's not that John's argument made "one minor deviation." It's that I think the argument is fatally flawed at its core and I don't see any way to repair it.

What is "somewhat distasteful and low-brow" is the arrogance that you display in assuming that you can read my mind. For example, you write, "a timid reluctance to apprise oneself of the various arguments." I guess that's one option. Here's another option: I'm genuinely more interested in the truth of religions claims than in their effects (though I am interested in both). How do you know that this other option isn't true? You don't.

I also disagree with you about what "the" debate is about. You seem to be in 2 debates: a debate about the truth of religion and a second debate about the harms of religion. I tend to focus, for the most part, on the first debate only. So what?

You also badly misunderstood what I wrote. I wrote, "I'm not prepared to say which happens more often [bad religion/good religion] because I don't know." You spin this as if I said "I know nothing about the good and bad effects of religion," which, of course, is NOT what I said. Of course I have opinions about the good and bad effects of religion. What I don't know is whether the bad effects happen more often than the good effects.

I've yet to find anything in writing which actually tackles this issue in an intelligent way. In my experience, what usually happens is some atheist will point to examples of bad things done in the name of religion; the theist will respond by saying the actions are inconsistent with the ethical teachings of the religion and/or point out atheist atrocities. What nobody seems to do is to analyze this in a statistically valid way, by figuring out what is representative of theistic ethics and secular ethics. That's a lot harder than tossing out "what about the crusades" and "Stalin killed millions of people" epithets.

If you, Papalinton, can point to a resource that does that, then I would love to read it. But this bullshit about Jeff Lowder cares only about the structure of arguments, not their content, is just that: bullshit.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

This shouldn't be necessary, but here is "exhibit A" in the case against Papalinton's libelous claim that I only care about the structure of arguments, not the content.

I call this "exhibit A" because (1) it specifically focuses on whether the size (and age) of the universe is evidence for atheism--the very topic John and I disagree about--and (2) the series of posts explicitly focuses on the content of various arguments and tries to fix them. For example, part 1 of that series talks about problems with Everitt's argument from scale, whereas part 2 tries to "strengthen the argument" by making various changes to it. Ditto for part 3 and part 4.

unkleE said...

"What nobody seems to do is to analyze this in a statistically valid way, by figuring out what is representative of theistic ethics and secular ethics."

I appreciate your point here, and I think this would be almost impossible to do, because there are literally billions of religious believers, and how could we assess whether each one has harmed and been harmed, or not, by their belief?

But I have seen one small part of this question analysed very carefully and (I think) impartially, and you are probably aware of it. A few years back the Department of Peace Studies, University of Bradford, investigated 73 major wars over the past 3 millennia, and applied several criteria of religious motivation to what we know of the history of those wars.

Their conclusion was that religion was only culpable in about 10% of those wars. This should effectively remove that argument against religion. It's only one piece of the puzzle and other pieces would be much more difficult. But it's something.

Papalinton said...

Jeff
Thanks for responding. Because I have criticized some aspects of your commentary in respect of recent posts offered by Loftus, it never was my intention to offend you. If it has been taken as a personal offense, then that is indeed unfortunate. My comment here was not intended as a personal criticism; rather it was to tell it as I see it. I too am interested in the truth, and what constitutes partisanship in your eyes, is simply that both Loftus and I have openly made known our perspective in the debate. I cannot speak for Loftus, but on balance, I think it is clear to any reader there is a concordance of views in relation to the harm that can be and is perpetrated by religion. As an ex-christian, having experienced and observed the harm that is done in the name of religion, I have no doubt, with good evidential reason, that the underlying pathology of religion is an enabler of social, personal, ethical and moral harm. No more so than the many years of working[teaching] within isolated traditional Aboriginal communities in Australia, on missions operated by the Churches, that oversaw the decimation, over decades, of their deepest cultural identity, the very essence of their aboriginality, only to witness it being subjugated by the christian mythos. That is not to say that religion has not done many good things, but I have come to the conclusion, as increasing numbers of the community are also signaling, that the cost of socially propping up institutional religions now significantly outweighs the benefits.

I certainly do not characterize your objections to Loftus's arguments as nitpicking. I think I have made a reasonable assessment of your treatment of his position. Your opinion:

" It's not that John's argument made "one minor deviation." It's that I think the argument is fatally flawed at its core and I don't see any way to repair it."

does not reconcile with your discussion with him, in part:

"This reply has me scratching my head. I agree and never said otherwise, so I'm not sure why you think this is even relevant to my question. I said that your claim wasn't obvious to me. The fact that it isn't obvious to me does not mean that I think your argument is weak. [my bolding] It literally means just what it says: the truth of the claim isn't obvious to me." To read the context of the dialogue see HERE.

Your comment to Loftus simply does not communicate the same message to that which you relay to me, that his proposition was fundamentally flawed. Either Loftus's proposition is fundamentally flawed, or as you indicate above, his argument does not mean that you think it is weak. So which is it?

This dialogue has led me to form the view that your intention of criticism was not in relation to the truth; rather, in your opinion, it was fair game to deconstruct Loftus's position.

What is in your mind? You are right, I don't know, just as you say. You words, however, I am able to read, and can assess them on their merits.

In the matter of: What is "somewhat distasteful and low-brow" is the arrogance that you display in assuming that you can read my mind." was directed at Dr Reppert. Please re-read to confirm.

> "You seem to be in 2 debates: a debate about the truth of religion and a second debate about the harms of religion."

No, one debate, debunking christianity.

> "I've yet to find anything in writing which actually tackles this issue in an intelligent way."

Then you have set your search azimuth and elevation too narrowly.

As much as I have admired your writing and your arguments, Jeff [and I freely declare that on Loftus's site as well], and will continue to do so, this is the one occasion where I contend your contribution has been neither helpful nor fair.










steve said...

Papalinton said...

"Victor, "Is this your way of demonstrating what a 'good' atheist looks like and what a 'bad' atheist looks like?"

Actually, Victor demonstrates what a bad atheist looks like by allowing Papalinton to post comments.

Papalinton said...

Steve Hays: "Actually, Victor demonstrates what a bad atheist looks like by allowing Papalinton to post comments."

Steve Hays? Triablogue?

Enough said.

steve said...

Papalinton?

Enough said.

John W. Loftus said...

Let's see, theists are coming to the defense of Lowder? It seems strange to me that only Bradley at the Secular Outpost has attempted to defend him. I'm sure Keith Parsons wouldn't since he cannot take theistic arguments seriously anymore.

Like I said, I cannot judge Lowder's motivations. But I feel as if I'm on the front lines of a debate and Lowder has taken a few pot shots at me from behind, which in effect only bolsters Christians into thinking I have nothing to offer, that I have no good arguments at all. Lowder doesn't know how it feels because he remains safely behind benefiting from people like me on the front lines.

If Jeff wants to know better who I am and what I aim to do then I adjure him to read this.

I, for one, no longer think Lowder is objective with regard to me and will treat him as such. He can wear that as a badge if it makes him feel superior.

steve said...

John W. Loftus said...

"Lowder doesn't know how it feels because he remains safely behind benefiting from people like me on the front lines."

Thanks for putting your egotism and your emotional insecurities on public display.

steve said...

John W. Loftus said...

"But I feel as if I'm on the front lines of a debate and Lowder has taken a few pot shots at me from behind, which in effect only bolsters Christians into thinking I have nothing to offer, that I have no good arguments at all. Lowder doesn't know how it feels because he remains safely behind benefiting from people like me on the front lines."

Sounds like something you need to take up with your therapist, John.

Matt DeStefano said...

"Like I said, I cannot judge Lowder's motivations. But I feel as if I'm on the front lines of a debate and Lowder has taken a few pot shots at me from behind, which in effect only bolsters Christians into thinking I have nothing to offer, that I have no good arguments at all. Lowder doesn't know how it feels because he remains safely behind benefiting from people like me on the front lines."

John, you know that I respect a great deal of your work and have said so in the past (while maintaing reservations about the quality of other bloggers at DC). It's disingenuous to suggest that Jeff is somehow "safely behind" the "frontlines" simply because he has a different rhetorical style than you.

Jeff is, after all, the honorary President of a site called "infidels" and runs an atheist blog that features many prominent atheist thinkers. It's silly to suggest that he should refrain from voicing opposition to your argument [in what was probably the most civil and charitable terms possible] simply because you both are atheists and happen to be posting on a Christian site.

it seems to me that our goal should be pursuing the truth, and while many atheists agree that ridding humanity of religious superstition would be a good thing, we should also be wary of the methodology which gets us there.

Victor Reppert said...

Thank you, Matt! Part of why I bring this up is to prevent people from generalizing too hastily about atheists.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

Papalinton:

Your comment to Loftus simply does not communicate the same message to that which you relay to me, that his proposition was fundamentally flawed. Either Loftus's proposition is fundamentally flawed, or as you indicate above, his argument does not mean that you think it is weak. So which is it?

You're confusing "his argument is fundamentally flawed" with "his proposition is fundamentally flawed." I don't see how to fix his argument. That's why I think it's fatally flawed. That doesn't mean his conclusion (a proposition) is fatally flawed. His conclusion could be true. I just don't see how to make an argument which shows it.

John W. Loftus said...

Matt, I've dealt with other comments on Lowder's blog recently. You might want to check it out. I don't think I need to repeat myself. It matters not to me what Lowder has accomplished, which is a great deal for which he's gained my respect, as I said. It matters to me what he's doing. I'm trying to nudge him in my direction.

John W. Loftus said...

Lowder, your arguments against me utterly fail to understand them.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

John Loftus wrote:

But I feel as if I'm on the front lines of a debate and Lowder has taken a few pot shots at me from behind, ...

John, if you are telling yourself that I have taken pot shots at you, then it's no wonder that you have treated this as some sort of personal attack.

I, for one, no longer think Lowder is objective with regard to me and will treat him as such. He can wear that as a badge if it makes him feel superior.

Again, John, if you tell yourself that this is about me "feeling superior," then it's no wonder you will no longer think I am objective about you.

None of this is a personal attack on you, John. There is no need for all of this drama. Remember this all escalated when I challenged your noseeum arguments regarding the size of the universe and its implications (if any) for atheism.
The person I WAS talking with was making arguments. The person I AM talking to NOW is writing blog posts entitled, "Jeff Lowder is the devil in disguise" and making statements like, "if it makes him feel superior." I'd like to spend more time talking with the first person.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

unkleE--

I appreciate your point here, and I think this would be almost impossible to do, because there are literally billions of religious believers, and how could we assess whether each one has harmed and been harmed, or not, by their belief?

Exactly. The fact that a claim is hard to justify doesn't excuse making an unjustified claim. The moral of the story is that people should stop making claims about whether atheism or theism lead to an overall balance of good (or evil) -- unless they can back up those claims.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

Matt --

It's disingenuous to suggest that Jeff is somehow "safely behind" the "frontlines" simply because he has a different rhetorical style than you.

Exactly. John seems to forget I've edited an anthology criticizing arguments for the resurrection of Jesus; have publicly debated God's existence; and was the President of Internet Infidels for about 5 years. None of that sounds like I am "safely behind" the "frontlines," in the sense John has in mind.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

Papalinton -- Just to absolutely clarify my point about the distinction between thinking that Loftus's argument is fatally flawed vs. thinking the conclusion of that argument is false, I've written an entire post on my blog about Loftus's argument regarding the size of the universe. See http://secularoutpost.infidels.org/2013/01/the-argument-from-scale-as-revisited.html

And, for the record, nothing I've argued there is arguing for the sake of discussion; everything I've written is a sincere expression of my beliefs.

BenYachov said...

>Papalinton -- Just to absolutely clarify my point about the distinction between thinking that Loftus's argument is fatally flawed vs. thinking the conclusion of that argument is false.

I have been trying to explain that concept to him for years.

Maybe because your an Atheist Jeff & thus don't have the Theistic coodies Paps thinks I have you might have better results.

I won't hold my breath but I wish you success.

Papalinton said...

Ben"Maybe because your an Atheist Jeff & thus don't have the Theistic coodies Paps thinks I have you might have better results."

Goodness gracious me. What an oportunistic chancer, a real scavenger with the ethics of a buzzard.
Don't imagine for one moment that any theistic philosophical argument you feserites make will ever substantiate any claim or undergird any substantive reality for the existence of a god.
You know just as well as I that god-think is simply supernaturalistic superstition.

Your appeal to Lowder does not and will not substantively advance your feserite nonsense one jot.


Papalinton said...

Jeff

Papalinton -- Just to absolutely clarify my point about the distinction between thinking that Loftus's argument is fatally flawed vs. thinking the conclusion of that argument is false, ...

Your statement above seems to encompass after-the-fact rationalization and a little revising of the intent of your words. Jeff, I return to your original statements both as recounted, verbatim, below:

"" It's not that John's argument made "one minor deviation." It's that I think the argument is fatally flawed at its core and I don't see any way to repair it."

does not reconcile with your discussion with him, in part:

"This reply has me scratching my head. I agree and never said otherwise, so I'm not sure why you think this is even relevant to my question. I said that your claim wasn't obvious to me. The fact that it isn't obvious to me does not mean that I think your argument is weak. [my bolding] It literally means just what it says: the truth of the claim isn't obvious to me." To read the context of the dialogue see HERE. "

In both instances you refer specifically to arguments. Nothing to do with 'proposition [conclusion]' as I might have written in my précis.

And I again ask, which is it, 'the argument is fatally flawed' or ''does not mean that your argument is weak'.

Jeff, you say,"You're confusing "his argument is fundamentally flawed" with "his proposition is fundamentally flawed."

This is a most silly statement. And it is this statement that in the context of the discussion prompted me to infer your recasting of the words has been little more than a post hoc rationalising. And that is disappointing.

You responses to Lofftus, snapping up on the personal points he makes, eg pot shots etc, as some form of "See, I knew it was illogical emotion" moment as a justification for your damning his argument, seems a clear indicator of incitement on your part. Loftus has on any number of occasions freely expressed his emotional perspective on matters. But when he has done so, he makes it perfectly known when that is the perspective he is taking. He does not hide his emotions.

You will be aware there are many woo mud shovellers and bottom feeders on this blog that thrill at the chance to deal the emotionalism=irrational card. Now you too, seem happy to if it bolsters your argument, regardless of whether it really does justify or otherwise. And that too is most disappointing.

Papalinton said...

Victor
"Thank you, Matt! Part of why I bring this up is to prevent people from generalizing too hastily about atheists."

Goodness gracious me, Victor, tongue-in-cheek stuff?
Only when the opportunity arises to make one look good, no?

Papalinton said...

Jeff
You might wish to read:
Atheism and the Case Against Christ by Matthew S. Mccormick

McCormick is a real live philosopher that seems to be at little odds with Loftus's perspective.

One can only deduce your fascination for the flaw in the structure of the argument rather than the content/substance.

Your responses have yet to reach the tipping point at which your opinion would be an improvement on Loftus's.

Papalinton said...

Matt
"So it seems to me that our goal should be pursuing the truth, and while many atheists agree that ridding humanity of religious superstition would be a good thing, we should also be wary of the methodology which gets us there. "

Matt you are naively and gravely mistaken f you think theists will be swayed by logical and reasoned argument. A litany of philosophers and philosophy papers litter the consciousness of humanity and we are no further to the truth than that which was first postulated by Plato, Aristotle and the plagiarists such as Aquinas, Yes my comment is purposely gratuitous; just access the lists of atheists, religious, and theist, christian philosophers etc, even Wiki bursts at the seems with the pro and cons for the various philosophical positions. And after two thousand-plus years not one advance in determining which is and which is not the truth.

Loftus knows that. Loftus does not claim to be philosopher, and if he does he would declare himself a poor one at that. The only single and greatest advance that has built the knowledge base of humanity has been the various sciences over the last 100 years. For Loftus the one valuable form of philosophy is scientifically-informed philosophy. The other form, as demonstrated over millennia upon millennia, grounded in theology, as per Anselm or Aquinas, is simply sophistry. And this is where I contend Jeff Lowder posits himself, concerned with the form of argument than the substance of the argument.

There are many more spheres of knowledge, processes and methodologies than the philosophical approach. To simply imagine that philosophy is the alpha and omega of inquiry is plain nonsense.

Tell me, when has the revivification of a three-day old dead putrescent corpse and its physical and bodily levitation into the blue beyond ever been properly tested in philosophy? Answer: Never. Why? Because philosophy is unable to provide those answers. You know that, Loftus knows that, I know that. So where's your or Lowder's knock-out blow from philosophy that has not been proffered before?

Matt, you have done a disservice to Loftus




Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

Papalinton--

Neither you nor Loftus have provided any reason to think any of my objections to Loftus's argument from the size of the universe to atheism are weak objections. Instead, like Loftus, you are trying to focus the discussion on my motives, which is completely irrelevant to whether the argument works.

"And I again ask, which is it, 'the argument is fatally flawed' or ''does not mean that your argument is weak'."

When I wrote the words, "does not mean that your argument is weak," I meant them. Then, after Loftus refused to further defend his argument and, more important, after additional reflection by me about the argument, I decided the argument was weak. Indeed, I decided it was fatally flawed. I think it is fatally flawed for the reasons I gave on my blog.

Now, what about the conclusion of his argument? Since I have defended a version of the argument from scale, I agree that the size of the universe is (very weak) evidence favoring naturalism (atheism) over theism. That is why I have been careful to say that I don't think the conclusion of that argument is false. I just don't think Loftus has provided a good argument for that conclusion.

The distinction between the truth of an argument's conclusion and the argument used to arrive at a conclusion is philosophy 101 stuff. If you are going to dismiss that distinction as a "post hoc rationalization," then I see no reason to continue this exchange with you.

If, on the other hand, you'd like to defend Loftus's argument from the size of the universe to atheism, I'm happy to discuss that.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

You might wish to read:
Atheism and the Case Against Christ by Matthew S. Mccormick


I own the book and it's on my to-read list. What does this have to do with Loftus's argument from the size of the universe?

McCormick is a real live philosopher that seems to be at little odds with Loftus's perspective.

This is ambiguous. Loftus's perspective about what?

Dan Gillson said...

To the estimable Jeffery Jay Lowder:

The commentariat here have an unofficial policy of ignoring the troll known as Papalinton. His sins are innumerable but among us he is known to be a plagiarist, an obfuscator, a sidetracker, and a rather poor stylist. He is worth neither your time nor consideration.

Dan

steve said...

Papalinton said...

"Matt, you have done a disservice to Loftus."

One can only hope.

BenYachov said...

>Goodness gracious me. What an oportunistic chancer, a real scavenger with the ethics of a buzzard.

Why for wishing you where a more rational Atheist like Jeff? I don't agree with Jeff in terms of what we think ultimate reality is & what is it's nature but I can respect the man's effort to try to be devoted to reason.

Let's face it the man truly loves his Atheism. He loves it enough to care about it being soiled by bad arguments.

You buddy frankly don't love it enough. Indeed Paps for you Atheism is mere politics by other means nothing more.

PS. Really would it kill you to learn some philosophy?

>You know just as well as I that god-think is simply supernaturalistic superstition.

I know that is what you feel but I happen to think differently & I am sure Jeff thinks what you merely feel.

That is the trick isn't it?

Ryan M said...

"Matt you are naively and gravely mistaken if you think theists will be swayed by logical and reasoned argument".

I don't like that line. It reminds me of the saying that if we could reason with religious people then there would be no religious people. An obvious consequence of these beliefs would be that if any of my fellow atheists were theists, then we did not change beliefs due to reason.

But I like to think that my theistic beliefs (Even if they were simplistic at the time) were dropped due to rational reflection.

B. Prokop said...

"Matt you are naively and gravely mistaken if you think theists will be swayed by logical and reasoned argument."

Linton is actually (half) right on this one. No one, believer or atheist, is going to go from one "side" to the other by logic and reason alone. It requires a change of heart.

He is, however, dead wrong in his (here unspoken) assumption that logic and reason are necessarily on the side of the atheist. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Papalinton said...

Ryan M
"I don't like that line. It reminds me of the saying that if we could reason with religious people then there would be no religious people. An obvious consequence of these beliefs would be that if any of my fellow atheists were theists, then we did not change beliefs due to reason.

But I like to think that my theistic beliefs (Even if they were simplistic at the time) were dropped due to rational reflection."


It's very much a question of degree, Ryan. I too would hope that logic and reason be the principal driver that will ultimately prevail in the transition to a post-christian society.[Or more broadly, a post-religious society.] Simply by the sheer numbers of competing, different, and incompatible religions extant, together with the litany of past religions that have atrophied and dropped off the vine over millennia, [Old gods don't die, they get forgotten.] they are as clear a testimony that a particular stripe, colour or cultural derivation of a god is but a folkloric mythos. Science have of course not ruled out the possibility of a deistic god, but that concept cannot be misconstrued with the more personal, interventionist phantasm of the christian mythos. Bill Craig best exemplifies the double standard of the christian theist in arguing for a jesus-god. He is happy in attempting to prove the historical reliability of the Gospels, ergo, god exists. But should the historical account prove the non-existence of jesus-god, that finding would not sway his belief one jot.

In my comment in respect of 'a question of degree', there are those for which no amount of countervailing evidence will budge their position. For those that value the prize of evidence, facts, proofs, and even the balance of probabilities, as their primary guiding principal, a little more than their adherence to an ideological dogma, then the possibility of your 'rational reflection' may well be a positive step. That is all that that can be asked.

Papalinton said...

Jeff
I read through your argument HERE. I can do little but concur with your argument.

I am quite amused by the following comments and questions posed by Alex Dalton. They, in part, pretty much reflect the kind of nonsense that attempts to muddy your argument, not that it isn't cogent and lineally clear, but rather a not unknown ploy by theists to obfuscate, misconstrue and derail. [It may well be that Dalton is not a theist and is positing devil's advocacy into the argument.]

It will be interesting to see what response theists will produce as a rebuttal or refutation. Then philosophy is back at square one, he says, she says.

In regard to Loftus, or me for that matter, I don't care much for philosophy as a process, because its outcome is largely semantical and definitional. Apart from theology and its corollary, Apologetics, philosophy is the only discipline in which a god can possibly exist.

I would urge you bring forward McCormick's book in your reading list. There is some very good and substantive arguments made for the unreliability of the New Testament, and the bible more generally.