Friday, April 18, 2014

What would you do if I could get you to reassess the evidence?

I'm very reticent to say what I would do if I reassessed the evidence in a certain way. Atheists are fond of asking "Well, if I could convince you of this or that, would you deconvert? What would it take?" It's kind of like asking "Would you divorce your wife if she had an affair?," when she isn't having one and I have no reason to believe that she will have one.

14 comments:

Crude said...

Atheists are fond of asking "Well, if I could convince you of this or that, would you deconvert? What would it take?"

I remember back when Jerry Coyne's make-or-break for being rational was 'can you name specific evidence that would convince you that you were wrong.' He ended up putting this standard aside once guys like PZ Myers said 'Nope!'

I also think the gnu atheist replies to this kind of question in turn tend to be great. You get a lot of 'this gap or that gap', in essence, despite the otherwise strict denouncement of God of the Gaps reasoning.

im-skeptical said...

"strict denouncement of God of the Gaps reasoning"

It seems to me that there's no such thing. If your God lurks wherever scientific knowledge is lacking, that is God of the Gaps, but it's not reasoning. It's just a brute fact. Their God used to be the explanation for everything. The advance of science has driven God into the margins, where he remains the Christians' explanation of choice for fewer and fewer things.

But there are many Christians who have been willing to look at evidence objectively. You can see their testimony on the Secular Web.

B. Prokop said...

You can see a discussion that Jared and I have been having for several days now about so-called "God of the Gaps" reasoning over on his website, HERE.

BenYachov said...

Wow that guy is an even bigger Positivist fundie then both Paps and Skepo combined!

What is it about modern Gnu Atheists that they mindlessly & uncritically cling to a philosophy(positivism) one of the leading Atheist philosopher of the 20th century abandoned back in the 50's as hopelessly self-refuting and incoherent?

They are like Fundies with solo Scruptura.

Doug Benscoter said...

Even if I came to believe that all of the theoretical arguments for God's existence were unsound (highly unlikely), I would still remain a theist for at least one pragmatic reason. Studies continue to show that those who pray and meditate live longer, healthier, and happier lives. I would appeal to the follow pragmatic argument:

1. All things being equal, one should believe in what brings about the most happiness and health. (Premise)

2. Belief in God brings about the most happiness and health. (Premise)

3. Hence, all things being equal, one should believe in God. (From 1 and 2)

4. There are no sound arguments against God's existence. (Premise)

5. Hence, theism and atheism are rationally equal. (From 2 - 4)

6. Therefore, one should believe in God. (From 1, 2, and 5)

Of course, I do accept philosophical arguments for God's existence as demonstrative, so this is all a moot point. Nevertheless, people don't have to rely on philosophical demonstrations in order to be a rationally justified theist. Isn't it more rational to embrace what leads to a longer, happier, and healthier life than not?

Crude said...

If your God lurks wherever scientific knowledge is lacking, that is God of the Gaps, but it's not reasoning. It's just a brute fact.

You have no idea what brute facts are, even now. Watching you sling around terminology like that is endlessly amusing.

Their God used to be the explanation for everything.

Nope. Historically demonstrably untrue, and wishful atheist thinking.

You didn't even comprehend what I wrote: atheists denounce God of the Gaps reasoning, but the evidence they demand is God of the Gaps. We saw this with Loftus. We see it with Jerry Coyne. The only gnus we do not see it with are guys like PZ Myers, who flat out deny any evidence could convince them.

You're scared, Skep, because more and more you're realizing that everything you're extremely confident about, you actually know precious little of. It's sinking in, and that's why you're lashing out.

Keep it up. ;)

Crude said...

Doug,

I suppose one could further go that if materialist atheism seemed on balance to be most likely true, there would be no compelling reason to accept atheism if one didn't want to. Do as thou wilt, including with regards to belief.

Doug Benscoter said...

Crude, you may be onto something. I just don't envision a scenario in which atheistic materialism is rationally compelling. I'd adopt pantheism before atheism, even though some object that there's no difference between the two. I think there is a major difference, and Michael Levine's work has painstakingly supported this point. So, even on materialism, atheism isn't true by default.

Victor Reppert said...

Yes, I suppose, if there's no God, everything is permitted, including hanging onto theism in spite of the evidence.

im-skeptical said...

crude,

Perhaps it wasn't the most apropos use of the term, but a brute fact is something that simply exists without explanation. Such is the case with your unreasoned belief in this God who must hide away in the ever-diminishing margins of scientific understanding and reason - despite all the evidence to the contrary.

Crude said...

Skep,

The great thing is, I don't even have to point out your new error. Pretty well everyone around here aside from Linton is going to see it right away, and roll their eyes - and you wouldn't get it even if I explained it to you.

Suffice to say, what you just did with your really smooth recovery is pretty much on Peter Griffin's level.

Thanks, as always. ;)

im-skeptical said...

Here's another brute fact. Despite humanity's longstanding efforts to ascend from the depths of superstition and barbarity, there is crude.

Bolero Sulo said...

I take a Bayesian approach toward history so it would be very difficult indeed to convince me that a miracle occurred. You would need to have evidence so strong that it could overcome what I consider to be the extremely low prior probability of a supernatural event occurring and testimony would probably never be enough on its own. It would probably require multiple miracles occurring while being scrutinized and recorded by scientists or huge changes to the physical universe like the stars in the sky rearranging themselves to spell out Yahweh.

im-skeptical said...

"It would probably require multiple miracles occurring while being scrutinized and recorded by scientists or huge changes to the physical universe like the stars in the sky rearranging themselves to spell out Yahweh."

I feel the same. But according to the Christians here, there is no evidence that would ever budge you from your irrational, dogmatic belief in materialism.