Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Christianity and the challenge of world religions

A presentation by Craig Hazen, which I saw at a local apologetics conference.

23 comments:

Edgestow said...

Broken link?

Victor Reppert said...

Works now.

B. Prokop said...

What a great presentation - good speaker, too! (very engaging) I loved where he pointed out that, unlike nearly every other (or perhaps even just plain every other) religion, Christianity is "testable" - exactly what all the atheists are always demanding.

He says exactly what I've been saying for years. It all hangs on the Resurrection. If Christ did not rise from the dead - literally, physically, historically, bodily, observably, verifiably, then Christianity is false. But if He did... well, then it's time to fall to your your knees and repent.

Jezu ufam tobie!

M.A.D. Moore said...

I thought you were a universalist? Why would this topic be appealing to you?

Joe Hinman said...

Here is my answer to the issue of other faiths, It was written as an answer to Jeff Lowder"> at the secular outpost.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

Joe -- Speaking of answers to me, I'd like to see your response to this: link.

Victor Reppert said...

I'm not an universalist. I have some sympathies with that position, and think it's possibly true. However, I also agree with Metacrock: I believe Jesus is Lord and if anyone is saved it's Jesus who saves them.

B. Prokop said...

Jeffery,

Although you addressed your question to Joe, here's my 2 cents worth anyway.

As G.K. Chesterton wrote, "The purpose of an open mind, like that of an open mouth, is to close it on something solid." I agree. I don't see the virtue in maintaining a perpetually agnostic position about whether or not God exists. There ought to come a time when a reasonable person can honestly say, "I've thought about this long enough, done sufficient research, and listened to every possible argument, and I now unhesitatingly believe [this]. I am confident that I can satisfactorily answer any objection to my position."

I note that you divided your hypothetical speakers into 3 groups, but aren't they all espousing pretty much the same thing (agnosticism)?

Jezu ufam tobie!

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

B Prokop -- I wasn't asking Joe to respond to the post, but to a very specific comment in the combox.

While I have your attention, I was disappointed to find this post from November 7th on your blog:

LINK

You think we chickened out? Really?

We never did anything to block you from commenting here, Joe. I don't know why your password wasn't working. Maybe it was a glitch with Disqus?

In any case, it's approaching three months since November 7th. I'm disappointed you never bothered to issue a retraction after it became clear that you were (and still are) able to post here.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

B Prokop -- Also, to directly answer your question, two of the three hypothetical people are NOT agnostics. That was pretty much the whole point. A theist could admit there is some evidence against God's existence, while consistently believing that God exists because there is other evidence which outweighs it. Likewise, an atheist could admit there is some evidence for God's existence, while consistently believing that God does not exist because there is other evidence which outweighs it. Both of these are very different from the kind of person who says they don't know if God exists because there is no evidence or the evidence that does exist is split (evenly favoring theism and atheism).

John Mitchell said...

" I don't see the virtue in maintaining a perpetually agnostic position about whether or not God exists. There ought to come a time when a reasonable person can honestly say:
I've thought about this long enough, done sufficient research, and listened to every possible argument, and I now unhesitatingly believe [this]. I am confident that I can satisfactorily answer any objection to my position."

Sure the virtuous thing is to become a dogmatic hack who is deluded enough to think he heard every 'possible argument' (especially the "possible arguments" that have not been made yet) and can answer "any objection", especially those he has not heard about yet.
Modest admission of the idea that maybe intellectual inquiry does not compel one to arrive at the conclusion that a certain case must be completely one-sided is really a juvenile trait.


"here's my 2 cents worth anyway"

Well, they certainly weren't worth more.
When are you going to offer your thirty pieces of silver?

B. Prokop said...

Hmm... Let me see now. I can either agree with John Mitchell (whoever the hell he is - he doesn't even share anything on his pathetic "profile" - though I do give you credit for using your (presumably) real name), or with G.K Chesterton.

What to do? What to do?...

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

I don't see what the GK Chesterton quotation has to do with what I wrote. In fact, far from being opposed to what I wrote, Chesterton's statement is consistent with what I wrote. Consider the following position (call it "Sophisticated Theism"):

"The temporal beginning of the universe, the life-permitting conditions of the universe, and libertarian freedom are strong evidence for the existence of God. So-called natural evils are strong evidence against God's existence. But the former very much outweigh the latter. Therefore, it is very, very probable that God exists."

Our Sophisticated Theist has considered the evidence and reached a conclusion based on her best, sincere appraisal of the evidence. Although she thinks there is some evidence against God's existence, that evidence does not prevent her from "unhesitatingly" believing in God.

B. Prokop said...

But Jeffery, once it's been determined that one side or another of any particular question (e.g., were the Moon landings faked, or did they truly occur?) is the correct position, then there really isn't any evidence for the other side. All evidence is thereafter evidence supporting the correct answer, and anyone who thinks otherwise is simply mistaken. Any supposed "evidence" that the Moon landings were faked can (and needs to) be dismissed as either misinterpretation, faulty reasoning, outright falsehood, or downright madness. There comes a time when it is no longer "virtuous" or sensible to continue doubting the historicity of the Moon landings.

For instance, atheists love to bring up the so-called "Problem of Evil" as somehow being evidence against God, whereas I actually consider it to be one of the strongest arguments in favor of His existence. Properly understood, it's far more a problem for the atheist (and an insuperable one at that) than it is for the believer. (The Christian at least has a coherent explanation for why evil exists. But for the atheist, whatever exists ought to be what it's supposed to be. There's no room for "evil" in such a worldview. The fact that evil exists is, in and of itself, proof that the natural world is not all there is.)

Jezu ufam tobie!

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

B Prokop--No, that doesn't follow at all.

Although I completely disagree with your second paragraph and have written about it extensively (see, e.g., here and here), I don't want that paragraph to become a distraction.

The main problem with your comment is the first paragraph. To be very precise:

"There is no evidence for X"

does NOT follow from:

"X is probably true" or even "X is true"

so long as we are using the standard, Bayesian definition of evidence. From our very own Victor Reppert:

We first have to define what evidence is.

I understand evidence in Bayesian terms. For me, X is evidence for Y just in case X is more likely to exist given Y than given not-Y. By this definition, something can have evidence for it and be false.

LINK

Here's a very concrete (if contrived) example. Suppose we have two jars of jellybeans. Each jar has 100 jelly beans. Jar #1 has 70 red beans, 20 blue beans, and 10 yellow beans. Jar #2 had 70 blue beans, 20 red beans, and 10 yellow beans.

Now suppose I tell you that I drew a random jelly bean from a jar, but I don't tell you which jar I drew from. I reveal the jelly bean in my hand and it is red.

Assuming everything else held equal (and that there is no other available, relevant evidence), the fact that I'm holding a red bean in my hand is evidence--indeed, strong evidence--that the bean came from jar #1.

Then I show you a videotape of my carefully picking one of the 'rare' red beans out of jar #2. Now you have a new piece of evidence you didn't have before: the videotape. Now your total available evidence very strongly favors the conclusion that the bean came from jar #2, which it did. And yet it would still be the case that the bean's redness, by itself, is still evidence favoring the hypothesis that the bean came from jar #1.

W logice Ufam!

B. Prokop said...

I see and understand your point, Jeffery, but once you've established where the jelly bean came from, the probability concerns no longer count as evidence. Or do you think that evidence is perpetual?

Joe testifies in court that he witnessed Bill committing a crime. Joe's testimony is evidence until Fred takes the stand and proves conclusively that Joe was in the next town, and couldn't possibly have witnessed anything. At that point, Joe's testimony is no longer evidence.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

B Prokop -- Cool. I feel like we are having actual dialogue! (Imagine that! ;-)

This is a semantics thing. On the Bayesian approach to evidence, as Victor explained, all that matters is whether X is more probable on the assumption that Y is true than on the assumption that Y is false. Whether we have arrived a settled or even definitive conclusion about Y is utterly irrelevant to whether X counts as evidence. In other words, X doesn't stop being evidence (in the Bayesian sense) once we've figured out whether Y is true.

With that said, I'll be the first to agree that there is more than one interpretation of what counts as evidence. Everything I have written is based upon the Bayesian interpretation shared by both Victor, I, and many others, but not everyone.

B. Prokop said...

I studied probability back in Boston University (too many) decades ago when I was working on my MBA, so I've got some familiarity with the subject (although admittedly I haven't used it for many years now). I have to confess I've always been massively skeptical when it comes to applying its principles to philosophical or theological questions. To be bluntly (perhaps even cruelly) honest, whenever I see it employed in a philosophical discussion, I can't help but suspect that someone has a bad case of "science envy".

That said, I do agree we're arguing semantics. I'm pretty sure that I understand your point of view about evidence remaining evidence, even after it's been disproven. But I still don't see it that way. As you say, semantics.

Jezu ufam tobie!

John Mitchell said...

"I can either agree with John Mitchell (whoever the hell he is - he doesn't even share anything on his pathetic "profile)..."

Why don't you ask one of your former co-workers ?


B. Prokop said...

"Why don't you ask one of your former co-workers?"

'Cause then I might have to kill you. : )

John Mitchell said...

"'Cause then I might have to kill you. : )"

Fair enough

B. Prokop said...

(Said in a whisper.)

"The horror... The horror..."

John Mitchell said...

Goodness, tame your eschatological desires...