Thursday, February 11, 2016

It's all about faith???

Z: Well with religion it's not about evidence, but faaaaaith....

VR: Oh please. So, the famous book in defense of Christianity was called "Faith that demands a verdict?"

There are Christians out there who really think the evidence supports their position. They are NOT fideists. If people really were thoroughgoing fideists, then most of what atheists say isn't going to get through to them at all. Atheists keep saying that Christians have no interest in evidence, but then they keep arguing that Christians shouldn't be Christians because there isn't any evidence. But in doing so they are presupposing that evidence matters, which, on their own view of Christians, is not true.

Christians often say the opposite of what you are saying here. They say that evidence matters and that the evidence supports, say, the Resurrection. If I thought that I could only be a Christian by being a fideist, I would have left the fold 40 years ago.

40 comments:

John Moore said...

What's wrong with fideism? It's pure and spiritual and sublime. And it's impregnable! Talking about evidence just weakens the case for theism. I really don't see what's wrong with fideism.

planks length said...

The evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the tomb, after (beyond any shadow of a doubt) having been executed by the Romans, is strong and has never been challenged in such a way as to give sufficient cause for anyone to disbelieve in it.

You can go on forever about the Five Ways, or coincidence miracles, or the Argument from Reason, or where does objective morality come from, or any other of literally countless perfectly good arguments for Christianity, but when it comes down to it, the fact of the Resurrection is all anyone really needs to know.

Christianity stands or falls on this alone. "Christ is risen" - it's all true. If He's not - then we're all dopes.

Cal Metzger said...

In the same way that prediction that can’t be measured isn’t really a prediction, a belief for which no contrary evidence could exist isn’t really knowledge.

And that’s the problem when we’re talking about concepts, or definitions, or incoherent ideas — when there’s no conceivable contrary evidence that could change those concepts, or definitions, or incoherent ideas — then we’re not talking about knowledge.

Here’s an example (similar to the belief in Yahweh’s eternalness): our belief that the earth is a sphere. It’s straightforward to answer the question of what it would take to change minds about our belief that the earth is a sphere. Why?Because we have good evidence for the earth being a sphere, and that makes it easy to discuss how that evidence would need to be different in order for us to change our minds.

For instance, we would change our minds about the earth being a flat, sqaured surface instead of a a sphere if the evidence showed us that:
- Circumnavigation of the earth was impossible / an edge of the world could be reached.
- The earth shows no curvature measured by decent optical instruments.
- The shape of the earth's shadow during a lunar eclipse was not consistent with a sphere but was consistent with a flat (square) surface.
- The physical forces that we measure, can describe, and use to predict do not comport with a sphere forming from the earth’s mass but with a flat surface.
- Satellite and solar system devices didn’t observe the earth or other similar sized objects as a sphere but as a flat surface
- We don’t observe spheres forming in those solar systems where planets are forming, instead we see flat surfaces forming.
Etc.

Notice how all of the above offers good evidence — it’s empirical, meaning we can examine it ourselves, its objective, reliable, and verifiable. The belief that the earth’s sphericalness (or not) is true based on “checkable” evidence.

If I was still a believer, I would think that I’d try to imagine what good, checkable evidence could change my mind about Yahweh and his attributes, because without that I don’t think I’d actually know anything about Yahweh.

Edgestow said...

I would think that I’d try to imagine what good, checkable evidence could change my mind about Yahweh and his attributes

Uh, Cal. That's your job. Why do you want us to do your work for you? Maybe because you realize there isn't any such evidence?

Cal Metzger said...

Edge: "Uh, Cal. That's your job. Why do you want us to do your work for you? Maybe because you realize there isn't any such evidence?"

Um, no. As I'm pointing out, the inability of religious believers to imagine what good, checkable evidence could change their minds is an indication that their belief isn't actually knowledge. Knowledge, you see, isn't about protecting your beliefs from change, but about exposing them in every way we can imagine, to see how closely they remain consistent with reality.

Edgestow said...

An alternative explanation is that the inability to imagine evidence that could change an honest, objective Christian's mind is that there isn't any such evidence to imagine. I can't imagine any possible evidence that would cause me to doubt that 2 plus 2 equals four. Yet that's still knowledge. But according to you, it's not.

If you think there is some way to "expose" Christianity to evidence (not speculation, but evidence), then let's hear it. Otherwise, you're just blowing smoke.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

I think it is easy to describe evidence that should change a believer's mind. To make this an easier pill to swallow, I'll deliberately list things not known to true or don't exist.

1. A complete and viable naturalistic explanation for the origin of life.
2. A complete and viable naturalistic explanation of consciousness.

Hypothetical items of evidence which should convince theists to abandon sectarian versions of theism, if such evidence actually existed.

1. Judaism: Conclusive evidence that God did not dictate the Ten Commands to Moses on Mt. Sinai.
2. Christianity:
a. Conclusive evidence that Jesus never existed; OR
b. Conclusive evidence that Jesus did not rise from the dead, but instead his body decomposed in a grave somewhere, such as the discovery of the missing chapter from Tacitus's Annals which describes the time period in which Jesus lived, and reading in that chapter that, say, Joseph of Arimathea moved the body, watched it rot, and Christians believed he rose from the dead anyway.
3. Islam: Conclusive evidence that Mohammed made up the Koran.
4. Mormonism: Conclusive evidence that Joseph Smith made up the Book of Mormon.
etc.

Since none of these items exist, it should be easier for believers to admit that if they DID exist, it would be good or even conclusive evidence against their beliefs. It would be interesting if any believers said they would continue to believe in light of such hypothetical evidence.

Cal Metzger said...

Edge: "An alternative explanation is that the inability to imagine evidence that could change an honest, objective Christian's mind is that there isn't any such evidence to imagine."

Then why is it so easy for us to imagine what evidence would indicate that the earth is NOT a sphere? Something's gotta give.

Angra Mainyu said...

Victor:

You say: "Atheists keep saying that Christians have no interest in evidence, but then they keep arguing that Christians shouldn't be Christians because there isn't any evidence. But in doing so they are presupposing that evidence matters, which, on their own view of Christians, is not true."
Apart from the fact that not all atheists keep saying that, that doesn't follow.
If those atheists believe that Christians should not be Christians because there isn't any evidence, they seem to "presuppose" (or rather reckon) that Christians should care about evidence, in the epistemic sense of "should" - i.e., that a person who is being epistemically rational about the matter would not be a Christian because there isn't any evidence.

But there is no good reason to conclude based on your description that those atheists are presupposing (or reckoning, etc.) something that contradicts their own view of Christians.

Cal Metzger said...

Lowder: "Since none of these items exist, it should be easier for believers to admit that if they DID exist, it would be good or even conclusive evidence against their beliefs."

Actually, I think that pretends that the problem is somehow resolved; there's not really any way for the things you list to exist, now, is there?

planks length said...

Jeffery,

I agree with about half of what you wrote. But as for

1. A complete and viable naturalistic explanation for the origin of life.
2. A complete and viable naturalistic explanation of consciousness.

being a problem for believers, I don't see why either should be so in the least. After all, no educated person (to include all the Christian scientists who actually discovered these things) has ever had any problem with there being "complete and viable" explanations for the origin of the Earth and all of its geologic features. Why should life and consciousness be any different?

As to Judaism, (although I am not Jewish) I do not think that a literal reading of Exodus is necessary to being a believing Jew.

As for your writing

a. Conclusive evidence that Jesus never existed; OR
b. Conclusive evidence that Jesus did not rise from the dead, but instead his body decomposed in a grave somewhere

I agree with you 100%. No Resurrection - no Christianity. Show me the indisputable body of Jesus, and I'll cease being a Christian one nanosecond later.

It would be interesting if any believers said they would continue to believe in light of such hypothetical evidence.

I would not be among them.

Edgestow said...

Then why is it so easy for us to imagine...?

Jeffery's got a good point, and I'll give him that. The verifiable body of Jesus would be conclusive evidence that Christianity is false. Interesting that you weren't able to come up with that.

Got anything else?

Cal Metzger said...

Edge: "Jeffery's got a good point, and I'll give him that. The verifiable body of Jesus would be conclusive evidence that Christianity is false. Interesting that you weren't able to come up with that."

I'll wait here for your explanation of how it is you'd verify that you'd be examining the body of Jesus. Like I've been saying, if you can't imagine what that evidence is, then your belief isn't knowledge.

Knowledge isn't about devising ways that no evidence could exist that could change your belief; it's about exposing your belief to evidence that could disconfirm your belief, but doesn't.

Edgestow said...

Like I've been saying, if you can't imagine what that evidence is, then your belief isn't knowledge

And like I've been saying, by your own words you have no knowledge that 2 plus 2 equals 4, unless you can imagine evidence that would disprove it.

investigativeapologetics said...

The fact is that atheists who yell that “there is no evidence for God (or Christianity)” are protesting too much, so to speak, and they are, in fact, projecting the weakness of atheism onto theism. For truth be told, it is atheism, at least when in its wide and positive sense, that is the view for which there is no evidence or argumentation that could establish its position. After all, consider, for instance, a personal being—whether caused or uncaused, material or immaterial—who could potentially live forever and who was also powerful and knowledgeable enough that he could create a world like ours through his own power. Such a being would surely fit the definition of a “god”. Now imagine that this being existed, but he co-existed with an eternal universe, he did not create or design the universe, and he never interacted with the universe in any way. Essentially, this being exists, and could influence the universe, but never has. Now refresh your memory about every argument or evidence for atheism (or naturalism) that you have ever heard. Notice how literally none of these arguments or evidences would have any force against the existence of the god as described above. Indeed, every atheistic argument currently on offer could be sound, and yet none would disprove the existence of such a being. So, unlike theism, atheism, when taken in the broad positive sense, really is a position for which there is “no evidence.”

And note that while the existence of such a god would be inconsequential to us, this fact would nevertheless be irrelevant to the fact that atheism would still be false if such a being existed.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

The fact is that atheists who yell that “there is no evidence for God (or Christianity)” are protesting too much, so to speak, and they are, in fact, projecting the weakness of atheism onto theism. For truth be told, it is atheism, at least when in its wide and positive sense, that is the view for which there is no evidence or argumentation that could establish its position.

Yawn. InvestigativeApologetics seems completely oblivious about the ways to establish the truth of atheism.

LINKS:here, here

investigativeapologetics said...

Jeff,

Yawn all you like. I am intimately familiar both with those two links and with the various Evidential Arguments that you present at the Secular Outpost. In fact, funny enough, it was your arguments that inspired me to look into this matter and come to the conclusion that I did concerning the un-evidenced nature of atheism (when viewed broadly and positively).

Now, obviously, I cannot show this conclusion in this particular comment (although further comments may follow) and I am simultaneously--at this point in my life--beyond caring whether people are swayed by my points or not (for convincing a flesh-and-blood person is not the same as having a convincing argument). However, let me just make a few quick points:

1) First, I am not saying that we must prove that a god does not exist with certainty in order to be rational to believe that a god(s) does not exist. Rather, I am saying that the atheist cannot even show that it is more probable than not that a god does not exist...at least not without begging the question in a substantial number of ways that the theist or skeptic need not grant.

2) For example, consider all the evidential arguments that you present on the Secular Outpost in light of the Likelihood Principle (that a data/observation counts as evidence for Hypothesis 1 over Hypothesis 2 if the data/observation is more likely or expected on Hypothesis 1 than on Hypothesis 2):

a. The Evidential Argument from Scale (AS) – Given the kind of being described in my first comment, no specific scale of the universe would count as evidence against its existence, and all “scale types” would be equally expected on both naturalism and that form of theism. Thus, no evidential support for naturalism (and I know that you don’t fully or strongly endorse the argument from scale, but I wished to present it anyway).

b. The Evidential Argument from the History of Science (AHS) – This argument was ripped apart in a past discussion that I remember (with Crude and CL and others, I believe…I’m sure you will disagree, but that is not surprising given that philosophy is a discipline of disagreement), and it has (at my last count) at least 10 flaws, but its worst flaw is that it assumes both that there is such a thing as “matter” and that there is such a thing as a “naturalistic” cause (or explanation), but neither of these need be accepted by the theist or skeptic, either of whom could be an immaterialist (or a-matterist) and/or an occasionalist (where God is the only true cause). So your argument rests on an assumption that need not be conceded, and hence, the argument is flawed from the start. It is also circular given that you need to deal with the objection from the occasionalist, but to do that, you cannot assume a natural cause, which is what the occasionalist denies; you would either have to disprove occasionalism or disprove the existence of any god through other means, but this, in turn, makes your argument redundant. So the argument is either redundant or begs the question. Not a good state for an argument to be in. Furthermore, even if the existence of “naturalistic” explanations was conceded, it would still be the case that if a deist non-interventionist god existed, we would expect all explanations to be naturalistic even on this type of deism, and so again, there is no evidential value in favor of naturalism or deism with this argument as naturalistic explanations would be equally likely on both worldviews.

Con’t…

investigativeapologetics said...

Con’t…

c. The Evidential Argument from Biological Evolution (ABE) / The Evidential Argument from Physical Minds (APM) / The Evidential Argument from Evil: The Biological Role of Pain and Pleasure (AE: APP) / The Evidential Argument from Evil: The Flourishing and Languishing of Sentient Beings (AE: AFL) / The Evidential Argument from Evil: The Self-Centeredness and Limited Altruism of Human Beings (AE: AVV) - See Point (a) – Again, none of these arguments hold any evidentiary weight against a non-interventionist god and so do not support naturalism over such a deism given that all these facts would be equally likely on naturalism or deism.

Now, you could, of course, try to claim that aspects of prior probability or modesty/coherence (from Paul Draper’s ‘Burden of Proof’ Argument, which I know you support) might make atheistic-naturalism more rational or more likely than some type of theism. But again, there are numerous problems with such maneuvers. First, prior probabilities are notoriously difficult to establish objectively, and I, on that basis alone, I would be suspicious of any argument, by an atheist, which just happens to show that atheism (or atheistic-naturalism) has a higher prior probability than theism. Second, in all your arguments (and your priors) you begin with the assumption that materialism—in the sense of metaphysical matter actually existing—is true, but I do not concede this assumption (being an a-matterist and thus lacking a belief in the existence of matter) and so this must be proven before any one of your arguments gets off the ground and before you can even set the prior probabilities that you want. Third, modesty and coherence does not favor naturalism, but rather a type of Berkelian immaterialism, for it is that view that makes the least assumptions about reality (only thinking things exist, which we cannot deny, and is thus the most modest) while remaining coherent (and it is arguable that atheistic-naturalism even is coherent), so Draper does not help you much. Fourth, even if we grant the existence of matter, given the fact that a “material god” could exist, and given that a good case could be made that the prior probability of a “material god” existing is either just as good or better than the prior probability of straight atheistic-naturalism (for consciousness, language, life, would have a higher probability of existing given the existence of a material god than given just straight atheistic-naturalism), then, once again, your arguments run into trouble.

Now, I am certain that you might scoff at certain proposals that I have put forward (for example, immaterialism or occasionalism) as being not worthy of consideration. And that’s fine. But my point is this: I do not need to concede to the very assumptions which are latent in so many of the arguments that you put forward, and the moment I do not concede to those assumptions, not only do your arguments lose nearly all their force (if not all), but you actually have the burden to prove the things that you are asserting. And demonstrating such things (such as the actual existence of matter, for example) is a very difficult task to say the least. Furthermore, until and unless you do demonstrate the existence of these things you just essentially assumed, I could readily contend that you hold to them with little more than blind faith. And so these are just some of the brief reasons why, when atheistic arguments are thoroughly deconstructed, and when we realize the various underlying assumptions that they make—assumptions which we need not grant—and when we also understand that the atheist is literally denying the existence of all reasonably possible gods, which could and would include a god such as a non-interventionist one, then we can begin to understand why the atheistic position, when viewed broadly and positively, lacks any evidence for its claim.

Ilíon said...

John Moore explains *why* he is *still* an "atheist", moore or lesse: "What's wrong with fideism? It's pure and spiritual and sublime. And it's impregnable! Talking about evidence just weakens the case for theism. I really don't see what's wrong with fideism."

Joe Hinman said...

talking about evidence does not weaken the case. If upu are into fideism there is no case. what do you need a case for?

Joe Hinman said...

Investigative guy:

"b. and/or an occasionalist (where God is the only true cause). So your argument rests on an assumption that need not be conceded, and hence, the argument is flawed from the start."

>>why should we think of something as a flaw when it is the foundational assumption of 99.9% of those with whom we will argue?



"It is also circular given that you need to deal with the objection from the occasionalist, but to do that, you cannot assume a natural cause, which is what the occasionalist denies;"

>>tell me why we need to deal with that? Do we need to deal with the objections of flat earth guys?

Joe Hinman said...

Jeff in response to your link no 1 you say argument for truth of Christian God is tacitly argument against existence of all other gods. Not necessarily. I am not a universalist but were I one I would argue that all concepts of God fall short. I do really believe that. God is beyond our understanding's There is a reality there but it's beyond us to get it. The only reason we know a ythi9ng about it beyond wordless experience.

The reason I'm not a universalist is because Jesus reveals God to us and gives us someth9ng to talk about and understand.

Joe Hinman said...

PS Jeff I find your articles interesting. I am going to try a d answer some on my blog and/or Cadre blog

Cal Metzger said...

Edge: "And like I've been saying, by your own words you have no knowledge that 2 plus 2 equals 4, unless you can imagine evidence that would disprove it."

???

I can imagine evidence that would disprove it, and I can examine that evidence. I can take two of something (let's use apples), and then I can add two more apples to that group, and then I can count the group. Before, I had 2 apples, then I added two more apples to that group, and when I counted the new group again, I have 4.

Evidence that 2 + 2 = 4. I can repeat this test (it's reliable) over and over with more apples and other objects and get the same results, you and others can examine the apples yourselves (it's verifiable), and the objects and results aren't affected by differences in our perceptions or subjective experiences (it's objective).

Are you going to tell us now how you'd verify that you're examining the body of Jesus? I've never heard anyone propose how that one is supposed to actually work and you're "Interesting that you weren't able to come up with that" comment to me certainly implied that you've got that one figured out.

planks length said...

argument for truth of Christian God is tacitly argument against existence of all other gods

Also, do not forget that Vatican II, in the document Nosta Aetate, affirms that a degree of truth (to a greater or lesser extent) may be found in non-Christian religions - i.e., truth is truth, regardless of messenger.

So, a Christian (or, at least a Catholic Christian) is not obligated to consider all other religions to be false.

Edgestow said...

Once again (and this is getting quite tiresome), Cal demonstrates that he doesn't even understand his own statements.

Cal, you wrote, "when there’s no conceivable contrary evidence that could change those concepts, or definitions, or incoherent ideas — then we’re not talking about knowledge." So I respond that by your own reasoning, you have no knowledge that 2 plus 2 equals four, unless you can conceive of evidence that would change your mind about this. Incredibly, your counter-response is to list evidence for the proposition that 2 plus 2 equals four, while listing nothing that would demonstrate its falsity.

So obviously, in the face of there being no conceivable disproving evidence, you lack "knowledge" of the fact that 2 plus 2 equals 4.

Ilíon said...

PL: "So, a Christian (or, at least a Catholic Christian) is not obligated to consider all other religions to be false."

In that case, then so much the worse for Catholics.

A Christian knows that not everything other religions assert is necessarily false -- while still knowing that those other religions *are* false.

PL: "- i.e., truth is truth, regardless of messenger.

Now, this is true -- the sky is not not-blue just because Lenin says the sky is blue -- thus, it's a matter of very simple matter of logic that a Christian knows that not everything other religions assert is necessarily false.

At the same time, it's *also* a matter of simple logic that TRUE AND FALSE = FALSE; thus, it's also that case that while a Christian knows that not everything other religions assert is necessarily false -- he *also* knows that those other religions *are* false. For, all of the other religions, including atheism, assert at least one false thing about Christ.

Ilíon said...

Edgestow: "Once again (and this is getting quite tiresome), Cal demonstrates that he doesn't even understand his own statements."

No matter what the subject matter is, when people don't want to reason properly about it (*), they seem to have a very finely honed talent for contradicting themselves and refusing to see it, even after it is publically pointed out.


(*) generally, because reasoning properly about it leads to a conclusion they wish to deny.

planks length said...

Ilion,

My one-line gist of Nostra Aetate perhaps didn't do it justice. Here is an exact quote from it:

"The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in [non-Christian] religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men. Indeed, she proclaims, and ever must proclaim Christ "the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6), in whom men may find the fullness of religious life, in whom God has reconciled all things to Himself."

It is in that sense, that we can regard non-Christian religions as being not false.

Cal Metzger said...

Edge: "So obviously, in the face of there being no conceivable disproving evidence, you lack "knowledge" of the fact that 2 plus 2 equals 4."

I mentioned the conceivable disproving evidence -- the counting of the objects after they were added together. If the apples counted to 3, or 5, or a different number, we would have evidence that 2+2 ≠ 4. Counting up objects added together is how one would attempt to disprove that 2+2 = 4, similar to all the ways that I mentioned one could disprove that the earth is spherical.

Having conceivable disproving evidence doesn't mean that the evidence actually disproves. It just needs to be good evidence, which is basically something that's reliable, objective, and verifiable. Counting objects is reliable, verifiable, and objective.

Speaking of, do I understand by your non-replies to my follow up question on the body-of-Jesus disproving evidence claim that you won't be proposing how it is that one could reliably, verifiable, and objectively produce evidence that a body was that of Jesus?

Edgestow said...

Speaking of, do I understand by your non-replies to my follow up question on the body-of-Jesus disproving evidence claim that you won't be proposing how it is that one could reliably, verifiabl[y], and objectively produce evidence that a body was that of Jesus?

Of course I won't - what a nonsensical request! It would be just as easy to do so, as it would be for you to provide reliable, verifiable, and objective evidence that 2 plus 2 does not equal 4.

First you show me how that can be done, and then I might take your absurd gotcha challenge more seriously. But in the Real World, you can no more do the one than you can do the other. Funny thing about that...

Good grief, didn't you learn anything from your breathtakingly stupid Odin challenge?

Cal Metzger said...

Edge: "The verifiable body of Jesus would be conclusive evidence that Christianity is false."
Me: "Are you going to tell us now how you'd verify that you're examining the body of Jesus?"
Edge: "Of course I won't - what a nonsensical request!"

---------------

Edge: "Good grief, didn't you learn anything from your breathtakingly stupid Odin challenge?"

I am learning quite a bit about the level of thinking for many of the commenters here, yes.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularoutpost/2016/02/12/a-matterism-and-the-cumulative-case-against-theism/

Ilíon said...

^ Founders on the question, "What is it *like* to be a human?"

Joe Hinman said...

I forgot I already had an essay on falsifiability of God. you wont like my answer

investigativeapologetics said...

In case anyone is interested in my discussion with Jeff, I replied to him in detail on his blog. Just follow the link that he posted.

steve said...

For Cal:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-K_04oIIgw&feature=youtu.be

Joe Hinman said...

Steve's link

Joe Hinman said...

Founders on the question, "What is it *like* to be a human?"

--I prefer to figure that our for myself. It's one of my few areas of expertise

Ilíon said...

^ Yeah, well, but you've already shown everyone what you are.