Saturday, November 05, 2011

outsider tests (lower case) versus The Outsider Test (TM)

Actually, the underlying idea of the OTF is perfectly legitimate, in that, it is frequently useful to, as a thought experiment, imagine oneself as having started with a different perspective from that which you have in fact started. This is a point that I have argued many times. Where it goes wrong is when Loftus says that to *really* take the outsider test you have to take the perspective of an outsider like himself, a modern, science-oriented materialist. But there are many was of being outside of orthodox Christianity besides being outside of it that way, so why privilege that position? Why consider the results you get from that position to be authoritative or objective?

In short, anyone who thinks seriously takes many outsider tests, but what is questionable is when it is suggested that there is The Outsider Test (TM), the results of which are definitive for the rationality of one's belief. Also, I have argued that directing outsider tests to religious faith, and not to beliefs in general, is question-begging.


Daniel Smith said...

Of course, if one begins with modern, materialistic/naturalistic assumptions, then one consequently begins with the assumption that Christianity is not merely unproven but false. Is there some non-arbitrary (non question-begging) reason for picking that as a starting point? And what about the materialist, what assumptions is he permitted to have when applying the OTF to an atheistic worldview? He must have "outsider" assumptions, which implies that at least some non-naturalistic assumptions are in principle legitimate. So why is a Christian not permitted to begin with those rather than with naturalistic assumptions?

finney said...

If, on The Outsider Test, one assumes a perspective built on data that makes no reference to any value or assumption conducive to a theistic worldview, then he determines his own course to adopting a materialistic worldview.

I wonder if anyone could verify the existence of the physical world and other minds by The Outsider Test.

If you wanted to verify the truth of naturalism (let's say that naturalism means "all that exists is the physical world") by The Outsider Test, what is the perspective you're supposed to adopt?

finney said...

The reason I point out belief in other minds and the physical world is that they are both analogues to the purported bases of religious belief: direct experience and inference by analogy, so if religious belief is to be treated by the OTF, so should belief in other minds and belief in the physical world, IMHO.

Mike Erich the Mad Theologian said...

If one wants to consider others people's perspectives we need to explore a variety of other people's perspectives and ask how they would look at and respond to our beliefs. I find this a useful exercise. But to assume we must start from a particular perspective and examine things by it only is to stack the deck.