Friday, November 02, 2012

Loftus says he has no beliefs.



Keen Reader said...

Then he doesn't know himself, or human nature, very well.

B. Prokop said...

Here is what I posted to John's site. Knowing his history of deleting and/or editing posts he doesn't like, let's see how long it stays there in its present form:

"he should think exclusively in terms of probabilities, eschew all faith, and openly embrace the only non-hypocritical standard for evaluating religious faith, including his own faith, in the Outsider Test. But he refuses. Because doing so would mean he must treat his own faith as if it has the burden of proof just as he assumes other religious faiths do"

But John, I've done precisely that, and have come to the conclusion based on an objective evaluation of the evidence that Christianity is true. I put the burden of proof on Christianity and it passed.

If your "test" has only one permissible outcome, it's not really a "test" now, is it?

unkleE said...

It seems that, just as John defines faith differently to how I do, so he defines belief differently. But in this case, the matter may be more resolvable.

The Stanford Encyclopedia says: "Contemporary analytic philosophers of mind generally use the term “belief” to refer to the attitude we have, roughly, whenever we take something to be the case or regard it as true."

Obviously John regards some things as true, so he has beliefs as defined by contemporary analytic philosophers. What he means is that he thinks he doesn't have beliefs without adequate evidence.

But what is adequate evidence? If he stops a stranger in the street to asks directions, and then follows the directions he is given, does he have adequate evidence that the directions are accurate? Probably not, but it is a reasonable assumption.

So in the end, the argument about God-belief comes down to how much we need proof, and how much we need probabilities, and how we assess the probabilities, etc. It is no news that he answers these questions differently to how I do. But it doesn't mean he has no beliefs, or only beliefs that are fully and demonstrably justified. The reality is much more fluid and hard to define than that.

I would assess his statements as ambit claims and some sort of unfulfilled wish. They have little impact on me, except to make it difficult if not impossible for the two of us to have a thoughtful conversation if we should cross paths, which I regard as a sorry state.

It is ironic that someone who would I guess sees himself as a champion of rational good sense expresses views that make it difficult to have any meaningful communication.

Unknown said...

John Loftus posted: "When it comes to truth propositions about reality I don't believe anything at all..."


Unknown said...

If Loftus wants to spend his time arguing about what goes into the idea of faith, instead of talking about faith itself, that's his business. Just assuage his little tantrums with a lollipop and send him on his way.

finney said...

Except for his beliefs about probabilities.

B. Prokop said...

Over on Loftus's own site, he's made the following two statements within the last 24 hours.

1. "I don't think any religious faith can pass the test"

2. "the Outsider Test allows for other outcomes"

Those two statements seem (to me, at least) to be contradictory. The only way I see out of John's self-made dilemma is for him to cede that the so-called OTF is a purely personal matter, and its outcome is therefore a "belief".

He can't have it both ways.

Son of Ya'Kov said...

The OTF is an epic fail.

Atheist philosopher Jesse Parrish gave it a failing grade way back when.

Good times.

B. Prokop said...

Loftus has just posted this on his site (quote slightly redacted for clarity out of context):

" I argue that is it NOT possible for a person to objectively examine the evidence for Christianity and rationally conclude that the claims are consistent with reason. "

I believe (hmm... that word again) that we have identified the Big Problem here in attempting to have a rational discussion with John. Until he cedes that both sides are arguing from reason, how can we ever hope to have a rational debate?

Serious question here. Is such a thing possible?

Anonymous said...

I honestly feel so sorry for this man. He writes,

That chapter is about faith, which I define as "an irrational leap over the probabilities."

Then, by definition, he is as faithful as they come, for he leaps irrationally over the mountain of probabilities that point to the overwhelming unlikelihood of our existence sans purposeful design. With faith stronger than any I've seen, Loftus simply handwaves away the arguments surrounding the anthropic principle.

Somebody needs to hold him to this. He banned me from his site long ago, or else I would.

B. Prokop said...


Not sure it's worth your time. I've been over on his site several times today, and he seems incapable of comprehending plain English. I frankly don't understand how his mind works. The likeliest explanation I can come up with is he doesn't actually read what you've written, but what he expects to be there.

Example: I showed him how we routinely "believe" scientists when we don't have either the time or the expertise to do the their work ourselves. He responds with basically "You anti-scientific ignoramus. Of course science is true" (not his exact words). But my whole point was predicated on acknowledging the validity of science. Where in the world did he get the impression I was denying it? Answer: because that's how he sees people of Faith - as anti-science.

Hmm... yet another example of Loftus believing something. But I thought he didn't believe anything. After all, that was his whole premise.

Like I said, not worth your time. I think my little experiment over there is finished.

Eric said...

"But my whole point was predicated on acknowledging the validity of science. Where in the world did he get the impression I was denying it? Answer: because that's how he sees people of Faith - as anti-science."

I think there's even more to it than that, Bob. There's no way he's not bright enough to distinguish genuinely anti-scientific claims from claims that either limit or qualify the methods or scope of the natural sciences, so I think there has to be something more to it, viz. it's easier to dismiss someone who disagrees with you if you can find a way, however sophistical, to portray him as anti-science.

B. Prokop said...

But what you say cuts right to the quick of my comment above. Is genuine debate even possible if both sides do not cede rationality to the other? I know that for me I find it difficult to acknowledge such in certain posters (Papalinton and Steven Carr come to mind). But then again, I've long ago abandoned all hope of having a rational exchange of ideas with either of them. So maybe they're just proving my point via the negative.

Loftus's case is a bit more complicated, as he has a financial interest in his positions. He actually makes money off of being an atheist - and a shrill one at that. For him to admit error would hurt him in the pocketbook. Therefore, nothing he says can be taken at face value. There's always that not-so-hidden agenda.

Eric said...

"But what you say cuts right to the quick of my comment above. Is genuine debate even possible if both sides do not cede rationality to the other?"

Yes, I agree. The "anti-science" nonsense just gets on my nerves, though, especially when people with no scientific training whatsoever (like John) go on about it (and when they openly denigrate real scientists who have actually made real scientific contributions who happen to be theists).

B. Prokop said...

That's what I was trying (unsuccessfully, alas) to get across over on the "debunking" site. Victor challenged the followers there with their belief in e=mc2, and someone responded with "Hiroshima". I countered with something like, "do you personally understand the link between the equation and the bomb?" and all I got back was "well, I supposed you'll just say that God did it!"

So you can see what passes for "rational discourse" over in Loftusland. Sad.

Son of Ya'Kov said...

Ben Yachov's Law

Reasoning, Scientific research & Rational Analysis in general are learned skills.

Just because you have chosen to deny God or gods doesn't automatically make you rational or grant you said skills by osmosis.

Ben Yachov's Corollary

You can tell someone is a Gnu Atheist because he will violate Ben Yachov's law with all the enthusiasm of a cockroach eating a pile of steamy garbage.

Of course I was inspired to make these laws from the old pagan saying "Against Stupidity even the gods themselves contend in vain".