The Untrustworthiness of Inherited Beliefs

I read apologetics books every so often just to keep in practice, and this week I’m tackling Timothy Keller’s The Reason for God. So far, I’m supremely unimpressed: it’s mostly just reheated C.S. Lewis leftovers (seriously, his answer to almost every question is a quote of Lewis), spiced with that old apologist standby, blatant dishonesty (e.g., he writes that medieval slavery only occurred “over strenuous papal opposition”).

I did see one argument that I don’t think I’ve addressed before, so I’ll deal with it here. It has to do with Keller’s response to the fact that people’s religious beliefs are strongly influenced by the time and place of their birth, part of what I call the argument from locality. He quotes the Christian apologist Alvin Plantinga:

People often to say to [Plantinga], “If you were born in Morocco, you wouldn’t even be a Christian, but rather a Muslim.” He responds:

Suppose we concede that if I had been born of Muslim parents in Morocco rather than Christian parents in Michigan, my beliefs would have been quite different. [But] the same goes for the pluralist… If the pluralist had been born in [Morocco] he probably wouldn’t be a pluralist. Does it follow that… his pluralist beliefs are produced in him by an unreliable belief-producing process? [p.11]

Christian apologists always think they’re very clever when they make an I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I argument like this one. (Keller is quite taken with this kind of apologetic and repeats it in several slightly different forms in the first few chapters.)

But even in the watered-down and distorted form that’s the only way he allows this argument to be presented, he’s missed the point of it. The purpose of this pluralist argument isn’t to say that religion is false because different people have different beliefs; the point is to demonstrate that most people’s religious beliefs weren’t generated by a truth-seeking process.

Some methods of forming belief are truth-seeking: they’re responsive to evidence and have a built-in way of sifting truth from falsehood. The scientific method is truth-seeking because it forces you to test your ideas against reality through experiments and observations that can’t be rigged to yield the results you favor.

Other methods of forming belief are not truth-seeking. For example: choosing a religion because it’s the most common one where you live and you want to be popular; because you’re coerced into choosing it by the threat of punishment for heretics; or because you had a mystical, unreplicable subjective experience which persuaded you that that was what the gods wanted.

And the one that’s relevant here: inheriting your beliefs from your parents through childhood indoctrination is also not a truth-seeking process. This is shown by the fact that, like other non-truth-seeking methods, it leads to different and incompatible results with equal ease. Children born in Morocco tend to be Muslim; children born in India tend to be Hindu; children born in ancient Egypt tended to worship the ancient Egyptian gods; and children born in America’s Bible Belt tend to be Christian. Obviously, that’s because there’s cultural and social pressure that works in favor of whichever religion is dominant at a particular time and place.

If you pick your religious beliefs by comparing several alternatives (including atheism!) and impartially considering the arguments for and against each of them, then you can claim those beliefs were produced by a truth-sensitive process, no matter when or where in history you live. But the number of people who can credibly claim to have done this is infinitesimal, compared to the much larger majority in every era that go with the flow. And while this doesn’t, strictly speaking, prove anything about the truth of the underlying doctrines, it’s fair to conclude that if a religion relies on the non-truth-seeking method of indoctrinating children for its survival and propagation, it’s likely because it fears a fair comparison of the alternatives.

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • asonge

    I just find it hilarious whenever the more successful apologetics responses are touted way beyond their justification. I’m assuming this is Plantinga’s version of the sensus divinitatus (sense experience of the divine). I actually think this argument isn’t a bad one if you’re trying to prove vague spiritualism to be plausible, like William James did (iirc).

    It seems to be a rather mundane claim, after all: people report experiences of some numinous realm that’s completely colored by their cultural experience. You can give them the legitimacy of extra-material sense data, but there’s no way that doesn’t involve ad-hoc hypotheses to establish that this sense data creates or justifies accurate knowledge of a supernatural/numinous interaction from this sense data alone. In short, “you can’t get there from here”.

  • David_Evans

    Plantinga’s presumed symmetry between Islam and “pluralism” fails in a number of ways. If he had been brought up in Morocco he would probably not have had ready access to secular or atheist (or even Christian!) literature. Even if he had, the Muslim view that apostasy should be punished by death would act as a considerable deterrent to exploring them. Pluralism has neither of these disadvantages.

  • watcher_b

    The problem I have when apologists use these “I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I arguments” is that they are admitting that their faith is arbitrary, they are saying that all choices of truth are arbitrary and God is going to burn you in hell for choosing the wrong one.

  • Science Avenger

    The are also assuming the migration rates between the groups in question is comparable. The proportion of atheists raised in religious households no doubt dwarfs the proportion of Morroccon Muslims that convert to Christianity.

  • Richard Hollis

    Just as aside (because I think the major point of the post is accurate and very well put) but does anyone actually worship the ancient Egyptian gods any more? I thought most Egyptians were Muslim…

  • http://www.ethanbodnaruk.com Ethan Bodnaruk

    I like the title, “Untrustworthiness of Inherited Beliefs” and it reminds me of a quote by Richard Feynman:

    “You must distinguish the science from the forms or procedures that are sometimes used in developing science. It is easy to say, “We write, experiment, and observe, and do this or that.” You can copy that form exactly. But great religions are dissipated by following form without remembering the direct content of the teaching of the great leaders. In the same way, it is possible to follow form and call it science, but that is pseudoscience… the result of this pseudoscientific imitation is to produce experts.

    Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts. When someone says, “Science teaches such and such,” he is using the word incorrectly. Science doesn’t teach anything; experience teaches it. You might ask, “How does science show it? How did the scientists find out? How? What? Where?” It should not be “science has shown,” but “this experiment, this effect, has shown.” And you have as much right as anyone else, upon hearing about the experiments (but be patient and listen to all the evidence) to judge whether a sensible conclusion has been arrived at.”

    Even science and popular science have to be questioned, as people make up all sorts of mumbo jumbo with respect to them and become “experts” just because they talk a lot!

  • Nathaniel

    I’ve read this book as well, and one thing that really chapped my hide is his increasingly annoying assumption that everyone who was an atheist is a moral relativist. Dude, get out of the bubble.

  • Jason Wexler

    Several types of neo-paganism worship modern conceptions of the ancient Egyptian gods, but that happens for the most part in Britain and America by people of generally Germanic descent. The main or most thoroughly accurate neo-pagan version of ancient Egyptian religion is called Kemitism, although that tends to be associated with black nationalism and violent separatism. The most common form of modern worship of ancient Egyptian gods is the general neo-pagan practice of taking a few gods from every pantheon and create their own personal pantheon… Isis and Thoth tend to be favorites for Egyptian representation in personal pantheons.

    Plus for what it’s worth I am pretty sure Adam said that “children born in ancient Egypt tended to worship the ancient Egyptian gods;”, so modern Egyptian Islamic practice isn’t pertinent. Although it may be worth noting that depending on when we are talking about Ancient Egypt the religion can change rather dramatically… the most familiar form of ancient Egyptian religion to modern eyes is specifically New Kingdom religion, and would be unfamiliar to people during the Old Kingdom. During the late dynastic period Egyptians switched to worshiping the Apis Bull, during the Hellenistic period they took up a modified version of Dodecatheism interspersing New Kingdom gods in place of the “traditional” Greek counter parts much like modern neo-pagans do, during the Roman era there was a revival of Middle Kingdom religion or a contemporary variant there-in, mostly to screw with the Romans but eventually they adopted the infinitely plastic religion of Rome itself creating a new Bastardization of everything that had come before.

  • Richard Hollis

    Good to know. Ta.

  • Azkyroth

    Christian apologists always think they’re very clever when they make an I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I argument like this one.

    They’re almost as clever as the “but if we accept [argument with true premises X], how can we reject [superficially similar-in-form argument with false premises Y]” headinbuttal the aren’t-I-a-clever-freshman types are so fond of. >.>

  • GCT

    headinbuttal

    LOL.

  • JohnH2

    I think you have made some extremely valid points. I think you are spot on accurate for the most part, with one minor point of disagreement.

    “accurate knowledge”

    My claim to knowledge of my faith is based on, essentially, the idea that one can use numinous to lead to truth: One performs a specific task and asks God about a specific subject and then God responds and the claim is that anyone who performs that specific task and asks God about that specific subject will likewise have a largely similar response. This process would seem to me to lead to a diffusely accurate knowledge about the subject: the question of context and meaning of the response still remains but it is basically an claimed repeatable experimental procedure to produce knowledge of God.

    I am specifically thinking of Alma 32 and Moroni 10:3-5.

  • asonge

    Then why do people with the same methodology that you have come to vastly different views? You can’t get there from here in a way that is convincing to anyone but yourself. As Thomas Paine said “Personal revelation is hearsay upon testimony.”

  • Lagerbaer

    How do you know that performing the specific tasks doesn’t accomplish the particular experience that people then mistake for a response by God? There are, for example, several ways to get yourself into a state of trance, or to start hallucinating.

  • JohnH2

    I agree, it is nearly completely invalid for anyone except for the person experiencing it.

  • JohnH2

    You may wish to consider what is in both the passages I cite. Reading the Book of Mormon is hardly supposed to put a person in a trance, though Mark Twain might disagree.

  • Lagerbaer

    My point is: If a repeatable experimental procedure produces a certain outcome, there is still no way for you to somehow link this procedure to god. I certainly agree with “Many people have done A and experienced B”. I don’t agree with “B produces knowledge of god”.

  • GCT

    Personal anecdote is not data. And, if you admit that it is invalid when you start to factor in more than one person, then you’re completely undercutting your claim.

  • GCT

    Not to mention the problems of confirmation bias inherent in such an “experiment,” which is what I think you’re getting at.

  • JohnH2

    My claim is for the individual; that they are able to use it to obtain a knowledge of God.

  • JT Rager

    Absolutely! “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool!”

  • smrnda

    First, I think the term pluralism is being abused. I support a pluralistic society not because I think religious beliefs are valid, but because I support human rights which entail religious freedom, provided it doesn’t violate human rights.

    The other thing is that people who are likely raised in secular homes are possibly more likely to be secular than people raised in religious homes. However, that doesn’t really seem to prove anything at all, since people raised in societies that believe in germ theory are more likely to believe in germs than people raised in a society that things illness is caused by evil spirits. We have evidence for one, but not the other.

    So for religion, we have a problem where we don’t have reliable experiments to perform since gods don’t seem to really answer on demand, and so far, it doesn’t seem that gods bless societies since secular societies are doing pretty well. With that in mind, it seems like a totally arbitrary preference.

    If anything, the hostility of many religious people to pluralism shows that they themselves don’t have a lot of confidence in their beliefs, since they feel the presence of competing beliefs will reduce confidence in their religions and cause people to leave.

  • JohnH2

    Bootstrapping from personal data is the basis of all knowledge that anyone in the world has. We experience things and then create models of the world that match our experience to attempt to gain further knowledge about the world. In this case the hypothesis is that by asking about the specific subject that an event will be experienced; which is the same as if one puts their hand in the fire they will experience pain. Both are subjective experiences that matches certain models of the world, while making others more difficult.

    Many people have done A and experienced B suggest that A causes B and any alternative has to attempt to explain away the correlation. The existence of blind people should not and does not lead to one discounting everything they have seen merely because the blind person is not able and has not experienced the same things. Sight produces knowledge and it is generally assumed that it produces a knowledge of the world as it is; to question that because of the existence of blind people is to slip from the realm of empiricism to the realm of skepticism and deny that any chain of doing A leading to experience B produces knowledge, which again is to deny all knowledge.

  • MNb

    That’s not knowledge.

  • JohnH2

    And you are a duck.

    Having just written above a comment explaining how it is knowledge and saying that it is not knowledge is asserting skepticism a blind assertion that it isn’t knowledge is equivalent to blindly asserting you are a water fowl. Both can be dismissed with equal ease and both communicate no actual useful information, or shall we say knowledge.

  • GCT

    Individuals can claim to know lots of things, but it doesn’t constitute knowledge unless it can actually be shown. What you’re arguing for is relativity – that what is true for one person may not be true for other people (which is contrary to the tenets of Xianity and Mormonism). Not only is this not a good argument for your god, but you have no argument against any other god.

  • GCT

    Bootstrapping from personal data is the basis of all knowledge that anyone in the world has.

    No, that is not correct. Your personal data may show that the sun orbits the Earth (you see it every day) but that doesn’t mean that you know that is the case.

    Many people have done A and experienced B suggest that A causes B and any alternative has to attempt to explain away the correlation.

    Correlation does not equal causation.

    Sight produces knowledge and it is generally assumed that it produces a knowledge of the world as it is…

    Our sensory organs are actually rather faulty, which is why we have to build controls into scientific experiments. As with the example of the sun and the Earth, if you relied solely on what your eyes see, you’d come to the wrong conclusion, as many people did until we performed the experiments in objective settings.

    to question that because of the existence of blind people is to slip from the realm of empiricism to the realm of skepticism and deny that any chain of doing A leading to experience B produces knowledge, which again is to deny all knowledge.

    False dichotomy. Even if people did question their sight due to the existence of blind people (no one does that) this would be a false dichotomy.

    I’m also going to ask for definitions about what you mean by the terms empiricism and skepticism. Skepticism is what actually leads to knowledge. You can’t claim to know something until you’ve skeptically investigated it. Until I’ve questioned the event, eliminated biases and assumptions, and come to a reasoned conclusion based on empirical evidence and data (the methods of science and skepticism) I can’t claim to have knowledge of the event.

    Empiricism is not synonymous with simply experiencing something and then claiming to know some other datum. It is not a part of empiricism to claim that you know god because you feel like you’ve had a religious experience. That is actually relativism and cognitive bias.

  • JohnH2

    I am arguing for asymmetric evidence, not relativity of truth.

  • JohnH2

    GCT,

    Please actually take the time to engage with the idea instead of giving simple answers.

    Without further experience and evidence a model of the world where the sun orbits the earth (and the earth as flat) fit with ones experience and every model which is different does in fact explain why that model appears to be the case.

    “Correlation does not equal causation.”

    Yeah, see this and “confirmation bias” below shows that you aren’t actually engaging with the idea but instead giving magic words with little meaning. One can not have science without using correlations to build up causation. Assuming that ‘Correlation does not equal causation’ flat out, rather then a narrow statistical principle, means that one can not infer that placing ones hand in the fire causes ones hand to burn; there is a perfect correlation but since you have just stated that correlation does not equal causation without qualification then it would clearly be wrong to conclude that fire burns or any other knowledge of the world. If you could stop using blithe phrases and instead engage the actual ideas without placing yourself in a position of extreme skepticism that would be awesome.

    “until we performed the experiments in objective settings.”

    I am going to take this and pretend that you actually said something marginally interesting rather then taking this as another argument for extreme skepticism (which it is). So under the admission that people do experience numinous then the empirical thing to do is accept that, even if you yourself have never experience such a thing, and to attempt to figure out why in the real world that occurs.

    “False dichotomy”

    Blithe assertion.

    ” Skepticism is what actually leads to knowledge”
    Skepticism is actually the position that there is no knowledge: that nothing can be known. Empiricism is the position that knowledge only comes from sensory experience, and that knowledge is therefore inductive and therefore probabilistic and subject to revisions.

    If one has had the sensory experience of numinous then one has experienced something and it is entirely justified within empiricism to create a model of the world which explains that data point and to reject all models of the world that do not contain that data point.

  • GCT

    What’s the functional difference? If I can claim that something is true or that I have knowledge of something based solely on my subjective experience, then I’m engaging in relativism. That’s what you are arguing here, that you can have knowledge based on your subjective interpretations and subject experiences. That’s not how it works.

  • JohnH2

    That is exactly how all knowledge always works as subjective experience is really all we have to go on. You also can’t say that just because it is a private individuals subjective experience that it isn’t knowledge as there are innumerable everyday experiences which determine everyone’s actions which are wholly subjective and asymmetric to the individual. You are not able to experience my love for my wife nor am I able to experience your preferences for certain food items, your relationships, the enjoyment that you get out of any number of activities. Those are all subjective and asymmetric to the individual but yet they are still knowledge and still real and still have very real effects on the world, they are objectively true regardless of them being internal to a person. Even sticking a person in an MRI machine does not remove the fact that seeing the various parts of the brain light up according to certain stimuli is quite a bit different and provides much less knowledge then experiencing the stimuli oneself.

    So to not get into relativism with relation to Numinous then we have to be willing to admit that everyone’s experience with Numinous is accurate, they did experience something. Which leads directly to the problem that while there is broad agreement about Numinous itself there is wild disagreement about the meaning of the various experiences. Which is where asonges comment comes from, without some procedure to attempt to produce further knowledge the best that can be objectively said about the subject is that it exists, that it is deeply meaningful to the person experiencing it, and that there is very little agreement beyond that giving a vague spiritualism as the result.

    Which is where my comment comes in, if there is a procedure which if followed does generally produce such an experience then the nature of the procedure can produce some amount of knowledge in relation to the event. Yes, it is minimal, yes it is asymmetric to the person experiencing it, and yes it is still subject to interpretation but it is still knowledge.

  • GCT

    That is exactly how all knowledge always works as subjective experience is really all we have to go on.

    No, that is incorrect. This is why we have peer review, verification, etc in science. It’s why we build sensors to detect things in objective ways. We have biases and we have to do all we can to eliminate those biases.

    You also can’t say that just because it is a private individuals subjective experience that it isn’t knowledge as there are innumerable everyday experiences which determine everyone’s actions which are wholly subjective and asymmetric to the individual.

    I sure can say that, and I have. I stand by it. If that is what constitutes knowledge, then you have to admit that Hindus know that their gods exist, Muslims know that Allah exists, etc. And, you have no argument against them. When “knowledge” is synonymous with belief, then you may as well stop using the word.

    Those are all subjective and asymmetric to the individual but yet they are still knowledge and still real and still have very real effects on the world, they are objectively true regardless of them being internal to a person.

    No, they are not knowledge. They are data points, maybe. They are beliefs. They may be justified beliefs, but they are beliefs none-the-less. Also, your subjective feelings do not objective reality make. You seem very confused about the difference between subjective and objective.

    So to not get into relativism with relation to Numinous then we have to be willing to admit that everyone’s experience with Numinous is accurate, they did experience something.

    If that’s the case, then it’s accurate both that your god exists and no god exists. It’s accurate that Allah exists as well. This is not what accurate means, however.

    Which is where asonges comment comes from, without some procedure to attempt to produce further knowledge the best that can be objectively said about the subject is that it exists, that it is deeply meaningful to the person experiencing it, and that there is very little agreement beyond that giving a vague spiritualism as the result.

    Ah, no. We can objectively note that some people claim to have experiences and have competing ideas for what those experiences are. That’s all we can objectively claim. In order to go further, we need more evidence. If we want to objectively claim that there is something out there causing these experiences, then we need some evidence that this something out there exists, independent of the personal biases of the subset of people who claim to feel these experiences (especially since they can’t come to consensus).

    Which is where my comment comes in, if there is a procedure which if followed does generally produce such an experience then the nature of the procedure can produce some amount of knowledge in relation to the event.

    The extent that of knowledge that can be produced is that some people report having some sort of sensation that they can’t adequately explain. That’s it. It is not, however, enough for you to claim you have knowledge of your god. You claimed that this led to accurate knowledge, which is simply not so. You also claimed that it leads to similar enough experiences for you to have knowledge of your particular god, which is not so, especially given that people who claim to have religious experiences don’t all agree with you that it was your particular god. You can’t simply pretend that all people have religious experiences and that all of them agree with you that it’s your god pulling the strings. Nor can you ignore such things when your argument depends on them.

  • GCT

    Please actually take the time to engage with the idea instead of giving simple answers.

    Are you trying to be insulting here?

    Without further experience and evidence a model of the world where the sun orbits the earth (and the earth as flat) fit with ones experience and every model which is different does in fact explain why that model appears to be the case.

    I’m not sure what you’re trying to say here. Are you trying to say that given the evidence available, people were justified in believing the sun orbited the Earth? That may be the case, but it is not what you were claiming before. Based on your previous arguments, it looks as though you might be claiming that the sun really did orbit the Earth, or at least that if someone claimed to know that the sun orbited the Earth that they would be correct in “knowing” that and it would be “accurate knowledge.”

    But, also notice that you added in “evidence” to go with “experience.” Yes, we need evidence in order to claim knowledge, so at least we have moved a step forward, it seems. You still seem to be laboring under the impression that subjective evaluations count as evidence, however.

    Yeah, see this and “confirmation bias” below shows that you aren’t actually engaging with the idea but instead giving magic words with little meaning.

    Um, because these are well-known concepts. Why should I write out a thousand word treatise to explain concepts that are simply defined? Correlation really does not imply causation. You’re trying to jump from, “I had an experience that I think is god, therefore god.” It doesn’t work like that.

    One can not have science without using correlations to build up causation.

    That is incorrect. We need evidence for the proposition in play. Do observations play a part? Yes, of course. But, we set up experiments to show that the observation actually leads directly to the proposition in question while eliminating assumptions and alternative explanations.

    …but since you have just stated that correlation does not equal causation without qualification then it would clearly be wrong to conclude that fire burns or any other knowledge of the world.

    This is a straw man. I’ve not argued that, but you want to claim that I have. It’s also a bait and switch. You’re trying to claim that we can make reasonable conclusions about things we know quite a bit about, therefore we can also claim to know about god despite the fact that we lack evidence simply because there’s a claimed superficial similarity in the correlation. Again, that’s not how it works. Pointing out that your example does not work, and that we can’t assume causation simply due to correlation does not negate all knowledge.

    If you could stop using blithe phrases and instead engage the actual ideas without placing yourself in a position of extreme skepticism that would be awesome.

    I am engaging the ideas. And, it is not “extreme skepticism” to ask you for evidence, to point out that you are doing injustice to the definition of words, and to point out logical fallacies when they occur. You don’t seem to get that your personal experiences do not amount to evidence for your positions any more than anyone from a different faith or no faith. Why should I accept your personal pronouncements on your particular god rather than anyone else’s?

    Blithe assertion.

    I guess I have to spell it out for you? Denying a single claim is not the same as denying all claims. Also, denying that subjective experience is tantamount to knowledge is not the same as denying that knowledge exists. In short, I don’t have to deny all knowledge by pointing out that your claims fall well short of the mark for what constitutes knowledge. Instead of getting hung up on having your logical fallacies pointed out, you might actually address the points I’m making.

    Skepticism is actually the position that there is no knowledge: that nothing can be known.

    According to whom? Skepticism, as actually practiced, is the position of doubting unless and until proper justification can be obtained for a proposition.

    Empiricism is the position that knowledge only comes from sensory experience, and that knowledge is therefore inductive and therefore probabilistic and subject to revisions.

    Which still does not justify making leaps, nor does it mean that knowledge actually does come from subjective experience. Skepticism is the position that comes from science, and science is the only tool that we have to garner knowledge of the world. Everything we know, we’ve gained from at least a rudimentary use of the scientific method (and, yes, even before the method was codified into the differing forms). We’ve never once learned anything from religion, revelation, or subjective feelings. Not once. We are no closer to knowing anything about a god today than we were when gods were first dreamed up.

    If one has had the sensory experience of numinous then one has experienced something and it is entirely justified within empiricism to create a model of the world which explains that data point and to reject all models of the world that do not contain that data point.

    Again, I disagree, as would you I suspect if you were to consider the views of others outside of your religious sphere. What you are claiming is that it’s just as valid and true that Allah exists, Shiva exists, Yahweh exists, and that none of them exist at all. All those viewpoints are somehow justified by you, yet we know they can’t all be correct since they are by nature mutually exclusive. Further, we don’t live in a vacuum – there is independent evidence out there which contradicts the claims of theists, yet no confirmatory evidence for any god. In that case, no theist has ever met the burden of proof for justification of their position, and their subjective experience does not amount to evidence.

    Besides, I’ve had experience of Eric the God-Eating Magic Penguin. If a god did exist, then that god would instantly cease to exist because Eric would eat that god. This, according to you, is a perfectly valid and justified model of the world. (Note – Eric the God-Eating Magic Penguin is not my idea, but I don’t know who to attribute it to. I love the argument though and plan to use it more often in the future.)

  • JohnH2

    “Are you trying to be insulting here?”

    Trying to get you to actually engage, precisely what I asked.

    ” Based on your previous argument”

    You didn’t understand my previous argument so you can’t rightly say based on my previous argument. I didn’t change what I said.

    Prior to the existence of evidence that the earth orbited the sun to claim that it did would have been to go against all the available evidence.

    All evidence comes from experience, your criticism of that is invalid.

    Experiments verifying causation are based on the assumption that once other things are controlled for the correlation between the two events is causal. You still don’t appear to have grasped that, and that is why that unless one qualifies “Correlation does not equal causation” with “but it sure suggests it” or something similar you are saying something that is wrong.

    You have not been engaging with the ideas, as you clearly haven’t understood most of what I have been saying.

    My personal experiences count as evidence exactly as much as anyone elses from any other faith. Combined they are a pretty decent evidence for some sort of spiritualism with the details in dispute. The point I have been trying to make is not to rely on my experience but to conduct an experiment yourself and then rely on your experience.

    So you believe only in A priori knowledge? Without experience then you have to be arguing in favor of a priori knowledge. Which is to say, you still haven’t shown what I said to be a logical fallacy, just asserted it with out as yet pointing out a third or other alternative.

    “science is the only tool that we have to garner knowledge of the world”

    How precisely is mathematics subject to the scientific method? Do you subject all of your everyday experiences to peer review before determining anything about them? I am pretty sure that you exist due to actions from subjective feelings.

    No, I wouldn’t disagree (unless I was unwilling to admit any other religion had religious experiences) because what I am saying is all based on accepting that everyone in every religion has religious experiences, and which combined leads, again as in the top comment, to a vague Spiritualism.

    I am not here arguing for or against other evidences for God, you are free to find somewhere else I have done so or we can continue that debate on another thread sometime.

  • JohnH2

    Whether I have an argument against the other faiths (or additional evidence of my own) is completely irrelevant to whether they, like me, have had numinous experiences. I willingly (and my faith does) admit that everyone of any faith can have such experiences. The top already admits the same and my comment is that a procedure could be used to go from their being such experiences to a slightly better understanding of the subject. I am here also discounting all belief about the experience and am solely focusing on the existence of the experience.

    “subjective feelings do not objective reality make”

    Your existence is dependent on subjective feeling effecting objective reality.

    Data points are knowledge.

    If that’s the case, then it’s accurate both that your god exists and no
    god exists. It’s accurate that Allah exists as well. This is not what
    accurate means, however.

    I have no idea how in the world you are getting from admitting that everyone may have experience of numinous to that of anyone beliefs being accurate. That isn’t what I said in the slightest.

    “for what those experiences are.”

    What those experiences mean; not the existence of the experience. You are attempting go from there being disagreement to claiming that the experience doesn’t exist, which isn’t supported by the existence of disagreement any more then disagreement over the nature of a car crash by witnesses means that the car crash doesn’t exist.

    ” That’s it”

    I was taking it as a given that you understood the previous paragraph or the top comment by asonge.

    I have not claimed that it leads to simliar enough experiences to have knowledge of a particular God, I am claiming that following what I said in my first comment can produce knowledge. You apparently haven’t been following what was being said at all.

  • GCT

    Whether I have an argument against the other faiths (or additional evidence of my own) is completely irrelevant to whether they, like me, have had numinous experiences.

    No, it’s not at all irrelevant, because they also claim knowledge based on their experiences – knowledge that contradicts the knowledge you claim to have and is mutually exclusive. You have to claim that their knowledge is accurate, reasonable, and valid.

    The top already admits the same and my comment is that a procedure could be used to go from their being such experiences to a slightly better understanding of the subject.

    Ah, but there’s a difference between admitting that other people have experiences and claiming that these experiences constitute accurate and valid knowledge.

    Additionally, how will you get to a better understanding of the subject? I’m actually interested in how this would work. When you come to the table and claim that you experienced your god last night and a Muslim comes to the table and claims that he experienced Allah last night, how will the two of you come to a better understanding of your respective, and mutually exclusive gods?

    I am here also discounting all belief about the experience and am solely focusing on the existence of the experience.

    I’m not sure what you mean here. If you are only focused on the existence of the experience, then that’s fine. Yes, people have weird experiences that they can’t explain, and yes, they attribute those to god at times. That’s not what you’ve done though. You’ve claimed that they constitute knowledge, accurate knowledge no less. They do not.

    Your existence is dependent on subjective feeling effecting objective reality.

    No, it is not. If I feel depressed it does not cause the Earth to stop orbiting the sun, nor does it cause the sun to orbit the Earth. What I subjectively feel does not alter objective fact. In fact, it’s part of the definition of objective that it is not subject to subjective interpretations or feelings.

    Data points are knowledge.

    No, they are not. Data points are part of the evidence (perhaps) that we have to build up in order to obtain knowledge.

    I have no idea how in the world you are getting from admitting that everyone may have experience of numinous to that of anyone beliefs being accurate. That isn’t what I said in the slightest.

    In your first comment, you claimed that the process of asking god (which god? also it’s begging the question) leads to accurate knowledge. You claimed that your experiences constitute knowledge, not just simple belief, and that it was accurate.

    What those experiences mean; not the existence of the experience. You are attempting go from there being disagreement to claiming that the experience doesn’t exist, which isn’t supported by the existence of disagreement any more then disagreement over the nature of a car crash by witnesses means that the car crash doesn’t exist.

    Not at all. I’m not claiming that people don’t have weird experiences that they can’t explain and that they attribute to religion. What I’m objecting to is the claim that those experiences come from god (there’s no evidence for this) and that those experiences constitute knowledge (accurate or not), especially knowledge of god. And, yes, if you are going to claim that unexplained experiences constitute knowledge for your particular god, you have to explain away all the other gods. You should also explain away the very well known human tendencies to confirmation bias and our inherently bad sensory perception.

    I was taking it as a given that you understood the previous paragraph or the top comment by asonge.

    That you disagree does not mean that I don’t understand what you said. I understand what you said and I’m telling you that you’re making unjustified leaps. You’re basically taking a presuppositional stance and assuming god. That is not in evidence, however. When someone comes to me reporting that god spoke to them, the only evidence I can glean from that is that they had some sort of experience that they think is god. It’s an unjustified leap to concluding that god did speak to this person and that they have accurate knowledge of god.

    I have not claimed that it leads to simliar enough experiences to have knowledge of a particular God, I am claiming that following what I said in my first comment can produce knowledge. You apparently haven’t been following what was being said at all.

    So, when you said the following:

    My claim to knowledge of my faith is based on, essentially, the idea that one can use numinous to lead to truth…

    you didn’t actually mean your faith, but just faith in general? It’s fine if you want to back off of your claims, but don’t pretend that you didn’t make them. If you misspoke, then just say so. Don’t, however, use ad hominem against me because you’ve over-stepped.

    And, I’ll point out, once again, that you still have not one shred of evidence for any god, so claiming knowledge of god is rather premature.

  • GCT

    Trying to get you to actually engage, precisely what I asked.

    I am engaging you. No need to be nasty about it.

    You didn’t understand my previous argument so you can’t rightly say based on my previous argument. I didn’t change what I said.

    Actually, you are, as I point out above. But, that aside, I specifically told you that I was unsure of what you were trying to say in the part I quoted. I came up with what I thought were reasonable interpretations. You, instead of actually clarifying, have decided to simply hand-wave and be dismissive. And, then you have the gall to claim that I’m not engaging you?

    Prior to the existence of evidence that the earth orbited the sun to claim that it did would have been to go against all the available evidence.

    That didn’t answer the question.

    All evidence comes from experience, your criticism of that is invalid.

    You can keep asserting that, but without backing it up it’s just as easy for me to say, “Nuh uh.” It’s your job to back up your assertions. I’ve given counter arguments, which you seem to think you can defeat by simply repeating yourself.

    Experiments verifying causation are based on the assumption that once other things are controlled for the correlation between the two events is causal.

    Or, you look for a mechanism that actually causes an event to happen. But, never-the-less, let’s look at your actual example. What other things have you controlled for in order to show a correlation between people having weird experiences and god talking to them? Let’s see your evidence. And, I’ll also point out that you’ve abandoned your position that it constitutes knowledge in and of itself, because now you claim you have to control other variables.

    You still don’t appear to have grasped that, and that is why that unless one qualifies “Correlation does not equal causation” with “but it sure suggests it” or something similar you are saying something that is wrong.

    The gap in understanding is purely on your side, as you keep erecting a straw man of my position, even after it’s been explained to you. This is especially true since you just affirmed my position above, that further evidence and controlled testing is necessary to go from experience A means it is caused by B. So, thanks for proving my point.

    You have not been engaging with the ideas, as you clearly haven’t understood most of what I have been saying.

    No, I understand quite well. It’s pretty demonstrable that you simply don’t want to deal with people telling you that you are incorrect.

    My personal experiences count as evidence exactly as much as anyone elses from any other faith.

    Which is not at all, if you mean that it’s evidence for god.

    Combined they are a pretty decent evidence for some sort of spiritualism with the details in dispute.

    No, they are not evidence at all. In order to constitute evidence, you have to control the variables, you have to present a concept that they are supposed to be evidence for, and you have to lay out a cogent case as to why it constitutes evidence for the proposition you are laying out instead of any number of other propositions.

    The point I have been trying to make is not to rely on my experience but to conduct an experiment yourself and then rely on your experience.

    Read the OP, since that’s already been rebutted.

    So you believe only in A priori knowledge?

    I have no idea where you got that from. It must be from your superior understanding of the discussion? Or, maybe you are the one not grokking?

    Without experience then you have to be arguing in favor of a priori knowledge.

    This is a non-sequitur.

    Which is to say, you still haven’t shown what I said to be a logical fallacy, just asserted it with out as yet pointing out a third or other alternative.

    This is quite silly. I explained it to you in detail why it was fallacious. Denying your claim is not the same as denying all claims. I had thought that would be clear. I’ve also pointed out how we actually gain knowledge. IOW, you’re the one not paying attention. I’ve given you a path to obtain knowledge, which is more than simply a third option. Your insistence that either one has experiences which automatically grant knowledge, or one denies all knowledge is silly and fallacious. Please desist.

    How precisely is mathematics subject to the scientific method?

    Math is descriptive. 1 + 1 = 2 is a descriptor of an observation. IOW, math is the language that we use to describe knowledge we have of the objective world around us.

    Do you subject all of your everyday experiences to peer review before determining anything about them?

    Oh, FFS. My application of knowledge is quite separate from the obtaining of it.

    I am pretty sure that you exist due to actions from subjective feelings.

    I exist because of a biological function performed between my mother and father. They did not simply subjectively want a child and will me into existence.

    No, I wouldn’t disagree (unless I was unwilling to admit any other religion had religious experiences) because what I am saying is all based on accepting that everyone in every religion has religious experiences, and which combined leads, again as in the top comment, to a vague Spiritualism.

    I’m willing to argue against this as well, because you’re going to have to define “Spiritualism” so that you don’t pull another bait and switch. I believe you’re talking about the ability to commune with god, in which case you’ll have to present evidence for god.

    I am not here arguing for or against other evidences for God, you are free to find somewhere else I have done so or we can continue that debate on another thread sometime.

    What do you mean “other evidences” since I’ve yet to see any evidence of god. Again, your subjective experience that you can’t explain does not allow you to simply fill in the gaps with god and call it evidence or knowledge. It’s the god of the gaps fallacy.

  • JohnH2

    The relevent part of the top comment that I keep referring you to:

    I’m assuming this is Plantinga’s version of the sensus divinitatus (sense experience of the divine). I actually think this argument isn’t abad one if you’re trying to prove vague spiritualism to be plausible

    The procedure, which is given as “:” right after the part you quote, meaing you have inaccurately quoted me, or at the least didn’t understand that this is directly related to and explains what I said.

    One performs a specific task and asks God about a specific subject and then God responds and the claim is that anyone who performs that specific task and asks God about that specific subject will likewise have a largely similar response.

  • JohnH2

    I am still very much of the opinion that you haven’t followed the argument. To your comment below I quoted the relevant parts of asonges comment and mine that I feel that you haven’t understood and which provide context to what I said.

    Since you do not appear to realize that experience is required for a posteriori knowledge and that without experience all knowledge must be a priori, here is Wikipedia to help explain the concepts of knowledge: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_priori_and_a_posteriori

    Lest you take ‘Empirical evidence’ to mean something other than something that comes via experience here is the Wikipedia page on ‘Empirical Evidence’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empirical_evidence

    I just stated that I am not addressing other evidences, it does no good for you to ignore that I am not addressing that. If I meant the exact same evidence which is the subject of this discussion then I wouldn’t have said ‘other’.

    You parents had their biological functions happen because they acted on their subjective feelings of attraction to each other (hopefully) or at least one of them did.

    I am not sure that I agree with your theory as to the philosophy of Mathematics.

  • GCT

    Are you intentionally being obtuse? I went over this already.

    Additionally, not everyone has a “largely similar response” nor does it lead to knowledge as I’ve been explaining to you. Simply repeating yourself doesn’t make your argument any better any more than pretending that I haven’t addressed what you’ve said does.

  • GCT

    I am still very much of the opinion that you haven’t followed the argument.

    Why? Because I don’t agree with you and point out where and why you are wrong?

    Since you do not appear to realize that experience is required for a posteriori knowledge and that without experience all knowledge must be a priori, here is Wikipedia to help explain the concepts of knowledge: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A

    And? What’s your point? Oh, you’re trying to bait and switch from well the only known method we have of gaining knowledge to “I experienced something, which must be the numinous, which must be god, therefore god.” I’ve given you the method for obtaining knowledge, which is not a priori, yet your argument consists of you trying to play gotcha games with definitions and then baiting and switching. Experience simply does not lead to knowledge, not in the sense that you used it above and the sense that I was arguing against. That you are trying to change the definition mid-stream in order to buttress your argument is duly noted.

    I just stated that I am not addressing other evidences, it does no good for you to ignore that I am not addressing that.

    Never criticized you for that. What I criticized you for was claiming that your personal experiences somehow constitute evidence. They do not.

    If I meant the exact same evidence which is the subject of this discussion then I wouldn’t have said ‘other’.

    I got that, which was quite apparent from what I wrote. I noted that your use of the word “other” implied that you have evidence now, which you don’t. You would have us believe that the “subject of this discussion” is actual evidence for god, when it is not. Your subjective beliefs do not constitute evidence for god.

    You parents had their biological functions happen because they acted on their subjective feelings of attraction to each other (hopefully) or at least one of them did.

    Their subjective feelings did not cause me to pop into existence any more than your need to have a god exist makes it true. Our desires do not alter reality around us. We can certainly act based on those desires, but it is our physical actions that actually alter things. (That’s not to say that we should ignore beliefs when we judge those actions, just in case you try to go there next.)

    I am not sure that I agree with your theory as to the philosophy of Mathematics…

    Well, bully for you. I can post links to pages and simply claim they make my argument for me to, but I don’t, because I actually have an argument to make.

    You think 1+1=2 because some platonic idea that there’s a concept of 1 in a cave somewhere and when you discover that and discover another cave with a 2 the relationship becomes complete? Hell, sometimes 1 + 1 = 10. Numbers are constructs that aid us in defining the relationships we see around us. Saying 1+1=2 is not a piece of knowledge that was defined the first time someone said that. It was a description of the fact that if you have one item and add another item to it, you now have 2 items.

    Either way, I fail to see the relevance of this any more. The point was that we gain knowledge, not by personal experience, not by revelation, but by the process of the scientific method. Your claims to gain knowledge of god through your personal revelation are simply not knowledge.

  • JohnH2

    yes, this is now pointless as when I point out that my statement “Bootstrapping from personal data is the basis of all knowledge that anyone in the world has.” is precisely accurate you claim I am saying something different then what I actually did say, and contradict precisely the same theory of knowledge that you are using. If you can’t be consistent and don’t take the time to understand what I am saying then there is no point.

    The reason that I don’t think you have followed is not because you don’t agree with me but because you continually are attacking points which are basic and should be agreed upon because we are using the same theory of knowledge instead of actually attacking what is unique to what I said. You are continuing to attack sensory experience, which is via Wikipedia precisely what empirical evidence is, and claiming it is not knowledge and to fail to understand that is what you are doing.

  • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com/ Ani J. Sharmin

    Good post. Religious apologists do this kind of thing all the time. If a secular person claims that teaching kids xyz incorrect thing in religion is wrong, they’ll try to turn it around and claim that we’re against teaching kids anything/against teaching kids values. They claim that we can’t say that them teaching creationism/religious bigotry/whatever to kids is wrong, because it’s the same as teaching kids pluralism/equal rights/whatever. But they’re missing the point (whether genuinely or not, I don’t know). Everyone teaches their kids things (because every generation should be able to built on what previous generations have learned, instead of starting over). Of course, they can teach their kids what they want, but that doesn’t mean that all teachings are equally correct or that we can’t say one teaching is better than another.

    Related to this, I agree with the points made by smrnda

    Also, I’ve always thought one of the points of the ‘you’d have different beliefs if you were raised elsewhere with different parents’ argument was to point out the cruelty of a god who would grant a heavenly afterlife/other divine rewards only for people in the correct faith. Because it seems rather unfair to say/imply that god happened to cause you to be born in the correct place and family, where you were brought up in the right religion, while others have to grow up in a place and family where they are being taught the incorrect faith, and have to somehow figure it out on their own. It seems like a rigged setup.

  • GCT

    …my statement “Bootstrapping from personal data is the basis of all knowledge that anyone in the world has.” is precisely accurate…

    It is not accurate, nor am I claiming that it is, especially since you want to take that and switch to using subjective feelings as somehow indicative of knowledge of what is true. It’s duplicitous.

    …you claim I am saying something different then what I actually did say…

    You can stop with the martyr routine. I’ve been quoting you all along for a couple reasons, one of which is to avoid this type of charge. I’m replying directly to what you are saying, and now you want to complain that I’m claiming you’re saying something different, but you can’t deny that I’ve been replying directly to your comments.

    …and contradict precisely the same theory of knowledge that you are using.

    If that were true, then I’d agree with your inane assertions that experience of the numinous constituted knowledge of god. It’s ridiculous. You won’t deal with my objections, you only whine that I don’t understand, or that I’m not arguing against your argument, when in fact, you’re simply unable to defend your argument.

    The reason that I don’t think you have followed is not because you don’t agree with me but because you continually are attacking points which are basic and should be agreed upon because we are using the same theory of knowledge instead of actually attacking what is unique to what I said.

    Seriously? I’ve been attacking what you’ve said all along, you simply refuse to defend it by instead trying to attack me through ad hominem. Why don’t you try defending your outlandish idea that somehow people having some unexplained experience that they think is god somehow constitutes evidence and knowledge of god. FFS, stop whining and actually defend your position.

    You are continuing to attack sensory experience, which is via Wikipedia precisely what empirical evidence is, and claiming it is not knowledge and to fail to understand that is what you are doing.

    Your supposed sensory experience of what is supposedly god is not empirical evidence. Period. It is evidence that you think you have experienced something, and nothing more. You’re trying so hard to play bait and switch gotcha games and refusing to deal with the simple arguments I’ve laid out. By your argument, my sensory experience means that I actually have knowledge the Eric the God-Eating Penguin does exist, thus negating your god. So, take that. (Of course, we also have knowledge that your god does exist, Allah exists, Thor exists, Baal exists, etc, which leads to cognitive dissonance.)

    Empirical evidence is actually objective evidence that we can detect through objective means. Also, if you actually read the wikipedia article on “Empirical evidence” that you are boasting about supporting you, it’s a lot more complicated than you make it out to be. It’s not simply, ‘I experienced X, therefore I have empirical knowledge of X.’ But, that would require you to stop whining about made up injustices and actually defend your inane and ridiculous ideas.

  • JohnH2

    I am here also discounting all belief about the experience and am solely focusing on the existence of the experience.

    I have no idea how in the world you are getting from admitting that
    everyone may have experience of numinous to that of anyone beliefs being
    accurate. That isn’t what I said in the slightest.

    I suppose I should add further that my argument rests on being able to accept that you could have had a numinous experience and admitting that you worship Eric the God-Eating Penguin and admitting that you believe your numinous experience was from Eric The God-Eating Penguin while discounting, without additional information about the procedure to produce numinous in regards to Eric the God-Eating Penguin, your beliefs that it was from Eric the God-Eating Penguin and likewise for my own experience, it discounts my belief without additional information about the procedure to produce numinous.

  • GCT

    We’ve already been over this ground. If you admit that my “numinous” experience leads to “accurate knowledge” then you’ve got a big problem, because my “accurate knowledge” contradicts your “accurate knowledge.” You tried to weasel out of that by hand-waving it away as if it’s unimportant, and then tried to claim that you never spoke of “accurate knowledge,” which is false.

    Of course, now you’re trying to claim that I’m trying to have it both ways, which is irrelevant and also completely misses the point. My points still stand. You have no way of moving from an unexplained experience to “goddidit” and even if you did, you have no answer for someone who tells you that your god couldn’t have done it because their experience gives them knowledge of Eric. IOW, your argument is dead either way.

    Lastly, what “procedure to produce numinous?” You’ve not presented one, and we both know why. It’s because the problems are already laid out in the OP. It’s because we both know that there is no fool-proof procedure for producing “numinous” experiences, and even if there were you would still have to make some sort of connection to your god or any god based on some other chain of evidence.

    Face it, you’re simply wrong on multiple counts, and you lack the ability to defend your positions because you know that you are wrong. You are clinging to your positions because you have an a priori bias towards your beliefs. Your beliefs are not based on reason, no matter how hard you try to put a veneer of reason on them.

  • JohnH2

    GCT,

    “now you’re trying to claim”

    I haven’t changed my claim in the slightest, it is you who has never understood (and still don’t) what it is that I am actually claiming. You should take the time to understand what it is that I am claiming and if you don’t understand then ask me about what it is I am claiming.

    “You’ve not presented one”

    Yes I did, in my very first comment, exactly twice. Once in general form and once by way of referencing the particular form that I was thinking of. I have also requoted it to you once because I could tell that you hadn’t understood.

    “unexplained experience to “goddidit”"

    The procedure is precisely supposed to provide a reasonable suggestion of the cause of the experience.

    “their experience gives them knowledge of Eric”

    Without additional information about how they caused their experience and its repeatability by me, and anyone else, then the only thing I am willing to admit is that they had an experience with numinous. This is something you still haven’t understood.

  • GCT

    I haven’t changed my claim in the slightest, it is you who has never understood (and still don’t) what it is that I am actually claiming.

    Considering that I was dealing with your latest claim where you specifically tried to talk about my “admitting” to belief in Eric, etc. Yeah, I don’t think you’ve been making that claim all along. But, once again, I don’t see you actually defending your claims in the slightest.

    Yes I did, in my very first comment, exactly twice.

    Saying, “Ask god for stuff and then when he talks to you it is evidence and accurate knowledge of god” is actually not a procedure in any real sense of the word, because it’s so completely vague as to be unusable. What specific questions should we ask? What answers should we hope to get? Etc. And, when it doesn’t actually work, then what? Of course, this was dealt with in the OP.

    The procedure is precisely supposed to provide a reasonable suggestion of the cause of the experience.

    “Goddidit” is not reasonable – nor is begging the question or confirmation bias. This is why I keep telling you that you need to actually present evidence for god, not assume that god is there and claim that this god is responsible for things you can’t explain and assume that is evidence. It is not.

    Without additional information about how they caused their experience and its repeatability by me, and anyone else, then the only thing I am willing to admit is that they had an experience with numinous. This is something you still haven’t understood.

    Ah, because you’ve been so forthright with details? OK, what specific things does one have to do to get the right answers, and more importantly, how do you know this is the correct procedure?

    And, I’ve understood it perfectly well. What you don’t understand is why that’s an issue, even thought I’ve explained it to you seven ways to Sunday. You’re not as smart as you think you are and you can drop the smug, condescending bullshit. Ah, but if you did that, you might actually have to defend your assertions instead of trying to discredit me through ad hominem and insinuation. That is much harder to do in general, and impossible to do when your assertions are indefensible. At what point do you realize that you can’t defend your positions and actually start to question them? Try some intellectual honesty for once.

  • JohnH2

    what specific things does one have to do to get the right answers, and
    more importantly, how do you know this is the correct procedure?

    I said that I referenced it exactly twice: Alma 32 and Moroni 10:3-5.

    ” What specific questions should we ask? What answers should we hope to get?”

    I left it vague in the first instance so as to be general in case anyone else had something similar for any other position. The specific case is that of the scriptures referenced.

    ” confirmation bias”

    I believe that you have been using this wrong (hence why I called it a magic word). The procedure does depend on a perfectly rational heuristic that maximally produces useful information and is often called ‘confirmation bias’; it doesn’t depend though on the problematic myside bias.

    “Yeah, I don’t think you’ve been making that claim all along”" ad hominem and insinuation”"condescending bullshit”

    And we are done. When I say I have been making that claim all along I mean it; asserting that I haven’t (which you have done for multiple things repeatedly) and then claiming that you have understood “perfectly well” what I was saying and then insulting me is no way to conduct an intellectually honest argument. The only one to actually hurtle ad hominem and insults is you, and this repeatedly.

  • cipher

    I understand there is a small group in Egypt that has revived worship of the ancient gods, although they claim they’ve existed as an underground movement for centuries.

  • GCT

    I said that I referenced it exactly twice: Alma 32 and Moroni 10:3-5.

    Um, I asked for specifics. Those passages do not lay out a procedure, nor do they explain why one would be expected to get the “correct answer.”

    I left it vague in the first instance so as to be general in case anyone else had something similar for any other position. The specific case is that of the scriptures referenced.

    You left it vague while simultaneously being specific? Come now. You’ve been vague from the start, referring to the “numinous” and these “experiences.” We both know why – it’s because you can’t get specific for fear of making a claim that can be shown to be false.

    I believe that you have been using this wrong (hence why I called it a magic word). The procedure does depend on a perfectly rational heuristic that maximally produces useful information and is often called ‘confirmation bias’; it doesn’t depend though on the problematic myside bias.

    Nope, I’m using it correctly. Muslims seem to think Allah is speaking to them just as much as Mormons think their god is speaking to them, and both see it as evidence for their god. That would, indeed, be confirmation bias.

    Secondly, this is not a “rational heuristic.” In order to be rational, you’d actually have to put forth some evidence, a procedure, etc.

    And we are done. When I say I have been making that claim all along I mean it; asserting that I haven’t (which you have done for multiple things repeatedly) and then claiming that you have understood “perfectly well” what I was saying and then insulting me is no way to conduct an intellectually honest argument.

    Considering that I’ve pointed out to you places where you changed your argument, or denied making arguments that you had made, your indignation seems more like a case of you huffing and puffing because you can’t defend your positions. For instance, you claimed that your “procedure” led you to accurate knowledge. Further down, you claimed you never made that argument, to which I quoted your own argument. This made you mad at me because I had the temerity to point out that you had contradicted yourself, and instead of clarifying, admitting error, or anything else, you attacked me instead. We both know it’s because you can’t defend your positions and don’t have the intellectual integrity to admit it.


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