Give me your apologetics, your accommodationism

Exactly what it says on the tin. Trashing the same lame arguments gets boring after awhile, so give me some links to new lame arguments I can trash. Straightforward “proofs” of the truth of fundamentalist Christianity, general complaining about Gnu Atheist, ridiculous reading comprehension fails directed towards Dawkins or whoever else–post it, and I’ll try to write about it. I really don’t want to be reduced to combing through William Lane Craig’s archives, looking for targets. Though if you have some particular thing Craig has written that you want me to look at, I can do that.

  • Dalillama

    Unfortunately for your sense of interest, as far as I can tell there are no new apologetics, just endless rehashings of the same old junk from Bahnsen and Gish and Van Til.

  • http://ogremk5.wordpress.com OgreMkV

    I don’t know if you would find something to write about here: http://www.antievolution.org/cgi-bin/ikonboard/ikonboard.cgi?s=4f60d8587520b09e;act=ST;f=14;t=6313

    But it’s a pretty entertaining read. The guys at AtBC pretty much trashed Floyd, but you might find something of interest.

  • freebird

    I recently had Alvin Plantinga come to my school. I did a bit of research before hand on him; not too impressed with his support for intelligent design. He discussed his modal ontological argument, which for myself as a non-philosopher, which I still don’t really understand. He started with the possibility that there is a being of maximal greatness (he defined that term more succinctly but I forget all the details), arguing that even atheists can’t be certain that such a being doesn’t exist, and then concluded with the certainty that such a being does in fact exist. He definitely lost me there.

  • G.Shelley

    Yeah, while there are occasionally new ways of expressing old arguments (Intelligent design, Plantigina’s version of the Ontological argument), I don’t know that there are ever any actual new arguments

  • Anteprepro

    freebird:

    He started with the possibility that there is a being of maximal greatness (he defined that term more succinctly but I forget all the details), arguing that even atheists can’t be certain that such a being doesn’t exist, and then concluded with the certainty that such a being does in fact exist.

    I honestly don’t understand the point of these theopologists showing up for talks. They might as well just mail a piece of paper telling whoever is moderating the talk to read off of the theopologist’s favorite wikipedia pages. It would probably make a better case for them than their actual attempts to present their own arguments on their own. For example:

    1. A being has maximal excellence in a given possible world W if and only if it is omnipotent, omniscient and wholly good in W; and
    2. A being has maximal greatness if it has maximal excellence in every possible world.
    3. It is possible that there is a being that has maximal greatness. (Premise)
    4. Therefore, possibly, it is necessarily true that an omniscient, omnipotent, and perfectly good being exists.
    5. Therefore, (by axiom S5) it is necessarily true that an omniscient, omnipotent and perfectly good being exists.
    6. Therefore, an omniscient, omnipotent and perfectly good being exists.
    Plantinga argued that, although the first premise is not rationally established, it is not contrary to reason.

    Hopefully that clears up what Plantinga was going on about, even though the argument is still a muddle, and even if it doesn’t clear up the matter of why he bothered to show up to blather about it. Though I suppose that this is the reason why theopologists wouldn’t dare send links to wikipedia specifically, in lieu of a spin session:

    Michael Martin argued that, if certain components of perfection are contradictory, such as omnipotence and omniscience, then the first premise is contrary to reason. Martin also proposed parodies of the argument, suggesting that the existence of anything can be demonstrated with Plantinga’s argument, provided it is defined as perfect or special in every possible world.

    Richard M. Gale argued that premise three, the “possibility premise”, begs the question. He stated that one only has the epistemic right to accept the premise if one understands the nested modal operators, and that if one understands them within the system S5—without which the argument fails—then one understands that “possibly necessarily” is in essence the same as “necessarily”.[34] Thus the premise is invalid because the conclusion is embedded within it.

    One can’t risk exposing people to anything showing why one’s oft-regurgitated arguments are profoundly flawed. Just not scholarly.

    • Steven Carr

      ‘ A being has maximal greatness if it has maximal excellence in every possible world.’

      Plantinga is famous among Christians for ‘proving’ that his god and evil can exist in one possible world.

      And now he is claiming his god is maximally excellent in all possible worlds, including , of course, the ones he had to reject when trying to find a world his god could exist in.

      Not that I’m saying Plantinga forgets his own arguments though….

    • gshelley

      Do I misunderstand it, or is he basically saying
      1) It is possible that there is a world in which God exists
      2) That’s the same as saying there is a possible world in which God exists
      3) As he exists in this world, he must exist in all of them
      4) Therefore God exists

  • Anteprepro

    Not really apologetics, but I saw a novel argument that allows one to touch on really important and relatively novel subjects and concepts to refute: On The Atheist Experience, someone said something to effect that: “Atheists/skeptics/scientists don’t reject people who claim that alien life might exist/is possible, but they do reject people who claim that gods might exist/are possible, which is a double standard”. Personally, I thought it was interesting, and almost compelling, and the ways to refute it, while many, weren’t immediately obvious. So, that’s something new and not quite Ray Comfort caliber.

    • JamesM

      The immediate response is that we have examples of life on this planet and so it not unreasonable to assume that life might exist on other planets. We do not have examples of supernatural entities that exist and it is unreasonable to assume that deities exist without evidence.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Give me your apologetics, your accommodationism…

    …your wretched rationalizations from a tedious bore?

  • http://spaninquis.wordpress.com/ Spanish Inquisitor

    Here’s a good one that showed up on my blog as a pingback today. Not sure why.

  • HP

    I’m kind of surprised* that no one is making social constructionist arguments for the existence of God. I can easily imagine what such an argument would look like, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one in the wild.

    I imagine it would look something like this: “Even as social constructs like race or class have no objective basis, they are nonetheless real because of the very real consequences that these constructs have in the material world. Likewise, in a society where a socially constructed God-belief is hegemonic, it becomes part of the shared consensus reality, and this society would be indistinguishable from a society where God exists.” Of course, this argument should be spun out over 800 pages of densely footnoted text.

    I am, of course, not a strict social constructionist, and I lack the requisite expertise in the field, but I expect that someone who had the right experience could put together a fairly interesting challenge.

    * Well, not really surprised, since a social constructionist argument wouldn’t serve the needs of defenders of religion. But it would be a nice change of pace.

  • http://sheltered-objections.blogspot.com/ Alex

    There’s something rumbling around the edges of that new book that just came out (WLC and others about contesting atheists and proclaiming that *they* are the rational ones), and one of the editors is Tom Gilson (blog Thinking Christian). The people over there seems mighty impressed with Aquinas old model which, I think, both Plantinga and WLG have expanded on (but like you say, it’s just the ontological argument in digsguise). I’m trying to get some traction on the post that trashed Jerry Coyne’s take on Plantinga (http://www.thinkingchristian.net/2012/03/coyne-explains-his-philosophical-superiority-over-plantinga), but I’m having a hard time making them frame their arguments or engage with any problems with them. Very odd.

    If you haven’t dealt with Aquinas properly before, perhaps it’s time as a lot of the recent philosophy of religion coming out looks a bit like a revival.

    • JamesM

      That was a painful read.

  • Jon H

    I know it’s not terribly serious, but I was shown this video by some friends from my old church and honestly don’t know what to think about it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmm-0-Rdxo8

    There’s so many reasons to doubt every part of this girls story, but in the end it’s hard to figure out how to put my doubts into words without seeming like someone who presupposes naturalism.

    That said the biggest problem here is the lack of evidence, it’s frustrating, every news piece on it seems way too gullible.

    • Dalillama

      What reason is there to suppose anything non-naturalistic is going on? Is the girl supposedly painting things that demonstrably exist and that she demonstrably can’t have seen, including reproductions? If not, then there’s no reason to suppose that she’s anything other than a talented artist, which happens sometimes. Similarly, people report visions of heavens, gods and other worlds on a routine basis throughout history. Indeed, this can be induced under laboratory conditions. A feeling of emotional connection to gods or the universe in general is also not uncommon, nor does it convey any information about the actual state of the universe. Indeed, there appears at least anecdotally to be a correlation between tendencies towards ‘mystical’ states of mind and artistic ability ( I don’t know how many formal studies have been done). Put together, this girl is a young and talented artist, and there’s no reason to think she’s anything else.

      • http://oldtimeatheism.blogspot.ca/ andyman409

        Actually, the most peculiar element of the video I saw was the whole “colors that dont exist” schtick. Most descriptions people give of divine visions, NDE’s, etc all share this common element. I think theres a physiological reason for it, but I dont remember it.

  • jg29a

    I imagine it would look something like this: “Even as social constructs like race or class have no objective basis, they are nonetheless real because of the very real consequences that these constructs have in the material world.

    Analytic philosophy has no problem daeling with this issue, and wouldn’t have had for a long time. Simply put, there are two senses of the word “race” — a certain kind of biological group, and a socially influential concept of a certain kind of biological group — and thus, failure to keep them distinct in one’s reasoning is an example of a use-mention error. I happen to think that race in the first sense can be said to exist and to have some important consequences, but many reasonable people disagree. However, what we all ought to agree upon is that race(2) doesn’t cause or entail the existence of race(1), any more than the existence of Harry Potter as a character entails the existence of Harry Potter as a real person.

  • RD Miksa

    Good Day to All,

    Although not a new argument, I have just written a fairly lengthy (over 22,000 words) response to John Loftus’ “Outsider Test for Faith” at http://www.theoutsidertestforfaith.blogspot.com. The response is called “Taking Over the Outsider Test for Faith (OTF): How the OTF Supports Theism, Supernaturalism & Intelligent Design (and Why It Matters).

    So if you are a fan of the OTF, and if you had the time, I would love to hear your thoughts about this response.

    Thank you and take care,

    RD Miksa

    • Atheistwizard

      RD Miska,

      I looked over your blog on the OTF (though I haven’t had time to read it completely) and I can already tell you at least one problem that I saw with just a skim:

      “So if, for example, we, for whatever reason, decide to adopt the outsider perspective of an atheist, then we have wed ourselves to the belief and worldview idea that God does not exist.”

      Atheism is not a worldview or a belief nor do all atheist claim that there is no God or gods. I claim that I do not know if there are gods or God but I don’t believe that such a being/beings exist. This is a lack of belief not a belief in itself.

      In order to be taken seriously, by me at least, you’ll have to get your definitions corrected.

      • Jon H

        In addition, everything I’ve read on the OTF states that we shouldn’t assume atheism, but rather some kind of agnosticism. Even Loftus would admit that atheism wouldn’t qualify as an “outsider” position, the goal is to view the evidence as objectively as possible and assuming theism or atheism destroys any attempt to do that.

        I really find most attempts to attack the OTF as baffling. I understand that there are criticisms to make, Loftus overplays his hand and lets his anti-theist bias show from time to time, but the core argument seems to me to be the most obvious sort of truth imaginable. So many critiques seem to be believers trying to claim some special privilege.

        • Jon H

          As soon as I posted this I felt bad that I hadn’t actually read Miksa’s critique, but after checking it out I can say my general case stands. The argument for deism as “maximally objective” is absolutely ridiculous.

          • RD Miksa

            Dear Jon H:

            You said:

            “As soon as I posted this I felt bad that I hadn’t actually read Miksa’s critique, but after checking it out I can say my general case stands. The argument for deism as “maximally objective” is absolutely ridiculous.”

            First off, thank you for taking time to look at my argument.

            However, and more importantly, I have to disagree with your comment. The only thing that is absolutely ridiculous in this whole discussion is your bare assertion, without a shred of substantiation, that that specific portion of my argument is ridiculous. Indeed, if, in your world, making a simple and utterly unsupported declaration is your version of a reasoned and rational argument, then that is a world that I want no part of. So either inform me as to why my argument is ridiculous, or rest in the knowledge that your assertions are more laughable than laudable.

            And finally, concerning your first post in reply to me. I would recommend–and as you later realized that you should have done–that, in the interest of actual intellectual development and fruitfulness, you actually read an argument before commenting on it. Doing otherwise says more about you than about the argument itself. For if you had done so, you would have realized that your two points within that first reply were utterly incorrect, and thus that first reply was both argumentatively irrelevant and intellectually sloppy.

            Sincerely,

            RD Miksa

          • Jon H

            You’re right, it is just an assertion. If I see something I think is ridiculous and would seem ridiculous to anyone not already too far gone to bother arguing with I don’t make arguments, I make assertions. I don’t see your arguments convincing anyone but your own choir and as such I honestly don’t know why I should care about your argument.

      • RD Miksa

        Dear Atheistwizard:

        You said:

        “Atheism is not a worldview or a belief nor do all atheist claim that there is no God or gods.”

        Sadly, right within this first comment, you are mistaken. For atheism, as actually defined, means:

        1) Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: ‘Atheism’ means the negation of theism, the denial of the existence of God.

        2) Dictionary.com: Atheism: 1. the doctrine or belief that there is no God; 2. disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.

        3) Oxford Dictionary: Atheism: disbelief in the existence of a god or gods.

        4) Collins Dictionary: Atheism: belief that there is no god.

        So, actually, atheism is a belief and thus it does form part of a worldview. After all, any worldview that is atheistic includes the major component of denying the existence of God, and it cannot be denied that this one belief is a massive aspect of any worldview.

        You said:

        “I claim that I do not know if there are gods or God…”

        Then you are an agnostic, not an atheist. You may be an agnostic who leans extremely strongly towards atheism, but you are an agnostic nonetheless. And thus, in the interests of intellectual honesty and clarity, I sincerely hope that you call yourself an agnostic rather than an atheist.

        You said:

        “…but I don’t believe that such a being/beings exist. This is a lack of belief not a belief in itself.”

        Seriously! Do you realize how absurd this claim is? Claiming that you don’t believe that such a being (or beings) exists is exactly the same as claiming that you believe that such a being (or beings) does not exist, and this is a belief! So please, actually think through the concept that you are posting about before telling someone else that they are muddled in their thinking. For the demonstrably blind cannot lead the allegedly blind.

        You said:

        “In order to be taken seriously, by me at least, you’ll have to get your definitions corrected.”

        But in order for you to be taken seriously, by me at least, you will actually have to learn the definitions properly, and actually know what they are, not what you claim—contrary to actual, real, and standard definitions—they are.

        Sincerely,

        RD Miksa

        • Atheistwizard

          Like I said, RD, not all atheists claim that there is no god or Gods. Even by your own definitions:

          “Dictionary.com: Atheism: 1. the doctrine or belief that there is no God; 2. disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.”

          In the first definition, yes, Atheism is the belief that there is no God or gods. But look at the second definition which clearly states that this is a disbelief which not a belief. This is where I stand and a lot of atheist do as well. We are not saying “There is no God” just that we do not believe that there is. It’s a disbelief.

          As for me being agnostic, yes, I am agnostic. Agnosticism and atheism aren’t mutually exclusive. Agnosticism simply means “I don’t know” which has something to say about knowledge and nothing about what I believe. When it comes to my knowledge of the existence of God or gods, I really don’t know if one exists or not. When I comes to my belief, I do not believe that there are such things.

          And to say that I do not believe in God/gods is not the same as saying I believe that there is no God/gods. One is a statement of belief the other is an answer to someone elses claims. These are two very different things. I could say, “There is no God.” to which you could easily reply, “Okay, prove that there is no God.” This is a statement of belief and I would need to back it up with some sort of evidence to suggest that statement is true. The second, however, is just the opposite. It’s you saying, “There is a God.” and me looking at you and saying, “I don’t believe you. Show me your evidence.”

          Do you see the distinction?

          In the end, atheism doesn’t have to be a worldview like Christianity, Islam, Democrat, Republican, etc. It’s nothing more than a reply to the question, “Do you believe in God/gods?” My answer is “No. I do not believe.”

          How is “not believing” a belief?

          • RD Miksa

            Dear Atheistwizard:

            Thank you for your reply. It is greatly appreciated. Now, to get to the issue at hand.

            You said:

            “This is where I stand and a lot of atheist do as well. We are not saying “There is no God” just that we do not believe that there is. It’s a disbelief.”

            Ahh, I understand. Perfect. Well, I will do the same then. After all, two can play at this game. So consider the following (and matching your exact words): ‘This is where I stand and a lot of theists do as well. We are not saying ‘There is a God’ just that we do not believe that there is not a God. It’s a disbelief.’

            So, although I doubt that you would accept my position as I just described it, please explain how it is any different from yours. Indeed, why is my “I do not believe that God does not exist” different from your “I do not believe that God does exist”? Both are disbeliefs, and thus, by your own words, are not beliefs.

            You said:

            “As for me being agnostic, yes, I am agnostic. Agnosticism and atheism aren’t mutually exclusive.”

            In general terms, you are correct, but if the topic is specific to the God question, then atheism and agnosticism are indeed, by definition, mutually exclusive. You can be an agnostic-with-very-strong-atheistic-leanings, but in reference to the God question, you cannot be both an agnostic and an atheist at the same time.

            You said:

            “And to say that I do not believe in God/gods is not the same as saying I believe that there is no God/gods. One is a statement of belief the other is an answer to someone elses claims. These are two very different things. I could say, “There is no God.” to which you could easily reply, “Okay, prove that there is no God.” This is a statement of belief and I would need to back it up with some sort of evidence to suggest that statement is true. The second, however, is just the opposite. It’s you saying, “There is a God.” and me looking at you and saying, “I don’t believe you. Show me your evidence.””

            Let me repeat this paragraph back to you in your own words,
            with only some slight modifications, and let us see if you accept it. Here it is:

            And to say that I do not believe that there is no God/gods is not the same as saying I believe that there is a God/gods. One is a statement of belief, the other is an answer to someone else’s claims. There are two very different things. I could say, “There is a God,” to which you could easily reply, “Okay, prove that there is a God.” This is a statement of belief that I would need to back it up with some sort of evidence to suggest that statement is true. The second, however, is just the opposite. It’s you (or some other atheist) saying, “There is no God,” and me looking at you and saying, “I don’t believe you. Show me your evidence.”

            Clearly, these paragraphs are identical in outcome in terms of being your claimed disbeliefs. So thus I ask: Do you accept my disbelief just as you ask me to accept yours?

            You said:

            “In the end, atheism doesn’t have to be a worldview like Christianity, Islam, Democrat, Republican, etc. It’s nothing more than a reply to the question, “Do you believe in God/gods?” My answer is “No. I do not believe.””

            But this is absurd, for if I wanted to, I could define Christianity (for example), entirely in terms of disbelief, thus, by your own standard, disqualifying it as a worldview. Note, for example, the following:

            1) I do not believe that there is no God;

            2) I do not believe that physical death is the end of conscious life;

            3) I do not believe that a bodily resurrection will not happen;

            4) I do not believe that Jesus was just a mortal man.

            In all these cases, I have defined entire Christian doctrines in terms of disbelief, thus, by your lights, not making them actual beliefs. But I almost certainly guarantee that you would not grant me this verbal shell game, so why should I grant it to you. Yet if you do not grant it to me, but still keep it for yourself, then you will please have to explain to me why you get to play a double-standard in this case. So I ask, echoing you: How is my specific type of “not believing”—as articulated above—a belief?

            You said:

            “Do you see the distinction?”

            It is, in fact, a distinction without any significant or meaningful difference, for, as I have demonstrated, any claimed disbelief can simply be reformulated to be a belief and vis versa. The fact that you cannot see this makes me wonder about how deeply you have thought about the issue. In fact, the points made in this very post about how a theist could play the “disbelief” game as well as the atheist can have been made precisely to show you the inherent absurdity of your position. Hopefully you see it as such. But if, for the sake of argument, you claim that your “disbelief” idea still stands, then clearly note that the theist can—as I have demonstrated—just as easily play at that game as you can.

            Sincerely,

            RD Miksa

    • josh

      RD Miska,
      Did you have to go on at such length just to demonstrate that you are woefully misguided about everything you brought up? Seriously, it would take me dozens of pages to cover all your mistakes even if I cut out the redundant stuff. Let’s just cover one of the primary ones:

      The OTF is not an argument that you should pick the least common belief system (which you seem to think is deism) and based on that conclude how skeptical you should be of other beliefs. You even give the game away when you spend pages arguing that deism is somehow neutral and then at the end argue that it leans theistic so we should be prejudiced against atheism AND agnosticism. Sheesh.

      The point is, for any belief, though particularly those you are likely to have imbibed from the culture around you, you should examine it with the degree of skepticism you would apply if you were an outsider. It’s just a way of trying to get you to shed your biases. So if you’re a Christian, you don’t have to find the point of exact neutrality between Christian beliefs and something else, nor do you have to find the exact opposite. You consider a host of other perspectives: Hindu, Atheist, Agnostic, Deist, Muslim, whatever and try to hold yourself to the standards they would hold you to, or conversely, the standards you would hold them to for their beliefs that you reject. (That certainly includes deism since it’s a derivative of theistic beliefs and often a way to ingratiate yourself with theistic cultures while trying to accomodate rational and enlightenment criticisms; you have to be critical of deism as an outsider as well.)

      • RD Miksa

        Dear josh:

        You said:

        “Did you have to go on at such length just to demonstrate that you are woefully misguided about everything you brought up? Seriously, it would take me dozens of pages to cover all your mistakes even if I cut out the redundant stuff.”

        Blah, blah, blah. Let us discuss substance rather than initially and fallaciously poisoning the well with rank assertions about how “it would take so many pages to refute me.”

        You said:

        “The OTF is not an argument that you should pick the least common belief system (which you seem to think is deism) and based on that conclude how skeptical you should be of other beliefs.”

        If you seriously think that this is what I said in my argument, then to call your comprehension skills questionable is an understatement (and this assessment is further supported, albeit in a minor way, by the fact that you cannot even spell my last name right). My argument, in its totality, never says that the ideal Outsider position is the least common belief system, but rather the belief system that is the least subject to the non-rational psychological, sociological, and cultural factors that affect us is the best outsider position. And I state this clearly numerous times, so this makes me wonder even further if you actually understood what you read (or if you read it at all).

        You said:

        “You even give the game away when you spend pages arguing that deism is somehow neutral and then at the end argue that it leans theistic so we should be prejudiced against atheism AND agnosticism. Sheesh.”

        I never give the game away, because there is no game. I argue that the OTF recommends that a person become a maximally objective outsider to his own beliefs as well as those of others. I then argue that if any maximally objective outsider worldview position should be chosen, then it should be deism, for deism fits that description better than any other position. And thus the OTF should be started from a deistic worldview. I then simply point out that deism is indeed a minimally theistic belief, and thus that the OTF indirectly supports theism in this respect. I never claimed that deism was neutral—for no position is neutral—but rather that deism was the least subject to psychological, sociological, and cultural forces, which is precisely what the OTF demands of the best outsider position. So if you cannot understand this, which is both clear and obvious within the argument, then Sheesh indeed!

        You said:

        “The point is, for any belief, though particularly those you are likely to have imbibed from the culture around you, you should examine it with the degree of skepticism you would apply if you were an outsider. It’s just a way of trying to get you to shed your biases.”

        Thank you for simply repeating the very point that I make throughout my own argument. But the fact is that no matter how much of an outsider you try to be, you will have to choose a worldview position from which to be the outsider from. And my point is that the most objective outsider position to start from, due to the fact that it is the least subject to the non-rational psychological, sociological, and cultural forces that affect us, is deism. The theism that falls out of that fact is incidental, but significant.

        So what is the lesson that we should learn today. Probably this: Before you decide to comment on something, make sure you actually comprehend the material that you are commenting on. Otherwise, you might just look a little ignorant and your comments will likely by irrelevant.

        Sincerely,

        RD Miksa

        • josh

          Really? You’re going to upbraid me for a transposition typo? Thanks for your commitment to substance…

          I’m not poisoning the well, I’m pointing out that you make a huge number of mistakes, at tendentious length, and I’m not going to clutter up the page refuting all of them. Go learn some biology, physics, history and psychology, at least at the interested layman’s level.

          “My argument, in its totality, never says that the ideal Outsider position is the least common belief system, but rather the belief system that is the least subject to the non-rational psychological, sociological, and cultural factors that affect us is the best outsider position. ”

          That whistling sound is the point sailing overhead. Your argument, in its totality, is pretty incoherent since you later spend time arguing that the commonality of theistic beliefs should bias us in their favor. Putting that aside: 1)Your contention that deism is least subject to non-rational factors basically boils down to your belief that not many people are strict deists, combined with your failure to ascribe psychological reasons for adopting it while simultaneously making numerous dubious claims about atheist psychology and acculturation. 2)More importantly, you missed my point that there is no single maximally outsider position. The idea is to step outside your own beliefs: so if you’re a theist, deism is a start but it’s certainly not a maximally outsider position since it is derived from theism and, as noted, you think it ‘incidentally’ biases things in your favor. (It’s also not maximally outsider to an atheist and it has considerable overlap with agnosticism.)

          “Thank you for simply repeating the very point [try to shed your biases] that I make throughout my own argument.” Zoom. No, you get this point when you think you can turn it into a cudgel against atheists, but you never actually apply the lesson. You never do the important part, which is putting your own beliefs to the test. It’s perfectly legitimate to say ‘atheists should be wary of their own possible biases’. But you spend thousands of words trying to construct an argument that atheists should be more worried about their biases than theists so we can pre-judge in favor of theism. Wrong. You don’t judge until after you actually examine your biases (as best you can) and apply an outsider’s test to what you are inclined to take as evidence and argument in favor of your position.

          ‘Atheists could be culturally biased too.’ There, done. I’ve just summed up the entire legitimate part of your screed. Now let’s talk about what tests and methods we can universally apply. For instance, you try to argue for theism and then Christianity on the strength of ‘testimony’ and the idea of most people having ‘generally reliable cognitive faculties’. But those are exactly the sort of things you would tend to ignore or dismiss from other faiths. And with good reason, testimony is a perfect example of something we know to be unreliable and easily biased in certain circumstances, just as we know that most people beliefs aren’t based on ‘generally’ reliable faculties because there are specific circumstances where they aren’t reliable. And those weaknesses in testimony and personal cognition just happen to line up with people’s primary reasons for being theists.

          • RD Miksa

            Dear josh:

            You said:

            “Really? You’re going to upbraid me for a transposition typo? Thanks for your commitment to substance…”

            Yes, because it was relevant to the point that I was making. And it was indeed substantive—again albeit in a minor way, which is precisely how I described it—because it was, once again, relevant to the point that I was making. In the end, if you do not like the fact that your obvious, easily corrected, and shoddy grammatical errors are used against you, then do not make them. But do not whine to me when you do. Furthermore, you made an error of your opponent’s name—which could potentially signal a purposeful disrespect of that opponent—not just some generic grammatical error that could be overlooked and avoided. Purely in terms of conversational etiquette, this is a significant blunder.

            You said:

            “I’m not poisoning the well, I’m pointing out that you make a huge number of mistakes, at tendentious length, and I’m not going to clutter up the page refuting all of them. Go learn some biology, physics, history and psychology, at least at the interested layman’s level.’”

            I have to ask: Do you start every one of your comments with rank assertions, intellectual deflections, and personal insults? Because I have to say, doing so is less than impressive, and makes you appear to be a bit weak intellectually. After all, you tell me that I make a huge number of mistakes, but point out only a few (rank assertion). You then say that you will not address them for fear of cluttering up the comments section, even though that is what a comments section is for (intellectual deflection). And finally, you imply that I have no knowledge of biology, physics, history, and psychology, even though you have no idea of my background or academic training (personal insult). And you say that this is not poisoning the well? Not that I really care, of course, but at least be honest with yourself and admit to doing so. But anyway, moving on.

            You said:

            “Your argument, in its totality, is pretty incoherent since you later spend time arguing that the commonality of theistic beliefs should bias us in their favor.”

            Actually, I use this as one piece of my cumulative case for why supernaturalism (not theism, as you wrongly imply), rather than naturalism, is supported by the OTF. And do you know why I do this? Because John Loftus—the very creator of the modern version of the OTF—makes the very same point. On page 91 of The Christian Delusion (as well as elsewhere), John Loftus writes, concerning the OTF, the following: “By contrast, the more that rational people agree on an issue then the more probable their shared opinion is true.” I am clearly showing—just as one point, mind you—that Loftus’ point supports supernaturalism over naturalism, for the vast majority of humanity agrees that supernaturalism, rather than naturalism, is true. So if my point is incoherent, then the very criteria that Loftus uses for the OTF are incoherent, which ultimately means that the OTF is itself incoherent. But since, as you even admit, the OTF is not incoherent, then neither is my point. What is incoherent, mind you—and as has already been demonstrated and is about to be further demonstrated—is your understanding of the OTF itself, let only your understanding of my response to it.

            You said:

            “Your contention that deism is least subject to non-rational factors basically boils down to your belief that not many people are strict deists, combined with your failure to ascribe psychological reasons for adopting it while simultaneously making numerous dubious claims about atheist psychology and acculturation.”

            Although this is a caricature of my argument, at least it tries to deal with some of the argument’s meat. But rather than just asserting that I make dubious claims about atheist psychology, please do the rational thing of actually showing me why they are dubious. Engage me in your points, and if you do show that they are indeed dubious, then I will concede victory to you. However, until you do that, you are just a heckler standing outside of the boxing ring, who is too afraid to get into an actual bout.

            You said:

            “More importantly, you missed my point that there is no single maximally outsider position.”

            Well then, you are once again in disagreement with the actual creator of the OTF, John Loftus. For Loftus claims that ‘agnosticism’ is the default position that people should use when starting the OTF. Again since I am ultimately arguing against Loftus and the actual OTF as he describes it, rather then your interpretation of it, you will have to excuse me for seeing your objection as misguided. For Loftus’ point is that agnosticism should be seen, in the general rather than specific sense, as the default position for the OTF. My point is to counter Loftus by saying that, based on Loftus’ own criteria, it is deism that should be seen, again in the general rather than the specific sense, as the default position for the OTF. So please realize that the fact that both Loftus and I are arguing in general as to which position should be the default one for the OTF, rather than dealing in specific cases, is a crucial distinction that underscores your misinterpretation of my point.

            You said:

            “The idea is to step outside your own beliefs: so if you’re a theist, deism is a start but it’s certainly not a maximally outsider position since it is derived from theism and, as noted, you think it ‘incidentally’ biases things in your favor. (It’s also not maximally outsider to an atheist and it has considerable overlap with agnosticism.).”

            Here, you just misunderstand the nature of the OTF. You must indeed step outside of your own beliefs for the OTF, but in doing so, you must unavoidably step into some other belief. Loftus, based on certain criteria, argues that the default position to step into as the “outsider” is agnosticism; I argue that it is deism. Both Loftus and I are trying to determine which should be the default position in a general sense, not the subjectively specific sense.

            You said:

            “’Atheists could be culturally biased too.’ There, done. I’ve just summed up the entire legitimate part of your screed.”

            Actually, all you have done is clearly demonstrated your dim understanding of my “screed.” For the point that atheists are culturally biased is obvious; for all people are, to some degree or another, culturally biased. But my point is—to someone who actually took the time to read the argument—more specific: it is that atheism and agnosticism are, in a general sense, subject to a greater level of non-rational psychological, sociological, and cultural biases than deism is, and thus, for the OTF, deism should be the OTF’s default position, not agnosticism, as Loftus argues. The fact that you do not even understand this, even though it is spelled out in the argument, makes it all the more laughable that you, in your demonstrated ignorance, have the audacity to call my argument a screed.

            You said:

            “Now let’s talk about what tests and methods we can universally apply. For instance, you try to argue for theism and then Christianity on the strength of ‘testimony’ and the idea of most people having ‘generally reliable cognitive faculties’. But those are exactly the sort of things you would tend to ignore or dismiss from other faiths.”

            Actually, no, I do not dismiss the testimony of people from other faiths, and I would appreciate it if you did not put words in my mouth, as if you knew what I would or would not do. In fact, it is obvious that since the sub-title of my argument is “How the OTF Supports Theism, Supernaturalism, and Intelligent Design” that the testimony of people from other faiths, which are largely supportive of theistic, supernatural, and Intelligent Design type beliefs, would be accepted by my argument. So please, if you are going to put words into my mouth, at least really think about the actual words that I would use, rather than not.

            You said:

            “And with good reason, testimony is a perfect example of something we know to be unreliable and easily biased in certain circumstances, just as we know that most people beliefs aren’t based on ‘generally’ reliable faculties because there are specific circumstances where they aren’t reliable.”

            This is garbage, as testimony is eminently reliable in the vast majority of situations that people consider of vital importance, and testimony is, furthermore, as credible and important of an evidence source as any form of scientific evidence, for example. Let me know if you would like me to elaborate on this point.

            You said:

            “And those weaknesses in testimony and personal cognition just happen to line up with people’s primary reasons for being theists.”

            Well, since one good bullsh*t assertion deserves another, let me just note that, in fact—and as illuminated by my discussion with you—weaknesses in reasoning and comprehension just happen to line up with people’s primary reasons for being atheists.

            Sincerely,

            RD Miksa

          • josh

            @RD Miksa above

            Oh, this is fun. Some people are gluttons for punishment.

            “In the end, if you do not like the fact that your obvious, easily corrected, and shoddy grammatical errors are used against you, then do not make them.”

            Actually, it was a typographical mistake which could be considered orthographical, albeit with respect to an unfamiliar proper name. A grammatical mistake would be, e.g., “let only your understanding of my response to it. ” Normally I’d let that slide, but since we’re being so substantive and all.

            “Furthermore, you made an error of your opponent’s name—which could potentially signal a purposeful disrespect of that opponent…” That would be ‘MR Diksa’, all I did was transpose two letters accidentally.

            “I have to ask: Do you start every one of your comments with rank assertions, intellectual deflections, and personal insults?”

            You have to? Maybe you should see a psychiatrist about that, most people wait for more than two comments before making that sort of inane generalization. Especially when even the most favorable reading of your complaint could apply to only one.

            By the way, you don’t always have to put rank in front of assertion; it doesn’t really make you look superior. I made some assertions, I gave you a few examples. I don’t feel like fisking your entire blog, you can see how long my posts get just deconstructing a couple of your comments here. This is Chris’s comment section and it’s not specifically about you, he may not even like me wasting this much effort. But show some ability to learn and I’ll try to point you towards some of your other problems. I don’t know your background but I read your arguments on the topic at hand, if you have any education in the fields I mentioned it’s not doing you much credit. Again, I’m not poisoning the well, I’ve pointed out specific problems with your analysis and I’d like to make you aware that there are a number of other issues on which I haven’t gone into detail, though I admit the latter is a particularly forlorn hope.

            “Actually, I use this as one piece of my cumulative case for why supernaturalism (not theism, as you wrongly imply), rather than naturalism, is supported by the OTF.”

            To quote your intro, “the so-called Outsider Test for Faith actually supports theism, supernaturalism, and Intelligent Design”, so you’ll forgive me for thinking you conflated them. The problem I brought up is that you argue for deism, en route to an anti-atheism conclusion, because few people hold to it, then later argue against atheism because so many people don’t hold that position. This may actually be a problem with Loftus’s criterion as well, feel free to take it up with him. But note that you changed ‘number of rational people’ to “vast majority of humanity” so you might want to polish up a bit.

            “…please do the rational thing of actually showing me why they are dubious.” Your ‘evidence’ consists of cherry picked quotes from a few turf-defending philosophers, a couple atheists, and the analysis of Benjamin Wiker and other Christian apologists. Nothing systematic of professional here and you don’t even bother to do an equally half-assed analysis of deism. You argue that agnosticism is adopted by teenagers and young adults who “are the types of individuals who can be the most affected by psychological, sociological and cultural factors.” Except for, you know, children, which age group is where most religious inculcation takes place. Almost as though many people move towards non-belief when they leave their parental and innate culture behind and are exposed to a broader milieu. You assert that people adopt deism later in life, with Anthony Flew as your sole example. The general view is that he adopted a weak deism as he entered senility. It’s lucky this isn’t a boxing ring, you don’t seem to know when to throw in the towel.

            “Loftus, based on certain criteria, argues that the default position to step into as the “outsider” is agnosticism; I argue that it is deism.”

            Speaking of intellectual deflection… Again, you can take it up with Loftus, although you haven’t come up with a decent argument yet. It doesn’t detract from my point. ‘Default’, is not the same as ‘single maximally outsider’. I’m not much concerned with determining some singular default position either.

            “You must indeed step outside of your own beliefs for the OTF, but in doing so, you must unavoidably step into some other belief.”

            Well, the point of agnosticism is to not have a commitment to any belief for the topic at hand. For example, I am agnostic on whether or not the trillionth digit of pi is 1. That’s not much of a belief to step into. However, again, you can step into multiple outsider beliefs if it suits you. You’re missing the bigger picture here.

            Blah, blah, “for the OTF, deism should be the OTF’s default position”

            I said ‘legitimate’, I stand by my assertion. I haven’t misunderstood you or Loftus, I’m addressing the major problem with your line of argument. If you think it is Loftus’s problem too, acknowledge your own mistakes and then discuss it with him.

            “I do not dismiss the testimony of people from other faiths, and I would appreciate it if you did not put words in my mouth”

            I didn’t misquote you, I’m noting that you go on to argue for Christianity above other faiths so it’s pretty obvious you don’t accept the testimony of, say, Muhammad. You’re trying to pick out the nebulous bits that support your favored position and sweeping aside the glaring contradictions. That’s not applying the OTF.

            “testimony is, furthermore, as credible and important of an evidence source as any form of scientific evidence, for example.”

            Here you expose your ignorance of basic psychology. Testimony, particularly under certain circumstances, has been shown to be highly manipulable and unreliable. That doesn’t mean it can never provide evidence, but it means, for example, that the subjective experiences of religious believers, or the ahistorical tracts of proselytizers based on uncorroborated oral traditions, are of essentially no weight.

            “Well, since one good bullsh*t assertion deserves another…”
            This is the problem. I’m not bullshitting you. Professional scientists, philosophers, and psychologists are each among the most atheist and agnostic groups.

  • Brad

    I think this is the book that Alex mentions above:

    http://book.truereason.org/

    The New Atheists are convinced that good thinking means disbelief in God and that their leaders are models of good reasoning. They’re planning a “Reason Rally” for March 24. Richard Dawkins heads up a “Foundation for Reason and Science.” Sam Harris is founder and chairman of “Project Reason.” The American Atheists define atheism as “the mental attitude which unreservedly accepts the supremacy of reason . . .” John Loftus tells us “Faith and Reason are Mutually Exclusive Opposites.”

    In this they are quite mistaken.

    They are wrong because their claims to good reasoning do not match the evidence of their performance. Dawkins’ book The God Delusion is rife with logical fallacies and demonstrably anti-scientific prejudice. Sam Harris devoted most of a recent debate to avoiding logic, advancing an argument based on emotional appeals instead. John Loftus says that his “Outsider Test for Faith” shows that belief is irrational, when his test actually demonstrates the opposite.

    They are also wrong because Christianity is built on a foundation of evidence and thought. The Bible is a record of what God has done. It tells us through and through to see what he has done, and to trust him based on what we know to be true of him. Jesus requires his followers to love God with all of their minds. The Apostle Paul reasoned in the synagogues and with the Greek philosophers. Down through history, many of the world’s greatest thinkers have been Christians. It’s still true today.

    And they are mistaken in not seeing how Christianity leads people to treat each other reasonably. Sure, there have been exceptions, but on the whole Christianity has been the world’s greatest force for freedom, peace, human rights, and of course the highest good of all: knowledge of God.

    That’s just the marketing text, of course, and not the guts of the argument itself. Would cost you a couple bucks, but probably contains some arguments worth refuting.

    • Jon H

      I’m looking at the table of contents and it just seems like watered down WLC, which I can’t see being all that exciting to a man tired of WLC, but it certainly would be timely, I guess.

      • http://sheltered-objections.blogspot.com/ Alex

        Yes, very timely, as this is the latest book they’ll trump as it contains ‘rationality’ and ‘logic’ and therefore absolutely proves their gods existence, take that, science!

  • RD Miksa

    Dear Jon H:

    You said:

    “You’re right, it is just an assertion.”

    Your frank admission of your own lack of intellectual rigorousness is appreciated, although it is—for a person who no doubt counts himself as a rational truth-seeker—also slightly disconcerting.

    You said:

    “If I see something I think is ridiculous and would seem ridiculous to anyone not already too far gone to bother arguing with I don’t make arguments, I make assertions.”

    The funny thing is, this is actually an argument, albeit a horrendous one. Essentially, you are saying: If I see something that is ridiculous, and if I think that other people like me will find it ridiculous, then it very likely is ridiculous. Now again, at least this is a type of argument, but if you think that this is a reasoned and rational argument, then I must question both your reason and your rationality. After all, “seeing” is not a rational way of critically assessing an argument, nor is it a reasonable way of doing. In fact, it appears downright prejudicial and biased.

    You said:

    “I don’t see your arguments convincing anyone but your own choir and as such I honestly don’t know why I should care about your argument.”

    Please, feel free not to care about my argument; I do not care one wit if you do or if you don’t. But if you do not care about it, then please stop pretending that you have made some type of insightful critique of it, or that you added anything to the conversation. Just state that you do not care about the argument and leave it at that. At least that would be intellectually honest.

    Sincerely,

    RD Miksa

  • mnb0

    First, this theologian is not a fundamentalist; second, several articles are in Dutch. But some are in English and you might enjoy to put your teeth in it.
    It sure is full of apologetics.

    http://gjerutten.blogspot.com/

    Here we have a Dutchman who promoted as a philosopher in religion by using the evolution theory as proof for a transcedental reality, including a god:

    http://igitur-archive.library.uu.nl/dissertations/2011-1122-200558/Riemersma.pdf

    It’s in Dutch, but from page 271 on there is a summary in English.

    Finally a stupid anti-evolutionist:

    http://satirizingscientism.blogspot.com/2009/07/presenting-op-ed-piece-from-dr.html

    Enjoy.

  • Atheistwizard

    RD,

    It is clear that arguing with you is a pointless endeavor. As evidence of this you write:

    “1) I do not believe that there is no God;”

    Which is a ridiculous statement in itself.

    “2) I do not believe that physical death is the end of conscious life;”

    You’re right. You don’t believe that physical death is the end. If someone was to ask you, “Do you believe that physical death is the end of life?” You would give this answer. Of course this has nothing to do with atheism since there are also atheists that do not believe that death is the end of conscious life. I fail to see your point here.

    “3) I do not believe that a bodily resurrection will not happen;”

    Once again, another utterly ridiculous statement.

    “4) I do not believe that Jesus was just a mortal man.”

    Really? Then how did he die? This goes against the very thing Christianity is based on? This proves that you have no idea what you are talking about.

    Saying “I don’t believe X” is not the same as saying “I believe that X does not exist.” It means that I am skeptical of X’s existence and would be more than willing to change my mind if sufficient evidence is presented. Stating X does not exist, in my opinion, is not leaving room for this. It’s a statement of fact which is not what I am saying.

    But, as I stated, you seem to have no intention of actually learning something from this conversation so I know that I am wasting my time. Therefore I thank you for the conversation and hope that you have a nice day.

    • RD Miksa

      Dear Atheistwizard:

      You said:

      “RD, It is clear that arguing with you is a pointless endeavor. …But, as I stated, you seem to have no intention of actually learning something from this conversation so I know that I am wasting my time.”

      I have to say, claiming that I am the one that has no intention of learning sounds like a bit of your own psychological projection to me, especially since I literally used your own words and arguments to make my point, thus clearly showing that I was trying to learn from you and employ the methods you yourself presented to my advantage. If this is not learning, I am not sure what is.

      You said:

      “As evidence of this you write: “1) I do not believe that there is no God;” Which is a ridiculous statement in itself.”

      Wow, another rank assertion. Talk about respect for reason and evidence. Why is it a ridiculous statement? After all, the statement ‘There is no God’ is a perfectly legitimate statement. And thus the claim that I do not believe the statement that ‘There is no God’ is also a perfectly legitimate belief. In fact, I am using your own methodology here. After all, you simply claim the exact same thing as me, but just with the opposite conclusion, for you simply say ‘I do not believe there is a God.’ So why is it ridiculous when I say it but not when you do? Why the double standard? And if it is ridiculous when I say it, then it is ridiculous when you do, which was my original point to begin with.

      You said:

      “2) I do not believe that physical death is the end of conscious life;” You’re right. You don’t believe that physical death is the end. If someone was to ask you, “Do you believe that physical death is the end of life?” You would give this answer. Of course this has nothing to do with atheism since there are also atheists that do not believe that death is the end of conscious life. I fail to see your point here.”

      My point, which was obvious and clearly stated in my comment, was that Christianity itself could use your own methodology to define itself in wholly negative terms, just as you try to do with your atheism. And thus, since Christianity claims that conscious life continues after death, then the negative way to claim this would be to say something along the lines of: “I do not believe that physical death is the end of conscious life,” which is precisely why I said it. My point had nothing whatsoever to do with atheism per se in this specific case. So please, actually read what I wrote before telling me that I am the one who is not learning anything from this debate.

      You said:

      “3) I do not believe that a bodily resurrection will not happen;” Once again, another utterly ridiculous statement.”

      Once again, another rank assertion. And since, as demonstrated above, you did not even understand the point I was trying to make, then I must conclude that the only ridiculous thing here is your level of reading comprehension.

      You said:

      “4) I do not believe that Jesus was just a mortal man.” Really? Then how did he die? This goes against the very thing Christianity is based on? This proves that you have no idea what you are talking about.”

      Actually, it just proves your lack of critical reading skills. After all, the key word in my phrase, which was the word “just,” obviously means that the statement implicitly accepts that Jesus was a mortal man, but then it says that he was more than that. Your point would only make sense if I had not included the word just, but since I did include it, then your point is pointless. So sweet Jesus man, how many times do I have to say this: Learn to actually read what you are critiquing before you decide to critique it!

      You said:

      “Saying “I don’t believe X” is not the same as saying “I believe that X does not exist.”

      Since I never said this, then I have no idea what you are talking about. What I did say, however, is ultimately (and in a very stream-lined version) the following: 1) I can believe that God exists or God does not exist; 2) I do not believe that God does not exist (the double negative here, which you missed, is critical); 3) Therefore, given 1, I believe that God exists. My whole point was to show you that this reasoning is equally applicable to you in the following way: 1) I can believe that God exists or God does not exist; 2) I do not believe that God exists (your statement); 3) Therefore, given 1, I believe that God does not exist. Furthermore, your statement above is deceptive, for the way that you use X in the first portion is different from the way you use X in the second statement, thus making your point not only irrelevant to my point, but also fallacious due to equivocation. Consider, again in your own words, this: X = God exists. So your first statement would read: 1) I don’t believe (X) that God exists. But you second statement would read: 2) I believe that that God exists does not exist. But this latter statement is nonsense. And the reason it is nonsense is because in your first statement you are speaking of X in general terms, while in your second statement you are speaking specifically of X’s existence. Thus, whether intentionally or not, your statements are equivocating with the idea of X, and thus your statement is fallacious until repaired.

      You said:

      “It means that I am skeptical of X’s existence and would be more than willing to change my mind if sufficient evidence is presented.”

      Exactly, so when I say that ‘I do not believe that God does not exist,’ I am just being skeptical of the claim that God does not exist and would be more than willing to change my mind if sufficient evidence is presented. And note that both a theist and an agnostic could say this, so it is not a theist specific claim.

      You said:

      “Stating X does not exist, in my opinion, is not leaving room for this. It’s a statement of fact which is not what I am saying.”

      Great, neither am I. After all, I was just using your methodology to express my lack of belief, just as you were doing. I never said that X does not exist. I said that I do not believe that X does not exist. So please do not put words in my mouth and read what I am saying. For I actually did understand what you were saying, but I was simply trying to show you that I, as a theist, can use the exact same methodology as you, and thus both the theist and the atheist can play at your game.

      Anyway, feel free to respond or not, I do not care either way, but I will be happy to continue the conversation if you wish to. But please do not tell me that I am the one who is unwilling to learn, because I really have to say that based on my short experience here at this blog, it appears to me that it is the regulars here who do not even critically read their opponent’s points, let alone try to learn from them.

      Sincerely,

      RD Miksa

  • Pierce R. Butler

    FtB’s soon-to-be-departing (alas!) Libby Anne is neither apologetic nor accommodationist, but her change-of-address post led me to her new online home at Patheos, where I think you can find a smorgasbord of A’n’A, among other fallacies.

    Just check their Atheism Intro section any time you want a convenient cluster of straw entities to sweep the floor with.

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