Sunday, April 05, 2009

Our Ability to know what's "out there:" Discussion With Loftus

On the comment section to Victor Report's blog John Loftus lays downt he argument:

Victor, without first defining the type of Christianity you defend here, Christian people can read this post and agree totally, thinking you defens their specific view. But you don't, and you know it.

Which Christianity are you defending? Get specific. Liberal, moderate, or conservative? Calvinist? Catholic? "Cultic"? Snake Handlers? KKK? Fred Phelps? You see, until you flesh out the details you are not defending a generalized Christianity at all, but a localized one. And if you think a generalized Christianity is good enough then that also takes a position with regard to a more inclusivistic faith, which other believers reject



The Old atheist divide and conquer strategy. There are so many traditions and beliefs they must cancel each other out. He also argues that religion is taught by culture. That is some kind of big problem for him. To that I respond:

I really have no idea why atheits think that's some kind of big disproof.

why do I like Ingmar Bergman? Because my brother and my best friend "turned me on" (that's an old way we used to speak it means they taught me) that he was the best filmmaker. So that he's not right? Because if you are taught soemthing then it must be false.

My father taught me algebra, so that must be wrong I guess? But unfortunately I was not the most apt student for him to teach.

If things are wrong because they are taught then maybe the valid reason for believing something is becasue you experince it? (I know Craig has had religous experinces). But no atheists don't accept that eitehr.

I guess the only valid reason is if it squares with logic. The problem there is everytime I show an atheist that it squares with logic he starts telling me I'm stupid and that it can't possibly square and that logic doesn't tell us anthing.


So really what I think it all comes down to is that atheists have no actual of epistemic justification and they just move form one methodology to another depending upon what methodology a theist evokes.



Loftus:

I disagree. You and he do not share the same kind of Christianity. I mean really, do you want to say that you are all Muslims because you share a common belief that a God exists who created the universe? I think not.

We'd have to flesh out what is essential of course, but what do you do with people who disagree on the essentials, like the King James only crowd? Write them off? Discount them? What about "baptism (immersion) is essential" folks? They do not recognize anyone else as Christians and will not associate with others who aren't baptized. Do you also write them off?



Meta:
I think you have a misconception about what it means to be in a religious tradition. You seem to think that all Christian belief cancels all Muslim belief so there can't be an continuity between the two. That's false. Why can't there be coincidental truths that overlap two or more traditions?

If Muslims beileve that 2 + 2 = 4 and I believe that too (in base 10 ok) does that mean we have created a third religion?

We'd have to flesh out what is essential of course, but what do you do with people who disagree on the essentials, like the King James only crowd? Write them off?

see the problem is you want a big king's X. you want this to be the big negating principle that wipes out the possibility of all religious truth, and it's based upon the concept that there can't be any overlaps between traditions and that's just silly.

two huge mistakes in logic here. Treating religious traditions like they demarcate separate worlds and membership in a tradition as though it's equivalent to knowing all truth. You don't have to believe that possess all truth to be a Christian.

the second one is you want to make all religious beliefs mutually exclusive even between Christian denominations, as though Baptists and Methodists are not just two types of Christians but totally separate religions that don't share any kind of communality.


Loftus:Discount them? What about "baptism (immersion) is essential" folks? They do not recognize anyone else as Christians and will not associate with others who aren't baptized. Do you also write them off?


Meta: Rupert's argument did not involve any specific doctrines that would demarcate any specific religious tradition, accept Christian belief in general.


Loftus:
No Joe, it's much worse than that. It's not that such beliefs are false. It's that, well, if you or Victor were raised in different homes and had different experiences and read different books, and studied under different professors, and got teaching appointments in different places then you could both be atheist philosophers and/or theologians right now.

That's how bad it is when it comes to anyone who claims to know the truth, and that's how bad it is when it comes to the claim that we as human beings can think outside the box and reason correctly, objectively and dispassionately without prejudices or preconceived notions. We can't, or at least, if we can, the only thing we can and should trust is the empirical sciences. That's our only hope. Science is the best we've got, and even science has it's problems.



Meta:

No Joe, it's much worse than that. It's not that such beliefs are false. It's that, well, if you or Victor were raised in different homes and had different experiences and read different books, and studied under different professors, and got teaching appointments in different places then you could both be atheist philosophers and/or theologians right now.


and If I had a different brother I would not know why Ingmar Bergman is. I would think it was Ingrid Bergman. But doesn't that cancel out Bergman as a great director?

Loftus: "That's how bad it is when it comes to anyone who claims to know the truth, and that's how bad it is when it comes to the claim that we as human beings can think outside the box and reason correctly, objectively and dispassionately without prejudices or preconceived notions. We can't, or at least, if we can, the only thing we can and should trust is the empirical sciences. That's our only hope. Science is the best we've got, and even science has it's problems."


Meta:that's a totally illogical position John.

(1) anyone with half a brain who has been college for a semester or two can come up with a position more sophisticated than "I know the truth." I mean come on, we not in highschool. YOu can't have to just shuck your belief system to come up with a way of describing that leave room for thought and for other view points than "I know the truth and you have to accept it."

that's the problem wtih atheism you love to feel supiror to religious people so you never give any any credit for any kind of brains.

(2) your argument is just deadly to your own position. If taken to extremes (do logical absurd ism thing on it) cancels any kind of thought.

(3) my own positon which I have elaborated concerns oter faiths is both logical and progressive and meets the concerns of the NT without doing any sort of violence to other groups, or excluding themf form the right to think.

if you want to know what it is read my book... when it comes out.

(4) what you say about our inablityt to speakt he truth about 'waht's out there' is a good cogent ponit. unforutnatley you miss boat in overlooking the fact that my theology is a mystical theology. The basic crux of it is that we cant' understand God. God is beyond our understanding. what we need is not philosphy or science or more udnersanding, because we can't understand it. what we need is experince.

nothing you say cancels out the fact that in mystical union we can approach the truth "out there" just becasue we can't describe it doesn't mean we don't know it when we hear that ideas that pertain to to it.



I think the atheists in this discussion are just attempting a bad argumentation strategy, divide and conquer. It may be a good strategy for some things, but it doesn't apply in terms of religious belief.

To pull this off you have to assume that all religious belief is predicated upon a Church of Chrsit or fundamentalist sort of position that requires the dotting of all "i's" and the crossing of all "t's" and in the exact prescribed fashion.

But this is just putting you in the box. You can't look up and see the broader truths or the more progressive positions because you are only on the look out for fund-like things that you can attack.

(I've edited a lot of material from the discussion but I think I represented it faithfully)

9 comments:

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

I never understand posts like this. Obviously neither of you believe exclusivity of Christianity. Bringing up the variety in Christianity simply points out how ridiculous it is for each flavor to claim they each are the only true representation of Christianity. It is the same for the rest of the religions in the world.

John is right; you can't just blurt out "Christianity is true!" without first defining Christianity.

J.L. Hinman said...

yes Mike that's true. But he seems to think that's an immovable barrier that destroys any religious belief. I think it's just a reason to work on refining your sentences.

I think, if I may say so, that I am sophisticated enough not run around blurting out "Christianity is true." I think I can formulate a more refined and specific and relevant way to put it.

Usually my general statement of Christian truth content goes something like: The Christian tradition offers a greater degree of efficacy in terms of accessibility through the concept of Grace."

I can eve refine it moerso if you wish to say "versions of Christianity which focus upon salvation by Grace..."

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

I wasn't implying that you were the one blurting out "Christianity is true!", you would blurt out something much longer and more complicated, and of course, more precise. ;-)

J.L. Hinman said...

I know MIke. I didn't thik you were I just thought It was funny to put it that way.

J.L. Hinman said...

you would blurt out something much longer and more complicated, and of course, more precise. ;-)

ahahahahahaahah!!!!

I would say "Christianity is truth itself."


LOLOLOL ;-)

Jeff Carter said...

Loftus' problems with the OTF are numerous. First, while saying that Christians are all prisoners of cultural bias, he denies the influence that Anglo-American rational empiricism has on his own atheism. Second, he assumes that Christianity is objectively based, rather than an inner transformation.

I've tried to piece together the arguments of Metacrock, Reppert and myself in my post "Clarifying the Debate on Subjectivity and Objectivity."

J.L. Hinman said...

you mean over at DC in that same thread? Man that Russ and McCall just demonstrated those guys are not capable of thought. They are about as biased as you can get. they almost irrational.

Jeff Carter said...

They are about as biased as you can get. they almost irrational.

Beyond ironic, since they tout themselves as rational and unbiased.

J.L. Hinman said...

Beyond ironic, since they tout themselves as rational and unbiased.

exactly!