Debate of the Day: Alvin Plantinga vs. Jaco Gericke

Watch the following interview and then read what I consider a refutation of Reformed Epistemology by Dr. Jaco Gericke afterward. Who wins?



Now read Fundamentalism on Stilts: A Response to Alvin Plantinga's Reformed Epistemology.

Who wins?

74 comments:

Wes Widner said...

Here is a link to the rest of the interview for anyone interested.

Harlan Quinn said...

In the end...it eventually becomes readily apparent that Plantinga’s entire case is in fact little more than a huge demonstration of special pleading.
Well spoken, Jaco, I couldn't have said it better myself, not that anyone listens anyway!
*:O)
Just say NO to faith based reasoning.

Conclusions derived from poor quality information, are poor quality conclusions.

Garbage in, Garbage out. Tried and True principle.

But I don't see anyone talking about the quality of information, and what constitutes information of a high enough quality to give someone the desire to want to bet the farm on it.

Over at QuIRP, I've done a first step in an Information Quality Assessment on Pauls Conversion Story starting with Acts 9:3-8 from 20 different english bible versions.
Here's a link to the summary. A blog article is forthcoming to explain the spreadsheet, if its not clear on its own.
I used a database normalization technique to derive several versions of Acts 9:3-8. One version is a 100% deviation free Acts 9:3-8,
another is a version that tolerates 10% deviation, another version tolerant to 20% deviation, and a version that tolerates 30% deviation.

The bible is a database, and any database admin knows that multiple instances of data are bad and should be combined into one central repository. Multiple instances of data lead to poor performance in a company and sometimes chaos. Kind of torpedoes the 'grapevine' analogy of the 'body of christ' and multiple denominations.

There are some parts of Acts 9:5-8 that have as much 70% deviation across 20 english bible version and a couple that have information in them that is not included in any of the others.

How accurate do you want your bible? Better than 30%? Better than 70%? 80%? 90%? Of course you want it 100% deviation free, but its not possible. Some of that information is LOST FOREVER.

I intend to come up with a metric to compare deviance in the bible to deviance in news articles and other folklore.
How accurate do you want your News?
30%? 70%? 80%? 90%?
Someone that won't commit to a 70% accurate news article shouldn't commit to a 70% accurate bible either.

But to what degree one commits to information really has to do to what degree of risk there is in committing to it isn't there?

If there is low risk, the it ain't so bad to commit to low quality information, but if there is high risk, then it might turn out catastrophic!

The real fun is going to come in assessing the conversion story versions in acts 22, acts 26, etc and normalizing them to come up with a version with various percentages of deviance.

Then comparing it to a hypothesis matrix comparing Pauls symptoms during his conversion and at other times as recorded in the bible to a neurological pathology.

Piratefish said...

It's people like this who gives the appearance that there's something to this argument, but in fact there isn't, and christians are made into believing that there's a super dude making the rounds silencing all the critics and defending their faith. RE is just another justification for blind faith, and even if it can be taken seriously, it at best can only say believing in some kind of deity is justified, but which deity? RE is such baloney. :)

Rob R said...

In the end...it eventually becomes readily apparent that Plantinga’s entire case is in fact little more than a huge demonstration of special pleading.

I didn't see that. This needs more explanation.

So is it your position then that nothing is properly basic and that anything asserted without argument is irrational? Is a person irrational because they believe murder is wrong though it's something that they intuit and not a result of conscious moral reasoning? Is it irrational to believe that there is a world external to the mind without argumentation to that effect? Is it irrational to take it for granted that the world did not come into existence five minutes ago?

Plantinga as I understand him is suggesting that these are all warranted beliefs, beliefs that we don't need arguments for. Do you agree or disagree? If you disagree, does that mean that 90 percent of the population that has never taken a intro to philosophy class and perhaps the majority of atheists who have never thought about these things are irrational because they've never argued for them and have taken them for granted?

And so back to the claim, why is it not that belief in God cannot also have the same rational standing as all of these, as something that seems right? Of course, the truth of the belief in God has been challenged and there are people who don't believe in God. For that matter, some of these other things that we take for granted also have their doubters. there are solipsists. There are anti-realists. There are idealists. So why is belief in God different from these other beliefs such that you can call it special pleading?

AIGBusted said...

This is something totally off-topic, but John, if you had to choose between reading "Doubting Jesus' Resurrection" and "UFO's Ghosts and a Rising God" which one would you pick?

Walter said...

I have not read Plantinga's work, but I would like to know how Christians can consider their specific doctrinal beliefs as properly basic?

Belief in a deity is one thing; belief that your deity was born of a virgin, walked on water, fed thousands of people with one lunch, resurrected from the dead and ascended through the clouds is another matter entirely.

Specific religious beliefs need evidential justification, imo.

Rob R said...

Belief in a deity is one thing; belief that your deity was born of a virgin, walked on water, fed thousands

I don't believe that this is Plantinga's claim. I could be wrong, but I would like to see documentation to the notion that it is.

I'm no expert in reformed epistemology, but I suspect that what Plantinga is suggesting here is that it is belief in God in general that is properly basic, or at least a higher power. The rest of Christian doctrine of course comes from a combination of scripture and natural theology.

If I am wrong about Plantinga, then I would disagree with him on that point but I still feel that the notion of God as properly basic is still a fruitful notion.

But I also wouldn't make it foundational and other explanations (aka arguments) as to why God exists as inferior to the idea that belief in God is basic. Rather, I'd suggest that there are reasons that we can probe as to why God's existence makes sense, and in light of God's existence, those who have not done such work are justified on the grounds of the properly basic nature. The point is, the notion that God is properly basic explains why the whole Christian community is warranted in belief in God, yet the underlying principles of that warrent, of that properly basic claim is still something that intellectuals within the church are responsible to explore and explain.

dguller said...

Quick question:

If a belief is a properly basic on, then that means that we cannot help but believe it, right?

My question is: Does this mean that the belief is true?

I mean, in our vision, we cannot help, but not see our blind spot. We see a patch of vision there that our brain fills in. However, we do not actually see what is there, and thus it is a false part of our vision.

Couldn't this idea that the idea of God is properly basic be similar to this, and therefore doesn't matter at all?

It all seems like a fancy red herring to me.

Rob R said...

You for real DM? I don't see how this kind of approach is helpful nor would I think your mother would be proud.

Besides, the topic here deserves to be discussed and isn't the place to have a general atheist bashing session. You should start your own blog and then you can rant to your hearts content and not draw attention to fruitful topics that deserve to be discussed (to the great glory of God who has given us minds to use which is entailed by the divine image).

Course after watching that video you posted, I can only suspect that you are either a very troubled soul or a sock puppet and most likely the latter. And if you are the former, you know God's ends aren't achieved by the anger of man.

Rob R said...

If a belief is a properly basic on, then that means that we cannot help but believe it, right?

No it doesn't. It means that it is rational to believe without arguments or a a line of reasoning. A principle example is of a tooth ache. You don't need an argument to be rational in your belief that something is wrong with your tooth when you are having a tooth ache. Of course in that example, most likely you can't help but believe it, but that's not the point. The point is that argumentation or conscious reasoning is not needed for the rationality of the belief.

Plantinga gave other examples though that you could refuse to believe if you wanted to, such as the idea that other minds exist. Solipsists do not believe this, hence there are beliefs that could be described as properly basic even though we could choose not to believe them. Course, even if they are all just being cheeky and aren't actually solipsists, it's close neighbor, idealism did have real followers, or at least George Berkely was one and he was quite serious.

It all seems like a fancy red herring to me.

A red herring is a diversion away from the topic. John Lofuts set the topic here so discussing the issue of properly basic beliefs and whether belief in God may qualify does not consititute a red herring.

DM's post is a red herring.

Walter said...

So belief in naturalism may also be considered properly basic? If so, then we have now determined that atheists and theists can both rationally hold their beliefs.

Only thing left is to endlessly debate over which worldview is true.

Rob R said...

So belief in naturalism may also be considered properly basic?

That religion is so predominant and that most naturalists learn their naturalism (especially if they do so because they are questioning religious intuitions... but that may be a harder one to prove though many atheists do indeed claim to have had such intuitions) would work against this claim. That children take to religion so easily and arguably naturally would also work against this claim.

Walter said...

That religion is so predominant and that most naturalists learn their naturalism (especially if they do so because they are questioning religious intuitions... but that may be a harder one to prove though many atheists do indeed claim to have had such intuitions) would work against this claim. That children take to religion so easily and arguably naturally would also work against this claim.

Children take to religion because they are indoctrinated into it by their parents.

Rob R said...

And naturally so because it is properly basic.

Psychologists have noted that religion is natural for children.

source

Walter said...

Psychologists have noted that religion is natural for children.

I am sure that believing in a heavenly father figure(s) does come naturally for children. It is an emotional need to feel protected in a hostile world.

I don't know how any of this proves that theism is truth? It just proves that theistic belief is comforting.

Harlan Quinn said...

Rob,
any belief that is based on anything unvalidatable is dubious.
it can't be authoritative.
it will result in chaos, as evidenced by the multiple denominations in any one religion, and the multiple instances of differing religions around the world.

Faith based reasoning is chaotic.
Garbage in is garbage out.
*:O)

There will be evidence for justifiable beliefs.
There is an underlying logic to the 'belief' that we shouldn't murder.

let me introduce you to it.
This is completely for discussion and example purposes only, it is a thought experiment and is not meant in any way as threatening.

do you want to be murdered?
no
You can safely presume that no one else wants to be murdered either.
If there is no law and you murder someone I know, I might murder you, but then your family might murder me.
Read up on the hatfields and mccoys.

The underlying logic is that its not in ones SELF-INTEREST to murder for the reasons detailed above.

its commonly called 'retaliation'
and in game theory its called
tit-for-tat

there should be an underlying logic and ability to validate any "properly basic belief" if that is even a real term outside of christian apologetics and "speculative philosophy" [my term].

DM said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Harlan Quinn said...

for the record, i deleted dm's comments.

DM said...

btw john,


you deluded fuc&er


put some comment moderation on your endless BS....

Piratefish said...

Rob R said...
And naturally so because it is properly basic.
-----
I'm on the same page as Walter. It's one thing to say that it's properly basic to believe in a god, another thing to say that the god is real. Most cultures did evolve to believe in some kind of a god, but I can't see how Plantinga can use it as an apologetic. There're many prosaic explanations for RE, and even if believing in a god is intuitive and universal, that doesn't prove the god in question is real. Plantinga seems to try to pull a fast one here.

Harlan Quinn said...

I deleted another one of DMs comments but left one so you all could get a feel for what faith based thinking can lead to and what john has to deal with in his personal life. Thats why I use a pseudonym.

faith based thinking is by definition, irrational.
it is a reasoning process that starts with unverifiable, ungrounded data and proceeds from there.
garbage in, garbage out.
*:O)

My thanks to DM for proving my point.

Over at QuIRP you can see at least three different examples a day of this madness on a global scale. I have news feeds set up to display it in real time.

I would welcome DM's garbage over there as it would further help display why we should
just say NO to faith based thinking.
garbage in, garbage out.
*:O)

DM said...

you need to add comment moderation to your endless BS, john...

DM said...

who wins?

i think we do...

dguller said...

Rob:

Oh, okay. So a belief that is properly basic is one that can be justifiably held despite the absence of rational argumentation.

How exactly is the belief in God properly basic?

So what if it is easy for children to believe in God? Children are gullible and will believe almost anything. They believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, and most even have had an imaginary friend at some point. Does that imply that any of these entities are real? No, only that a child’s mind finds it easy to believe in them.

So what if the majority of the world believes in God? To say that that implies that the existence of God is true commits the fallacy of ad populum. I mean, the majority of the world probably believes that the earth is flat, too!

Again, how is the belief in God similar to the belief in a tooth-ache?

I would really love to know!

Harlan Quinn said...

I left those DM comments for your collective appraisal.

Harlan Quinn said...

Beliefs are just ideas that you FEEL COMFORTABLE or are EMOTIONALLY COMPELLED to commit to.

It is a result of emotional signalling related to a data set stored in your brain.

iF you think you have a belief, you may in fact be wrong, since, when it comes right down to it, you may not in fact give your life for your loved one no matter how much you WANT to believe it.

Piratefish said...

Harlan Quinn said...
I left those DM comments for your collective appraisal.
-----
Thanks.

Why doesn't he just fly a plane into the building where blogger.com is located?

Rob R said...

Walter,

I don't know how any of this proves that theism is truth?

it doesn't prove that it is truth. it claims that religious belief for someone can be reasonable even without arguments. It's the claim that we don't need to prove our belief in God to be warranted in that belief.

Piratefish

There're many prosaic explanations for RE, and even if believing in a god is intuitive and universal, that doesn't prove the god in question is real. Plantinga seems to try to pull a fast one here.

I don't think Plantinga would say that this is a proof of God's existence at all. Plantinga does have arguments for the existence of God. His reformed epistemology however is by definition, not one of them.



Harlan Quinn,

any belief that is based on anything unvalidatable is dubious.

counterexamples have been provided to the contrary. Plantinga mentioned them and I brought them up again in my first post. the only thing you mentioned was the counterexample of murder which didn't make the case you thought it did.


There is an underlying logic to the 'belief' that we shouldn't murder.

Of course there is. That isn't the issue. The issue is whether someone is rational to believe that murder is wrong even if they consciously aware of those justifications and underlying logic.

The underlying logic is that its not in ones SELF-INTEREST to murder for the reasons detailed above.

except when it is in someone's self interest and they have every confidence that they can get away with it. And in the intricacies of a planet with six billion people, there are no doubt such situations that will by statistical necessity, arise. And yet, I think you are rational to believe that murder is wrong. Am I wrong about that? course, if I am, it doesn't matter to the principle point of the topic as I have explained above and below. Seems to me though that a more solid reason against murder is the intrinsic worth of the individual.

there should be an underlying logic and ability to validate any "properly basic belief"

But of course there is, and Plantinga would affirm that this is true. What he denies is that you need to know this logic in order to rationally hold the belief.

faith based thinking is by definition, irrational.

your definition does not reflect the linguistic range of how faith is used (and language is determined by usage) nor how it is used relevantly speaking in these contexts.

it is a reasoning process that starts with unverifiable, ungrounded data and proceeds from there.

good luck on finding a rule of logic to support that one. And of course, you still need to deal with the other examples of properly basic thinking, many of which are examples of beliefs that are not verifiable.


BTW, I am almost done with my post on the soul. It's not real long, I'm just a procrastinator.

Harlan Quinn said...

DM attacked QuIRP, which is what I wanted, so I featured it and made a label for attacks so I can reference them all with one link.

Garbage in, Garbage out.
*:O)

I'm somebody now!

Harlan Quinn said...

Rob R,
I'm chalking information and computer science up on the board with the other sciences that Faith Based Thinkers disregard, like evolution, geology, anthropology, biology, chemistry,
not to mention technology such as data analysis, engineering, medicine etc.
Thats quite a list of established baseline knowledge you all disregard,
my compliments.
not!
*:O)

Harlan Quinn said...

did I mention,
Garbage in, Garbage out?

Harlan Quinn said...

its in plantigas interest to talk like that.

if he were data analyst, he wouldn't talk like that cause he'd be fired. His results would be unreliable.

rob r,
epistemology has escaped the boundaries of philosophy and is being APPLIED in technology.
specifically information and computer science, and some of it is even called
"knowledge management".
*:O)
go read up on bayesian spam filters.

Rob R said...

dguller

How exactly is the belief in God properly basic?

I'll preface this by noting that I am not an expert in reformed epistemology and I know Plantinga made some shift in his thinking on these issues but I don't know the technicalities.

But this is as best as I recall. A belief is properly basic if it produced by a process that is reliable to produce truthful beliefs. Now that's reliabilism and reformed epistemology may not be reliabilism, but I think it's close.

Of course, that this is a reliable process, (and this is my interpretation, and if it is wrong as ascribed to Plantinga, then it is my position) is only for a general belief in a greater power. Such a system still has to work in tandem with other epistemic faculties to arrive at a fuller knowledge of God.

That children easily believe in God and that the majority of people believe in God was not asserted as evidence that God exists but that these give evidence against Walter's claim that if we contrast naturalism with supernaturalism (for lack of a better term as theism is too specific to western religions while the term "supernatural" represents what is now questioned as a dubious dichotomy), it is supernaturalism that is more likely to be properly basic.

With the tooth-ache, I don't have any explanation other than what was offered. You don't need arguments to rationally know that you have a tooth-ache and if belief in God is also produced by a reliable belief producing process, then neither do you need arguments there.

DM said...
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Gandolf said...

Rob R said... "And naturally so because it is properly basic.

Psychologists have noted that religion is natural for children.

source"

Seems to me that source seemed more about noting that the uneducated nature of children, tends to leave their brains lacking in knowledge, and so more inclined to be leaning more towards imagination for their answers .

And that this maybe helps explain why early mans uneducated superstitious mind,might have leaned towards superstitious ideas of possibility of gods.Early mans mind is comparable to mind of a child,in that for them many things about life had not yet been explained.

Children can easily be convinced of ghosts also!, and its often due more to having extra amounts of imagination, coupled up with fear stemming from a lack of knowledge and experience.

DM said...
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Harlan Quinn said...

nice one Gandolf,
and Rob R,
Pain shows up in an FMRI unlike God.
God shows up as a general activation of the same areas as belief in ghosts however.

DM said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rob R said...

Harlan, you were supposed to help John Loftus with his step by step course on fallacious argumentation.

Your last two posts offer red herrings and no doubt there are other fallacies there as well. I personally think red herrings are forgivable when the topic is still heeded, which you didn't. And you still have yet to defend your agreement with Jaco about special pleading. And there are still the counterexamples to your claims about validatable knowledge. Any of those items would keep you on topic.







Hi Gandolf! Good to see you still read my posts.

Gandolf said...

Rob R "Hi Gandolf! Good to see you still read my posts."

Hey Rob, yeah cheers thanks! i do read them.Im ok with pointing out how silly they seem too.

Did you mind ?

christophermencken said...

Hi Rob R

I think I follow what you're talking about, and I think you're explaining it well.

But I don't see why an unwarranted belief in God is similar to an unwarranted beliefs in whether we popped into the world 5 minutes ago, or that there's a world external to my mind.

Seems like the quality of those beliefs are very different.

What's the definition of a god here? That a superpower, supernatural being that created the universe exists.

And that would be the same as a belief that my desk and computer have been sitting in front of me for at least the last five minutes. And that I went to work today (world external to my mind?)

The idea of a superpower, supernatural being that creates all seems very different than the belief of my desk and computer in front of me.

Thanks.

DM said...
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DM said...
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Harlan Quinn said...

rob you silly billy,
you were supposed to help John Loftus with his step by step course on fallacious argumentation.
just because john offers does not follow that I'm compelled.

theres that faith based thinking leading you into garbage again.

DM said...

harlan - you see what a little liar you are?

Harlan Quinn said...

Your last two posts offer red herrings and no doubt there are other fallacies there as well.
nice strategy,
labeling disconfirming evidence as a red herring.
you should go far with that one.
*:O)

DM said...
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Harlan Quinn said...

DM,
you might as well change accounts because as soon you post something, I get an email alert and a link to the comment, and all i have to do is click on the little trash can.
At least make it challenging.

DM said...
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DM said...
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Walter said...

I think that it is established that a person can rationally hold false beliefs--we probably all hold some false beliefs.

Rob R thinks that atheism is a false belief. I think 'orthodox' Trinitarian Christianity is a false belief, and I am agnostic towards the possibility of a non-intervening deistic god.

So how do we determine the truth of our worldviews? Evidence and reason are the only tools that I see available.

dguller said...

Rob:

Thanks for clarifying Plantinga’s position. I have a few comments to make about it.

First, what is meant by “reliable process”? Do you mean a process that consistently and regularly results in a specific belief? For example, the process of brainwashing and indoctrination is a reliable process that results in the production of certain beliefs. However, this has no bearing upon whether or not they are true.

Or, what is more likely, you mean a process that reliably produces true beliefs. In that case, could you please specify the reliable process that results in the belief in a higher power?

Second, why would supernaturalism be properly basic over naturalism? If you are saying that “properly basic” means “produced by a process that is reliable to produce truthful beliefs”. If you wanted to argue that supernaturalism was properly basic and naturalism wasn’t, then what does the fact that children believe in it and the majority of people believe in it have to do with “a process that is reliable to produce truthful beliefs”? I mean, are children and the majority the paradigms for well-formed beliefs?

Third, regarding your tooth-ache example, are you saying that if one has a tooth-ache, then it follows their tooth is aching without any need for further argumentation of evidence? If you are, then I would say that you are wrong. There is the well-known phenomenon of phantom limb pain, and thus there are times when one feels pain in a part of the body, but that part of the body is gone, and thus the belief is false! So, a tooth-ache would not be properly basic, because it presupposes that there is a tooth and gums, that there is a disease process affecting the tooth and gums, and so on. These are things that cannot just be assumed, but would require empirical evidence to support.

John W. Loftus said...

AIGBusted, go with "Doubting Jesus' Resurrection."

Rob R said...

post 1 of 3

Harlan, it doesn't matter that you aren't game for John's little project. i was hoping that John's expressed confidence in you would've spurred more interest in discussing the issue non-fallaciously.

I didn't feel the need to explain the label any more than you did especially since it was already explained here. But I'll grant you are right, so here I will fix that. A post on Plantinga and reformed epistemology is not a place for general rants about the inability for Christians to think. Those are red herrings, they are distractions from the topic. The topic is the VERY specificcally approach of reformed epistemology. Not the observably false statement that Christians are generally against science, that Plantinga would get fired in such and such circumstances, the application of epistemology is being done elsewhere, etc.

As a result of your latest avoidance of the topic, I conclude that you have given up most of your criticisms of reformed epistemology.

FYI, for your last non-fallacious comment, that we can observe the physical basis behind a toothache in an FMRI doesn't mean it isn't properly basic. Similarly, Plantinga doesn't deny that you can argue for the existence of God and yet he still argues that the belief is properly basic. As a matter of fact, he has paper on about two dozen arguments that he likes here.

Rob R said...

post 2 of 3


Christophermenkin,

But I don't see why an unwarranted belief in God is similar to an unwarranted beliefs in whether we popped into the world 5 minutes ago, or that there's a world external to my mind.

I think what you meant to ask is how the allegedly warranted belief in God is similar to what most of us might agree is warranted belief in reality external to the mind or warranted belief in the reality of the past. As you put it, that's the opposite of what is being claimed here. I assume this is one of those typos where the reverse of what you wanted to express is what you had in mind. I make those myself every now and then.

The similarity is as Plantinga mentioned in the clip. it makes sense. I would put it this way. belief in God is a powerful intuition. Like other powerful intuitions such as belief in an external world, it is one from which we make sense of the world. That not everyone accepts it doesn't contradict this. We can be trained to deny our intuitions after all. I think another properly basic belief is just the general truth that people know things, that they have knowledge. And yet, radicle skeptics exist.

Of course, the strength of the concept of God to make sense of the world itself constitutes an argument for that belief in my opinion. So we can argue for properly basic beliefs, we can argue that a belief is properly basic, but the point that it is properly basic is that it is still rational to hold even without those arguments. A consequence of this is that fideists would be rational in their belief in God even if their fideism is not rational if there fideism means that you should believe in God even if it is not rational or that we shouldn't even bother to argue for properly basice beliefs.

What's the definition of a god here? That a superpower, supernatural being that created the universe exists.

As I've mentioned, I'm not sure what Plantinga would say to that, but for me, the use of reformed epistemology only gets us to a greater transcendent force. The nature of that force, be it personal or not, how it/he/she has related to the history of man, if there is intervention in the world, has to be dealt with on grounds that go well beyond the properly basic belief such as revelation, personal religious experience, and so on. Also, other potential properly basic beliefs may weigh in on the matter. I believe that human worth and dignity for example is properly basic. Religious language such as sacredness is fitting to the extent that we could conclude that there is something divine about personhood itself which fits the Judeo-Christian view of man made in the image of God reflecting the personhood of God.

Rob R said...

post 3 of 4


Walter,

So how do we determine the truth of our worldviews? Evidence and reason are the only tools that I see available.

Plantinga seems to make arguments for belief in God secondary to its justification through it's properly basic status. I suppose I would agree with this for the individual (because the church is to be a multifacited body including people who may do good works for example but may not have an intellectual approach to faith). But I would also say that for the church as a community and for the global community, the matter does need to be dealt with on more classical grounds of arguments. This task if of smaller importance than the typical Christian apologist might like or than the skeptic demands, but i do think it is necessary. That belief in God is properly basic depends upon the truth that God exists and is somehow responsible for that belief producing process.

But it's not to be a fully rational process anyway (that is, there are non-rational components, not to be confused with irrational ones). So if the atheist is seriously open to the God who is we say seriously interested in that particular atheist, he ought to approach him prayerfully and ask God to shows his presence in the way that God deems appropriate. And yet, I don't believe that such a revelation will take away ones free will to believe or disbelieve in God. And the "screw you until you prove yourself" attitude wouldn't get you there either, as such a prayer ought to be done humbly. And again, this isn't something best done only on private terms as God is committed to working through his church

Rob R said...

dguller,

First, what is meant by “reliable process”?

Well, as you have observed with the toothache, it at minimum means a process that is at minimum, generally reliable and yet not one that yields knowledge that is absolutely provable. There is such a thing as phantom limb pain (though I've never heard of phantom toothe pain) and there is hypochondria. But these are exceptional and it absurd to demand of someone who claims to have a tooth ache to prove it just because those unlikely possibilites exist.

For example, the process of brainwashing and indoctrination is a reliable process that results in the production of certain beliefs.

I believe that the definition of a properly basic belief is also that it is a true belief. For this reason, as I said to Walter above, I still think that in the broader debate on God's existence, classical considerations in terms of arguments still have to be made. If God is real and he has designed theistic belief producing processes, then people have properly basic belief about him.

In that case, could you please specify the reliable process that results in the belief in a higher power?

Actually, psychologists say that we do have such processes as my link demonstrates with regard to children. But it's not just a biological process but is also a matter of nurture. I do believe that Plantinga has spelled this out.

Second, why would supernaturalism be properly basic over naturalism?

The primary reason for this that Plantinga gives is that powerful intuition that the vast majority of people have, that God makes sense. I also suggested that most naturalists have come to their position not naturally but by learning to doubt that intuition. Another interesting study has been shown that huge numbers of "intense" atheists, (those who avidly oppose religion) often hate their fathers. This evidence fits the interpretation that belief in God, besides having a biological component hard wired into the brain (which was linked to in a previous post) is also something that is to be nurture as for these atheists, the nurturing process was severly derailed. Of course this is not an absolute, there are exceptions, and it's not clear to what extent that "soft" atheists (those for whom atheism is an intellectual conclusion and yet nor very important for their identity, and they don't vigorously promote it) have this relationship as the person who did the research to establish this said that they don't follow the same pattern as closely as the intense atheists do. But again, still, they have learned to question their intuition.

I would think that a properly basic belief would have the following features. It is nearly universal, it is part of natural developement, it powerfully seems right for most people and as a powerful intuition. Belief in God fits this pattern.

Rob R said...

post 5

Just one last thought, properly basic beliefs are basically powerful intuitions that lead us to truth.

But of course it is possible for an intuition to be wrong and for this reason, there is a process I call "unearthing" intuitions, that is digging into them and showing why they are valid. This is somthing I experience while wrestling with the issue of reprobation, the idea that one's damnation is guaranteed before birth. I almost lost my faith over this, and yet calvinists are better at confronting this intuition than people expect. Thus the intuition had to be unearthed which is something that I did resulting in two powerful arguments against reprobation, one of from my own reflections and the other I learned from the universalist Thomas Talbott.

Course Plantinga's point is that even apart from unearthing an intuition, one is still rational and justified in holding to it.

Walter said...

Properly basis belief in a God does not necessarily lead to Christian theism, though.

For most of the world's population, properly basic god belief has lead them to a vastly different conclusion than Christianity.

Christianity has to be judged on evidential merits to warrant a leap to it from some kind of vague deism. This is where my problem lies. The evidence is lacking. I do not accept the writings of ancient humans as a revelation from a deity.

To loosely quote Thomas Paine: A revelation from God is only a revelation when God speaks directly to you. When the message is passed on verbally or through writings to another person, the next person is under no obligation to believe it to be a revelation. It has then become hearsay.

Christian theology is based on a hearsay 'revelation' passed down through ancient human writings, and I feel that I am justified in my cautious skepticism.

dguller said...

Rob:

First, how does one go about determining whether a process is reliable? I would assume that it would require some kind of investigation. What might that investigation look like? Would it require some empirical input? If it does not require any empirical input, then how can we know that it properly connects to the real world?

Second, you are correct that phantom limb pain, psychosomatic illnesses and the like are exceptions that are parasitic upon the normal functioning of our senses. However, the point is that there is a clear mechanism in place that allows us to determine THAT they are exceptions to the rule. We can LOOK to see if what we are sensing is really there. If it is NOT there, then we can conclude that it is a psychosomatic process, at least for the time being. Perhaps more sophisticated investigational tools will change, but even in that case, we are still grounding our assessment with evidence from the empirical world.

Third, with regards to the tooth-ache, we do not simply stop short of the subjective experience of pain. We touch the area of pain to see if it is tender, for example. If I was an elderly male with no teeth, and I got a tooth-ache, then I would not take that pain as indicative of a diseased tooth, because I don’t HAVE any. So, I think that it is false to say that a tooth-ache is properly basic, because there are empirical consequences that are verifiable. For example, I wince, I exclaim in pain, and I take steps to avoid acting in ways to exacerbate the pain. It doesn’t just stop with the subjective experience.

Fourth, you say that “If God is real and he has designed theistic belief producing processes, then people have properly basic belief about him”. Sure. If invisible unicorns are real and designed the processes that lead to our belief in them, then people have properly basic belief that them. Do you stand convinced about the existence of invisible unicorns now? That’s about as convincing as the argument that you just made is. It is obviously circular in that it assumes the existence of what you are trying to demonstrate. What I can conclude that this issue of Christian warrant, or whatever, is that it is completely irrelevant, because it is utterly circular.

Fifth, it can easily be argued that children are more amenable to believing in God, because their imaginations are overactive and their critical faculties are underactive. That is why they can believe in imaginary friends, Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. Their natural immature beliefs do not imply that these entities truly exist. Again, we have mechanisms in place to determine whether children’s beliefs in these imaginary entities are real. We LOOK and do not SEE them. I would put God into this category, because it might be natural for a child to believe in him, but when we look for evidence of this belief’s truth, it is lacking, I believe.

dguller said...

Sixth, I would argue that you are committing another fallacy of equivocation around the term “reliable”. It can mean “consistently produces the same result” or “adequately represents the truth about a situation”. I think that you are describing a process in children and the majority of planet according to the former sense, especially with your comments about atheists having become developmentally astray, and then concluding that the latter sense applies. I mean, who cares if “normal” human development results in a certain set of beliefs? It does not imply that they are true. Again, I point to our visual field as lacking a blind spot. We do not see it, but it is there. Here is a clear example of normal human development leading to a particular experience of the world that is demonstrably false. Normal development does not imply true beliefs.

Seventh, as Dostoevsky said, “psychology is a two-edged sword”. I don’t actually care whether a significant portion of atheists hate their fathers. That may explain WHY they happen to disbelieve in God, but it has no bearing on whether their beliefs are true or not. I’m afraid that you are committing an ad hominem fallacy here. Oh, and I don’t hate my father. I actually love him a hell of a lot!

Eighth, you state: “It is nearly universal, it is part of natural developement, it powerfully seems right for most people and as a powerful intuition. Belief in God fits this pattern.” Again, so WHAT? There are a number of demonstrably false beliefs that would fit your criteria: believing that the earth is flat; believing that if you drop an object from a height, then it will continue to accelerate until it hits the ground; believing that evolution has not happened; believing that magic is real; and so on. So, again, it is irrelevant to the truth of a belief whether it is obvious or intuitive, because many truths are counter-intuitive, and require some background training in critical thinking, scientific evidence, and so on. I would put a belief in God into that category.

dguller said...

Rob:

Just to reiterate an important point.

I agree with you that, given an individual’s background and developmental history, as well as various environmental factors, it is reasonable for them to hold a variety of beliefs. For example, I hold that it is reasonable for an indigenous African bushman to believe in spirits animate the natural world, and that consulting a voodoo witch doctor would assist him in appeasing them.

The question is whether there is an obligation to assess our beliefs for additional support independent of their intuitive plausibility. I hold that there is, because our psychology is such that we easily deceive ourselves by utilizing various biases and distortions in thinking and feeling in order to continue to believe things that support our self-esteem and self-cohesion. This is well worked out in the theory of cognitive dissonance, for example.

The bottom line is that we make all kinds of mistakes in what we believe is true, and thus have to be very careful to ensure that our beliefs are true. Why? Because it is important for us to know how things really are in order to navigate in the world properly. For example, it would be important for me to know if it is raining outside, because that will affect whether I will take an umbrella with me to avoid getting soaking wet.

So, I believe that it is vitally important to examine our beliefs to see if they are truly reasonable, in light of a critical appraisal involving confirming and disconfirming evidence. You appear to agree in that you state that properly basic beliefs may appear intuitively true, but require “unearthing” excavations to really uncover whether they have any genuine evidentiary support. You do not simply stop at properly basic beliefs, but endorse an obligation to dig deeper into them. That is great!

The bottom line is that this whole discussion is guilty of a huge equivocation between two senses of the word “justified”.

Justified1 is in the sense of the African bushman who uncritically accepts what he has been told, and therefore is justified in believing what he does. This could be called a “sociological” version of justification in that someone passively absorbs the environmental belief system, and therefore cannot be criticized for doing so.

Justified2 is in the sense of someone who critically examines their beliefs and adheres to those that have evidence to support them. This involves an active engagement with our beliefs, being skeptical and open to alternative possibilities, and putting them through a crucible so that we minimize the biases that can distort our beliefs and increase the possibility of falsehood sneaking in.

I would say that justified2 is superior to justified1, because it involves the possibility that our beliefs are untrue by virtue of biased, distorted and/or insufficient evidence, and thus increases the chances of finding the truth. So, if truth is actually important to someone, then they should be dissatisfied with justified1 and actively utilize justified2 as part of their responsibility to know what is true.

Finally, I think that a belief in God can be said to be justified1, but not justified2. If those who are comfortable with putting their belief in God on par with a bushman’s belief in animal spirits in the sense that both sets of beliefs are justified1, then that is fine. However, they should take it that their beliefs are therefore justified2.

That would commit the fallacy of equivocation, and that is what I see happening, again and again, here.

Piratefish said...

Rob R>

I guess I can't argue with you that Plantinga ever said his RE is a proof of god, but what irks people the most about these philosophies of religion is that they're saying it without saying it. "Believing in a god is properly basic, and you can believe in a god even though you don't believe god is real?" c'mon Rob, I don't think this is what Plantinga mean. :)

Rob R said...

post 1 of 2


Piratefish,

they're saying it without saying it. "Believing in a god is properly basic, and you can believe in a god even though you don't believe god is real?"

I don't recognize that at all as representing reformed epistemology. You can rationally believe that God is real because it is a properly basic belief. I don't know where you get that last part that contradicts the first.

Walter,

Perhaps I wasn't responding to you but I have already said here that reformed epistemology is not enough for Christian theism. I think it gives a substantial piece of the puzzle, but we are to use other epistemic resources. As for your claim that the evidence is lacking, I couldn't disagree more though it's not as if the evidence really demonstrated anything in itself since evidence must be interpreted, but this isn't the place to demonstrate it. The quote from Thomas Pain is also of a naive individualistic epistemology. Science could not withstand an individualistic epistemology so I am unconcerned.

Rob R said...

2 of 3



dguller


As to what a reliable process is, I don't know how to explain it except to do what i have done and explain it. It's a process that is at least generally reliable to lead us to knowledge. It is of course something that is built into the mind by design.

I will never accept that someone is irrational to trust that their tooth aches when it in fact aches just because they didn't do an "investigation". If you judge my religious faith to be irrational on those same grounds, I am very unconcerned. I get it that there can be exceptions and I deny the unprovable faith based assumption that lack of absolute certainty means no knowledge can be had.

The fact that we can identify mechanisms behind the tooth ache doesn't mean that the unquestioned tooth ache was irrational, it only supports that it was rational to accept to begin with. Before these mechanisms were known, we had knowledge of tooth aches on the basis of it's properly basic status. After the mechanism was identified, we had knowledge of why we have knowledge. We are richer for it, but that richness doesn't contradict what we had previously.

Now, if you want to disagree further, sorry, we just aren't going to agree here.

Furthermore, you are focusing on the one of the alleged properly basic belief that you can put into your empirical frame work. You cannot do the same for so many of the others such as the idea that there is a world external to the mind. Anything you can appeal to comes through the mental experience. There is direct contact with the external world to make sure the mind is faithfully communicating reality. Likewise, you can't make similar appeals for properly basic beliefs in the reality of the past. You can appeal to the fact that a world with a fake past is inexplicable, but then you'd be appealing to another properly basic belief, that explanatory power is indicative of truth.

You are right that if unicorns were real and had designed in us beliefs in them, then those beliefs would be properly basic. But we don't have those beliefs as it is and those beliefs don't have that quality of other properly basic beliefs that "just make sense". You could suggest that there's a vast minority of crazies who believe this, and that would not fit the pattern of properly basic belief that I outlined above.

With regard to the religious tendencies of Children, the religiosity of the majority of people, and atheists who hate their fathers, you don't understand what I'm doing. I am very well aware that none of this is uncontrovertible proof and I never intended it as such. What it is is evidence that fits the pattern that suggests that belief in God or a higher power is properly basic. It is evidence that belief in God and not naturalism is what is properly basic. You asked why belief in God and not naturalism ought to be considered properly basic, and that is the explanation. Why lose cite of why I brought all that together?

You could be right that children merely have an over active imagination. But the testimony of the social scientists that is cited is on my side.

I am very unsurprised that you "love the hell out of your father". It doesn't change my point one bit nor does that contradict the researcher who demonstrated the connection between intense atheism and hatred for fathers as we both from the get go said that there are exceptions. (for all I know, you aren't an exception at all to the researchers claims as I don't know that you are what the researcher defined as an intense atheist, one for whom it is very important to oppose religion and sees this as a defining aspect of his identity) Claims of psychology including psychological development are rarely absolute. I don't need this to be an absolute as I mentioned another reason as to why people become naturalists. They just learn not to trust the intuition behind the properly basic belief.

Rob R said...

post 3 of 3

I am not equivocating with the definition of reliable. That the majority of the world may have a mental faculty that consistently produces a belief in a higher power is not what makes their belief reliable. What it was evidence of is that belief in a higher power is more likely to be properly basic than naturalism.

The matter of atheists hating their fathers was not brought up in an ad hominem argument. I was not arguing that atheists are wrong because they hate their fathers. That would be ad hominem. I was arguing that their atheism did not fit the pattern of a properly basic belief which is that it should be the result of normal natural and nurturing processes. Enmity between father and progeny is a maladaptive environment. AGain, don't lose site of why I brought this up. You (or someone) asked why naturalism isn't a properly basic belief instead of belief in God. There was the evidence.

Again, so WHAT? There are a number of demonstrably false beliefs that would fit your criteria: believing that the earth is flat; believing that if you drop an object from a height, then it will continue to accelerate until it hits the ground; believing that evolution has not happened; believing that magic is real; and so on.

Actually, these are unsupported assertions that these beliefs fit all of the criteria. I don't buy that a flat earth is a near universal belief. I doubt that the vast majority of people even think about whether a dropped object continues to accelerate or just moves at the same speed or whatever. Evolution is not that counter-intuitive (just ask roger Ebert! I think intuitions go both ways on that one for all sorts of people from a variety of backgrounds) nor do I think mental developement one way or another makes a difference on that one. And the term magic is ambiguous since it could be lumped in with the supernatural. Now do I think that just any intuition should be properly basic? Do I think anything that could fit this pattern represents a true belief? I don't see the need to be an absolutist here, but even if it isn't the case, we nevertheless do have properly basic beliefs as has been mentioned and these criteria may be useful in identifying them.

because many truths are counter-intuitive, and require some background training in critical thinking, scientific evidence, and so on. I would put a belief in God into that category.

besides our disagreement on tooth aches, you still have to deal with other examples brought up that are properly basic.

And of course, it's not as if belief in God cannot also be concluded in the more traditionally recognized way of critical thinking and argumentation. It's neither my position nor Plantinga's that God cannot be reasonably argued for. So perhaps this is one more criteria for a properly basic belief. While one may wonder what the point was to begin with if it all comes down to that, as I mentioned, it is a matter of community epistemology, that not everyone in the community should have to know all the reasons that validate their beliefs, though such things should be addressed by someone in the community. A pastor should know at least a few things about these matters, but the woman who helps out at the soup kitchen who may not have very strong reasoning skills need not fret about it. And it isn't as if this is special to religious belief. Science is a matter of community epistemology. No one has the skill, resources or time to verify every scientific claim even if that person is a scientist.

As for the rest, I agreed with some of it, I disagreed with other parts, it's very late, I'm going to bed and I'm not proofreading!

dguller said...

Rob:

First, you keep committing the fallacy of equivocation when you use terms like “rational” and “justified”. There is a minimal sense (rational1, justified1) that involves the passive acceptance of information that is presented to us by our senses, intuitions and cultural context, and there is a maximal sense (rational2, justified2) that involves the active engagement with information in order to test it to see if it is genuinely true or if it is a byproduct of our biases, distortions and/or wishful thinking.

I would fully agree with you that it is rational1 and justified1 to believe that one has a tooth-ache when one has a tooth-ache, but it is not necessarily rational2 and justified2, because one may not have any teeth at all, and thus there is nothing there to ache! However, if you are referring to just the subjective sensation of the tooth-ache, then yes, that would be rational(1&2) and justified(1&2).

Again, it is absolutely essential that you keep these two senses of the words “rational” and “justified” distinct, because if you collate them, then your argument falls apart due to the fallacy of equivocation.

Let me give you an example:

(1) All bitches have fur.
(2) My ex-girlfriend, Sophie, is a bitch.
(3) Therefore, Sophie has fur.

You see how the word “bitch” has two different meanings? The meanings have CHANGED over the course of the argument. If that happens, then that is called the fallacy of equivocation, and therefore the conclusion cannot follow from the premises.

Second, you are correct that I start out with various background beliefs, which can be considered properly basic. These would include the belief in the existence of the external world, of other people, and of the past. We both agree that these beliefs are rational and justified to hold. You, and Plantinga, argue that the belief in the existence of God is on par with those beliefs, and thus should also be considered rational and justified to believe. However, this is exactly where you make the fallacy.

Yes, the beliefs in the existence of the external world, of other people, of the past, and of the existence of God share the following properties: they are intuitive, they are held by the majority of humanity, and they are potentially false. Your mistake is that you then argue that they are therefore all the same, and that to reject one of them is to reject them. Therefore, anyone who rejects the belief in the existence of God is forced to reject their belief in the external world. Wow!

It’s not that simple, because although they do share those qualities, they also differ in important respects. Those who reject our belief in the existence of the external world, of other people, and of the past do so SOLELY on the basis of abstract philosophical arguments that raise the mere POSSIBILITY that they may be false. There is no argument that shows that they ARE false, but only that they COULD BE false. Also, there is no empirical evidence to support this position, because all empirical evidence presupposes the truth of those beliefs. In fact, ALL our practices presuppose the truth of those beliefs, including our use of language. It follows that by making the argument that these beliefs are false, they are thereby demonstrated to be true, because we could not have language at all without the existence of the external world, of other people, and of the past.

In addition, just looking at the philosophical arguments themselves and their implications, they are just prima facie ludicrous. I mean, who has any experience of a world that pops into existence this last instant with all the features as if it had existed for a long time before this? By what mechanism does this occur? It seems to me that our reality would be infinitely bizarre and absurd in such a scenario, which simply adds weight to their falsehood.

dguller said...

Furthermore, someone who puts credibility in this idea should never put forth an argument for God’s existence, because all arguments presuppose the empirical data derived from an external world, memories that record past events in that world, and other people from whom we learn language and logic. In addition, if you consider that it is implausible that the natural world would have the appearance of design without a designer, then how much more implausible is it that the universe simply popped into existence a second ago with all the markings of an extended temporal existence?

So, the basis of rejecting our belief in the existence of the external world, of other people, and of the past are philosophical arguments that are faced with the utter absence of empirical evidence in support of them, other philosophical arguments against them, and the fact that the most that they can show is that we cannot be certain that our belief in the existence of the external world, of other people, and of the past are indubitable. This properly basic belief can be considered to be very likely true, but still have a small possibility of being false.

Now, compare that with the belief in the existence of God. Yes, it is intuitive, shared by the majority of humanity, lacks full certainty, and thus is similar in those respects to the belief in the existence of the external world, of other people, and of the past. But look at the differences! The arguments in its favor are fallacious and incredibly weak. There are also serious arguments against it. More importantly, there is no good empirical evidence to support it, and there is a great deal of solid empirical evidence to refute it. This properly basic belief can be considered very like false, but still have a small possibility of being true.

So, you see, there are HUGE differences between the properly basic beliefs in the existence of the external world, of other people, and of the past, and the properly basic belief in the existence of God. The former is likely true, because it meets the burden of being both rationally consistent (i.e. good arguments for it, and weak arguments against it [i.e. can, at best, show that it could be possibly wrong]) and empirically validated, but it still could possibly be false. The latter is likely false, because it fails to meet the burden of being both rationally consistent (i.e. has no good arguments for it, and has good arguments against it) and empirically validated, but it still could possibly be true.

Your argument requires ignoring these differences and concentrating on their similarities, and thus commits the fallacy of equivocation, because there is a difference between a properly basic belief with rational and empirical support, and one without it. In other words, if our belief in the existence of God is false, then that implies that the world is NATURAL, but if our belief in existence of the external world, of other people, and of the past is false, then the world is CRAZY. Big difference. Fallacy of equivocation. Therefore, invalid argument. See?

dguller said...

Third, I see your point about the beliefs of children and the majority of people as being relevant to properly basic beliefs. However, I would say that the belief that our visual field is directly seeing the external world in front of us is a properly basic belief. It is intuitive, universal, and the result of normal development. It is also false. We have a blind spot that is filled in by our brain, and there are other features of our visual experience that are not the result of external input, but rather internal cognitive processing. Therefore, one CANNOT argue that all properly basic beliefs are true. All you argue is that they are intuitive, universal and the result of normal development, which I would probably agree with, except for the development part. :)

Fourth, I think that you do agree that it is largely irrelevant to the reality of God’s existence that a belief in him is properly basic. After all, you say that one would still have to provide rational arguments and empirical evidence to support that properly basic belief. As such, when you look behind the fancy epistemological terminology involving “properly basic” and “basic warrant” and all that obfuscation, the bottom line is that there are a set of beliefs that the vast majority of human beings adhere to, which are utterly intuitive and require the normal development of their cognitive, emotional and perceptual faculties, but that those beliefs must be scrutinized according to reason and empirical evidence to identify which are true and which are false.

I do not think that anyone would disagree with this. I also do not think that any of this helps as an argument for God’s existence, because the belief in God is just another belief that requires evidence to back it up, and it is NOT on par with a belief in the existence of the world, of the past and of other people, which are overwhelmingly confirmed with the slight possibility of error, compared to the belief in God, which has overwhelming disconfirmation with the slight possibility of truth.

dguller said...

Rob:

And just one more thing about the philosophical arguments against our beliefs in the existence of the world, of other people and of the past. I really want to hammer this thing home, because it is so important.

They are skeptical arguments, which are based upon both logical reasoning (to see if the arguments are valid) and empirical input (to see if the arguments are sound, i.e. the premises are true). If one makes a skeptical argument that negates the possibility of logic and the empirical world, then that argument is thereby refuted by virtue of a reduction to absurdity. Period. It is INCOHERENT.

As such, the objections to our belief in the existence of the world, of other people and of the past are not even ARGUMENTS at all, because they are self-contradictory and incoherent. Therefore, not only are there no empirical grounds for rejecting those properly basic beliefs, but there are no RATIONAL grounds either!

In fact, I would say that those objections are more like FANTASIES derived from our IMAGINATION. What they show is that human beings can conceive, in a vague and fuzzy sense, that it could be possible that the world is unreal, that the past never existed, and that other people are just byproducts of our imagination. Sure, I can kind of see that in my mind’s eye. I kind of see, there being nothing, and then BAM! There is everything as it is right now. Sure. Does the fact that I can imagine it make it genuinely possible to be true?

This becomes further evident when one tries to work out the IMPLICATIONS of these fantasies. How DOES the universe spring into existence one second ago, full of evidence that it has developed over billions of years? How DOES my mind exist alone in reality, but it appears as if there are many other things out there? They quickly unravel into ridiculousness, and one can clearly see the unserious nature of these hypotheses. Furthermore, there is no REASON or EVIDENCE in support of their truth, because skeptical arguments like this eat themselves into incoherence, and all empirical evidence presupposes their truth. So, they are actually more like parlor tricks or magic acts that just show how credulous human beings can be when unlearned in how to think critically.

The bottom line is that just because one can imagine and sort of conceive an idea does not give it any epistemic weight. I can imagine all kinds of fairy tales, but that does not imply that they are to be taken seriously, especially when they are disconfirmed by other facts that have both rational and empirical support.

And that is yet another reason why the properly basic belief in the existence of the world, of other people and of the past is utterly different from the properly basic belief in the existence of God. It follows that one cannot argue that the acceptance of the former demands acceptance of the latter, because the former possess clear arguments in their favor, only self-contradictory arguments against them, and all empirical evidence in favor of it, whereas the latter has a hodgepodge of arguments in favor and opposed, some better than others, on both sides, and ZERO empirical evidence in favor of it. Again, and again and again, to make your argument commits the fallacy of equivocation.

Furthermore, this really goes to the heart of by argument on a previous post. That just because someone can imagine something as being true does not imply that the imagined idea is a viable candidate for truth. I can imagine a benevolent deity creating and watching over the universe. I can also imagine an assorted group of magical invisible unicorns doing the same thing. There is no good reason to believe in the former or the latter, especially because the world appears to be both operative and explicable according to natural considerations alone, and thus they should not be believed at all, because they are just byproducts of our imagination that SEEM plausible, because we can sort of see them in our minds.