A recent post, titled Based on This Argument Alone The Best Any Believer Can Claim is Agnosticism, has gained a lot of attention and been sidetracked by Christians who seek to defend their beliefs rather than think through it. To these Christians let me show you a much better way to argue your case, coming from a gay guy named Gaylord Martha Focker on Facebook, whose beliefs I can't say for sure, even if his his response is dead wrong:
Here's what I wrote:
Sorry, John, this argument is not that good. First, believers can point out that you are putting too high an epistemic standard on what beliefs are justified, and that there is no reason to single out belief in God with that standard. Secondly, and this point follows from the first, why be prejudiced against theistic belief in our epistemic endeavors and not apply skepticism to our knowledge in general? Brain in vat scenarios put everyone in the same boat, epistemologically speaking, since any experience that you think you are having of an actual external reality would be exactly mimicked by a brain in vat scenario.Now that's at least dealing head on with the argument, if you've read it.
If theism suffers at the hands of your skepticism, then so does atheism and agnosticism itself since ALL knowledge and lack of knowledge and what we can know about knowledge can be thrown into chaos by brain in vat scenarios. So here is my question: Let's say that your brain is being prodded by some evil Cartesian demon and it tricks you into thinking that all of your experiences are real. And from an experiential standpoint your experiences seem real. How do you know that you are not being tricked, into let's say, the belief that God probably does not exist? I mean, maybe the evidence for God is so clear and overwhelming that it takes a Cartesian demon to trick atheists into thinking there is no good evidence for God. What is your answer to your own skepticism? Thanks.
Here's what I wrote:
Nice response Gaylord, but agnosticism does not suffer at the hands of such skepticism if by that we claim not to know about such matters, or if it's a type of skepticism that demands there must be reasons to accept an affirmative (or definitive) answer to the riddles of existence. Lacking in such an answer I am an atheist.
And even if your criticism of this argument is correct then gone are the epistemological merits to the brain in the vat, dream, and Matrix scenarios that apologists like to use too. If you criticize this possibility based upon what's probable, then I can likewise say the same things about those other scenarios. It seems that apologists use this trick ever since Plantinga to subsequently drive a whole lot of theological assumptions through that small crevice in order to say we're in the same epistemological boat. We're not. Not by a long shot. I’m not affirming anything. I’m denying these affirmative theological answers.
All this particular argument shows is that there is no way to argue that such a trickster god might not exist on the assumption there is a god of some kind. You assume a god, I presume? Okay then, show me he isn’t a trickster.
Oh, and in answer to your own scenario that a good god would allow me to be tricked into not believing by an evil demon I simply say that since I cannot believe differently I should have no worries about any divine judgment from that kind of god. But if I were ever shown this is what is happening to me then I would change my mind, or I might have disgust for such a god who would allow this to even happen in the first place.