What Have I Been Doing Lately? Discussing the OTF.

I've been discussing the Outsider Test for Faith (OTF) over at Christian philosopher Victor Reppert's Blog with Steve Lovell, a person I'm told is a C.S. Lewis scholar. It's not looking too good for Steve though.

6 comments:

Reverend Phillip Brown said...

John I am still waiting for you to address my problems with your OTF!

see, http://christianityversusatheism.blogspot.com/2009/05/outsider-test-of-faith-revisited.html


Phil.

John W. Loftus said...

Rev. Brown, I cannot keep up with the people who are writing about the OTF. You raise some interesting points but I don't see how any of them hurt the OTF.

Chris said...

Slightly off topic: A lot of these guys are really hung up on C.S. Lewis huh. Weird. I've read two of his books. They're not good.

Rob R said...

At the risk of not reading the whole 150 part discussion to see what has been discussed, I wanted to note an observation on the analogy of the Judge with the OTF.


A few flaws occured to me with this analogy and reflecting on some statements from WIBA.

John, you quite candidly note that many people who take the OTF will come out of it with no religion since one ends with the assumptions with which they begin. So if we are looking to a judge to model this, it seems to me that a Simpson's spoof on biblical stories with Homer as King Solomon who concludes a court case between two men arguing over a pie by decreeing that "the pie shall be cut in two... and both men shall receive DEATH!"

I wouldn't trust a judge who never decides in favor of anyone. That'd be a rather ineffective judge.

For one thing, I question that we should hold up a judge and his relative neutrality as THE epistemic ideal. In a court case, criminal or otherwise, we aren't commited to the idea that everyone involved who's a party with an interest is epistemically disadvantaged compared to the judge. On the contrary, we expect that one party may indeed have acted with integrity within the bounds of the law and all legal agreements made. They have an interest, but the judge doesn't determine that this interest is incriminating or problematic in their thought process until the case has been heard.

Should we even necessarily consider ouselves in the role of the judge who's supposed to have minimal and no major personal interest in the case? It may be a somewhat useful image but the idea that we shouldn't have a personal interest is completely useless in critically thinking about religion where personal matters for everyone is a primary and unavoidable concern. This holds true for even so many atheists most visable in a quote from someone like Christopher Hitchens who says that religion poisons everything. That is just not a comment one can hold to without personal interest.

Finally, Judges are not perfectly neutral but are sworn adherents to a creed, to the laws of the land, and here they are often committed to a hermeneutical approach that (for perhaps better and worse) involves a developing tradition (since court precedents influence or determin a Judges decision). They aren't a perfect neutral blank slate for which several views may make their case but they have standards already in place from which they must decide who has been the good legal insider according to their insider's perspective.

Chuck O'Connor said...

I posted this at Reppert's blog.

People don't seem to get that the OTF invites one to consider the anthropological observation that where one is born has a strong impact on what one believes.

Here's what I wrote:

I don't see anyone here addressing the first premise of the OTF that religious belief is a cultural by-product and one need to test the truth of their faith claims against the hypothesis that they are cultural presuppositions.

I don't think the OTF asks anyone to assume atheism but only to assume that circumstances of one's birth are strong inputs into what one believes.

John's appeal to antrhopology is an illustration of this.

Why is it that 97% of Thai people admit a Buddhist supernaturalism with Hindu ancestor-worship-syncretism? What is the probability a person will accept this form of spirituality true to the exemption of other forms if they are born in Thailand?

The same is true for Christianity and the West.

I know when I studied in Thailand I marveled at the practice of building "Spirit Houses" in one's backyard. These "Spirit Houses" are part of the supernatural practice of the Thai and they are not strange to one who sees life with that culture. I however looked at the probability of one's ancestors living as a spirit in a a tiny house atop a pole in one's backyard as nothing more than superstition and myth because I was not raised in that culture. I didn't see the "Spirit House" for what the Thai saw the "Spirit House" to be.

We all have these different perspectives based on the culture in which we were raised.

I experienced the same thing when I was a practicing Christian and lived in the American South. The Christianity practiced there was not the same religion my emergent-church experience from the North was. It was less inclined to intellectual debate and more inclined to large revival type worship. If I mentioned the difference my Southern friends looked at me with confusion. They couldn't "see" it. They were looking at Christianity through a particular culture as was I.

The OTF invites a person to see the culture in which they were raised as an artificial experiential-organizing tool. It challenges one to look at their holy precepts as I looked at the "Spirit House" or revival worship and determine a religious presuppositions' probable truth.

It doesn't demand you doubt your faith but it demands you look at your faith as a cultural construct and then see how your culture has informed your instinctive faith defense.

I took the OTF after reading John's blog and realized that many of my religious precepts were built on the same type of cultural bias a Thai builds a "Spirit House". I was pretty distraught for a time but then drifted to agnosticism and then atheism and now see that for me to proclaim that I know the only viable version of the spiritual unknown is nothing more than ethnocentrism and cultural arrogance.

Are you willing to test the culture by which you see things?

That to me is the OTF.

I don't know what your conclusion would be.

Mine was agnosticism and then atheism.

Gandolf said...

In the end i basically got bored shitless, and simply realized it just wasnt worth while discussing matters any further with people on Victor Repperts Blog.

Many of them are little different than Kim Jong-il or the Taliban.Its not reason that leads to them believing what they do.

Why should i expect reason will help them ?.Its just not gonna happen in any great hurry.

Take Breckmin he says to me on Victors thread ..."Answer to point #1. It's not fair.
God saw Abraham's faith and chose Israel as His chosen nation. End of story. God is God and we are not."

So Breckmins answer is ..We live in a unfair world = God is allowed and expected to very likely be "very unfair" also .

So much for the old loving caring thoughtful "Almighty Supreme Being" huh??.

Still there is really nothing new under the sun.

Faithful will always choose when to be going about dumbing down!, or alevate! Gods supreme nature ....As they see fit, to keep trying to make it all always seem to fit the faith cause.

But they dont manage to fool us all, anymore. No many of us see right through it, and can now read them like open books.

Often watching these faithful spiritual hyjinks, ammounts to little more than watching comedy