The Outsider Test Disallows Faith

So many people are writing about the Outsider Test for Faith (OTF) I can't keep up anymore. I've made my arguments. Let them talk among themselves about it. The test is straightforward, simple and elegant. It's all about not having any double standards when critically evaluating religious faiths. In the end, the OTF disallows faith when examining the reasons to accept or re-evaluate a religion. For having faith in one's own culturally inherited religion unfairly exempts that religion from an objective evaluation.

What this means is that when examining Christianity a person who is already a Christian cannot punt to faith when encountering problems, since doing this is disallowed by the OTF. In fact, to the degree a person must repeatedly do this is the degree his or her religious sect is false. One cannot have his thumb of faith on the weighing scales. One is left with reason and evidence. No more using the omniscience escape clause either. Christians must seek to justify what they consider the facts apart from faith.

My contention is that Christians cannot do this. My contention is that this is NOT any fault with the OTF itself since it is a reasonable, objective and fair test. The fact is that Christianity MUST pass the OTF. Otherwise, people who could not be convinced to believe because they were raised as outsiders will be thrown into hell. If Christianity does not pass the OTF God is to be blamed when outsiders cannot be convinced to believe. So there can be no legitimate objection to the OTF. Q.E.D.

42 comments:

John W. Loftus said...

Some Christians might say that universalism is the case; that no one ends up in hell. And they'll claim this takes away from the force of what I wrote.

Okay. See you in heaven then. If this is the case why bother with religion at all?

In any case this is another example of Christians reinventing their faith when they encounter a difficulty. You see, they believe, so when faced with something like the OTF they would rather change what they believe rather than face the facts and abandon it. Repeatedly reinventing one's faith to meet objections is a sure sign of faith, not that of an outsider.

Brad Haggard said...

This is fine, John. And I think Christianity does pass the OTF (see: David Wood). Are you going to take this further and say that I must assume Christianity is false now before I can "pass" the OTF?

Nocterro said...

"So many people are writing about the Outsider Test for Faith (OTF) I can't keep up anymore. I've made my arguments. Let them talk among themselves about it."

AKA, "I can't be bothered to defend myself against critics anymore"?

Rob R said...

It's all about not having any double standards when critically evaluating religious faiths.

The double standard comes when we apply it to any other form of knowledge.

For example, the belief in external reality as opposed to Maya. John I'm continually shocked that you think science answers this. There's no reason to think that an illusion cannot be extremely mathematically consistent and precise. You cannot convince the skeptic of external reality that his skepticism is wrong on purely rational or empirical grounds. Thus, by the demands of OTF, you must become an agnostic to the material world.

For having faith in one's own culturally inherited religion unfairly exempts that religion from an objective evaluation.

And views similar to Maya are found in other cultures.

In fact, to the degree a person must repeatedly do this is the degree his or her religious sect is false.

So you have to convince the skeptic of non-coherentist epistemologies that coherentism is false or at least not an appropriate way to think about knowledge.

Regardless, this statement couldn't appear more unsubstantiable to me and would not stand under it's own weight.

One cannot have his thumb of faith on the weighing scales.

no, you can't artifically push down on faith. You just have to artificially push down on the side of skepticism.

No more using the omniscience escape clause either.

Everyone gets to appeal to mystery. But hey, mystery can be used to cover bad doctrine.

otherwise people who could not be convinced to believe because they were raised as outsiders will be thrown into hell.

So inclusivists don't have this problem, that is those who hold that God gives everyone sufficient grace to respond appropriately to him to escape damnation (and depending on that form of grace, it does not necessarily mean that they will embrace the historical gospel (if it wasn't truely psychologically available to them) but could be a demonstration of obedience to the law that is written on their hearts). God knows what is psychologically sufficient to give everyone a libertarian free choice to that end. And if he takes that away, if he hardens someone, it is because they squandered their choice too much to begin with.

If God did not create Christianity to pass the OTF

God created us to get passed artificial barriers like the OTF. After all, the internal skeptic we entertain really is subjective in his standards as to what would convince him.

Beautiful Feet said...

I like how you make up all these rules and conditions that we "must" follow -dictatorship much....too bad humanity will not conform to your standards for acceptance - good luck trying to squish everyone into your clone.

Rhacodactylus said...

Beautiful feet, he's really just restating a few of the laws of logic. I agree that it's odd to require an illogical pursuit like faith to act logically, but it is far from John's dictatorship, it's more about epistemological facts.

He isn't making a strange request, it's not at all odd for "faith" to be off limits as an arguing point, because it puts an end to good functioning logic.

Besides, Christians are the one who makes the claim that outsiders should adopt their faith, in essence all john is doing is making you think that assertion through.

~Rhaco

Rob R said...

OTF is a law of logic? Where is that in the logic textbooks?

Beautiful Feet said...

Rhacto, you said, "Christians are the one who makes the claim that outsiders should adopt their faith,"

Christ invited ppl to His Way and also gave ppl the liberty to reject. Some have a preference for a Way other than what He provides. He does not condemn -- we do. That non-condemnation clause is problematic for those who suffer from pride....

Rhacodactylus said...

The OTF isn't a law of logic, but distinctions about the burden of proof, the manner in which claims must be tested, the nature of knowledge, and the way a rational belief must be argued are all in text books, and the OTF follows them, whereas "faith" does not.

Also concepts very similar to those used in the OTF (for instance Socratic methods of arguing) are also "in text books," but the sarcasm was cute, in case you were wondering, it's also in logical text books as a rhetorical, not a logical tool.

Wow, Beautiful feet you have missed the point. Are you honestly claiming that you (and apparently Jesus, though I'm not so sure of him) are making the claim that people shouldn't be converted to your faith? I'm almost positive that conversion is in the bible once or twice. You are literally asking outsiders to come to your faith, it would be ludicrous of you to make such a request without at least trying to imagine things from their perspective.

Also, I love references to the pride of others that are preceded by your condemnation . . . that was on the level of art =)

Rhacodactylus said...

Oh, and Rob, get over the Cartesian problem. Proving that nothing can be trusted is not the same as proving the existence of a bearded sky man.

~Rhaco

Rob R said...

the way a rational belief must be argued are all in text books, and the OTF follows them, whereas "faith" does not.

Okay, who's talking about this irrational "faith". Not me. You can use this definition. It has little to do with the way that scripture uses the term and it has little to do with pointing out the facts that I do about nature of knowledge, that all of it involves risk.

Oh, and Rob, get over the Cartesian problem. Proving that nothing can be trusted is not the same as proving the existence of a bearded sky man.

ah, very good then, we agree. I have never been interested in proving either nor have I attempted to do so.

It's consistent use of the OTF, not arbitrarily limiting it to religion which leads to the inability to trust in anything.

Ken said...

Rob R

Yes, the universe may have been created last Thursday by a Mayan who escaped out of the Matrix. There is my appeal to Mystery. So I am agnostic about The Truth but that realization doesn't get me anywhere worth going.

Skepticism is a pragmatic approach toward an approximation or model of reality. Based on a mountain of evolutionary evidence we are here at least in part because we have a decent model of tigers moving in the high grass. Improving said approximation is valuable as there are many tigers lurking here and there and some are big enough to eat us all.

You have enough pragmatic skepticism to survive in a hostile world. All we are suggesting is that you carry on with the tools of this process and when you do we think that your commitment to Christianity will fade away. At least, that's seems to be what happened for me and many others.

Thesauros said...

In one of his books, Dawkins does this schtick where he pretends to be God. In the “God Delusion,”

Dawkins is talking about how Theologians claim the ability to interpret the Bible and he says (I’ll do it in a low, booming God-like voice)

“They cannot get away with it!”

Isn’t that good? Priceless really.

Richard Dawkins is talking to those most skilled in their specialty, not his specialty, not someone else’s craft but their specialty and he in effect says,

“I won’t allow it!” I’m putting my foot down on what Theologians can and cannot say about the Bible.”

And here we have John Loftus:
“One is left with reason and evidence.” as only Loftus defines evidence.

“Christians must seek to justify what they consider the facts apart from faith.” because that’s what John says we must do. Pfft!

“The fact is that Christianity MUST pass the OTF.” Jesus is trembling because - well - why is He trembling, again? Oh ya, because John Loftus says so.

Ken said...

Thesauros:

I don't see how it moves the discussion forward to pit authority figures (theologians/Jesus vs. Dawkins/Loftus) against one another.

Perhaps you would like to explain what categorie(s) of evidence are valuable other than that to which Loftus adheres.

“One is left with reason and evidence.” as only Loftus defines evidence.

Rob R said...

So I am agnostic about The Truth but that realization doesn't get me anywhere worth going.

Exellent. you see, skepticism applied consistently gets us nowhere. Skepticism from a truly neutral position is useless.

I have no clue what your point was with tigers. But it certainly isn't skepticism that supplies our belief there. It is trust, trust in others, trust in your memories, in your community. Skepticism has a place, but not as a litmus test for knowledge. It is an awkward and useless tool when driven so hard. It's much more effective when preceded by belief and knowledge. Pragmatic skepticism begins with knowing, doubt on the basis of knowledge, not doubt because doubt in and of itself can lead us to knowledge.

Course, I would have reason to be skeptical that there would be tigers in the grass around where I live. After all, it goes against my personal experience, trust in my culture (including the media), my education, my friends and family, all of this leading to the conclusion that most likely, there are no tigers loose in this area. A tiger did escape an animal shelter in the area, but that is so rare and highly unlikely. With God, again, I trust my church community and the larger church community extending back to Christ. And unlike a tiger, belief in God has great explanatory power for much about humanity, morality, human worth, our sense of the sacred, of the spiritual. There is the risk that I could be wrong in spite of my confidence. But again, this is the nature of virtually all knowledge. The perception of the degree of that risk is a subjective matter and there is no rule about how much risk is too much. So as you notice, belief in the matrix or Maya (which is not a reference to the Mayan religion but is from Hinduism) is very useless and it is also ad hoq. Belief in God however is very rich and useful just like so many other items of knowledge such as from the scientific considerations.

Thesauros said...

I'm not piting them against each other. They're like clones; each proposing the supremacy of scientism. Both claiming that science is the only objective source of truth. Both claiming, "We should be sceptical of everything except what we already believe."

Ken said...

Rob R:

I don't think you and I have an agreed upon definition of skepticism. For me, again, skepticism is the process of pragmatically modeling reality. How can this not, in a specific way, incorporate the things you have mentioned you value?

You are using skeptical tools when you look around and decide that the danger from tigers is very low. That's precisely the point about 'tigers in the grass'.

We do disagree on the probable importance in human development between gods and tigers. About 5 million years ago an ice age caused changes to the African weather and subsequently to the living pattern of hominids. Whereas prior to these changes hominids lived mainly in dense tropical forests, they now had to survive in a transitional zone between forest and savanna. This appears to have lead to a different relationship between predator and prey, one which caused hominids to depend more on hunting the high energy valued flesh of prey animals. They had to accomplish this in the presence of 'tigers in the grass' a key contributor toward increased group cooperation (having some species links to your community experiences). Skull size for hominids increased dramatically from that point through the rise of homo sapiens (there are two known temporary dips along the way).

Rob R said...

For me, again, skepticism is the process of pragmatically modeling reality.

That's a very unique definition. If that's how you want to use it, okay, but it seems to me to be too far from what the linguistic community does with it. I won't use it that way. When your use of a common word goes to far from common usage, that can create conceptual problems and communication problems.

Skepticism is systematic doubt. that is the most common way of using it and that suits these discussions just fine. If you see me critisizing skepticism, if you see someone promoting it through the OTF, that is what they are taking about.

Papalinton said...

@ Rob R

To which source of evidence are you referring when making the following declarative fact claims? I am interested in assess its veracity against the OTF or indeed any other conventional measure of falsifiability.

You say, "God knows what is psychologically sufficient to give everyone a libertarian free choice to that end. And if he takes that away, if he hardens someone, it is because they squandered their choice too much to begin with."

I say, And you know this to be absolute fact? Where's your evidence? To what source of substantiating fact are you referring to establish this claim? By what mechanism does he [god, I assume] 'take away' free choice? What is the process he [god, I assume] 'hardens' someone? Is it a case-by-case proposition that god utilises or does he use a series of checks before the hardening process kicks in?

You say, "God created us to get passed artificial barriers like the OTF."

I say, How do you know this to be the case? Where is the evidence? How is the OTF an 'artificial barrier'? You claim so assuredly, you even claim so assuredly god knows the OTF is 'artificial'. How is it that you know the mind of god when myriads of other believers tell us no one knows the mind of god? Indeed, what does a non- artificial barrier look like? Surely to make such a definitive claim, you are in possession of some startling revelation that no one else is party to. Pray, please tell, we're all ears.

Cheers

Rob R said...

Papalinton,


I say, And you know this to be absolute fact?

You are missing the picture here. John Loftus critisized Christianity on the basis of one model of how God works in the world. I pointed out that there is a model that isn't affected by his criticism. I can substantiate this with the Bible. If that is not good enough, you don't understand what John Loftus is doing.

By what mechanism does he [god, I assume] 'take away' free choice? What is the process he [god, I assume] 'hardens' someone?

Which is all irrelevant to the topic. I don't have to know how God does these things to know that what I said does not have the problems that John was criticizing. I personally don't have to know how it works to believe it is so. If this were the case, then you've just invalidated the science based knowledge of all informed laymen on scientific topics since most of them don't really understand fully (or in multitudes of cases, any at all) the mechanisms by which these things work.

Is it a case-by-case proposition that god utilises or does he use a series of checks before the hardening process kicks in?

It is the biblical pattern. rebellion always precedes hardening of the heart. (hardening though does not necessarily take away all libertarian freedom. Pharoah's servants were hardened once but they still relented from their rebellion).

I say, How do you know this to be the case? Where is the evidence?

How does John Loftus know that this isn't the case. I have the same sort of reasoning behind my answer. It is about our different views of dignum deo. John believes it is beneath a loving God not to allow us to be able to pass the OTF because a loving God wouldn't arbitrarily withold his grace. But there's no reason to think that we have to view the OTF as a impassible barrier that we need to satisfy, that negates our responsibility.

How is the OTF an 'artificial barrier'?

The OTF doesn't keep anyone from obeying God. We choose to rebel and we choose our reasons. The OTF is not necessary to rationality and in fact, it is a form of outdated modernity in a post modern era where ideas like a neutral path to knowledge are suspect and if valid at all, not all encompassing of all that can pass for reasonable belief.

How is it that you know the mind of god when myriads of other believers tell us no one knows the mind of god?

Other believers overstate the issue of mystery when when God has taken the time to reveal himself through special revelation as well as general revelation. God reveals himself through the church and through the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Indeed, what does a non- artificial barrier look like?

What I mean by a barrier is something that determines that one cannot freely obey God.

So what does real barrier look like? Calvinism if it were true.

Papalinton said...

Hi Rob R
Theo-babble at its scintillating best. The tenor of your response is lovely apologetics, a discursive amble through the wish-listing of theology.

"John Loftus critisized Christianity on the basis of one model of how God works in the world. I pointed out that there is a model that isn't affected by his criticism. " Response: Obfuscation. How many models are there? As A boxer, you are incredibly agile on your feet; simply can't pin you down.

"I can substantiate this with the Bible." Response: Of Course! you can. [Dracula in charge of the blood bank comes to mind]

..." .. and in fact, it is a form of outdated modernity in a post modern era where ideas like a neutral path to knowledge are suspect and if valid at all, not all encompassing of all that can pass for reasonable belief." Response: I love it when you talk dirty.

...".. then you've just invalidated the science based knowledge of all informed laymen on scientific topics since most of them don't really understand fully (or in multitudes of cases, any at all) the mechanisms by which these things work." Response: I would, based on experience and veracity of outcomes, go with the advice of 'informed laymen' on scientific topics if the alternative choice is an informed theologian, particularly in matters of medical surgery.

"It is the biblical pattern". Response: Is this like the pattern of evolutionary evidence that tells us come from a common ancestor? Do we accord this biblical pattern the same level of evidentiary status?


"Pharoah's servants were hardened once but they still relented from their rebellion." Response: It has been archeologically substantiated [Finklestein and Silberman] without equivocation there were no massive numbers of Israelites in Egypt, never was, never has been. The evidence for any mass exodus from Egypt is, for want of a better word, nil. This is now widely accepted overwhelmingly by biblical scholars. Even the holding back of the waters of the Red Sea is now being conflated with some marshy land bridge called the 'Reed Sea' to try to claw back some credibility in the myth.

".. because a loving God wouldn't arbitrarily withold his grace." Response: How would you know? You don't know the mind of god. Like Noah's flood he destroyed hundreds of thousands of South East Asians with the tsunami.

" .. reveal himself through special revelation." Response: Theo-babble.

" .. as well as general revelation." Response: Meaningless 'speaking in tongue' that goes for modern cutting-edge theology.

"God reveals himself through the church and through the presence of the Holy Spirit." Response: You have every right to state it. But you have to substantiate the claim if it is to be taken as serious fact.

Deep in your heart of hearts, Rob R, you know, in the tiniest glimmer of reason, that what you hold as scriptural truth, is anything but reality.
[cont]

Chuck O'Connor said...

Are the believers here claiming their belief system has passed the test or are they saying the test is invalid to their belief system? If the former can you supply the argument that satisfies your belief system's success and if the latter why is your belief system exempt? I see a lot of hand waving but haven't read a cogent argument that confirms the strength of the christian faith. At least an explanation to christianity's exceptionalism would be appreciated.

Papalinton said...

@ Rob R [cont]
To me, christians, are living in a ‘time warp’, trying so hard to hold onto a tradition that has failed them badly while at the same time trying to meet the challenges of the modern world through a book that was written by bronze-age goat-herds.

Don't get me wrong, It will be three steps forward and two steps back, but the religious [traditional, old in mind, dark ages, medieval] will be holding hands in church as the flood of reason, fact and truth rolls quietly over them, subsuming their ancient arcane and mystical belief systems and inexorably placing them into the pages of mythical history and put back on the shelf in the library, as are all the wonderful stories of Mithras, Zeus, Wotan and Osiris. The rightful place for the bible in today's world is to sit down comfortably, with a nice cup of coffee beside the fireplace, and read with nostalgic interest of just how far humanity has come since it was first promulgated two thousand years ago. That is a comforting thought.

Cheers

Papalinton said...

Hey John
Rob R says of me, "You are missing the picture here. John Loftus critisized Christianity on the basis of one model of how God works in the world. I pointed out that there is a model that isn't affected by his criticism. I can substantiate this with the Bible. If that is not good enough, you don't understand what John Loftus is doing."

In you comment, you say, .." .. when faced with something like the OTF they would rather change what they believe rather than face the facts and abandon it." My response was to question the number of models of god's actions that Rob R offers as a way of refuting your OTF.

Am I misunderstanding you? Or is he talking out of his arse. Please put me on the right track. Would appreciate it.

Cheers

Beautiful Feet said...

Hi Rhaco --- You said, "Also, I love references to the pride of others that are preceded by your condemnation . . . that was on the level of art =)"

By acknowledging that ppl condemn does not imply a motive of condemnation -- it's pretty self evident that ppl are the ones that condemn one another...

Also, living in the US, it's easy to experience a variety of religious practices and to embrace many perspectives about god or gods, but what is the thing that would set the divine apart from the natural? Hint: It has to do with that non-condemnation clause......

Harry H. McCall, CET said...

Hi Brad,

In case you are not linked; my reply to your comment about the use of אלהים in Genesis 1 on Sept. 23 in the DC Post:

Quote of the Day, by Dude I'm Free (Dated 9/22/2010) is now posted in three parts.

Harry

Papalinton said...

@ beautiful feet

"... but what is the thing that would set the divine apart from the natural .."

'Divine' is a theological concept and has no place of merit in general discourse. 'Divine' is not an antonym for 'natural'.

THE RIGHT WORD
Holy is the only one of these words associated with religion and worship that may be applied directly to the Supreme Being. Something that is holy is regarded with the highest reverence because of its connection with God or a god (: Christmas is a holy day in the Christian calendar). Something that is sacred, on the other hand, is set apart as holy or is dedicated to some exalted purpose (: sacred music) but may derive its holiness from a human source rather than from God (: a sacred oath between brothers). In its strictest sense, divine means associated with or derived from God (: the divine right of kings), but it has also been used to describe anything that is admirable or treasured (: her wedding dress was divine). Hallowed and consecrated refer to what has been made sacred or holy, with hallowed connotating intrinsic holiness (: they walked on hallowed ground) and consecrated meaning blessed by a formal rite or formally dedicated to some religious use (: the old building had been consecrated as a church).

Sheesh!

John W. Loftus said...

Papalinton, shhhhhh, remember, people like Rob R. are cannon fodder for us here. Without people like him we couldn't repeatedly show others why the Christian faith cannot be defended.

Rob R said...

John, what do we file that response under?

A) hmmm, no posts from DM here, but now it feels that something is missing, like responses that don't advance the discussion.

B) Cummulative Case? sure, who cares about the quality of considerations, I'm just after quantity, so those inept at keeping on topic or respond with the sophmoric "oh yeah, prove it" type of responses get my thumbs up.

or C) hmmm, couldn't reason them out of faith, persuasion didn't work.... ah screw quality discussion, it's mockery time!

Rob R said...

Papalinton,


Obfuscation. How many models are there? As A boxer, you are incredibly agile on your feet; simply can't pin you down.

This is mere handwaving. And what does it matter how many interpretations of scripture there are if one is better than the others.

Response: Of Course! you can.

Yes, if John criticisizes one understanding, I'm within reason to respond with a better understanding.

Response: I would, based on experience and veracity of outcomes, go with the advice of 'informed laymen' on scientific topics if the alternative choice is an informed theologian, particularly in matters of medical surgery.


Which has nothing to do with our discussion. You wrongfully assume that one needs to personally prove each individual part of a belief system (or in this case, a text). Now that this is shown to be an unreasonable expectation, you are changing the topic to something no one is suggesting, consulting a minister on matters of surgery.

Response: It has been archeologically substantiated [Finklestein and Silberman] without equivocation there were no massive numbers of Israelites in Egypt, never was, never has been.

I am deeply unconcerned by whether the specific numbers were exactly as written or even close. That kind of inerrancy seems a bit of an erronius expectation to me. But I don't have confidence that we'd know what a mass exodus would leave and how the evidence would remain after thousands of years. Scientific data on it is going to be an educated guess at best. It's not like it's a repeatable matter (we aren't going to recreate the culture we know little, have them do a mass migration, wait a few thousand years and see what's left). Archaeology isn't exactly a hard science.

But this is off topic. It's just that old itchy feeling that so many get to prove the other wrong. Can't do it on topic? Just go wildly off topic and find something else that is contested.

Even if the story of exodus isn't historical (which I don't buy) the example taken is about God's pattern of hardening. THAT was the point.

Response: How would you know? You don't know the mind of god.

I am defending the biblical picture alleges to tell us much of the mind of God. John Loftus critisized not on the grounds that no one knows the mind of God and that scripture hasn't been proven to do so. Perhaps that is worth a discussion, but it's not this discussion. This discussion was about a method to approaching religious claims (the OTF) and a criticism to the end that a loving God would leave enough evidence to allow one to pass the OTF. The fact is, it's completely reasonable that scripture is false and that the OTF is an unreasonable approach and the second criticism doesn't work against the best scriptural interpretation.

Response: You have every right to state it. But you have to substantiate the claim if it is to be taken as serious fact.

No, I really don't. It's enough that I respond to the topic. I don't have to offer a complete apologetic defense for every Christian doctrine every time some specific criticism comes up. All I have to do is answer the specific criticisms being made. What you suggest is absurd. We can only do this one thing at a time. The bottom line is whether I answered the criticism within the bounds of Christian orthodoxy (which is what is under attack).

jorge said...

@Chuck O'Connor wrote
"At least an explanation to christianity's exceptionalism would be appreciated."
I really don't mean to patronize you, here it goes, in a nutshell:
God created the heavens, and Earth. God created people who would end up rejecting Him and believing lies, thereby obtaining for themselves eternal separation from God (and torment to boot). Knowing this, He chose a people who, eventually, would end up with THE Messiah who would right everything. That is God's end of the deal. Mankind's part of the equation is this: One must accept the Messiah's message. The message being: repenting of our ways, and following His example and teachings.
The Messiah is very well identified. Following any other would void the "deal". Not abiding by the message, or modifying the message would be just as bad. One last thing to keep in mind: It's not up to any of us to "get in". God is the one who has already chosen who will and won't be saved.
As no other "faith" can make those claims, it claims exclusivity.
Just a few thoughts that would come to mind: God? which god?: The God of the Bible. Which Bible?: The Bible derived from ancient manuscripts which were written by men under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. (of which there are many translations today). As anyone can see, the one thing necessary to "buy" any of that is Faith. Faith that God is, and that He will do as He said He would (keep His word).
As such, I believe the OTF would not be a good test for said faith (or any other), since matters relating to Supernatural events can not be quantified enough, or explained enough for anyone trying to ascribe "logical" attributes to them.

Rob R said...

One more thought Papalinton, To your off topic challenges, let me quote someone of relevance here:

"Let it be said loud and clear I cannot say all that I know, and this applies all the more to a single blog post or comment."

~John Loftus

I concur

exreformed said...

@RobR
Papalinton cleaned your clock!

Papalinton response to RobR
Is it a case-by-case proposition that god utilises or does he use a series of checks before the hardening process kicks in?

RobR’s reply
It is the biblical pattern. rebellion always precedes hardening of the heart. (hardening though does not necessarily take away all libertarian freedom. Pharoah's servants were hardened once but they still relented from their rebellion).

Exreformed @ RobR
Please show me from scripture that Pharo hardened his heart before God hardened it. This is a classic “free willer” reply, yet no ware in scripture does it say the Pharo hardened his own heart first. Who are you oh man? You unclean vessel Rob.

Papalinton to Rob R
I say, How do you know this to be the case? Where is the evidence?
RobR reply
How does John Loftus know that this isn't the case. I have the same sort of reasoning behind my answer.

My reply
Rob
Why don’t you just answer the question instead of asserting what John’s reasoning is
This is why it is so frustrating when dealing with fundies. Ask them something simple and they tend to, as Papalinton correctly states “THEOBABLE!



Papalinton reply to RobR
By what mechanism does he [god, I assume] 'take away' free choice? What is the process he [god, I assume] 'hardens' someone?
RobR reply
Which is all irrelevant to the topic

My reply
Another brainwashed fundy tactic and then you accuse Papalinton of being a “Off topic challenger”. It usually never fails, no matter how nice funds pretend or try to be nice they just can’t help themselves. They just have to arrogantly make snide comments and demean the people they argue against.

However, Rob, please do keep commenting on this blog because when I read comments from you and thesaurus it just reinforces to me “Why I left”

Chuck O'Connor said...

Jorge,

Thanks for the reply.

I know the narrative of which you speak but it seems abusive in its ends and incoherent in its means.

If God created man knowing he would fall and then provided a mechanism for his salvation that was exclusive to his whims then he set man up to suffer while not affording him an opportunity to escape this suffering. If God has decided on who will and won't be saved then there is nothing I can muster (including faith) that will change that.

Your response is the reason I rejected Christianity. It makes no sense outside of a sado-masochistic fantasy.

It seems that you are like most christians I know who fetishize authority (usually based on their relationship to their own or someone else's past deviant behavior) and equate obedience with the highest moral standard.

Rob R said...

exreformed,

Papalinton cleaned your clock!

I'm always happy for such neutral judges who are trained very well in analyzing discussion and debate then offer a an impartial. But unfortunately, I don't really think that they ever really come along and what we have is a heavy dose of back patting from a guy who will endorse any poor argument as long as he agrees with it.

Please show me from scripture that Pharaoh hardened his heart before God hardened it.

ex, for me you are frequently are the ironic poster. In other words, here, you know what a legitimate response looks like. So without having to prove every individual bible verse independently (which I have pointed out is a double standard), this is a far more legitimate avenue to take. But Many atheists don't care what the bible actually says if it doesn't fit some shallow criticism. You care because you are a Calvinist atheist.

I admit after looking at it, the case was not as explicit as I thought it was. Pharaoh's heart was hardened 7 times before it explicitely said that God hardened his heart. But twice before the eigth time, it explicitely names Pharaoh as the cause of his own hardening. It is reasonable that the first time was implicitly of God because it ends noting that Pharaoh's heart was hardened just as God said it would. One could easily interpret this as saying that this is reference to God's activity of hardening and I think that is reasonable. I don't think it is perfectly unambiguous though because the prediction could also refer to Pharaoh's refusal to let the people go.

Let me grant though that my example was not good. I would not say that it served as a counterexample. Pharaoh lived his life before Moses came into it and God started making explicit demands. We do not read that before this period, Pharaoh had rejected the grace that was available to him and thus faced hardening, but I draw the conclusion that that is what happened. Several people outside the covenant line of revelation managed to respond positively to God, like Melchizedek, Job, and Moses' father in law, Jethrow. And they demonstrate what Paul said, the the gentiles demonstrate that they have the law written on their hearts in Roman's 2 and more strongly from Acts 17, that God made it possible for everyone to reach out to him and find him.

And this is the response to the topic, God has made some form of grace available to everyone and that trumps the demands of the OTF which makes the claim that we have to artificially pretend to be neutral (not really neutral but skeptical) when God meets someone somehow, through general revelation, through the wisdom that may be in their cultural/philosophical/religious heritage in spite of the deceptions that also might exist, and through moral and other intuitions. (and that was only half, the other was of course that the OTF is dubious which people can freely and rationally reject... granted how one approaches the OTF is individualistic and subjective. I believe Brad Haggard when he says he beat the OTF because the skeptics we imagine are going to be different. I imagine a skeptic who won't allow any faith, that is any risk that one could be wrong for virtually all supposed instances of knowledge. You see, he doesn't hold a double standard for religious knowledge and non-religious knowledge like most atheists who are modernists (course you can have your post modernist atheist who bites the bullet and just geusses that we can't have any truth whatsoever).

Rob R said...

post 2 of 2


Why don’t you just answer the question instead of asserting what John’s reasoning is

I explained why I didn't answer the question. in several places in different ways. It was off topic. It is absurd and of a double standard to insist that I have to prove every single claim from a source I trust. Atheists won't do it. Scientists won't do it. No one believes in science or history because they have personally demonstrated or proven each and every claim. If you have a friend you trust, you don't expect him to prove absolutely everything he says to you. And if someone challenges you on his trustworthiness, it may not be possible to prove every thing that that person said and reference to why you think he is reliable.

John made some specific charges as to why Christianity is unreliable. I don't have to answer all possible doubts to answer that specific charge. He alleged that a loving God would make it possible for everyone to pass the OTF but he hasn't, so the Christian belief in a loving God is wrong. My answer is two fold. I noted that it is enough that God makes it psychologically possible for everyone to respond to him (which I just argued is scriptural) and that responding defeating the OTF (which is not a mere appeal to outsider's which Christianity is geared towards, but outsider's who are agnostics about all religions with a kind of skepticism that is particular to the west) is not essential to that genuine psychological possibility.

this was a question of internal integrity. I answered on grounds of internal integrity.

This is why it is so frustrating when dealing with fundies.

It's frustrating when atheists move the goal posts when you respond to a criticism and then complain when you call them on it. it just doesn't seem intellectually honest.

They just have to arrogantly make snide comments and demean the people they argue against.

If you're off topic, then you're off topic. And if raising this concern is snide to you, again, I'd say you have that thin skin issue. But you don't commend yourself as a judge of who's arrogant for complaining of my legitimate concerns as arrogant and snide and praising papalinton's handwaving dismissive comments like "theobabble".

Rob R said...

Correction:

On the issue of Pharaosh, I said "One could easily interpret this as saying that this is reference to God's activity of hardening and I think that is reasonable."

There's a victim of my lack of proofreading.

What I meant to highlight was God's prior claim that he would harden Pharaoh's heart, not his activity towards that end.

jorge said...

@Chuck O'Connor wrote

Re "If God has decided on who will and won't be saved then there is nothing I can muster (including faith) that will change that."
Hi, chuck. Well, the thing is we can't know where we stand in God's plan. In our humanity, we know we are all cursed. Yet, God's plan for salvation is for everyone. That is to say we all have the freedom to out-rightly reject God or believe in Him (yes, even the staunchest atheist). None of us can judge anyone's heart. I dare say not even our own. I don't see why it should be taken so fatalistically.
Re "Your response is the reason I rejected Christianity."
I hope you understand that I fashioned "my response" on biblical statements, and not think I came up with that stuff all by myself.
I think you put it very well. "It makes no sense.." is probably what I hear from most people who wont accept God's plan on His (God's) terms. "It can't be the ONLY way.." (it's exclusivity,as you put it) is another.
I think it is mainly due to the fact that people expect supernatural events (faith,for one), to be logically and rationally explained before they should be believed. i.e, if there's no physical evidence for the existence of God, it logically follows that there is no god.
I don't see how that would apply to a supernatural being. It's only "by faith" that Christianity can "make sense" to anyone.
Re "It makes no sense outside of a sado-masochistic fantasy."
Well, let me put it this way, in this walk, we've been warned that God will discipline us, yet, knowing it's for our own good (as any true discipline should be) more than makes up for that suffering.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Interesting points Jorge but I see your entire argument as obedience to (reformed theology bible) god is good because obedience to (reformed theology bible) god is good.

That is a tautology and is why I don't see anything exceptional in Christianity (the reformed theology version especially).

jorge said...

@Chuck O'Connor
Hi, Chuck. I believe the exceptionality of Christianity is it's simplicity. One can get side-tracked by all kinds of issues (some more important than others) i.e: veracity of scripture, doctrinal issues, etc., but in the end, after some study, one can come to the realization that it is true, mainly when seeing how the Bible can withstand (and has withstood) any attack.
I find it interesting that the faith necessary to believe would be granted to "little children" (people without earthly knowledge or wisdom, which in the end means nothing towards salvation) and not to the wise, affirming it's assertion that, humanly, it cannot be understood.
Then, the Bible's "logic" must be deduced from what it says.

Sonia said...

John Loftus wrote: Some Christians might say that universalism is the case; that no one ends up in hell. And they'll claim this takes away from the force of what I wrote.

Okay. See you in heaven then. If this is the case why bother with religion at all?


Christian universalism--as I understand it from scripture--does not teach that salvation is from hell. It does teach that salvation is from sin. And of course, when sin is gone, punishment for sin is also gone--but that's a byproduct.

If God is a just judge, who punishes evil and rewards good, it does not make sense that anyone will get a 'free pass' into 'paradise' simply by reciting a creed or giving intellectual assent to some fact. "The demons believe and tremble."

Jesus did not come to let us off the consequences of doing wrong, he came to remove the wrong itself from us--to save us from our sin.

When the tax collector repented, he said he would repay everyone he had defrauded four times as much. And Jesus responded that 'salvation has come to this house.' The tax collector willingly made right the wrong he had done, at great cost to himself--he judged himself and therefore did not need to be judged by God. (1 Cor 11:31)

And, in my opinion, it was not that he 'bought' his salvation by good works, but rather his heart change--to faith--resulted in his willingness to make restitution.

Universalism predicts that all will come to this repentance--and does not deny that some of us may need harsh judgment along the way.

So, why bother with religion? I'd say it's best not to, unless it helps you in your search for truth. If you're just talking about doing religious things as 'fire insurance' or to make yourself 'feel' like a 'good person' (without actually having to do anything really good) -- don't bother. :)

That's just what Jesus condemned the religious people of his day for doing: "Woe to you, hypocrites, for you tithe your mint and herbs, but neglect the weightier matters of the Law: justice, mercy and faithfulness."

Arizona Atheist said...

Hi Mr. Loftus,

I had read Victor Reppert's comments about your OTF and I tried to comment but Blogger seems to be having issues and my comment wouldn't show, so I wrote a short post explaining what I think is wrong with his criticism. I thought you might be curious to see what I've written.

Take care.