Where David Marshall Goes Wrong, Part 4, the Final Part

This is the Final Part of my response to David Marshall's criticisms of the Outsider Test for Faith (OTF). Part 1 can be read here, with a link to Part 2 and so on.

As before I'll blockquote what he wrote.
Faith Again: Loftus claims in response to William Lane Craig that he "knows" that there is a material world, "and that I can reasonably trust my senses:" "For example, when it comes to the possibility that I'm presently living in a virtual, Matrix world, rather than the real world, that scenario cannot be taken seriously by any intelligent person . . . I see no reason why there would be any knowledge of the Matrix by people living in it, since the Matrix determines all of their experiences . . . " (95)

I think Loftus is confusing a particular movie with the scenario it illustrates. It is certainly the case that some intelligent people DO take the scenario that the world is some sort of simulation seriously. One atheist philosopher, another told me, put the odds of the world being unreal at about one in five. (Don't ask me how he calculated this -- taking the rationality of his own brain for granted, still!) I believe in the reality of the external world -- that's why I'm blogging. But Keller and Craig are right to say we can't prove it -- nor do Loftus' arguments manage the trick.
David doesn't even know how this was calculated and yet passes it off as something we should consider! In any case, once again the skeptic must prove something before it can be debunked. Why is this the standard? In what other area of knowledge is this acceptable? Even though I can show something is very improbable how can any reasonable person go on accepting it until proven false? This makes no sense to me at all and one reason skeptics think faith is irrational.
"The word faith must be reserved to apply in this context (ie, justification for religious beliefs -- DM) to beliefs that cannot be empirically tested and aren't needed to explain anything, like ghosts, angels, demons, and gods."

A Being more intelligent than humans would not be subject to the same empirical tests we use for rocks, rhubarb, and rabbits. "Do not put the Lord your God to the test." This does not mean there is no evidence -- it means that if we are in the driver's seat, we are not seeking God, we must be seeking something less than ourselves.
I did. I found nothing after decades of study and experience. And just how does David propose we seek God if it’s not through the senses? This is all we’ve been given along with our minds. That a god supposedly created us with minds that think critically by demanding evidence for what we’ll accept and then does not give us what he created us to require is utter nonsensical to me. And despite what the Bible quote he offered there is another one that says to put God to the test (Malachi 3:10), along with examples of people who tested God like Moses and Gideon. He doesn’t even know his Bible.
It does not follow that religious faith cannot be empirically tested, or that no such evidence is provided -- Christians have almost always maintained that there is plenty of such evidence. But in the end, we are the ones tested, not God.
How do you know this David? That’s what I want do know. I’ve proposed the OTF as a way to examine the evidence. What’s your alternative?
"Finally, atheists do indeed take the OTF. That's why atheists are atheists in the first place." (97)

True, often atheists were raised in religious homes, and came to reject their early beliefs, not infrequently for rational reasons in part. But most atheists in the modern world have lived and been raised in communist countries, where denying religion is the default position. It would be highly naive, then, to assume that atheists convert away from faith for purely rational, objective reasons.
So what? I have never said atheists have a corner on rationality. Clearly many of them don’t. This is irrelevant to my case. We should subject all claims to science based reasoning, the kind of skepticism found in the OTF.
"Therefore, anyone, and I mean anyone including myself, who leaves the default agnostic position and affirms and answer, any answer, has the practical burden of proof." (98)

This seems fair enough. Let me translate into the short, clear words like those George Orwell recommended: "If I say I do not know, then I do not need to say why. If I say I know, then I should say why."
The Bible, too, tells us to be "prepared to give a reason" for the hope that is within us. When John Loftus and the Bible agree, it could be one has found truth.
I am the only person to judge what I will accept so, yes, so no matter if John Loftus and the Bible agree or if John Loftus and the Bible do not agree, then John Loftus is always right. It cannot be otherwise. I don’t speak for others though. No one can. Although I will argue my case like I’m doing here.

However, if you’re talking about who has the burden of proof then the OTF places it squarely on your shoulders. As a skeptic I do not think you or any other religionist has made their respective cases.

I’ve answered some more of David's repeated assertions so I'll skip over them.
"At best there can only be one true religion in what we observe to be a sea of hundreds of false ones . . . " (99)

As C. S. Lewis pointed out, that is the position an atheist is forced to adopt, but not a Christian. Much about each of the world's great religions can be considered true, in some cases even divinely inspired, by dedicated Christians, as I argue in some of my works. If you're an atheist, though, you have to write off almost all of what the rest of humanity has always believed as one big blunder.
Faith based reasoning is the blunder and all religions share in this blunder. your problem is that with that type of reasoning you cannot decide between yourselves which one has more epistemic warrant than the others do because you all share the same type of reasoning.
"But I know of no skeptical person in today's world who would ever want to morally justify rape. Believes like the acceptibility of rape (and honour killings) are based on religious faiths and ancient texts . . . " (100)

Rape is, of course, a common activity in the animal kingdom, and is based on biology. The present strictures against rape are the result of a series of cultural influences that were by no means pre-ordained, and that can dissolve. The Yanomamo, after all, do quite a bit of raping without "ancient texts." Might it have something to do with sex?
But no skeptic I know of justifies it. Religions have done so and continue today. Rape was the spoils of war in biblical times. You should get and read this book on rape in the Bible.

In Muslim societies the woman is always to blame and it requires four male witnesses of the rape to confirm her story. Think about this. If there were four male witnesses they participated and would not testify on her behalf.
"Most Christian thinkers from Tertullian to Luther to William Lane Craig have all disparaged reason in favor of faith." (102)

Faith, by my definition (inspired by what Christian thinkers have actually said about the subject for thousands of years, rather than silly modern myths), means "Holding to and acting on what you have good reason to believe is true." By that definition, reason is an intrinsic part of faith.
Nope. I already dealt with this before. Faith is always a leap beyond what the probabilities lead us to accept.
In any case, it is suspicious that two of Loftus' three examples are the same that Dawkins gives -- Luther and Tertullian. Alister McGrath has shown that the famous Tertullian quote that purports to prove he did this is taken out of context. (Dawkins' God, 99-101) But perhaps John can cite the exact words William Lane Craig, his old teacher, used to "disparage reason." It would be good to have this claim in context.
Why no mention of Luther’s account of reasoning, which he called “the Devil’s whore”? In Reasonable Faith Craig writes that when faith and reason conflict faith must take precedence over reason. Evidence play a subsidiary role (p. 47, 3rd ed). Tertullian said “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?”


Having now responded to David I suspect he’ll come back with more irrelevancies and smoke screens for why he believes. I will only respond from now on to direct attacks by him on the probability of the OTF that I have not responded to before.

I do not have the time to endlessly chase him down the apologistic rabbit hole. If you want to read how I have responded to the major criticisms of the OTF then read what I said about them here

Sorry to bore the rest of you. David repeatedly goaded me to write this. He got what he asked for.


As expected David Marshall responds. Here is my "final" final response. ;-)