Two Original Thought Experiments Related to the Outsider Test for Faith

A professor of mathematics has come up with two original thought experiments related to the Outsider Test for Faith (OTF) that are akin to the Veil of Ignorance of John Rawls. I like them. Let's look at the first one below.
Thought Experiment 1

The scenario. You’re told that when you wake up tomorrow, you’ll be randomly changed into a person with a different religious view.

For example, if you’re currently a Christian, you might wake up as a Muslim, Mormon, Buddhist, agnostic, atheist – anything but a Christian. Of course you’d be shocked to hear this news. If you’re currently a strong believer in Islam or Christianity, say, you’ll be devastated to discover that you’ll wake up as a hell-bound heathen. If you’re currently an atheist, you’ll hate the idea of waking up as a religious devotee. No matter who you are, you’d do just about anything for a chance to talk to your new self and set yourself straight.

The good news. Before you go to bed tonight, you’re allowed to write a letter to your new self.

Through this letter, you’ll be allowed to give yourself some advice on how to investigate your religious views. You’ll wake up tomorrow in a new body, maybe in a different part of the world, but definitely in a new religious orientation. However, you’ll have some mysterious letter to read, written by an anonymous person that seems to care about your take on religion.

Given this opportunity, what would you write?

The catch. You can only offer completely general advice.

You’re not allowed to say anything that is specifically for or against any religion (or non-religion). For example, you can’t advise your new self to go to the book store and buy The god delusion, or Ten good reasons to believe in the Book of Mormon. You can’t recommend checking out the miracle claims of Christianity, or asking some questions at the local mosque or synagogue. But you can give yourself generic advice, like: read some critiques of your religion; read some apologetic works of as many religions as you can; try and imagine what someone without your beliefs might think; try and think rationally about all the alternatives.

So how would you advise yourself? You’ll clearly see it as imperative that you get yourself back to your former religious persuasion. But what would you suggest? Have a think for a moment before moving on.

To see the other thought experiment read his post, The Outsider Test for Faith and the Veil of Ignorance.

I think the only thing one could write to oneself would be akin to the OTF. Q.E.D.

Or, do you suggest something else?

1 comments:

Joel lim said...

Sometimes I ask a simple question "what if it's not true". The fundamentalist brain is obsessed with the certainty of a belief and will perceive it as a threat. We know there are assumptions and probabilities that what we call truth is based on. A biased conclusion was never made on assumptions. It was concluded before taking into consideration assumptions. You'll observe hesitation or answers like 'I believe it's true' or a outright proclamation that it's true. This works for many lay people I've came across.