Every claim is context dependent. I admit Rauser reasons well in other areas of his life unrelated to his faith. He could even teach a critical thinking class. So he's rational, very much so. But like other Christians he is not rational to believe or defend Christianity because it is not true. When it comes to Christianity he is a believer. Like all believers his brain must basically shut down when it comes to faith. When it comes to faith his brain must disengage. It cannot connect the dots. It refuses to connect them. Faith stops the brain from working properly. Faith is a cognitive bias that causes a believer to overestimate any confirming evidence and underestimate any disconfirming evidence. So his brain will not let reason penetrate it given his faith bias. Some people have even described faith as a virus of the brain (or mind). It makes the brain sick. Maybe Marx said it best though. It's an opiate, a deadening drug.
Alvin Plantinga has argued that what's essential to have a "warranted belief" is "the proper functioning of one's cognitive faculties in the right kind of cognitive environment." I actually think he's right. But faith, like an opiate, causes the brain to stop functioning properly in matters related to faith. Christian apologetics is predicated on a host of logical fallacies. Take away the logical fallacies they use in defending their faith and they probably wouldn't have any arguments left at all. A critical thinker like Rauser, who thinks more rationally than most others in every area unrelated to his faith cannot see this, but it is the case. Now why can't he see this? Why can't he come to the correct conclusions? Why can't he think rationally about his faith? Because his faith, like an opiate, will not let him. The opiate of faith deadens those areas in his brain that are related to his faith. Rauser surely sees this with regard to other believers in different religious faiths. He will say the same things about them that I say about him. But he refuses to see the same drug deadening his own brain. Once again, faith is a cognitive bias, a virus of the mind, an opiate. It prevents people of faith from connecting the dots.
Why do I reason with him and other Christian apologists? Why do I take their arguments seriously? Why do I continually bang my head against the wall? ;-) Good questions.
- Perhaps I have a self-loathing desire to beat my head against the wall. Why? Because of my potty training days when I was a toddler. Damn, I hate it when that happens. ;-)
- One never knows for sure if Rauser (or any other Christian apologist) is truly impervious to reason. Rauser may not be impervious to reason after all. So why say it if I don't know for sure? Because I see it now in how he's arguing for his faith. I will say this of people who are not thinking correctly until such time as they think correctly, because saying it may help force them to think correctly. Got that?
- I like to think about ideas and to test my arguments against people who disagree. The better educated and more intelligent these apologists are, then the better the testing ground for my arguments. If even they cannot persuade me to think differently, it reinforces why I think the way I do.
- I learn as I go. The better educated and more intelligent these apologists are, then the more I learn, and I do learn. Every book I've published has arguments in it that I first learned to express by interacting with Christian apologists on this blog. The outsider test for faith is one of them. So I get better as I go.
- When arguing against Christian apologists I'm speaking to readers who are not so doped up on the opium of faith. Who knows whether others reading may sober up if I can provide better reasons to disbelieve then to believe? One never knows, so I do.
Have I made everything clear now?
Randal admits that like everyone else he depends on "motivated reasoning" to some degree. Well then, why won't he apply the antidote, which is to require sufficient objective evidence for what he believes? That's the only way to overcome the cognitive bias of faith, the only way to kill that virus in his mind, the only way to nullify the opiate of faith, and the only way to stop being swayed by his own motivated reasoning. He even questions the need for sufficient objective evidence. Who in their right mind would do this after admitting he depends on "motivated reasoning" to some degree?
He's such a nice guy, a fun guy, a good thinker in other areas unrelated to his faith. It's a shame.