Jeffery Jay Lowder: It's Self-Defeating to Ridicule Beliefs

Jeff is once again disagreeing with me. That's okay as far as it goes and expected sometimes, but I truly find his ignorance surprising. [Edit, this type of exchange finally led me to the opinion that Jeffery Jay Lowder is a dishonest person, a hypocrite, seen right here.]

On his Twitter account (@SecularOutpost) Jeff boasts of being "Paul Draper's Bulldog." I think Draper is the reason we disagree on the issues we do. Draper is wrong on those issues even though I too have a respect for him. I really do not understand Jeff's claim that it's self-defeating to ridicule beliefs, and he certainly failed to defend that claim. Recently I argued that ridicule has value in our cultural wars, right here. Jeff commented:
As a philosopher who happens to be an atheist, I think the suggestion that we should ridicule religious belief is, well, self-defeating. There are many brilliant theists working in philosophy, including philosophy of religion, who have made profound insights about arguments for and against God. I have profited from reading their work. Some of the insights for my case for atheism only came about as a result of reading these theists. I think that if I had adopted the ridicule approach, I never would have taken theism seriously enough to get these insights, and so my case for atheism would have been weaker as a result.

For the record, my primary motivation for reading theists is the search for truth, not atheist apologetics. But for those like Loftus who are engaged in atheist apologetics, I would think they want to be in the business of building a better case for atheism.

Besides, who wants to have their cherished beliefs ridiculed? I don't want people ridiculing what I think and I don't ridicule what others think.

(John Loftus, if you're reading this, this is nothing personal. I'm just not sold on the idea that ridicule is the way to go.)
My response:
Fair enough Jeff. As an atheist intellectual myself, with more higher degrees than you will earn, you know I don't use ridicule often, not on my blog nor in my books. I do it though. But this is about whether ridicule is justified, what it accomplishes, when to do it and how to do it right if justified. Ridicule lets others know what we truly think about a belief. It can sway people's opinions, those who are undecided on a question. And it's justified if there are reasons for the ridicule. There are plenty of beliefs worthy of nothing but disgust and/or ridicule, namely misogyny, racism, flat earthers, alien abductions, homeopathy, young earth creationism, faith healing, hell fire fundamentalism, and many cults too strange to entertain seriously. Now if you disagree with this then think ISIS, Orthodox Judaism, Scientology, John Frum Cargo cults, and those guys claiming to be Jesus right now (like José Luis de Jesús Miranda). Or, think of Ken Ham, Pat Robertson, Benny Hinn or Ray Comfort.

You say you're searching for truth. Then tell me how seriously you would take these beliefs and/or the people I've just mentioned. The point is that you cannot take all beliefs seriously. Some are way too bizarre to entertain. You must have a filter to choose which ones should be taken seriously. What is that filter Jeff? Unlike Dr. Paul Draper, I think a genuine search for truth begins the day people reject faith-based answers, not before. Until they do so they fail to have a reliable method for knowing the truth about existence, the nature of nature, or which religion is true if there is one.

I think all faith-based answers are worthy of ridicule. Thinking adults should think exclusively in terms of the probabilities. Now that doesn't mean one should just ridicule them all the time, whenever possible. Ridicule should be used sparingly, but it should be used on occasion just so the undecided will know what we think of faith-based answers, all of them.

Here are a few attempts at doing it myself.

Now, how can we ridicule another's beliefs and yet carry on a polite, civil discussion with representatives of that belief at the same time? Well I do this all of the time. For instance, in "God or Godless" [co-written with Randal Rauser] I respectfully engaged Randal even though I think his faith is bizarre, no different than Scientology. Why did I do that? The same reason I ridicule those very beliefs. I know Randal isn't going to change his mind. I'm writing for the undecided, just as on occasion I use ridicule for the undecided. I argue my case so the undecided can see that my ridicule is justified. There is nothing inconsistent about this. [Or self-defeating].

Jeff, I think what you enjoy about reading mostly Christian evangelical philosophers (idiosyncratically filtering out all other faith-based philosophers for the most part) is watching brilliant people defend the indefensible. To be honest, that is truly an amazing thing to watch. And they teach us. But in a book I'm writing right now, I'm arguing that all Christian apologetics is basically nothing more than special pleading.

For the record, I have spent my whole intellectual life pondering and reading on these issues, and I still do, so please don't suggest that I should "be in the business of building a better case for atheism" when I already am.

Cheers.

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