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Choose Your Own Topic / General Episttemology Question
« on: September 21, 2012, 11:42:18 am »
Everyone, here is a link to the conversation mentioned in the O.P.




   Actually, that's not what he was asking. He has recently clarified his positioin more. His position is that the concept of knowledge at justified true belief is useless for the very fact that at any given moment a proposition we have an attitude of acceptance towards could be proven wrong to us, even though we thought we were justified in believing it was true. His problem is with "defining knowledge as truth". (perhaps he didn't clarify it so well?)


   Therefore, "I know that p" and "I believe that p" are just ways of saying that I have an attitude of acceptance/ towards p.

Choose Your Own Topic / General Episttemology Question
« on: September 21, 2012, 01:45:17 am »
I tried to make my description of his position clearer. Did my editting help clarify matters?

Choose Your Own Topic / General Episttemology Question
« on: September 20, 2012, 11:40:52 pm »
I didn't get too many responses from the Evidentialism and Reformed Epistemology section, so I want to try my luck here. If it's against the rules to double post a thread in two different areas, pllease accept my apologies:


   I have met an individual who resolutely rejects the justified true belief account of knowledge. My best attempt to understand his reason is because, to him, everything we currently believe we think we have some reason to believe it. Therefore,  everything we believe, we think we also know. His problem with the JTB account is that it makes knowledge a subset of our beliefs. Instesf, he wants to say that what we believe we know.


   He is trying to prove his point by requesting me to tell him a belief of mine that I do not also think I know. Do you know any examples I can give him?


   An add on: From what I have stated of this person's position: is he an epistemic minimalist?

Evidentialism and Reformed Epistemology / General epistemology question
« on: September 20, 2012, 02:37:44 pm »
I have met an individual who resolutely rejects the justified true belief account of knowledge. My best attempt to understand his reason is because, to him, everything we currently believe we think we have some reason to believe it, so everything we think we believe, we think we also know. His problem with the JTB account is that it makes knowledge a subset of our beliefs where as he thinks the members of the set of our beliefs also all belong to the set of the things we know.


   He is trying to prove his point by requesting me to tell him a belief of mine that I do not also think I know. Do you know any examples I can give him?

Choose Your Own Topic / A challenge to all the theists here.
« on: October 26, 2011, 05:12:51 pm »
Hey Rostos, I don't wish to derail this thread, but what were your reasons for rejecting the God v. Santa analogies?


Choose Your Own Topic / God and Santa Claus
« on: July 01, 2011, 03:37:45 am »

Originally posted by Noseeum
I felt like answering, so I am sorry if I repeat anything anyone else has said.

The  examples are used as an analogy to God, to demonstrate how an  unfalsifiable idea might appear to have evidence, and yet we ought to  dismiss it anyway. It's unfortunate that many Christians take offense to  it because they think it is a ridicule of God, or their religion. In  many cases, I think the proponents of the argument also think that is  how it's supposed to work. That is why I personally prefer to use  Russell's teapot rather than the FSM or Santa Claus.

In  many cases, it is irrelevant to the argument to to bring up the idea of  unfalsifiable hypotheses, because the theist is making positive claims  as to the existence of their God, and the burden of proof rests on them.  Only when the theist exhausts their positive case, and ask for their  counterpart to make a positive case for their atheism, should this idea  be brought up.

There is usually a high amount  of contention on labelling personal beliefs at this point. A lot of  Christians dislike the idea of the term atheist, because they think of  it as a rejection or rebellion against God. On the other hand, many  atheists would probably fall more into a neutral category, such as  agnosticism. It all depends on your definition. I call myself an  atheist, but I concede that according to many people, I would be  agnostic.

I would urge anyone involved in the  argument not to worry too much about the labelling. If a theist insists  you ought to be an agnostic, then you should point out that they  probably should be as well, by their own reasoning. Since the theist  must have some reason to be a theist rather than an agnostic, it all  comes back to their positive arguments.

It is  important to realise that there can be no evidence for an unfalsifiable  hypothesis. If there is nothing which in principle could falsify an  idea, then there is nothing which can confirm it either. This doesn't  apply to strictly deductive arguments, but in most cases a certain  amount of reason behind a theistic world-view will include inductive  reasoning as well.

Even the most notorious  atheists do not consider the idea of God to be disproved in the strict  sense of the word. Usually an atheist will have their own reasons for  being against certain facets of religion, whether it is fundamentalism,  superstition, indoctrination of children, church/state separation and so  on. But then, there are a lot of theists who oppose those same things.

If  I were you (assuming you're Christian), I would congratulate the  athiest on their understanding of unfalsifiability, let the blasphemy  slide for the time being, then explain to them why it is you believe  what you do. Each to their own though!

Noseeum, it may very well be the case that you are the one to have helped me the most in that you've brought up the idea of falsifiability. I do think that God's existence could be defeated by a successful incoherency argument or a successful probablistic argument from the problem of suffering/evil. Thus if the central theme allegedly tying God with the FSM or IPU is "unfalsifiability" then the analogy fails, or at least it fails for those who think arguments for atheism could falsify God's existence if they are successful arguments.

Choose Your Own Topic / God and Santa Claus
« on: June 30, 2011, 02:14:12 pm »
Thank you everyone for your comments so far.
@CTD, yes, I did come across that in my rummaging around cyberspace looking for examples of where this is used. It was slightly humorous for a while, but I didn't spend too much time on it because I didn't see where he actually addressed the analogy as being true or false.

Thank's, I've read through it before, but I'll be sure to read through it again.

There are some persistent skeptics who use this analogy and like to simulate for us the kind of ad hoc reasoning/back tracking that they perceive some believers to be engaging in. Like the "Santa Clause's North Pole compound is undetectable except for Nice Children". Compare this with statements from some Christians where they respond "God works in mysterious ways" when the problem of evil is posed to them.

Also, I, like Bill Chute, do think that God's existence is falsifiable. A successful incoherency argument or a successful probalistic argument from the problem of evil would falsify God's existence.

I've actually written a rebuttal on that particular page. It's not on my site, as of yet (I wrote it before I had the idea of owning a website. What I find to be funny, first off, is that He starts off with talking about how we're going to get all these people to pray for x sincerely. Then he asks, rhetorically, if x will happen. Then he says "No, of course not." This happens a few times in "proof 1". So much for being sincere. That and is attempts at exegesis of the pertinent passages about prayer are just....bad. Sorely bad. "Keep your day job", bad. He also has a way of shielding his site from criticisms by labeling every criticism as a "rationalization".

As to your own interpretation of Genesis 1 in order to say it's been "falsified", that can only be possible in so far as you take it to be direct historical narrative. Many Christians don't, and no, this wasn't a post-Darwin rationalization. The literary style of Genesis one is highly stylized, poetic language.

@hamlet, thank you for your contributions and especially for the Peter Van Inwagen article!

@ooberman, there's a difference between saying "Jesus Christ is front and center in the Christian Faith, and we should base our faith on Christ, not whatever particular understanding we have of the Doctrine of Creation" and advocating a presuppositionalist method of apologetics. One can think that Jesus is the center of the Christian faith and be a thorough going evidentialist.

By the way, do you think I've missed the point of the atheist meme wherein these analogies are used? Am I being fair in presenting how these are used by skeptics?

What is this prior information with which you use to judge Christians as the thing you judge them to be (I don't want to assume that you think we're stupid. You haven't said that as of yet and to assume you do would be to put some one else's words in your mouth)?

Choose Your Own Topic / God and Santa Claus
« on: June 30, 2011, 01:51:28 am »
Hello, Reasonable Faith forum members!

I don't know it it's just something that caught my eye recently or if it's a trend that's been more recent, but I've seen a lot of God to Santa Claus comparisons being made (you can substitute Santa Claus with the Tooth Fairy, the FSM, the Invisible Pink Unicorn, and sometimes they use Greek, Norse, or Hindu deities like Zeus, Thor, or Vishnu). The comparison is made to suggest that there is a low amount and/or quality or evidence for both figures, so theists are as unjustified in believing in God as every adult would be unjustified if they believed in Santa Claus. Some times even parody arguments are presented, usually consisting of natural Santology or FSMology arguments for Santa or the FSM respectively.

Another use is to suggest that belief in God, like belief in Santa is a belief indoctrinated into us during our childhood which should be rejected just as much as Santa in adulthood.

While the second use seems to assume that believers believe in God only because they were indoctrinated in that way, then commits the genetic fallacy in trying to discredit belief in God by citing it's negative alleged origin in the person, the first use at least intrigues me, if only because it allows skeptics to communicate how they see theistic arguments for God; namely that they are unconvincing to them.

To everyone here, can you give your reasons for why this analogy is or is not a false analogy?


P.S., I've realized that I've had a bad habit of posting an O.P. and then forgetting about it. I apologize for those past occurrences. However, I hope the conversation here will help me think about this issue and see where I really stand on this issue, primarily because I'm going to be writing a blog post on it.

Choose Your Own Topic / Who's watching Krauss v Craig Live?
« on: March 31, 2011, 11:21:34 am »
Just in case no one here knows  and you have not already seen the debate you can still watch it on the great debate website LINK

I love you...

@bm359, basically yes. Sorry for the lack of clarity in my request.

@ooberman. I tend to agree that Diane and Matt can really overstep the bounds stated in 1 Peter 3:15.

Just know however, that the conversation I'm talking about involves me, a Christian, trying to get an atheist to acknowledge that they have "beliefs" in the epistemological sense of holding propositions, statements, or ideas, ect. to be true. He wants to deny this, and he wants to say that instead of believing, he knows. For example, while he says he doesn't "believe" in evolution, he knows it; which in the epistemological senses of those words, he's entangling himself in an absurd contradiction, and he knows that's what I mean.

He seems to apply to the term "believe" the sense Dawkins offers for "faith"; where it is 'to hold something that you have no evidence for or that the evidence goes against'. He virtually treats this definition as the only valid definition for the word, or at least it's the only one he will apply, and then demands that he doesn't believe anything.

What I'm needing is a list of historical examples within the field of theory of knowledge for properly basic beliefs. If you have a source for this, share it.

Thanks, Cory.

There are other possible explanations, though.  If studies were done in the 16th and 17th centuries they likely would have shown that more intelligent people were religious.  Of course, I have no proof of this.  But my guess why comes from this line of thought:

1) The more intelligent a person is, the more likely they are to pursue higher education.

2) The longer a person is in higher education, the more likely it is that their thoughts and opinions will be influenced by, and then accept, the beliefs of the teachers, professors, and institutions of higher learning.

3) Therefore, the more intelligent people are likely to accept the prevalent beliefs of the teachers and professors of higher learning.

Today, most universities are very secular.  Much more so than the populations they inhabit.  A few hundred years ago, universities were largely religious.  That leads me to believe that the more intelligent you were then, the more likely you were to be religious.  There is some confirmation of this, given the laundry list of notable scientists of that era having religious ties.

Anyway, that may be false, but I think it is a plausible explanation of the facts that contradicts the idea that would normally be inferred by those studies--that religion is for dumb people, and if they were only smarter then they'd be atheists.

From the link I quoted, weren't many of the studies summarized from Beckwith's article done in the same general time frame when logical positivism and the idea that "God is dead" were in style in the academic sub-culture?

Choose Your Own Topic / The Jesus Story a rip off of Horus?
« on: February 23, 2011, 06:33:05 pm »
1.) Many of the parallels are spurious or otherwise contrived, which actually isn't the worst part about these sorts of arguments.

2.) Anyone can take any two characters from history books and/or religious texts and/or fictional classics and point to how they are similar.
Finding similarities is really easy, but it's not enough to argue:

1.) Some character B has similarities x,y,z, etc to character A.
2.) B lived/The story of B was written after A.
3.) B's story/Elements of B's story was taken from A.

In fact, this is a non sequitor. The conclusion doesn't follow from the premises, which is why virtually no competent Greco-Roman/New Testament historian, no matter their personal religious beliefs, uses this kind of reasoning.
Something much more is needed to show 3.) to be true.

1.)There needs to be some plausible explanation as to how those who recorded the story of B would have become privy to the details of A and why they would have used those details in the formulation of their own story.
2.) There needs to be some actual historical evidence that points towards them actually having done so. Given the relative ease that similarities can be found, even among figures that we know existed (i.e. Abraham Lincoln vs. John F. Kennedy.), positing those similarities as evidence won't work.

Oddly however, these two tasks are rarely ever even embarked upon within the Christ-myth sub-culture, which is another reason to be skeptical when such claims are made about Horus and Jesus.

Thank you for asking such an open and honest question about this particular form of the Christ-myth argument. I hope it will the start of a meaningful conversation.


I've seen this being used more as of recently, where skeptics cite these studies that show an inverse relationship between intelligence and having a deep religious conviction. A recent acquaintance pointed me to the following link,, summarizes all such studies since the 1920's.(Actually it summarizes "The Effect of Intelligence on Religious Faith,  Burnham P. Beckwith, Free Inquiry, Spring 1986", where Beckwith surveyed the several studies done in the 20th Century up to his time that was related to the comparison he was trying to make.

Aside from the case studies being cited from a 25 year old article that are themselves outdated pretty well outdated, I think that another weakness these studies have is that they seem to suggest a correlation just by making the comparison, but they don't sufficiently deal with the question of what other factor's could have affected the findings of these case studies?

I posted this here to see what the other people here think about it.

I have wandered, however, why some atheists are fond of bringing this point up.
Atheist: "Studies have shown how intelligence and religiosity are inversely related."
Christian: "So?"
Atheist: ...

Now, I realize that not all atheists use this talking point, but it seems to me, at least, that they are poisoning the well and saying in effect:
"You're religious, I'm not, and based upon these studies I think there is a better probability that I'm more intelligent than you are."

or less nuanced than that

"You're less intelligent because you're religious"

Choose Your Own Topic / Conversation on moral relativism
« on: December 17, 2010, 10:24:41 am »
I was having a conversation with a moral relativist on YouTube, where-in he said something that honestly caught me off guard. I have the intuitive feeling that there is some sort of error in what he said. I just can't quite put my finger on it. Your thoughts?                          

If you need a fuller context, go to
and look in the comments section.
Roentgen571: What does OK mean for a relativist? The same as for those who argue for objective morality, I'd imagine. Why care? You can either care or not care, I suppose. And no, everyone's list of actions is not different--at least, the overwhelming majority of us can agree on basic key points, which is why we can have societies instead of anarchy.

Me: To say that something is "O.K." means to say that it is something that is morally permissible to do. But if morality, like taste and preference, are subjective, then why care about what "O.K." is? Such a concept is illusory anyway.

Roentgen571: this is like saying "if taste is subjective, then why care whether you eat chocolate cake or dog crap? It's all illusory anyway." "Subjective" does not equal "doesn't exist."

Did I step in a pile of my own doodoo here as Roentgen says I did?

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