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Pumbelo

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« Reply #15 on: December 10, 2008, 12:02:58 pm »
From C.S. Lewis:
"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else."

McGrath said something similar:
"God is a way I can make sense of the universe."

Maybe this could be defended by using Bayes theorem.
"Yuri Gagarin admitted on his deathbead that the whole purpose of the Soviet Space Program was to hide the True Cross, Noah's Ark, Schrodinger's Cat and Zuzu's Petals and many other antiquities in a polar orbit, which explains the recent hyperactive aurora. They are all stored in a radiation proof c

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Zach Blaesi

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« Reply #16 on: April 29, 2009, 10:48:30 am »
Hello,

I followed this thread and hope I can add some contributions. I'm almost done reading WCB (I'm on the chapter on defeaters) and find Reformed Epistemology pretty interesting (and maybe convincing). However, there are still some things that confuse me about Plantinga's position, so bear with me.

First, let me introduce myself. My name is Zach. I'm 19 years old and I'm currently attending community college for the basic credits before I transfer to a university (where I plan to major in philosophy). I consider myself a Christian, but also agnostic in the sense that I'm not sure if I need evidence to rationally accept my beliefs, or if I do, whether I have evidence sufficient for my beliefs. I'm also moderate or liberal-leaning in some of my theological views. I've had an interest in theology and biblical scholarship for about two years, but took a big interest in philosophy recently.

Anyway... I followed the thread and here are some comments.

Loko5 (#10) wrote:

How could you hope to convince an agnostic of the existence of God by declaring the existence of God to be a properly basic belief?


Well, that all depends on the agnostic. Maybe the particular agnostic you are engaging used to be a Christian, but gave it up because he thought it he had no evidence for it and it was therefore irrational for him. Maybe he even sometimes has experiences of what might be God, but he doesn't think he has any reasons for accepting Christianity on that basis. I know an agnostic who has had both (mild) Christian experiences and at one time (what he calls) a "pantheistic experience," but he's still an atheist. Anyway, the Reformed Epistemologist  might convince agnostics like this that one is rational in accepting Christianity (as properly basic), and then maybe some of those agnostics will return to their faith. That's one potential apologetic use of Reformed Epistemology, though I doubt there are many agnostics out there who fit the above description.

As for your comment about those agnostics that do not meet the above description that "You have done nothing to convince them," I'd say the primary goal of Reformed Epistemology is not to convince others to become theists or Christians, but rather to defend theists and Christians against claims of irrationality. The Reformed Epistemologist might fail to convince an agnostic to become a Christian, but he might convince the agnostic that one is rational in being a Christian.

Demurph (#11) writes, concerning a probalistic argument for theism:

I do think that this is a perfectly good way for one to come up with a reason for the rationality of faith.


Well, one potential problem I remember Plantinga pointing out is that probability alone is often insufficient for belief. I recall him giving the following analogy. A person P turns on the news. The weather channel says there is a n chance of rain tomorrow (where n is a number that makes the chance of it raining tomorrow more probable than not). Person P, however, does not form the belief it is going to rain: at most he believes there is a good chance it is going to rain. As a result, he prepares to go to the park the next day: he acts as if it is going to rain, even though he doesn't believe it. In other words, even if the theist could establish that it is more probable than not that God exists, and then establish that Christianity is the true (or the truest) theistic religion, is that sufficient for belief? Wouldn't someone who believed in that way exemplify the definition of "lukewarm" faith and illustrate what it means to assent with the lips but be distant with the heart?

There's a chapter in WCB in which Plantinga deals with what he calls "dwinlindly probabilities" or something like that. He tries to show that even if one could establish that each individual Christian doctrine (such as incarnation, resurrection, and so on) is probable, taken together as a set G, which is presumably necessary for Christian belief, G has a significantly low probability. And even if G was more probable than not, why is that sufficient for belief in God and the great things of the gospel? This is why Plantinga argues for a "testemonial model" or something like that, whereby the Holy Spirit produces in the believer the proper beliefs, whether through the Bible, the proclamation of the Gospel, and things like that.

So, my questions would be: (1) why must one have evidence to rationally accept Christianity (which is the Reformed Epistemologist's primary question) and (2) even if one has evidence for it, why is that sufficient for belief in God? I recall Plantinga comparing belief in God on the basis of evidence with beliefs that the Big Bang is true, or that evolution occurs, and so on. If one held theism like he holds beliefs in scientific facts or theories, then he probably wouldn't have what is sufficient for belief in God (which requires a change of affections and things like that). Besides, if that is what it takes to come to believe in God, then few would come to believe in God, and those who did would probably have quite a number of flaws in their beliefs.

Now... as for the Great Pumpkin Objection (GPO here on out), here's how I understand it. GPO tries to argue that if one rationally holds theism as a basic belief, then he could hold any other beliefs no matter how crazy it is, like believing that there is a divine Flying Spaghetti Monster. Plantinga, from what I recall, counters this objection in this way. No: if the theist holds belief in God as basic, he is not committed to accepting any other beliefs in the basic way, no matter how crazy. Look at any other basic belief other than theism that one firmly holds, such as one's belief in a self-evident proposition. Is that person committed to holding other beliefs as basic no matter how crazy? Of course not. Then why the theist? The fact is, there are conditions for a belief being properly basic, but also if one has a defeater for a basic belief, then he should not accept it. Those crazy beliefs, like the belief that there is a divine Flying Spaghetti Monster, probably do not meet the conditions for proper basicality, and probably have defeaters; and as someone else noted, no one really believes these things anyway.

Plantinga claims that GPO fails, and an atheist he quotes next agrees (I forget his name). However, this atheist raises what Plantinga calls The Son of the Great Pumpkin Objection (SGP from here on). SGP states that if the Christian community could rationally hold their beliefs in the basic way, then any other community (like the voodoo community) could also rationally hold their beliefs in the basic way, and thus conclude that the Christian community (and any other community that holds views different from than their own) is irrational. This, claims SGP, is extremely relativistic.

From what I remember, Plantinga actually concedes some points of SGP. He concedes, yes, maybe some communities other than the Christian community could hold their beliefs in the basic way. However, these communities' beliefs would have to be such that if they are true, then the practitioners would be warranted in accepting those beliefs in the basic way; Plantinga concedes, for example, that Judaism, Islam, some forms of Buddhism, some forms of Hinuism, and so on, probably could make this claim. On the other hand, many beliefs, such as voodoo, Flat Earthers, and Humean skepticism would (probably) not have warrant in the basic way if they were true, and one thus would not be rational in holding those beliefs.

Also, the Christian believes his views are true, and if those beliefs are true, then all the other communities would not be rational in holding their views in the basic way. So, basically a lot depends on what is true. Maybe the Muslim could claim the same thing for his beliefs. I'm not sure h
   ow this would help the theist who is unsure which religion he should accept. If all the theistic religions could be or are rational, then how in the world does one choose? I'm not sure how Plantinga would deal with these problems or if he would even consider them problems in the first place.

Let me know if that makes sense, or if you disagree with my reading of Plantinga. I forgot a lot of what I read and need to organize my notes when I finish the book.

As for what makes a belief properly basic, I think it depends on whether or not that belief has warrant for an individual if taken in the basic way. Maybe I'm wrong about that; there might be a separate set of criteria other than warrant for proper basicality - and if there is, I must have misunderstood Plantinga on that.

I have a few final comments to make (or questions to ask). (Sorry my post is so long!)
     

Loko5 (#12) states:

The theist, of course, could explain this by noting that they have shut God out of their lives, but this argument is likely to be unconvincing to the great majority of agnostics.

I'm not sure Plantinga would agree with this. It seems like Plantinga's extended Aquinas/Calvin model expresses the view that belief in God is dependent on what God does or does not do. If one does not have belief in God, for example, then it is because (1) his sensus divinitatis is malfunctioning from sin and (2) God has chosen not to repair his sensus divinitatis and produce the relevant beliefs in him. Now, this perplexes me for two reasons. First, Plantinga is supposed to be considered a Molinist. I don't see how Molinism is compatible with the extended A/C model (but then again I don't know much about Molinism). It seems like, given the extended A/C model, God causes belief in an individual, rather than the individual choosing to believe on his own. (Plantinga questions the notion that one can choose the beliefs he holds in the first place. For example, I can't choose to believe I'm two feet tall, short of illegal drugs or brainwashing). Second, I don't see how the extended A/C model is compatible with Plantinga's Free Will Defense. If it is not compatible with Plantinga's Free Will Defense, then wouldn't that mean that if the extended A/C model is true (and thus the Free Will Defense false), then there is probably an inconsistency in both the existence of God and the existence of evil? Plantinga never addresses this, from what I've read so far.

Any comments?

My last question has to do with the rationality of Christianity. From what I understand, a lot of Reformed Epistemology depends on whether God exists or not. For example, one would be rational in accepting Christianity in the basic way if God exists and there are no defeaters for Christian belief (and let's
    assume for the sake of argument that there are none). However, it is still possible that God does not exist and thus Christianity really is the result of cognitive malfunction. So, what if whether God exists or does not exist comes down to a coin flip? Why is one rational in believing God does exist (the coin will land heads) instead of does not exist (the coin will land tails)? Shouldn't he just suspend belief, for the possibility of cognitive malfunction? I mean, what if an individual has what might be an experience of God? Why should he believe that he really experienced God rather than succumbed to some cognitive malfunction?

Plantinga admits that he doesn't argue Christianity does in fact have warrant, only that it is possible. So how does Plantinga get from possibility (it is possible the Christian is rational) to actuality (the Christian is rational)? That is what I don't get, and the only reason as of now I could think to reject Reformed Epistemology.

Finally, on a more personally note, if I accept that I am rational in accepting Christianity, why should I still be a Christian? While I currently (or probably) believe God exists, I've never had much of a "religious experience" (and if the extended A/C model is correct, this has nothing to do with my choice). Why shouldn't I become an atheist on a purely experiential level? I read that William Rowe became an atheist because he felt like he had returned to the position he was in before he became a Christian. What if I find myself in that position? What if I'm already in that position? Maybe I have sufficient (what I believe Plantinga would call) doxastic experience: to me, the proposition that God exists feels right, seems to be so, just like perceptual beliefs and self-evident propositions. On the other hand, this too could be the result of cognitive malfunction; after all, for many children the proposition that Santa exists seems to be so, feels right.

Well, it looks like my post is a little long. Oh well, it's my first post.

Anyway, right now my main interest is Reformed Epistemology, so I'll probably just check this section occasionally, since I don't think I have much to offer to natural theology.




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Eric Davis

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« Reply #17 on: May 19, 2009, 10:32:42 pm »
I've never really understood reformed epistemology.  In addition to Zach's questions I have one.  Under reformed epistemology is there any meaningful difference between my belief in God and my belief that my senses are more or less reliable (less before my morning coffee) or are they both simply basic beliefs?

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Zach Blaesi

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« Reply #18 on: May 19, 2009, 11:27:10 pm »
Echowd wrote: I've never really understood reformed epistemology.  In addition to Zach's questions I have one.  Under reformed epistemology is there any meaningful difference between my belief in God and my belief that my senses are more or less reliable (less before my morning coffee) or are they both simply basic beliefs?


I'm not sure if the belief that our senses are more or less reliable is a basic belief, but beliefs produced by our senses might be basic. For example, things like memory beliefs, perceptual beliefs, and so on, are basic beliefs.

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Zach Blaesi

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« Reply #19 on: May 21, 2009, 02:27:18 am »
Anyone ever going to comment on my post?

It's a shame not many people post in this section. I find it strange how people constantly debate the evidence for God when they haven't dealt with the question of whether or not evidence is even needed in the first place.


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Allan

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« Reply #20 on: May 27, 2009, 12:14:07 pm »
enarchy:-
Well, one potential problem I remember Plantinga pointing out is that probability alone is often insufficient for belief. I recall him giving the following analogy. A person P turns on the news. The weather channel says there is a n chance of rain tomorrow (where n is a number that makes the chance of it raining tomorrow more probable than not). Person P, however, does not form the belief it is going to rain: at most he believes there is a good chance it is going to rain. As a result, he prepares to go to the park the next day: he acts as if it is going to rain, even though he doesn't believe it. In other words, even if the theist could establish that it is more probable than not that God exists, and then establish that Christianity is the true (or the truest) theistic religion, is that sufficient for belief? Wouldn't someone who believed in that way exemplify the definition of "lukewarm" faith and illustrate what it means to assent with the lips but be distant with the heart?



Plantinga claims that GPO fails, and an atheist he quotes next agrees (I forget his name). However, this atheist raises what Plantinga calls The Son of the Great Pumpkin Objection (SGP from here on). SGP states that if the Christian community could rationally hold their beliefs in the basic way, then any other community (like the voodoo community) could also rationally hold their beliefs in the basic way, and thus conclude that the Christian community (and any other community that holds views different from than their own) is irrational. This, claims SGP, is extremely relativistic.

From what I remember, Plantinga actually concedes some points of SGP. He concedes, yes, maybe some communities other than the Christian community could hold their beliefs in the basic way. However, these communities' beliefs would have to be such that if they are true, then the practitioners would be warranted in accepting those beliefs in the basic way; Plantinga concedes, for example, that Judaism, Islam, some forms of Buddhism, some forms of Hinuism, and so on, probably could make this claim. On the other hand, many beliefs, such as voodoo, Flat Earthers, and Humean skepticism would (probably) not have warrant in the basic way if they were true, and one thus would not be rational in holding those beliefs.

Also, the Christian believes his views are true, and if those beliefs are true, then all the other communities would not be rational in holding their views in the basic way. So, basically a lot depends on what is true. Maybe the Muslim could claim the same thing for his beliefs. I'm not sure how this would help the theist who is unsure which religion he should accept. If all the theistic religions could be or are rational, then how in the world does one choose? I'm not sure how Plantinga would deal with these problems or if he would even consider them problems in the first place.


pap:-
Perhaps they'll have to follow the Monty Hall game show puzzle i.e. Bertrand's Box paradox!

Consider this:-
A potential theist can't decide upon which one of the above 'equally plausible' religions to choose so plumps for the one with who has the nearest church, let's say a Christian church. For arguments sake, let's say there are three contestants in the running i.e. Christianity, Judaism and Islamism. These are mutually exclusive with respect to their doctrine so only one is correct, but which one? Well let's argue that Islam (purely for the sake of argument) is found to be false. Now the original choice represented a 33.333...% chance of being correct as the fellow found them all to have equal merit but now with Islam being proved false, Judaism represents a 66.666...% chance of being correct (presuming one of them is actually correct of course but that's not relevant to the point). In any case, the law of probabilty and logic would demand that he switches religion from one to the other. In this case, from Christianity to Judaism and vice versa if he had originally chosen Judaism instead.

As such the situation is, that if you compile a list of qualifying religions, all equally merited under reformed epistemology, then you are logically bound to swap religion if at any point, any one of the others is proven to be false.

I'm an atheist so I find this situation hilarious and if anything, reformed epistemology is a template for polytheism rather than monotheism but I reject it's validity full stop due to an alternative natural explanation for theistic belief which is non-dependant on the object of belief being real. i.e. Hierarchal social structures providing evolutionary advantages to it's members. i.e. It's a natural process in it's entirety and not a process we are naturally inclined to.




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Zach Blaesi

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« Reply #21 on: May 27, 2009, 05:50:24 pm »
As such the situation is, that if you compile a list of qualifying religions, all equally merited under reformed epistemology, then you are logically bound to swap religion if at any point, any one of the others is proven to be false.


Okay, from what I know, you misunderstand Reformed Epistemology (RE). (Though you are right that if one has a defeater for his religious beliefs and he comes to believe that defeater, then he should give up his beliefs or else suffer irrationality.)

RE does not state that all religions are equal or equally true or anything like that. On the contrary, Plantinga's RE argues that if Christianity is true, then religious beliefs that contradict Christianity are the result of cognitive malfunction: the noetic effects of sin damaging the sensus divinitatis. Therefore, if Christianity is true, then those religious beliefs that contradict Christianity are completely irrational.
 

The reason why RE leads to a mild relativism is because the only way to show that Christianity is rational (and therefore contradictory religious beliefs are irrational) is to show that Christianity is true. Plantinga is pessimistic about showing that Christianity is true, of course. But this has other consequences: one cannot show that Christianity is irrational without showing that Christianity is false - and Plantinga, in his discussion of defeaters, argues no one has successfully done that. Maybe many religious alternatives, though, have defeaters. I'm doubtful that there is a successful defeater for Judaism or Islam, but there may be for other religions.


 
I'm an atheist so I find this situation hilarious and if anything, reformed epistemology is a template for polytheism rather than monotheism


This is completely untrue. The goal of Plantinga's RE is to show how Christianity could be warranted and rational. And a main tenet of Christianity is monotheism.

but I reject it's validity full stop due to an alternative natural explanation for theistic belief which is non-dependant on the object of belief being real. i.e. Hierarchal social structures providing evolutionary advantages to it's members. i.e. It's a natural process in it's entirety and not a process we are naturally inclined to.


And this is where Plantinga's RE shines. Yes, the warrant and rationality of Christianity probably depends on its being true. But the same goes for your naturalistic explanation: to argue that Christianity is irrational because there is a natural explanation is to assume that Christianity is false. Let me give an example. Joe sees 2 + 2 = 4 and recognizes that it is true. He also sees a cat walking in his yard. Scientists can explain how and why Joe holds these beliefs, but that does not change the fact Joe is rational in holding those beliefs and that those beliefs are true. Likewise, a naturalistic explanation of religious belief might simply explain the way God intended man to obtain religious beliefs. In other words, an explanation of religious beliefs that does not presuppose God does not show that those beliefs are false or irrational: for to argue that those beliefs are false or irrational on the basis of such an explanation is to argue that God does not exist - and is not, for example, using the very mechanisms science uncovers for His purposes.



[/QUOTE]

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Allan

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« Reply #22 on: May 29, 2009, 12:31:10 pm »

enarchay:-
Okay, from what I know, you misunderstand Reformed Epistemology (RE). (Though you are right that if one has a defeater for his religious beliefs and he comes to believe that defeater, then he should give up his beliefs or else suffer irrationality.)



pap:-

I'll hold my hands up to that one. I haven't read up on it and was replying to that I inferred about RE from your original post and from what I’ve gathered from other posts on the subject. The part about probabilities just brought the Monty Hall game show puzzle to mind.  


enarchay:-
RE does not state that all religions are equal or equally true or anything like that. On the contrary, Plantinga's RE argues that if Christianity is true, then religious beliefs that contradict Christianity are the result of cognitive malfunction: the noetic effects of sin damaging the sensus divinitatis. Therefore, if Christianity is true, then those religious beliefs that contradict Christianity are completely irrational.

pap:-

OK, I understand a bit more about RE now thanks, however, as you have pointed out (below), there remains still, equally valid religious propositions using RE as a template, so whether he pre-supposes Christianity to be true doesn't matter with respect to the Monty Hall situation, as it still applies in its own right. i.e. You would still have to swap if one of the others is proven false, especially since Platinga is pessimistic about being able to prove Christianity true. I take it you agree that Judaism and Islamism, as examples, are equally merited right now? There may also be others. The thing is, for Christianity to be true the others must be false, so at one point we could presume that one of the others will be proved false. Yet, if the remainder still all have equal merit, you are logically bound to swap. At least until you have more proof for your original choice or until all of the other ones are proven false. It’d be like musical chairs.  RE is a license to wildly guess.


enarchay:-

The reason why RE leads to a mild relativism is because the only way to show that Christianity is rational (and therefore contradictory religious beliefs are irrational) is to show that Christianity is true. Plantinga is pessimistic about showing that Christianity is true, of course. But this has other consequences: one cannot show that Christianity is irrational without showing that Christianity is false - and Plantinga, in his discussion of defeaters, argues no one has successfully done that. Maybe many religious alternatives, though, have defeaters. I'm doubtful that there is a successful defeater for Judaism or Islam, but there may be for other religions.

pap:-

There are or were irrational elements to it and the claims about Christian belief have changed over the years eg literal to allegorical. So at any one time you could say a particular aspect of it was irrational although this wouldn't necessarily make the whole thing false. I still have no idea what a true Christian is or is supposed to believe. This makes it hard to prove Christianity false as you end up only proving the previous idea as irrational and false. Christianity seems to evolve to suit the intellectual environment (further supporting the naturalist argument!).

   

Quote:

I'm an atheist so I find this situation hilarious and if anything, reformed epistemology is a template for polytheism rather than monotheism


enarchay:-
This is completely untrue. The goal of Plantinga's RE is to show how Christianity could be warranted and rational. And a main tenet of Christianity is monotheism.

pap:-

OK, I’ll have to bow down to your greater knowledge but can't the template be used for other religions? I'll admit I'm arguing blind here and could be creating a straw man but I was under the impression that RE was about theistic belief being a properly basic belief in the same way that we naturally believe our cognitive faculties function properly and thus doesn’t need any justification as it should be rightly accepted (or something along those lines).    

Before I go on I’d better clarify my terms here regarding belief and acceptance and properly basic belief. According to the web dictionary I clicked on, philosophers don’t seem to be absolutely clear about them so I’ll give it a shot myself:-

   

I would say that both terms describe part of a mental process which allows us to function in a reality whereby decisions simply have to be made as we can't exist in stasis. They are part of the truth evaluation process which will hopefully yield the best chances for success (i.e. increase the probabilities for success). After mental input and analysis there follows an evaluation of the truth value which is then ‘accepted’ as being true if believed to be true. Thus I would say that belief is the appraisal of truth preceding acceptance which is itself, an accepted conclusion of truth. e.g.  â€˜After mental evaluation I believe it is true (appraisal) and thus a
   ccept it as being true (definitive conclusion)’.That may have clarified my point or just made it worse but the issue of ‘proper basicality’ as I understand it, is key to the whole thing but surely the onus is on RE’ers to prove that religious belief is properly basic.

    Anyhow, if it’s the case that RE claims religious belief to be properly basic and thus without need of further justification then I simply cannot agree. I do not see how belief in God can be considered properly basic when it does not necessarily have to be accepted. ‘Properly basic’ beliefs such as I believe I exist, I believe my cognitive faculties function properly and I believe I exist in a place where they do function properly (i.e. the objective reality) are properly basic beliefs because they must necessarily be accepted or at least, are beliefs which are not required to precede acceptance. However, belief in god is required before acceptance and therefore I assert it is not properly basic. Also, you don’t need a linguistic framework for belief in your senses etc but you do for god belief. Thus a properly basic belief can be held by babies as they must accept they exist (without the need for further evaluation) but god belief can’t be as they have no linguistic framework to facilitate this. Also, belief in god isn’t necessary in order for us to function but belief in the ones I mentioned are so there is a fundamental difference in their nature.  

     
  Anyhow, since it doesn’t necessarily have to be accepted, god belief has the burden of proof and since it doesn’t have that, it’s not rational to believe in it.


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Allan

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« Reply #23 on: May 29, 2009, 12:37:30 pm »

Quote:

but I reject it's validity full stop due to an alternative natural explanation for theistic belief which is non-dependant on the object of belief being real. i.e. Hierarchal social structures providing evolutionary advantages to it's members. i.e. It's a natural process in it's entirety and not a process we are naturally inclined to.

Enarchay:-
And this is where Plantinga's RE shines. Yes, the warrant and rationality of Christianity probably depends on its being true. But the same goes for your naturalistic explanation: to argue that Christianity is irrational because there is a natural explanation is to assume that Christianity is false. Let me give an example. Joe sees 2 + 2 = 4 and recognizes that it is true. He also sees a cat walking in his yard. Scientists can explain how and why Joe holds these beliefs, but that does not change the fact Joe is rational in holding those beliefs and that those beliefs are true. Likewise, a naturalistic explanation of religious belief might simply explain the way God intended man to obtain religious beliefs. In other words, an explanation of religious beliefs that does not presuppose God does not show that those beliefs are false or irrational: for to argue that those beliefs are false or irrational on the basis of such an explanation is to argue that God does not exist - and is not, for example, using the very mechanisms science uncovers for His purposes.

Pap:-

I argue that Christianity is irrational because it can’t be backed up with either proof or logic. It has no epistemic justification and the claim that it doesn’t need any is ill-conceived and irrational itself (I hope that's not a straw man!)

        Naturalistic explanations are governed by and subject to observations in the real world and can be falsified, so belief in one of these takes the normal route and is not dependent on being true to be considered rational. If a naturalistic theory regarding theistic belief addresses the scenario, then why multiply the entities i.e. Does RE still shine in the shadow of Occam’s Razor? (Not that Occam's Razor is required when all the proof comes from only the one side!)

         With a naturalistic answer to theism, god becomes redundant and since god belief isn’t in babies (although hierarchal deference is) due to the fact that no linguistic framework is available to them then the existence of god goes from ‘unrealizable’ to ‘unnecessary’, hardly a basis for a rational belief.

      The natural explanation caters for belief in any gods as it is the behaviour itself which is the key issue and not the object of belief and belief in ‘many’ gods is what we actually observe in the world. Furthermore, religious behaviour is not observed solely within the domain of theism. The behaviour is exhibited in football fans following their team, followers of political parties, fans of pop stars etc i.e. it is hierarchal deference. Thus it is not a cognitive malfunction that causes people to believe in god-models, it’s an evolutionary trait. This covers primitive man worshipping the sun at a time when no suitable linguistic mechanism was in existence in order to come up with complex philosophical questions yet theism can’t offer up a suitable explanation for that scenario. Ironically, it was the only time in human history when you could say ‘monotheism’ ruled!

   As for your last paragraph, if a naturalistic answer doesn’t exclude the Christian god then neither does it exclude the Great Pumpkin. As a purely intellectual exercise, RE attempts to distinguish itself from the Great Pumpkin by dipping its toe into naturalism i.e. We naturally possess god belief but nobody actually believes in the GP. However, when faced with a naturalistic answer RE then claims naturalism doesn’t matter as, redundant as it appears, God could be using this for his purposes, but so too could the GP for his i.e. first we think its natural, then we find out there could be a god but eventually we could find that it was the GP all along who used both the previous methods for it’s own purpose. You can’t have it both ways!    


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Zach Blaesi

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« Reply #24 on: May 29, 2009, 04:28:51 pm »
I argue that Christianity is irrational because it can’t be backed up with either proof or logic. It has no epistemic justification and the claim that it doesn’t need any is ill-conceived and irrational itself (I hope that's not a straw man!)


Well, I suggest you check out Plantinga's works before you make that judgment. There are many things we accept without "proof or logic." Plantinga lists a number of these: belief in a past, belief in an external world, belief in other minds, belief on the basis of memory, belief on the basis of perception, and so on. We have no good arguments for any of these beliefs, yet we rationally hold them. Many of these beliefs, moreover, violate classical foundationalism's criteria for proper basicality.

I also think you need to think about what you mean by words like "justification." What exactly do you mean by it? Deontological justification? Warrant? Rationality - and if so, what kind?

 

If you mean what Plantinga calls deontological justification, then Plantinga argues it's way too simple to argue many Christians are justified. Maybe Jane read her Freud, Marx, Nietzsche, Hume, and Mackie. Maybe she's thought about the problem of evil. Maybe she's open to discussion with other atheists. But after long reflection, she just finds it all unconvincing. To her, Christianity is just far too evident, and such an experience overpowers any arguments to the contrary. Is Jane violating any epistemic rights? Is she acting irresponsibly? Is she unjustified? It's hard to see why. Compare Jane to Jim. Jim is on trial for murder. There were a number of eye witnesses that saw him at the scene of the crime and his DNA is on the murder weapon. But Jim clearly remembers being at home watching TV at the time of the murder. Can we honestly claim Jim to be unjustified?


In fact, it's hard to see how Jane or Jim could change their beliefs anyway. For example, I can't believe I'm two feet tall; and I also can't give up my belief that I'm a human being. Say it turned out I really am two feet tall, and I am also an alien. It just happens that my brain is malfunctioning so that I think (and falsely perceive) that I am not two feet tall or an alien. Could anyone honestly say I am unjustified? No. I can't help the predicament I find myself in, and I make the right response given the circumstances.


(It's hard to see, moreover, how one could be unjustified in holding a belief if there is no objective morality. How is one violating an intellectual duty if there are no objective duties at all?)


   

   Naturalistic explanations are governed by and subject to observations in the real world and can be falsified, so belief in one of these takes the normal route and is not dependent on being true to be considered rational. If a naturalistic theory regarding theistic belief addresses the scenario, then why multiply th
   e entities i.e. Does RE still shine in the shadow of Occam’s Razor? (Not that Occam's Razor is required when all the proof comes from only the one side!)

 

 

Why apply Occam's Razor to religious belief? Not many religious individuals hold their religious beliefs as a hypothesis or theory. We hold many beliefs in the basic way, such as beliefs on the basis of memory. What if someone was able to offer a "simpler" explanation of those beliefs? Should we then give them up? No.

 


    The natural explanation caters for belief in any gods as it is the behaviour itself which is the key issue and not the object of belief and belief in ‘many’ gods is what we actually observe in the world. Furthermore, religious behaviour is not observed solely within the domain of theism. The behaviour is exhibited in football fans following their team, followers of political parties, fans of pop stars etc i.e. it is hierarchal deference. Thus it is not a cognitive malfunction that causes people to believe in god-models, it’s an evolutionary trait. This covers primitive man worshipping the sun at a time when no suitable linguistic mechanism was in existence in order to come up with complex philosophical questions yet theism can’t offer up a suitable explanation for that scenario. Ironically, it was the only time in human history when you could say ‘monotheism’ ruled!


Again, you assume an explanation for religious people shows religious belief to be irrational. But this is simply not true unless religious belief is false.

   As for your last paragraph, if a naturalistic answer doesn’t exclude the Christian god then neither does it exclude the Great Pumpkin.


The Great Pumpkin argument fails, as I said further above. No one actually believes in the Great Pumpkin, first of all. Second, it is doubtful that there is a model for how belief in the Great Pumpkin could be warranted if the Great Pumpkin actually existed. Third, Christian beliefs are not totally groundless; there are typically experiences underlining them. Fourth, just because one holds some beliefs in the basic way does not mean he is committed to holding all beliefs in the basic way. Fourth, beliefs - including Christian beliefs - are subject to defeaters, and I'm sure there are far more potential defeaters for the Great Pumpkin than there are for Christianity. To quote Plantinga, "[T]he Great Pumpkin Objection as it stands is obviously a nonstarter." (Apparently, moreover, atheist Michael Martin agrees.)



As a purely intellectual exercise, RE attempts to distinguish itself from the Great Pumpkin by dipping its toe into naturalism i.e. We naturally possess god belief but nobody actually believes in the GP.


You call it a "purely intellectual exercise" but you never explain why.


   


However, when faced with a naturalistic answer RE then claims naturalism doesn’t matter as, redundant as it appears, God could be using this for his purposes, but so too could the GP for his i.e. first we think its natural, then we find out there could be a god but eventually we could find that it was the GP all along who used both the previous methods for it’s own purpose. You can’t have it both ways!    

If you honestly believe people might believe in the GP in the future, then we'll cross that bridge when it comes. In the mean time, we can "have it both ways." Plantinga admits RE leads to a minor relativism, wherein contradictory communities can defend their beliefs in similar ways.



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Zach Blaesi

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« Reply #25 on: May 29, 2009, 05:00:39 pm »

pap:-

I'll hold my hands up to that one. I haven't read up on it and was replying to that I inferred about RE from your original post and from what I’ve gathered from other posts on the subject. The part about probabilities just brought the Monty Hall game show puzzle to mind.  



Ah, alright. I'm not very familiar with RE either. So far I've just read Plantinga's Warranted Christian Belief. I still have some problems with it, but I think it's an important move in a new direction. The book questioned many of my prior assumptions and I look at philosophy of religion in a new way.

pap:-

OK, I understand a bit more about RE now thanks, however, as you have pointed out (below), there remains still, equally valid religious propositions using RE as a template, so whether he pre-supposes Christianity to be true doesn't matter with respect to the Monty Hall situation, as it still applies in its own right. i.e. You would still have to swap if one of the others is proven false, especially since Platinga is pessimistic about being able to prove Christianity true.


Sure, so what's the problem? Take the following analogy. There are, in fact, a large number of epistemological theories. Jim holds to one particular epistemological theory extremely firmly: it is the bedrock of all his other thought. As it turns out, a group of philosophers recently offered a scathing criticism of this epistemological position, such that Jim can no longer honestly hold to that position. Jim now finds himself in a distressing situation. He has no epistemological starting point, upon which all his other beliefs depend. He also has, moreover, a large range of epistemological positions to chose from. Should Jim, then, reject all epistemological positions, simply because any position he might accept could be shown to be false later down the road? Obviously not. Likewise with religion: the fact that there are a number of religions that could be shown to be false later down the road is not a reason for any religious individual to reject his beliefs.


I take it you agree that Judaism and Islamism, as examples, are equally merited right now?



Well, I haven't thought much about it. It's hard to find a defeater for Judaism that isn't a defeater for Christianity. As for Islam, there might be defeaters, but I haven't thought about it - and I'm not really interested. The Christian might argue, for example, that the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth confirms Christianity, and by extension, invalidates (to an extent) these other religions, but that would be difficult.


There may also be others. The thing is, for Christianity to be true the others must be false, so at one point we could presume that one of the others will be proved false.


I wouldn't put it like that. If Christianity is true, then those others are false. However, just because something is false, does not necessarily mean it will be shown to be false in our lifetime. The same goes for truth. I believe I am a human being and that there are other minds like my own, and I believe that that is true. However, it might be false, and we may never find that out.


Yet, if the remainder still all have equal merit, you are logically bound to swap. At least until you have more proof for your original choice or until all of the other ones are proven false. It’d be like musical chairs.  RE is a license to wildly guess.


I'm logically bound to swap my religion even it has no defeaters? Why say a thing like that? I might believe in my particular religion so strongly it's hard to imagine how I could swap in the first place.

pap:-

There are or were irrational elements to it and the claims about Christian belief have changed over the years eg literal to allegorical.



Irrational elements to it? How so? And what do you mean by irrational?

As for literal and allegorical, not all Christians are literalists, so likewise not all Christians are allegoricalists. However, the tradition of interpreting the Bible allegorically has been present from very early on. Consider Origen, Augustine, Clement of Alexandria, and so on.

So at any one time you could say a particular aspect of it was irrational although this wouldn't necessarily make the whole thing false.


Maybe. But I'd say that Christianity as a religion depends only on a few beliefs. The Gospel basically sums it up. All else flows from those core beliefs.


OK, I’ll have to bow down to your greater knowledge but can't the template be used for other religions?


Yes. I admitted this. Let's take Judaism. I don't exactly see any defeaters for Judaism right now. So could the Jewish community offer a defense similar to Plantinga's? Probably. However, I'd say the Christian tradition probably produces a better model, since it better explains the noetic effects of sin and religious diversity.



   le="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt;">

I'll admit I'm arguing blind here and could be creating a straw man but I was under the impression that RE was about theistic belief being a properly basic belief in the same way that we naturally believe our cognitive faculties function properly and thus doesn’t need any justification as it should be rightly accepted (or something along those lines).    


You must distinquish Plantinga's different arguments. In God and Other Minds, Plantinga argues that we rationally accept a number of beliefs for which we have zero good arguments. Belief in other minds is one such belief. Plantinga compares these beliefs to belief in God, and then through the ultimate argument by analogy, argues that if those former beliefs are rationally acceptable, then so is belief in God. But this is an argument just for theism, as far as I can tell. It probably doesn't go as far to cover Christianity, which includes beliefs like Jesus rose from the dead.


 

Allegorically You mention they don't "need any justification." This is the opposite of what Plantinga says. Plantinga evaluates justification in his Warrant series, and concludes that Christianity - and even Voodoo - could be justified in the deontological sense. See my example with Jane bellow (in my next post).

 

 

 

Maybe you mean "justification" differently, but that's another point Plantinga makes: people throw these words around without thinking about what epistemological position they presuppose.

 

 


   

I would say that both terms describe part of a mental process which allows us to function in a reality whereby decisions simply have to be made as we can't exist in stasis. They are part of the truth evaluation process which will hopefully yield the best chances for success (i.e. increase the probabilities for success). After mental input and analysis there follows an evaluation of the truth value which is then ‘accepted’ as being true if believed to be true. Thus I would say that belief is the appraisal of truth preceding acceptance which is itself, an accepted conclusion of truth. e.g.  Ã¢â‚¬ËœAfter mental evaluation I believe it is true (appraisal) and thus accept it as being true (definitive conclusion)’.That may have clarified my point or just made it worse but the issue of ‘proper basicality’ as I understand it, is key to the whole thing but surely the onus is on RE’ers to prove that religious belief is properly basic.

Plantinga argues that most basic beliefs are not covered by classical foundationalism. So Plantinga could say to you that the onus is on you to prove belief in other midns is properly basic!

Also, belief in god isn’t necessary in order for us to function but belief in the ones I mentioned are so there is a fundamental difference in their nature.  


Maybe it is. Many people find hope in religion that gives them a reason to live and keeps them going. On the other hand, it could be argued that theism is necessary for knowledge. Check out Plantinga's evolutionary argument against naturalism.



 

   

  Anyhow, since it doesn’t necessarily have to be accepted, god belief has the burden of proof and since it doesn’t have that, it’s not rational to believe in it.

Again, I could say that belief in an external world doesn't necessarily have to be accepted - there are monists out there, ya know - and it also has the onus of proof, and since it has no proof, then it is irrational.

Basic beliefs, though, have no burden of proof: that's the point!

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Allan

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« Reply #26 on: June 01, 2009, 12:46:29 pm »

Quote:
I argue that Christianity is irrational because it can’t be backed up with either proof or logic. It has no epistemic justification and the claim that it doesn’t need any is ill-conceived and irrational itself (I hope that's not a straw man!)
enarchay:-
Well, I suggest you check out Plantinga's works before you make that judgment. There are many things we accept without "proof or logic." Plantinga lists a number of these: belief in a past, belief in an external world, belief in other minds, belief on the basis of memory, belief on the basis of perception, and so on. We have no good arguments for any of these beliefs, yet we rationally hold them. Many of these beliefs, moreover, violate classical foundationalism's criteria for proper basicality.

pap:-
Well in that case I would suggest classical foundationalism gets its house in order and defines proper basicality such that the clear difference between the beliefs mentioned above and god belief can be suitably illustrated. To repeat myself, I would suggest that since belief if part of a natural process it should be defined by what it does and in it's most basic form, the definition would be for beliefs that are necessary in order to function. This seems so obvious to me as god belief doesn't come into it until you have a languistic framework. A linguistic framework is not necessary for the acceptance of the other beliefs you mentioned.





enarchay:-
I also think you need to think about what you mean by words like "justification." What exactly do you mean by it? Deontological justification? Warrant? Rationality - and if so, what kind?

pap:-
Simple old fashioned justification eg a logical and reasoned base which doesn't include multiplying entities without good reason. I wonder what the purpose is for some of the philosophoical nuances that abound. They seem to create  words for reasons of self perpetuating a philosophical school of thought but thats another issue I guess.


enarchay:-
If you mean what Plantinga calls deontological justification, then Plantinga argues it's way too simple to argue many Christians are justified. Maybe Jane read her Freud, Marx, Nietzsche, Hume, and Mackie. Maybe she's thought about the problem of evil. Maybe she's open to discussion with other atheists. But after long reflection, she just finds it all unconvincing. To her, Christianity is just far too evident, and such an experience overpowers any arguments to the contrary. Is Jane violating any epistemic rights? Is she acting irresponsibly? Is she unjustified? It's hard to see why. Compare Jane to Jim. Jim is on trial for murder. There were a number of eye witnesses that saw him at the scene of the crime and his DNA is on the murder weapon. But Jim clearly remembers being at home watching TV at the time of the murder. Can we honestly claim Jim to be unjustified?


pap:-
I am not arguing deontological justification (whatever that is) infact, why was this category created; what does it attempt to explain that basic justification can't?
  Anyway, the vast majority of theists do not believe in gods due to logic, they come to believe in them in pretty much the same way primitive man believed in the higher power of the sun. So I would actually argue that every christian is at one point justified in their behaviour (i.e. act of believing) but not in their beliefs. We hierarchalise but the ideal that heads it doesn't need to be real, so to believe it is requires some form of evidence or supporting argument.

re: Jane and Jim,
    The two cases above are unjustified in believing their beliefs to be true when confronted with other factors, i.e. objective factors which clearly challenge their original perspective.
       This is clear in the case of Jim however perhaps not so clear in the case for Jane. There won't be objective facts disproving the existence of something which may not exist (obviously) but where there exists a much more simple explanation with a route that can be followed then she should be witholding her belief until more substantive proof is offered. eg She has knowledge that the mind can be tricked, she has knowledge that god belief wasn't present to her as a baby or small child, she has knowledge that her god belief is regional and that her experience is mirrored by others but with a different object of belief. She should recognise the fact that the behaviour is the commonality and not the objects of belief which are clearly differen
   t and regional. All she has to go on are her 'feelings' that her object of belief is real but to act upon feelings alone is irrational. She has nothing else substantive from which she can support her position.
The naturalist explanation will demonstrate to her that her feelings  are part of the 'hierarchalising' process which in part defines humans for what we are so she has at least two choices but will she choose feelings over reason?



enarchay:-

In fact, it's hard to see how Jane or Jim could change their beliefs anyway. For example, I can't believe I'm two feet tall; and I also can't give up my belief that I'm a human being. Say it turned out I really am two feet tall, and I am also an alien. It just happens that my brain is malfunctioning so that I think (and falsely perceive) that I am not two feet tall or an alien. Could anyone honestly say I am unjustified? No. I can't help the predicament I find myself in, and I make the right response given the circumstances.


pap:-
You are justified in believing it's true whilst you perceive this yourself and your perception entails all the available information. However if you put on a pair of one foot long five-legged trousers that fit you like a glove, then you would be exposed to external objective factors which should lead you to question your belief. However if you still 'feel' like you're a human, then that's your perogative but you would be unjustified in believing it to be the case.

enarchay:-

(It's hard to see, moreover, how one could be unjustified in holding a belief if there is no objective morality. How is one violating an intellectual duty if there are no objective duties at all?)


pap:-
You're not violating intellectual duty, you're simply falling short of those technical criteria which will enable you to hold an intellectual position and claim reason and rational for it. You are unjustified in holding any belief where there is no basis for it except 'feelings' and where that belief itself, isn't required to be necessarily accepted. I can make a case for the beliefs you mentioned being necessarily accepted but can you do so for god-belief? I doubt it but if you believe you are justified in your belief then please give it a go.  




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Allan

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« Reply #27 on: June 01, 2009, 01:23:06 pm »
Quote:
   Naturalistic explanations are governed by and subject to observations in the real world and can be falsified, so belief in one of these takes the normal route and is not dependent on being true to be considered rational. If a naturalistic theory regarding theistic belief addresses the scenario, then why multiply the entities i.e. Does RE still shine in the shadow of Occam’s Razor? (Not that Occam's Razor is required when all the proof comes from only the one side!)


enarchay:-

Why apply Occam's Razor to religious belief? Not many religious individuals hold their religious beliefs as a hypothesis or theory. We hold many beliefs in the basic way, such as beliefs on the basis of memory. What if someone was able to offer a "simpler" explanation of those beliefs? Should we then give them up? No.

pap:-
Yes.


Quote:
    The natural explanation caters for belief in any gods as it is the behaviour itself which is the key issue and not the object of belief and belief in ‘many’ gods is what we actually observe in the world. Furthermore, religious behaviour is not observed solely within the domain of theism. The behaviour is exhibited in football fans following their team, followers of political parties, fans of pop stars etc i.e. it is hierarchal deference. Thus it is not a cognitive malfunction that causes people to believe in god-models, it’s an evolutionary trait. This covers primitive man worshipping the sun at a time when no suitable linguistic mechanism was in existence in order to come up with complex philosophical questions yet theism can’t offer up a suitable explanation for that scenario. Ironically, it was the only time in human history when you could say ‘monotheism’ ruled!


enarchay:-
Again, you assume an explanation for religious people shows religious belief to be irrational. But this is simply not true unless religious belief is false.

pap:-
I disagree. You can be irrational yet still be correct in the end. Behaviour which is primitive and performed without addressing the issues of reason etc is irrational, we do it all the time. It has no bearing on the objective truth of the belief in question. That requires something else altogether. (altogether now... proof of some kind or evidence)




Quote:
   As for your last paragraph, if a naturalistic answer doesn’t exclude the Christian god then neither does it exclude the Great Pumpkin.


The Great Pumpkin argument fails, as I said further above. No one actually believes in the Great Pumpkin, first of all. Second, it is doubtful that there is a model for how belief in the Great Pumpkin could be warranted if the Great Pumpkin actually existed. Third, Christian beliefs are not totally groundless; there are typically experiences underlining them. Fourth, just because one holds some beliefs in the basic way does not mean he is committed to holding all beliefs in the basic way. Fourth, beliefs - including Christian beliefs - are subject to defeaters, and I'm sure there are far more potential defeaters for the Great Pumpkin than there are for Christianity. To quote Plantinga, "[T]he Great Pumpkin Objection as it stands is obviously a nonstarter." (Apparently, moreover, atheist Michael Martin agrees.)


pap:-
Firstly, babies don't believe in god until they develp a linguistic framework yet you don't count that period of non-belief as being against the existence of god although you do for the Geat Pumpkin. That's pure double standards. The potential to believe is there and already the name of the great one has been revealed to us! : )

Secondly, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence (notes taken from the theist suvival guide)

Thirdly, there are several Napoleons who believe they are such through some form of experiential psychosis. Of course they wouldn't be able to identify the object of belief without prior knowledge of it. Does christianity differ in
   that respect? No. Show me a christian popping up in the middle of nowhere and I'll give the christian hypothesis more credence.


Fourthly, all will be revealed and who are you to question the methods of the great one? (Further notes taken from the theists survival guide)

All that applies to Christianity applies to the great Pumpkin it's just that the Great Pumpkin needs us to accept the idea of Jesus et al first (presumably thinking we would be more ameniable to worshipping something which looks familiar to us rather than a pumpkin which coincidentally is a fruit he made in his own image)
PS: I see you've made reference to Michael Martin , the Great Pumpkins own doubting Thomas.










Quote:
As a purely intellectual exercise, RE attempts to distinguish itself from the Great Pumpkin by dipping its toe into naturalism i.e. We naturally possess god belief but nobody actually believes in the GP.


Enerchay:-

You call it a "purely intellectual exercise" but you never explain why.

Pap:-
Well, you only had to ask... It's intellectual exercise because you don't appeal to evidence except when confronted by an intellectual-ant like the Great Pumpkin. At this point RE attepts to appeal to natural evidence yet runs away from natural evidence when natural evidence explains religious behaviour. It's called picking and choosing and it's not consistent with it's treatment of that which it appeals to i.e. an intellectual argument and natural evidence.  





Quote:
However, when faced with a naturalistic answer RE then claims naturalism doesn’t matter as, redundant as it appears, God could be using this for his purposes, but so too could the GP for his i.e. first we think its natural, then we find out there could be a god but eventually we could find that it was the GP all along who used both the previous methods for it’s own purpose. You can’t have it both ways!    

If you honestly believe people might believe in the GP in the future, then we'll cross that bridge when it comes. In the mean time, we can "have it both ways." Plantinga admits RE leads to a minor relativism, wherein contradictory communities can defend their beliefs in similar ways.


pap:-
This is where we disagree. RE is unjustified because it has not shown itself to be remotely like the other beliefs which are considered basic beliefs and should not therefore be automatically accepted. There is something missing with the starting position meaning RE is a house of cards and a license to guess. To proceed to argue with claims to its internal consistency rather misses the point!

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Zach Blaesi

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« Reply #28 on: June 02, 2009, 12:40:38 pm »
pap:-
Yes.


No. That's not how Occam's Razor works.  


pap:-
I disagree. You can be irrational yet still be correct in the end. Behaviour which is primitive and performed without addressing the issues of reason etc is irrational, we do it all the time. It has no bearing on the objective truth of the belief in question. That requires something else altogether. (altogether now... proof of some kind or evidence)


Sure. Even true beliefs can be irrational. But a naturalistic explanation of religious belief does not show religious belief to be irrational anymore than a naturalistic explanation for the mechanics of sense perception, memory, and mathematical intuition shows those such beliefs to be irrational.

pap:-
Firstly, babies don't believe in god until they develp a linguistic framework yet you don't count that period of non-belief as being against the existence of god although you do for the Geat Pumpkin.


Just because babies cannot tell us what beliefs they hold doesn't mean they do not hold any beliefs. Of course, even if babies do not hold beliefs about God, that doesn't say anything against the existence of God, because if babies do not hold beliefs about, then in all probability they do not hold beliefs about a great deal of other things. I could modify my comments above to: no cognitively matured humans actually believe in the Great Pumpkin. In other words, the Great Pumpkin is just some ad hoc construction. People have believed in God - or something like God - for thousands of years. The Great Pumpkin? Never.

Fourthly, all will be revealed and who are you to question the methods of the great one? (Further notes taken from the theists survival guide)


What?

PS: I see you've made reference to Michael Martin , the Great Pumpkins own doubting Thomas.


Michael Martin himself admits the Great Pumpkin objection - the original one - fails.

Pap:-
Well, you only had to ask... It's intellectual exercise because you don't appeal to evidence except when confronted by an intellectual-ant like the Great Pumpkin.


I appeal to evidence when the Pumpkin arises?


pap:-
This is where we disagree. RE is unjustified because it has not shown itself to be remotely like the other beliefs which are considered basic beliefs and should not therefore be automatically accepted. There is something missing with the starting position meaning RE is a house of cards and a license to guess. To proceed to argue with claims to its internal consistency rather misses the point!


Again, what do you mean by "unjustified?" Plantinga shows how easy it is for religious belief to be justified.





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Allan

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« Reply #29 on: June 03, 2009, 01:37:53 pm »
enarchay:-
Why apply Occam's Razor to religious belief? Not many religious individuals hold their religious beliefs as a hypothesis or theory. We hold many beliefs in the basic way, such as beliefs on the basis of memory. What if someone was able to offer a "simpler" explanation of those beliefs? Should we then give them up? No.


Quote:
pap:-
Yes.


enarchay:-

No. That's not how Occam's Razor works.

pap:-
Firstly, I do consider God as an hypothesis and any particular god as a particular hypothesis. Without full proof it must be considered this way since it's not necessary to believe in it. How do you consider the other gods you don't happen to believe in, hypothesis or true belief?
       Secondly, the natural evidence Platinga appeals to is 'religious belief'. This is, a 'behaviour' which has a naturalist proposition for an answer and with supporting arguments appealing to further natural evidence. God just happens to fall by the wayside when you consider the possibility that this behaviour has no bearing on whether the object of belief is real or not. So it is to this 'behaviour' that Occam's Razor can be applied. To me, Platinga implies that because we are naturally inclined to believe in god-models, it is a basic belief or behaviour, actualised by the existence of God. Whereas I say, we believe in god-models due to a basic behavioural trait unconnected to gods and also evidenced in many other aspects of human nature.
       Thirdly, I have expressed my concerns regarding whether belief in god can be classified in the same way as belief in memory etc i.e. basic beliefs. The clear distinction is 'functional necessity' or 'necessary acceptance' which applies to all those beliefs we consider basic but not to belief in god. So this latter belief clearly needs to be re-classified as it is clearly not on the same level as those others you've mentioned. Therefore it is another form of belief (on the same level as the Great Pumpkin) and therefore requires supporting argument or evidence to show it's validity.    






Quote:
pap:-
I disagree. You can be irrational yet still be correct in the end. Behaviour which is primitive and performed without addressing the issues of reason etc is irrational, we do it all the time. It has no bearing on the objective truth of the belief in question. That requires something else altogether. (altogether now... proof of some kind or evidence)

enarchay:-
Sure. Even true beliefs can be irrational. But a naturalistic explanation of religious belief does not show religious belief to be irrational anymore than a naturalistic explanation for the mechanics of sense perception, memory, and mathematical intuition shows those such beliefs to be irrational.

pap:-
Religious belief is not irrational as a behaviour but belief in the 'object of belief' being real is (i.e. when without supporting evidence) as it represents a different category. I might be blurring the context of irrational here but what I'm saying is that there is a reason why we behave in this way but there is no reason why we should believe in the realness of a god.


PS: Even basic beliefs have evidence, it's why we are able to believe in them. Basic beliefs can be evaluated but the conclusion for one must be that they are necessarily accepted.





Quote:
pap:-
Firstly, babies don't believe in god until they develp a linguistic framework yet you don't count that period of non-belief as being against the existence of god although you do for the Geat Pumpkin.


enarchay:-
Just because babies cannot tell us what beliefs they hold doesn't mean they do not hold any beliefs. Of course, even if babies do not hold beliefs about God, that doesn't say anything against the existence of God, because if babies do not hold beliefs about, then in all probability they do not hold beliefs about a great deal of other things. I could modify my comments above to: no cognitively matured humans actually believe in the Great Pumpkin. In other words, the Great Pumpkin is just some ad hoc construction. People have believed in God - or something like God - for thousands of years. The Great Pumpkin? Never.


pap:-
Babies will have basic beliefs but I would suggest these are more in the form of 'acceptance' commensurate with not having a linguistic framework from which they can evaluate them in any meaningful sense.
    If a belief can only be held by a cognitively matured human then it is not a basic belief. A basic belief must surely be a belief held by a basic human i.e. a basic cognitively functioning human eg babies.  

   

Quote:
Fourthly, all will be revealed and who are you to question the methods of the great one? (Further notes taken from the theists survival guide)

enarchay:-
What?

pap:-
I'm glad you asked. Unless you are omniscient you can't claim to know about the Great Pumkin and his/hers/it's methods or potential for them. You may dismiss it as a creation in a book but then again, why stop there..?




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PS: I see you've made reference to Michael Martin , the Great Pumpkins own doubting Thomas.

enarchay:-
Michael Martin himself admits the Great Pumpkin objection - the original one - fails.

pap:-
Only because he created the argument or he knows of it's creation but you mentioned to me before that this type of scenario (with an apparent mundane answer) may not necessarily be the result of a simple explanation. You applied it to your god so I am applying it to the Great Pumpkin.



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Pap:-
Well, you only had to ask... It's intellectual exercise because you don't appeal to evidence except when confronted by an intellectual-ant like the Great Pumpkin.


enarchay:-
I appeal to evidence when the Pumpkin arises?

pap:-
Fair enough but you can't dismiss the possibilty completely unless you are omniscient.

The point I'm making is that the Great Pumkin is on the same level of belief value as any of the mainstream gods regarding evidence for or against and this belief is not basic, it is a derived belief from a basic behaviour. Your defeaters of it can be defeated themselves when appealing to the absolute knowledge and abilities of the Great Pumpkin because we can't argue against it from that basis.
       As such I say it is to all intents and purposes nonsense, unless supported by evidence or a complete logical argument and the same applies to any god-model.



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pap:-
This is where we disagree. RE is unjustified because it has not shown itself to be remotely like the other beliefs which are considered basic beliefs and should not therefore be automatically accepted. There is something missing with the starting position meaning RE is a house of cards and a license to guess. To proceed to argue with claims to its internal consistency rather misses the point!

enarchay:-
Again, what do you mean by "unjustified?" Plantinga shows how easy it is for religious belief to be justified.

pap:-
That's ujnustified in the usual manner which begins with an inappropriate starting point i.e. an unsound basis.
Please can you post some of his ideas as I can't see it myself. He has to address the issue of whether god belief can be seen as basic i.e. show that it 'is' rather than appealing to an incomplete or mis-categorised definition and then challenging people to show that it isn't. I don't like the theist methodology of foregoing positive proof 'for' and instead requesting positive proof 'against' to show that it isn't so.