Debate: Jason Roberts vs Phil Stilwell – Absolute Certainty

Proposition:

  • Jason is rational in his 100% certainty he has a relationship with his god.

Participants:

  • Pro: Jason Roberts
  • Con: Phil Stilwell

Debate

  • Jason | Pro | 500 words

    My contention and my belief is that I have a personal relationship with God the Father through God the Son by the witness of the Holy Spirit. I am 100% certain of this belief.
    (Jason was reminded that he had been allotted 500 words, but gave assurances he was satisfied with his statement.)

  • Phil | Con | 500 words
    Jason has made the same blunder millions of theists have made over the centuries. He has confused the feeling of certainty with the objectively certain existence of the referent. This is a trivial mistake, but a mistake that serves as the foundation of faith the world over. I wish to dismantle this foolish notion comprehensively. Let’s first consider the following rigorous syllogism that contains the essence of my argument.

    Definition: Rational certainty is the degree of certainty commensurate to the degree of the available evidence.

    P1. All humans acquire knowledge through a medium/mechanism.

    P2. Knowledge that is acquired through a medium/mechanism is only as rationally certain as the reliability of the medium/mechanism.

    P3. The reliability of any medium/mechanism must be assessed inductively.

    P4. Any inductive assessment is, by definition, less than 100% rationally certain.

    P5. Jason is human.

    Conclusion. Jason does not have 100% rational certainty. (P1-P5)

    The syllogism is valid. All that remains is for Jason to logically dismiss any one of the assumptions. He won’t. He can’t. With the exception of P5, all these assumptions have endured the test of time.

    Jason has warm and fuzzy feeling about his god. Fuzzy feelings contribute not an iota to the substantiation his god-claim. Yet, as demonstrated above, emotional absolute certainty is the only type of absolute certainty Jason can possess. He possesses no rationally-obtained epistemic certainty that is commensurate to the degree of the inductively-derived evidential justification for that epistemic certainty. His entire worldview is based on wishes that have evolved into an emotional feeling of certainty. This is clear from the logical syllogism above. To the degree that Jason has confidence in the reliability of logic, to this degree he now understands his logical blunder in imagining he, as a human, has absolute knowledge in anything. The impossible infinite chain of mediums/mechanisms necessary to substantiate his claim will be forever missing.

    Jason claims the Holy Spirit is the medium of his 100% certainty that he has a relationship with his god. The next obvious question is, through what medium/mechanism did he assess the reliability (not to mention the existence) of the Holy Spirit? This is required for him to substantiate his claim that his epistemic certainty is rationally positioned at 100%. Any medium/mechanism Jason will employ to establish as 100% the reliability of the Holy Spirit will itself need to be assessed for reliability by yet another medium/mechanism such as his (fallible) mind which itself must be assess by yet another medium/mechanism…ad infinitum. Human knowledge is constrained to sub-absolute-certainty by this infinite regress of inductive assessment.

    Logic shows that Jason is wrong in his claim he has 100% certainty that he has a relationship with some god. Prior to this explanation, Jason might have been simply misguided. Assuming Jason does subscribe to logic, and is intellectually competent to follow the arguments, if he now persists in his claim, he is lying.


  • Well, it appears that we have misunderstood Jason’s position.
    After much evasion from Jason, the following exchange took place.

    Phil: Can you answer affirmatively any of the following questions?
    1. Are you 100% certain you have an actual relationship with your god?

    2. Are you 100% certain you have an imaginary relationship with your god?

    3. Are you 100% certain you think you have an actual relationship with your god?

    Jason: 3

    Jason’s position is much more profound than I imagined. He makes it clear that he was only talking about his 100% certainty that he thinks he has an actual relationship with his god. I completely concede this point. What profundity. I guess I lost this debate.


  • Jason | Pro | 300 words
  • Phil | Con | 300 words

  • Jason | Pro | 100 words
  • Phil | Con | 100 words


Notes:

  • Comments will be allowed only after the debate has been completed.

Is Biblical Faith Rational?

A response to a Christian claiming biblical faith is rational.

This notion that faith is rational is a new invention recently promoted by apologists who increasingly find the irrational faith happily promoted for centuries untenable in a world that increasingly values rationality. This might be considered a good step in a good direction were it not so mendaciously inconsistent with what the bible says about faith. Until recently, faith was proudly considered to be an irrational commitment to some god, and the more the gulf between your faith an the evidence, the more virtuous you were. Luther called reason a “whore”, a consistent notion throughout all the history of christianity. Were the millions of christians consciously and proudly accepting Jesus based on this irrational faith actually damned to hell? Are you willing to say that, those now admitting their faith is irrational, can not be real christians?

In the bible you actually have a man coming to Jesus to request that he heal his son. When Jesus asks whether he believes, he actually responds, “Lord, I believe. Help thou my unbelief”. This is biblical faith; when in doubt about the credibility of someone, ask that someone to help you believe more. Jesus also blesses those who believe without actually seeing the evidence rather than those who request evidence.

Your claim that your faith is rational would seem much less dishonest if you were first teaching little children the foundation of rationality BEFORE you introduced them to your particular god. However, what you are doing is the opposite; you first get them to commit to “Jesus”, then build your “rationality” around that. Do you understand how absurd it then sounds when you claim your faith is based on rationality?

Finally, simply consider where prior commitments to faith or rationality take people. Those who contemplate gods prior to learning rationality often end up believing quite the opposite to someone doing the same on the other side of the world. In contrast, those who are first introduced to the basics of rationality BEFORE they are introduced to various notions of god tend to converge in their conclusions; most consider a personal god improbable, and an Einsteinian god uncertain. Simply consider the converging philosophies of all the world’s scientists who grew up in various religious contexts, yet were taught the proper need for rationality prior to assessment.

So, this silly claim that your faith is rational does not stand up historically, biblically, nor experimentally, and runs counter to your own practice of promoting your god to children before equipping them with the tools of rationality.

Which Side Of Reality?

I recently received a note from a very nice Christian that contained the following.

No matter who has wronged you as a Christian or how God has disappointed you that you work so hard to explain Him away, He still loves you and wants to live with you forever. So do I!

Please forgive me for offending you.

I responded as follows.

No problem, ——.

I once said the very same things to others.

As you know, many gods have been explained into existence, and the christian god takes many forms in the imaginations of its emotionally needy constituents.

Pause to think about your motivations. Would you want to live in a world where there was no god? Do you want to live in an immoral world that has no moral accountability?

Your reactions to these questions are also based on the lies that you have been taught, coupled with your imagination and a lack of interest in empirical data.

Your entire concept of self and of others is informed by the bible and your emotionally based imagination.

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Deconversion Letters

deconvertsA few excerpts from short letters of former believers.


I went to bible college, majored in Religion & Philosophy, became ordained to the ministry, spent two years in missionary work…

I am no longer a Christian. My conversion from faith was painful and slow, and I think I have learned some things about why religion is so powerful.

My whole frame of reality had to be restructured. The whole fabric of existence seeemed to tear to shreds. Yet it was a very positive experience, motivated by reason and nothing else.

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So any questions I might have had were because God was so intelligent and far above me that I couldn’t understand what he was saying. I only began soul-searching when my friend (now husband) began asking me questions that I couldn’t answer.

I’m far freer and happier than I was in my guilt-inducing Bible days.

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Judge Jehovah Demands Euthyphro’s Wife Be Raped

absurdburg
Last Thursday, Judge Jehovah, the only judge in Absurdburg, delivered from the bench an edict that shocked many in the community. The edict stipulated that Euthyphro, a local philosopher, have his wife taken from him, and be given to a man named Christopher McCredulous to be raped in the park across from the courthouse in full view of the entire town.
  • Thus says the Lord: I will bring evil upon you out of your own house. I will take your wives while you live to see it, and will give them to your neighbor. He shall lie with your wives in broad daylight.

    (2 Samuel 12:11-14)

    This was in the context of King David’s sin of adultery and murder of the woman’s husband.
    Note how the women involved in this situation suffer much more than the one actually deserving punishment.

McCredulous performed the rape as stipulated in the edict Sunday afternoon while Euthyphro wept, restrained by 2 police officers, and as the town looked on. When finished, McCredulous was asked by reporters whether he felt any guilt or shame after committing such an act. “Who am I to question a legal edict uttered by Judge Jehovah himself?” he responded. Do you think you would obey a biblical command even if it went against your moral commonsense? Is taking someone else’s wife and raping her in broad daylight moral because the wife has been taking from that man and given to you to rape?

Is a legal edict legal because a judge utters it?

Is a moral act moral because a god commands it?
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Jehovah And Rape

rapeImagine that your country is invaded or taken over by a group of religious fanatics. These fanatics enter your home, and point guns at you and your family. They give you a choice. You can either accept their god-based government, or be shot. You ask for a list of their divinely-inspired laws. Your 2 young daughters tremble with fear as you carefully read through each law. You eventually come to one that says…

Any adult male who rapes a young female that is not engaged must pay the father of the girl $51, after which he must marry the girl.

Upon reading this, would you…

  1. Continue reading