Faith Is Rational Without Evidence Debate: Challenger’s Rebuttal

This is the 2nd stage of a debate with a Christian gentleman named Justin.

Debate structure

  1. Justin’s Opening
  2. Phil’s Rebuttal (this post)
  3. Justin’s Rejoinder
  4. Phil’s Opening
  5. Justin’s Rebuttal
  6. Phil’s Rejoinder

    NOTE: It appears that as of Feb 12, 2011, Justin’s blog is off-line.

First a comment about concluding statements in Justin’s opening. He stated the following.

So if Phil were to succeed in showing that faith is irrational without evidence, the price would be to render the vast majority of atheists irrational.

This is based on Justin’s belief that any objective moral standard that atheists hold must necessarily be based on faith-derived premises.

I am not defending other atheists’ beliefs, nor am I asking Justin to defend Fred Phelps or the pope. I’ll be addressing only his own arguments, and I hope that he will address only the arguments I present rather than the ones he presumes I hold.

Let me begin with definitions.

  • Rational Belief: A degree of belief that maps to a corresponding degree of evidence, either empirical or logical.
  • Faith: A degree of belief that does not correspond to the degree of evidence available. For example, Jesus blessed those who believed more with less evidence.
  • Evidence: What increases the probability of the truth of a given proposition against alternative propositions, and consequently, increases the epistemic warrant for a belief through the heuristics of science including observation, induction, parsimony, and other heuristics of epistemic inquiry that result in beliefs with predicative power and logical cohesion.
  • Reason: The logical operations of the mind on constituents of evidence to arrive at logical conclusions.

Justin stated the following.
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Science And Faith

The following is my own over-simplified comparison of science and faith. I’m posting it for the purpose of generating conversation. Please substantiate your opinions with evidence and argumentation. I’m especially interested in hearing from those who think that faith is based on evidence. I hear this from time to time, but have never been able to tease out exactly the relationship between the two. Where does evidence end and faith begin? What principle warrants stepping beyond the evidence into faith?


Asymmetric Science Camp


There is going to be a science fair in Kentucky! It’s always great to see kids interested in science, and to see adults interested in their children’s intellectual development. Before we take a closer look at this science fair, I’d like to remind us of an important lesson in the history of science.

Back in the 14th century, there was considerable controversy over whether the Earth was spinning, or whether the Earth was actually stationary while the Sun and planets circled the Earth. A man named Nicole Oresme decided to assess this problem by critically examining all the arguments.

First, Oresme lists 3 of the strongest arguments of his day for a stationary Earth..

  1. Our senses experience the Sun and the planets rising and setting as if the Earth were the center of the universe. It is therefore most reasonable to believe our perceptions and conclude that the Earth is, in fact, spinning.
  2. If the Earth were actually spinning eastward, we should experience a constant wind from the east. We do not. Hence, the Earth is not spinning.
  3. When a man on a fast-moving ship shoots an arrow straight into the air, it will fall behind the ship close to point where it had been released. In the same way, if the Earth were spinning, an arrow shot straight into the air should fall at a point west of the point it was released. This does not happen, and therefore the earth is not spinning. (This argument was borrowed from Ptolemy.)

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Negative Apologetics

Recently, there has been an apologetics turn away from the traditional positive apologetics towards a negative defense of Christianity in which confidence in reason is claimed to be just as unwarranted as belief in god and every other belief. The bulk of the comments below from a christian named Nick Kiefer are a good example of this, and are very instructive as a reflection of the christian mindset. These comment were originally posted in response to my Reasons For My Deconversion post. I am adding my own in-line comments I’ll mark in [ green ]. If you’d like to contact Nick, he can be found at
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