Faith Is Rational Without Evidence Debate: Challenger’s Opening

Debate structure

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

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

Overview

Faith, as belief in an absence of sufficient evidence, is always irrational. This fact has two corollaries.

  1. The rational mind does not require faith.
    There are no necessary unwarranted beliefs in the rational mind. There is evidential warrant all the way back to foundational beliefs. Faith is at no time necessarily employed by the rational mind.
  2. Those who employ faith do so out of irrationality.
    Faith is both definitionally and pragmatically irrational, and is detrimental to the honest seeker of truth. Faith has no place in the rational mind.

I will rigorously demonstrate the corollaries above after defining related terms and assessing foundational notions associated with belief.


Outline


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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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Reason is a Whore

whoreMartin Luther, the father of the Reformation said,

Reason is a whore of the devil.1

Luther then demonstrates his commitment to this claim by employing a Christian version of reason and arguing,

Men have broad and large chests, and small narrow hips, and more understanding than women, who have but small and narrow breasts, and broad hips, to the end they should remain at home, sit still, keep house, and bear and bring up children.2

The “broad hips” of women were reasoned evidence to Luther that women should “sit still” at home. Perhaps if Luther had learned what reason was and how to properly engage her, she would not have seemed like a cheap whore. Instead, Luther’s commitment to the deceitful whore called “Faith” led him to abuse reason.

A few hundred years and the internet later, we have a Christian named Ray Comfort similarly arguing from bananas to Jehovah’s purpose in the following video.

Just think of all the things that are hand-shaped and mouth-shaped that we could, with Christian logic, argue were made to go into hands and mouths. If you treat reason like a whore, don’t complain when you discover you’ve been arguing with a diseased mind. However, treating reason with respect, and making a commitment to her alone while refusing the whore in the shadows called “Faith” will yield far more rational conclusions to inform our lives.

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The Inscrutable Jehovah

absurdityTheism begins with a commitment to absurdity. It revels in mysteries, embraces paradoxes, and wallows in warm credulity while reason is buried in a mudslide of illogical affirmations. It sees no need to apologize for belief where the evidence is not only absent, but also contrary to claims.

Theism trains the credulous in the art of illogicality by unabashedly positing incoherent notions of god that require the complete surrender of rational faculties. Some such common theistic notions among Christians are listed below.

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Where Truth Begins

Don’t pretend to be a truth seeker if you begin your quest with any of the following assumptions.

  • Truth will be comforting to me. Truth will place me on the pleasurable side of existence, unlike the depravity of wild animals. Truth correlates to happiness.
  • Truth will include an objective purpose for my life. There is no way I am as purposeless as a turkey on a turkey farm.
  • Truth will not run against my intuitions. My mind is not prone to self-deception (as are the minds of most of world’s other humans).
  • I have the mental capacity to find truth within my lifetime. Truth is necessarily within my reach. I will not end up having to say “I don’t know” in response to many epic questions.
  • I don’t need to rigorously assess my mental and emotional disposition and capacity before I begin my search. I was designed to be a truth-seeker.
  • I was born with the necessary tools to discover truth (critical thinking/probability/logic). I will not need to acquire any additional skills to process the data correctly.
  • Truth can be accessed by flipping a “faith” switch. At some point after examining the immediate evidence, employing “faith” will be a legitimate way to transcend insufficient evidence to arrive at truth.
  • Truth will be found in a discrete package of answers, rather than incrementally. I’ll uncover a canned truth that will eliminate the need to continue my quest for truth.
  • Truth will be accompanied by a manual for me to live my life. Truth found in this manual will be focused on humans, is benevolent, and comes with a standard for behavior.

These are all assumptions that have no place in the mind of a genuine truth-seeker. These assumptions, like all others, must remain outside a skeptical mind until there is evidence that warrants their acceptance.

Sorry. No illegitimate short-cuts.

Asymmetric Science Camp

spinning

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.)

Next, Oresme Continue reading

The Skeptic Community Welcomes Another

deconversion
The following is a post I found on the blog Unreasonable Faith. It is refreshing to see how older skeptics have offered support and encouragement to younger skeptics just emerging from a variety of faiths. The number of intelligent young deconverts who are leaving their faiths for reasons well-considered is quite exciting. I recommend reading the original post and comments found at the link below.


Coming Out of the Skeptical Closet

Hi everyone. I’m the student who wrote the letter posted above. I wanted to thank you all for your tremendous support. I wrote this letter to Daniel late last night, curious for his and the community’s responses. I had expected only a few comments, but I was totally surprised to see close to 100 replies!

As I had mentioned before, losing my community troubles me the most. I’m comforted to see that others have traveled along this same path. I’ll look into charitable organizations. Upon some of your suggestions, I might even try an atheist/agnostic group once I get out of school. Who knows, there may be a group for ex-Christians in my area since I’m in the Bible Belt.

There’s one important thing I’ve learned in my deconversion process that I forgot to mention in my letter. Continue reading