Monday, September 19, 2011

FacePalm of the Day #124 - Debunking Christianity: Has Christianity Passed the Outsider Test for Faith?

John Loftus has posted the following post on his blog. My comments are in red.

It is said that Christianity has been passing the Outsider Test for Faith (OTF) from the very beginning, and is still doing so as the gospel penetrates non-Christian cultures. Let me respond briefly.

This ought to be good.

There is a big difference between what takes place in cross-cultural mission work and how reasonable people should evaluate the extraordinary claims of Christianity. I have documented how very superstitious people were in the days when Christianity sprung into existence from the Bible itself, in chapter 7 of Why I Became an Atheist. So I don't see that people reasonably assessed the probability of Christianity in order to accept the claim that they were rationally converted to it.

I think Loftus makes that claim because when he was a "believer" he had not reasonably addressed the validity of Christianity. Therefore assuming that everyone is as gullible as he is really shoddy reasoning.

When it comes to the growth of Christianity in the Southern Hemisphere and in Asia right now, Phillip Jenkins has documented in his book, The New Faces of Christianity, that the people being converted actually share much of the same superstitious outlook. Superstitious people who share the same outlook can hardly be considered to reasonably assess the extraordinary claims of another superstitious outlook. So these so-called cross-cultural conversions are irrelevant to whether Christianity passes or has passed the OTF.

So because Loftus traded one fantasy (that he was born-again)  for another (the there is no God), no one can be born again? I don't think so. He is arguing that people from the Southern Hemisphere or in Asia are not sophisticated enough to correctly evaluate Christianity and determine it to be correct. Better examples of Hubris are scant.

Additionally how one person evaluates a religious set of extraordinary claims means nothing to another person, otherwise Islam is passing the OTF since it is the fastest growing religion in the world right now. If Christianity is passing the OTF then so is Islam, which would lead us to conclude they are both probably true, even in their fundamentalist forms. But that cannot be the case given their essential differences. If the successful growth of a religion into other cultures means that a particular religion passes the OTF then many religions have done so, rendering growth as a factor null and void.

I agree that this isn't about growth but if its truly irrelevant how people evaluates a religion's truth claims then  the OTF is also irrelevant because then there is no good ways to determent if a religion is true or not.

The only thing that is relevant is how a person assess the religion he or she was enculturated to believe. How others assess the case should mean little or nothing. The OTF simply asks believers who were raised to believe in their particular religion, or sect within it, to adopt a non-double standard approach to assessing it. Approach your own inherited religious faith with the same level of skepticism you use when assessing other religious faiths.

If the OTF is only relevant to access the religion he or she was "encultured to believe", then the OTF looses relevance and credibility. Besides, you can't be be a born-again Christian and believe only because that's what you were raised in. Being born-again means knowing God on a relational level and not just going on what you have been taught. It verifies what you have been taught if you have been taught correctly. It does not seem like Loftus ever truly knew God only what other said of God and sometime he does even get that much right.

I have seen nothing that has disabused me of this approach to religion. It's the only consistent and fair way to do so.

Consistent? Maybe. Fair? Not even close. Load with presuppositions that don't line up with reality? Yup.  Surprise? No.

9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.- John 1: 9-13

Debunking Christianity: Has Christianity Passed the Outsider Test for Faith?
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