Saturday, May 19, 2012

FacePalm of the Day: Debunking Christianity: The OTF is the Solution to Religious Diversity

John Loftus has again provided a summary of the Outsider Test of Faith (OTF). Let us work through his "logic".

I want people to see the Outsider Test for Faith (OTF) as the solution to an incredible amount of religious diversity. This is a problem that needs a solution. No other methods have worked before. If people cannot find solutions to problems within a business they hire solution specialists who offer ways to solve it. Mediators find ways to bring people together by offering ways they can see their differences in a better light. That’s what the OTF does. The goal is to offer a fair test to find out which religion is true if there is one.

I don't really think that the OTF is a bad idea, initially. I think that it has never been fairly applied on Debunking Christianity. Let us see if this post shows any more fairness.

The OTF grants that a religious faith can be reasonable and asks believers to test their faith with it, just as it grants that non-belief is reasonable and asks non-believers to consider the religious options available.

How can a belief that there exist one god or several gods be consistent or simultaneously reasonable with the belief in no gods? Hint: it isn't.

It grants the possibility that one particular religious faith could pass the test, just as it grants the possibility that none of them do. To be a fair and objective test it must allow that any conclusion could result from taking the test, and the OTF does just that. If someone disagrees he or she will not only need to find fault with it, but also propose a better test. What’s the alternative?

I have no problem with the test but the issue is how do you make such a test? How do you run the test? How do you measure success or failure?

The skepticism required by the OTF is expressed as follows: 1) It assumes one's own religious faith has the burden of proof; 2) It adopts the methodological naturalist viewpoint where we assume there is a natural explanation for the origins of that religion, its holy books, and it’s extraordinary claims of miracles;

Why is number 2, reasonable? If a religion does not agree that there is a natural explanation for the origins of that  religion, its holy books, and it's extraordinary claims of miracles it believes in then it's not a fair test unless you can show that naturalism does indeed explain these things. I thought the whole point of OTF was to show that the the methodological naturalist viewpoint where we assume there is a natural explanation for the origins of that religion, its holy books, and it’s extraordinary claims of miracles not to assume them from the beginning.

3)  It demands sufficient evidence, scientific evidence, before concluding a religion is true; and most importantly,

Is something only true if it can be weighed, counted, or measured? Can science be used to substantiate everything?! I don't think so. Somethings we all agree are true, but  have no scientific basis for believing it. Well, I guess fair tests aren't really what Loftus is looking for.

4) It disallows any faith in the religion under investigation since it cannot leap over the lack of evidence by punting to faith.

In order to apply number 4, you would need to correctly define what faith means. Something Loftus consistently fails to do. 

Believers may object that if they assume the skepticism of the OTF it will automatically cause them to reject their religious faith, and as such, doing so unfairly presumes its own conclusion.

You cannot rationally grant that Christianity or Islam may be true and then say that everything about testing them can only be explained by naturalistic evidence. That is assuming failure without really weighing the evidence.  Fortunately for Christianity there are naturalistic evidence, but there is much that is considered from such a myopic viewpoint.  

But I think not, not if there is objective evidence, sufficient evidence, for one’s religious faith. For if it exists then even a skeptic should come to accept it.

But there have been many who began as skeptics and upon examining the evidence from the outside, became born-again Christians. If Loftus is correct, then everyone who examines the evidence would be staunch atheist and never Christians.

Many people are convinced every day about issues when the evidence suggests otherwise. If God created us as reasonable people then the correct religious faith should have sufficient evidence for it since that’s what reasonable people require.

This one always gets me. Observation and the Bible always bear out that no one - not one of us - is reasonable enough or understanding enough to figure this out. We are all broken and fallen. Why should you assume that your intellect is enough to even know what sufficient evidence is?

Otherwise, if this evidence doesn’t exist in sufficient quantities then God counter-productively created us as reasonable people who would reject the correct faith.

We reject Christ not because of a lack of sufficient evidence but because of our own sin and hatred of God. And even if you are saved now, you once were a hater of God and God's ways.

It also means that people born as outsiders in different geographical locations will be condemned to hell (however conceived) by God merely because of when and where they were born.

Hogwash. Everyone is born in the time and place where we can best find God. Re-read Acts 17.

This doesn’t bode well for an omniscient omnibenelovent but wrathful kind of God. Even apart from such a God concept the only way to settle which religious faith is true is to rely on sufficient evidence.

Again, I don't think any one of us is capable of deciding what sufficient evidence is and what it is not. If you cannot see God as God is (or even  as the religion you are testing sees God), how can you correctly apply OTF. Loftus does not know the God of the Bible. His god indeed fails the OTF because his god does not exist. His god is a concept not a being. A god that knows everything but how to apply justice and mercy. A god that has much of the same limitations we do. This is not the God of the Bible - not the God of Christianity. Utter failure.

Debunking Christianity: The OTF is the Solution to Religious Diversity

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