Monday, October 1, 2012

FacePalm of the Day - Debunking Christianity: I Could Conceivably Be Wrong. So?

John Loftus and Dr Randal Rauser have been in debate with one another regarding sveral topics over the past several weeks. From time-to-time it spills over onto Loftus' blog  Debunking Christianity. I don't agree with everything Dr Rauser says but I think he makes more sense than Loftus does. I mean take the title of the post I am referring to here: " I Could Conceivably Be Wrong. So?" The attitude seems really silly! I mean if Atheists are wrong they are going to hell and will be completely cut off from God!!!! If that doesn't matter, then Loftus has no idea what is at stake.

Randal Rauser repeatedly tells us that, "Faith consists of assent to a proposition that is conceivably false." I have repeatedly said that faith is an irrational leap over the probabilities, and as such, we should think exclusively in terms of probabilities. He claims I'm ignorant. I cannot hope to convince the deluded mind, but maybe more reasonable people can see what seems obvious to non-believers.

I disagree that faith is believing something despite the fact that it could be false. This is no different that believing something just because it seems more probable to you. This is not how the Bible describes or defines "faith".  It makes sense to live this way if you don't have any other information. No one in the Bible was commended for their faith because they just believed something that they could have been wrong about. They believed God because of what God said to them despite their circumstances. For example, Abraham believed God would give he and Sarah children despite them both being well beyond child-bearing age because that is what God told him.

16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. 17 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.”[c] He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.
18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”[d] 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” 23 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. - Romans 4:16-25

Let's take just one example, the fact that the sun will rise this morning over the horizon where I live in Indiana. It's hard for me to calculate how many mornings the sun has risen but let me take a good guess. Given that the earth has existed for about 4.5 billion years multiplied by 365 days per year or so, the odds that it will rise today are about 1,642.5 billion to one (or something like that). So when I say I know the sun will rise today I can say this with a great deal of certainty. The odds are virtually certain the sun will rise over the horizon (even if clouds might hide it from view).

Notice how Loftus desires to equate concluding  that the sun will rise tomorrow, based on the fact that it rose everyday for the past 4.5 billion years.  The problem is that God did tell us about the sun and the seasons. They will never stop as long as the earth exists.  

22 “As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.” - Genesis 8:22

Therefore we can have faith that the sun will rise tomorrow - not just because of  Physics but also because God says so.

The question is whether I need to be certain the sun will rise this morning and if faith is required to fill in this gap so I can know that it will. I think not, obviously so. I don't need this gap to be filled. I don't need to be certain the sun will rise today. I can be quite comfortable to go with the odds, the probabilities. Probabilities are all that matter. We should think exclusively in terms of them.

We don't conclude that the sun rises because of faith. Bad example. One might be comfortable with not being certain that the sun will rise tomorrow morning but I would not want to bet that Christianity is wrong, based on the overwhelming evidence of what God has said

This goes for everything else I think is probably true. It doesn't change anything if the odds become different for other things I think are probably true, so long as I conclude they are probably true.

Concluding that something is probably true does not make it true. Same is true in reverse.

But wait!

Oh yeah! More fail!!!

Is faith used to calculate the very probabilities I use to conclude the sun will rise today? How so?

It doesn't. 

That a great deal of background knowledge from personal experience is used to calculate the probabilities is granted, and most all of it could conceivably be false too. So? This background knowledge has the weight of probability to it, at least, we accept it as more probable than not over-all. We cannot do otherwise. What else do we have to judge our background knowledge by except in terms of the probabilities? The reason I trust my background knowledge is not because of faith but rather because it is built up based on the probabilities of personal experience one layer at a time from birth. Trust is based on the probabilities, that's why faith is not trust. If it were the same thing then Rauser would be found equivocating on the word "faith." For "faith" would become equivalent to trusting the probabilities which is the very thing I argue for leaving faith undefined. Given this fact, it's no wonder Christians cannot even agree on how to define faith, because it cannot reasonably be done apart from the probabilities.

Of course accepting Christianity can be done outside of probabilities.  It's called trusting what God has revealed to you and making sure you examine facts to make sure you are not just making things up.

Could we be wrong? Yes. So what? What's faith got to do with this process?

If you are wrong, you are going to hell.  Applying faith helps you believe God's revelation when there is no way you could have believed it on your own.

Therefore, to say we need faith to think the sun will rise today, at best, is superfluous, completely unnecessary, utterly irrelevant, and at worst irrational.

Yeah and pointless as to whether or not you need faith to live. 

There is more!

Steven Garmon said, "Faith is what is required to uphold the things we believe are most probable."

How does faith do that?

Biblical faith is required to believe what God has said because we cannot without God's help. 

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.
By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.
By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.”[a] For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. - Hebrews 11:1-6

Picture flipping a quarter. The odds are about equal that you'll get a heads or a tails. Where is faith? What does it do here? How does having it change the odds?

Faith isn't about flipping a quarter. With regards to salvation, faith makes salvation assured. 

Picture a lottery where you have a one in 80 million chance of winning. Where is faith? What does it do here? How does having it change the odds?

Salvation is not about winning a lottery. Everyone is going to hell as default. Saving faith is what changes you from being hellbound sinners into children of God. 

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. - Romans 8:5-8

Picture a sports contest, say a boxing match. Gamblers place their bets on who will win based on the odds. Where is faith? What does it do here? How does having it change the odds?

 The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD. - Proverb 16:33

Ahhhh, morning has broken! Whew, that was a lucky guess, right? ;-)

Has nothing to do with luck. It's all about God's mercy.

Debunking Christianity: I Could Conceivably Be Wrong. So?
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