Description of Special Pleading
Special Pleading is a fallacy in which a person applies standards, principles, rules, etc. to others while taking herself (or those she has a special interest in) to be exempt, without providing adequate justification for the exemption. This sort of "reasoning" has the following form:
- Person A accepts standard(s) S and applies them to others in circumtance(s) C.
- Person A is in circumstance(s) C.
- Therefore A is exempt from S.
Once again let me say that all attempts to defend Christianity are little more than special pleading to a conclusion based on other grounds, most notably one's culture and private subjective experience. To see this for what it is just look seriously at how Muslims, Mormons and Moonies defend their faiths. Don't just note that their conclusions are different. Look at how they reason. So the only way to defend Christianity is to argue that one's culture and private subjective experience are reliable guides to the truth about the nature and workings of the universe. But anyone who has visited a different culture, or took seriously the fact of religious diversity, should see quite clearly that neither of them are reliable guides to the truth. Christians are therefore in denial.
So let's try to understand what Loftus is arguing. He is saying that Christians are in the same circumstances C as Muslims, Mormons, Moonies, and all other religious people because the standards S by which we reason and accept reality are blinded by our own culture and private subjective experiences. It is true that if Christianity was only based on culture and private subjective experience, Loftus would be right. But this where his reasoning goes off the rails. Biblical Christianity is independent of opinions and culture for its truth claims. The commands given in the Bible are independent of your culture and what you feel about them. So is Jesus' sacrifice - his death, burial, and resurrection. This also transcends whatever religious diversity arguments anyone might even think of raising. Just because they are rejected by another religion does not make them wrong. True that depending on your own experience or understanding will not lead you to any truth. Christianty is not based on either.
They prefer to live in a childish pretend world where they have an unfounded hope because of the perceived need for hope. Faith is a pathology that keeps Christians from taking responsibility for their own lives, that keeps them from thinking for themselves, that allows them to mindlessly quote-mine from the Bible, that forever keeps them from growing up. I have never been more convinced of this as I am today.
This sure is a lot of accusations being thrown around. Loftus can't substantiate any of it. He has readily admitted in several other posts and books that we can only talk about probabilities because we can't be certain. He even has said that we don't need certainty if we know how likely something is to be true. Yet, he is so certain that the Bible is wrong. The most he can argue is that he thinks that the Bible is probably not true. His "reasoning" for this conclusion is dubious because he agrees that human reasoning is flawed and yet he is using his own reasoning to come that conclusion. He is asking us to think that his reasoning is worth trusting. Yet, I see no reason to drink that kool-aid. The Bible is reliable and more than likely true - it is true.
Christian, you can show us otherwise and here's how. Just produce a series of arguments, along with the objective evidence that backs them up, that your sect-specific type of Christianity is the one true faith without any special pleading.
Biblical Christianity is more than up for this challenge. I would like to see Loftus first make his arguments without special pleading.
The pathological nature of faith should be seen in any attempt to do so. The hard part is to show this is exactly what you're doing, since the nature of the pretend game of faith blinds you from seeing the double-standards you use to defend it. You can see the double-standards in people who defend other faiths. You are blind to this same thing when it comes to your own. You think you have the requisite evidence, but this so-called evidence isn't objective evidence that could convince a reasonable outsider at all. You only accept this so-called evidence because of the need to have hope, even if it's an unfounded one.
I find it amazing that Loftus can't see how the above "observations" apply to him as well as it does some religious proponents. He is truly special pleading because he assumes a standard for evidence for Atheism and pretends that he is using logic and reasoning but Christians are not. All Loftus is using is emotional and based on his own culture and subjective experiences.