Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Loftus Delusion

In response to the charge that his co-opted-from-pluralists-and-unoriginal-argument the Outsider Test for Faith is based on the genetic fallacy, Loftus says:

"This charge is also false. I allow that a religion could still pass the OTF even despite its unreliable origins . . . "(The Christian Delusion, 99, emphasis original).

In response to Victor Reppert's claim that he took and passed the "outsider test for faith," Loftus says:

"But has he? I don't think so at all. I don't think any revealed religion can pass the OTF. . . .[Believers] CANNOT all be exceptions! Believers are simply in denial when they claim their religious faith passes the OTF" (103, emphasis original).


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  2. Paul,

    Did you mean pluralists?

    I have no idea where Loftus may have partially borrowed the OTF and I never considered it that original. It just seems like common sense to me regardless of what topic people are debating. If we are going to take our inherited beliefs seriously, we need to put ourselves in the shoes of others and make absolutely sure we have arguments and evidence that are actually persuasive to outsiders. I don't think that should be a very controversial view. I would think we would all at least agree everyone should be attempting to do that even if we fault the execution.

    Obviously Loftus doesn't think Reppert truly did the job, just as Reppert and the folks here at Triablogue don't think Loftus and other atheists like me have done the job. Otherwise, we'd all be agreeing with each other. I did notice, while reading through The Christian Delusion that Loftus lingers too long on the issue (and not just on Reppert's response) and that he probably should have spent more time pointing people to the actual intellectual arguments in the rest of the book.

    So I can see why you might get the impression that you get. And there are many Christians I would give a great deal of partial credit to, since it doesn't make any sense to say, "No, you haven't been thinking critical thoughts about your religion since the 1970's" like we are even in a position to say. Ultimately things have to be resolved in argument land, even if it is a good idea to call attention to the fact we can't all be that confident of the beliefs we happened to have inherited.

    take care,


  3. What you state isn't the OTF, at least how I read it.

    I know Loftus doesn't think Repprt did. If you read my post (and get in my shoes :-), you'll note he made stronger claims. He went beyond Reppert.

    There are many other absird and self-refuting statements Loftus makes in the chapter, I will probably point them out later.

  4. Darn that outsider test for faith. You try to get clear on what it amounts to, and its meaning becomes foggy. It's so hard to tell whether you've taken it or not.

    The OTF sounds like some reasonable claims you might make, but in order to make it really work as an objection to Christianity, you have to go beyond those sensible claims and say some things that look to me like anti-Christian special pleading.

  5. Victor,

    Yeah, I don't think Loftus really did you justice. I cover that here if you care.