Monday, June 27, 2011

How to Know Who Should Take an Outsider Test and When

There's currently a lot of needless debate over taking an Outsider Test for Faith. Should we take it, or shouldn't we? Now, it must be remembered that the outsider test for faith is just an application of a general rule to a specific instance. The general rule is an "outsider test," and it is applied in the current dialectic to faiths. However, it could just as easily be applied to philosophical beliefs, cultural beliefs, scientific beliefs, etc. Here's how this goes as presented by John Loftus:

1. Rational people in distinct geographical locations around the world
overwhelmingly adopt and defend a wide diversity of X-beliefs
due to their upbringing and culture.

2. Consequently, it seems very likely that adopting one’s X-belief
is not merely a matter of independent rational judgment but is
causally dependent on cultural conditions to an overwhelming degree.

3. Hence the odds are highly likely that any given X-belief
is false.

4. So the best way to test one’s X-belief is from the
perspective of an outsider, with the same level of skepticism used to
evaluate other beliefs.

And 'X' is a pretty large container. Math-beliefs, science-beliefs, religious-beliefs, ethical-beliefs, sociological-beliefs, etc., can substitute for X. (1) - (4) as stands is fallacious and unsound, but leave that aside.

As I said, there's been all manner of ink spilling and hair pulling trying to figure out who has to take these tests and when. I will do my part to help out. Let me propose a test of my own, it's the Test for Knowing When to Take an Outsider Test for Anything: TKWTOTA

Step 1. You realize that you believe that p.

Step 2. You realize other tribes believe ¬p.

Step 3. You then examine the grounds for your believing p.

Step 4. You cannot find even one reason to believe that p other than the fact that p is believed by you merely because your tribe believes that p.

Step 5. Your tribe is not in a good position to know that p, or your tribe's believing that p isn't a reliable indicator of the truth of p.

Step 6. After 4 and 5, you may be less confident that p is true.

So, only if steps 1-6 apply should you even think about taking an outsider test.

Now that we have the standards, I hope all this business about who should take an outsider test and when is cleared up. The answer, if you're wondering, is that hardly anyone should take an outsider test.

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