Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Another Revision To John Loftus' Argument

Last year, John Loftus wrote:

Hays (and later Jason Engwer) takes issue with my saying they evaluate other religious faiths using just David Hume‘s evidentiary standards along with a methodological naturalist viewpoint. Any reading of Christian literature on the so-called “cults” will show this statistically. They [Hays and Engwer] claim to evaluate these other religious faiths and miracles as if they are demon produced. Really? How is that anything by way of an objective standard? Yep, demons can account for these other faiths and their miracles. Demons are everywhere. Hays and Engwer can even demonize their opponents, even most other Christians. Such a view is scary to me for certainly they think I am possessed of demons. Yeah, that solves everything when you cannot answer a man’s arguments. Demonize him. Demonize them all. This is such a barbaric view to me. Nonetheless, my OTF eliminates this as any kind of objective standard for evaluating other viewpoints. Muslims claim the same exact thing. They say the reason Christians believe is because demons are deceiving them. Where does that get anyone? I’ll tell you where—nowhere as in NO WHERE.

But earlier this week, he wrote:

Christians claim that any prayer request granted for other believers in different religions is done by their God out of compassion, because only one God exists, theirs. The reason Christians think this, despite the fact that only prayers offered in Jesus' name are to be prayed, is because their own answered prayers have no more evidence for them as the others. So their God becomes the explanation for the answered prayers of a Muslim, or an Orthodox Jew, or a Fred Phelps, or a Roman Catholic, or a liberal Christian, or a Jehovah's Witness, or a Mormon, or a Satanist, or a Hindu.

First he claims that Christians "just" take a naturalistic approach toward non-Christian miracle accounts. Then he acknowledges that Christians like Steve and I attribute non-Christian miracles to demons. (For a response to Loftus' distortion of our view of demonic activity, see my reply to him here.) Then he tells us that Christians attribute some non-Christian miracles to God. But if we just take a naturalistic approach toward non-Christian miracle accounts, then why are demons and God entering the picture? They're not part of naturalism. If our view is nuanced enough to include both demonic and Divine explanations, then why did his initial revision of his argument only mention demons? And where does he get the idea that we "certainly think" he's "possessed of demons"?

The problem here isn't just that John keeps changing his argument. It's also problematic that he would have such misconceptions of Christianity to begin with or would knowingly distort Christian beliefs to such an extent. It's not difficult to discern that Christians have a highly nuanced view of non-Christian miracle accounts. As I've documented in previous responses to John on this subject, the Bible itself takes such a nuanced approach. Given his age, theological education, background as a pastor, many years of experience critiquing Christianity, etc., why does John keep misrepresenting the beliefs of Christians on issues that are so easy to understand?


  1. That final question is really THE central question to ask. Why does John willingly distort? Why does Richard Dawkins, who doesn't understand the most basic tenants of Christian belief think he is qualified to analyze Christian belief? Why does Penn Teller,who is't familiar enough with the Bible to know whether Psalms is in the old or new testament, think he is qualified to write a book attacking belief? Why are they so willing to make straw man arguments? Because it isn't about logic for them, it is about venting anger at belief, religion, and God.

  2. venting anger at belief ... only beliefs founded on insufficient evidence. Of course, reasonable people can disagree on whether there is sufficient evidence to support Christianity. You have your opinion and I have mine.

    venting anger at religion ... only when it attempts to pervade the public square and impose its dogma on society. See John Rawls and the (reasonable I suggest) necessity for a public reason underpinning to governmental decisions.

    venting at God ... now this is a real straw man. How do you vent at something that you don't believe exists?

  3. Venting anger at beliefs without sufficient evidence: Argh! The belief that all beliefs need sufficient evidence in order to be rational, otherwise we may vent and spew ager and hatred at the belief, is not a belief founded upon sufficient evidence, thus I spew anger and hatred at it. Boo! Hiss!

    Venting anger at religion that pervades the public square see John Rawls: See Steven D. Smith's The Disenchantment of Secular Discourse (Harvard, 2010) for a thorough and masterful debunking of Rawls on this point. Also, boo! Hiss! Rawls's maxim is a belief not held on "sufficient evidence," and if you think it is, then you must think many Christian's religious beliefs are.

    Venting anger at a God who doesn't exist: People can be counterfactually angry, such that they would be angry at the God if he existed. Moreover, God does exist and his existence is clear from what he's made, the rhetoric atheists employ, their arguments and self-justifications, and their general disposition gives evidence that they are angry at their maker.

  4. atheist missionary, are you John lofts? Just curious

  5. I wonder if TAM spends time at Muslim or Hindu sites expressing his unbelief in their gods?

    In Christ,

  6. The disciples of the Great Spaghetti Monster are making political inroads into the Austrian mainstream: