Friday, July 23, 2010

Atheist Hissy Fit

I'm aware that John Loftus is doing a series of posts responding to my critique of his "outsider test for faith" argument. I'll respond later. Right now I'm interesting in a comment an atheist made in the comments section of part 1.
WAR_ON_ERROR said...

It is really bizarre that Manata's counter examples included the use of taste preference as though truth criteria wouldn't have an impact on the validity of the counterexample. I read that and was like, "He is NOT going with that...Oh wow...he IS."

And his defense of philosophical solipsism (as though there's no reason to have good arguments for our positions on morality and politics), makes me anxious about humanity in general. Do people actually listen to this stuff? "I deeply value x and therefore have the right to not evaluate my value like an outsider." WTF? That's just scary and speaks volumes on where they are coming from. It's like, "Oh, *that's* why you rarely make sense. You don't think you actually *have* to make sense in any kind of impartial way at a fundamental level." Why are they even attempting to convince anyone of anything? "We're Just Expressing Our Insufficiently Critical Christian Selves at Infidels Who Call Us Names" should be the title of their counter-book. I'm surprised anyone would publicly admit to the kinds of things Manata said, but other Christians seem to be applauding. I suppose your OTF really brought that "right to assert conclusion" out of them.

1. WOE never bothers to show that the counter example doesn't work.

2. The really unfortunate part is that WOE went on this emotional tirade and suggested that only a dumb religious believer could say what I said. A problem is that the exact same points WOE complains about was made to me by a famous atheist philosopher (one who may have even blurbed the book, I will keep his identity undisclosed for the time being. If Loftus takes this same tactic, then I let the embarrassing cat out of the bag). In fact, this philosopher made both points about matters of taste as well as values. I think that's sufficient to declaw this little kitty's over-the-top rhetoric.

3. I did not defend philosophical solipsism. In fact, I assumed that is was false.

I'm not sure what he's referring to, but here's two problems:

(a) Is he referring to the point I made in my review of Tarico's chapter? I didn't defend solipsism, I argued that it is a logical consequence of social constructivism, but it would be solipsism with a "we" rather than an "I", as Putnam once said.

(b) Is he referring to the OTF (I didn't think I brought up solipsism)? The OTF says that we should have "the same level of skepticism" towards all of our beliefs. Each one needs to be "tested." I argued that it is absurd to think that we should treat the belief in maya with "the same level of skepticism" that we treat belief in a real mind-independent external world. I quoted John Loftus assigning the latter a higher probability, which means that we shouldn't treat them with "the same level of skepticism." I think solipsism shouldn't get treated with "the same level of skepticism" as all other beliefs, and I don't think solipsism's truth value is equipossible with all other philosophical beliefs, but these are things the OTF requires us to believe (if it isn't a self-serving, question begging, biased argument against religious belief).

As WOE says, we shouldn't treat solipsism this way and test our belief in the existence of other minds since we have reasons and arguments for believing what we do. I agree! That's why I don't need to take Loftus's OTF. His argument leads to treating maya and solipsism in this way, but WOE says that's clearly an error (which he is sworn to wage war on). Likewise, I have reasons and good arguments for Christianity, so I don't think I'll be taking the test today. Loftus's test rests on the genetic fallacy, I showed why this is mistaken even if we grant Loftus's premises about the origin of our religious beliefs.

4. The attitude WOE expresses is odd given that he tried to paint me with the brush as an emotional, angry, hissy fit throwing Christian.


  1. 1. I did show it. Your counterexample is meaningless because it does not have to do with truth, but instead preference. Why would we need to re-evaluate our preferences? Loftus doesn't need to change anything to make his argument more "valid" in light of the obvious. When presented with a world full of other philosophies (that do obviously intend to have to do with truth) why would we privilege what we've accidentally inherited?

    2. I'm not relegating that to Christians or even religious people. It seems humans in general feel an overly defensive sense of entitlement with the beliefs they happen to have inherited. So my anxiety is nearly universal and I would make a stink about the comments of whatever nameless atheist you are referring to.

    3a. No.

    3b. If you attack the OTF or the OTB in substance, you are defending solipsism, since boiled down the OT is a heuristical way to shake people to their senses about being consistent and not asserting your conclusion. It is really easy to be wrong and we do tend to judge other foreign beliefs more harshly than our own. And you specifically put down the idea of evaluating our political and philosophical values: "That people disagree about my values gives me no reason to drop mine and test them with the same level of skepticism I have towards theirs." Really? When people disagree with me, I pretty much always make sure to use their confidence in what they believe as a subjective test for my own consistency. Where are they coming from? Why? How does that compare to my background? Who is more consistent? Etc.

    4. I was venting. I'm sure you can deal with that in some mature way.


  2. 1. You didn't show it. If you want to show it then formalize Loftus's argument, show the justification for each step according to rules of logic, and then formalize my counterexample, and show that the form is different. Until then, we only have your say-so (BTW, 3 PhDs could not formalize it, and neither could the students at Carnegie Melon's advanced logic camp, that's 'cause the argument is a joke, they all lauged at Loftus).

    2. The point was that Graham Oppy made the same point. I trust his ability to reconstruct and analyze arguments better than yours, that's a speciality of his, after all.

    3. b. Sorry, it doesn't give me a reason to do *what Loftus says*. Read my arguments more carefully. I argued at length, and have since defended it in more detail, that Loftus's "with the same level of skepticism" is bunk. I have offered numerous obvious counterexamples to that claim. I am not claiming that we shouldn't be critical of what we believe, or make sure we're not applying double standards. But I can do that without dropping my belief in Christianity Also, some beliefs are closer to the center of the web of belief (a la Quine) and cause greater cognitive disaster if messed with, so there's obviously more protection of those beliefs, and for good reason. I argued for this in TID and again in my latest response to Loftus.

    4. No, you acted like a punk. You acted like the religious zealots you despise.

  3. In reverse:

    4. It appears you've had your feelings hurt. Chill out. Or don't. But it won't help the case for you not being petty and cliche'. (if you care about that)

    3. Your issue seems to be tied up in your inability to even *provisionally* set your belief aside for outsider examination. You act like you are in some actual peril if you exercise some mere thought experiments. If you don't believe in double standards, and you cut the drama, I don't see why anyone here on Triablogue has to take up such issue with the OTF.

    2. I'm sure you agree with everything atheist, Graham Oppy says about what arguments are valid and which aren't. Are Calvinists allowed to trust atheists about anything? :p

    1. General rules of thumb won't be iron clad theorems, so your sense of relevancy differs greatly from mine. For example, though I think it was a bit silly for you to bombard Tarico's chapter with a bunch of unrelated philosophical objections, I can understand that those are real issues that typically divide atheist philosophers from Christian philosophers and weren't addressed in TCD. But are those philosophical objections what typically give your average Christian their subjective confidence? Probably you need to deal with her chapter more sensibly on its own terms. So, it's fair to mention the philosophical issues *somewhere*, but it seems to me that if I were in your shoes, I would have used those issues on Loftus' chapter 4 instead to say, "My worldview passes the OTF, because it is necessary to explain philosophical issue x, y, and z." But you don't do that. It's a free country though, so by all means, keep it up!


  4. in reverse

    4. No. Just pointed out the emotional tirade you went on, just like Tarico said was true of believers.

    3. I gave several arguments for why the OTF is bunk. Deal with them.

    2. In this case I choose between the say-so of two atheists. I sided with Graham Oppy over you.

    1. So you can't formalize the argment, then you can't make your claim, period.

    As I said in my into to TID, I also went on the attack and mounted positive arguments. I wasn't there to play nice.

    My stuff had bearing on Tarico's philosophical claims. Also, other commenters addresses the issues more on her terms. So I took a bazooka and finished her off. And since what I said in other chapters supplements what I said in Loftus's (e.g., I appealed to mind/brain stuff as a reason not to take the OTF, thsoe who argued for in my review of Tarico).