PZ Myers and the Courtier's Reply Again

PZ Myers, like other scientists, will only accept empirical evidence for a religion. If it's not found, that's the end of it. Recently he recommended a parable about sausages in which a philosopher and a scientist discuss a sausage machine. It starts as it ends, like this:
A philosopher designs a marvellous sausage machine. A scientist comes to marvel at this wonderful creation, and raises an eyebrow. The philosopher says, "Ah, behold the wonderful cogs and sprockets and temperature-controlled mixing chambers in my wonderful machine -
surely you can see how it must produce the most fantastic sausages!" The scientist says "Yes, that is all very interesting. Show me the sausages."
None are ever produced.

Scientists regularly denigrate what philosophers and theologians do. But you know what? Believing philosophers and theologians regularly denigrate what scientists do.

What to do?

There are different types of critiques of Christianity. Each one of them stresses something different coming from different areas of expertise. Some of the major areas of criticism come from 1) The sciences, especially evolution and brain science; 2) Biblical and historical criticism; 3) Philosophy, especially the philosophy of religion; 4) Archaeology; 5) Cultural anthropology; 6) Psychology; and, 7) Social and moral criticism of the Bible and the church. There are others. What atheists think is a more effective criticism is not always the same as what Christians think is more effective.

I suspect we won't all agree. Without the sciences (#1) we probably don't have much of a critique at all, at least no reasonable alternative to a creator God, so that has got to be the highest on the list. But here's the problem. Christians denigrate the sciences in favor of their holy book. In every era Christian believers have repeatedly said that reason must bow down before faith, you see. That's the problem when using the sciences in getting Christian believers to change their minds. We must first help believers see that their holy book has holes in it. To do that we must speak to them in their language by critiquing their beliefs in terms they will understand and appreciate. Otherwise we're preaching to the choir.

While I see the value of ridicule, the most effective critique of the Christian faith will be one that can best be described as a counter-apologetic. An apologetic offers reasons from several different areas of expertise on behalf of the Christian faith. A counter-apologetic does the opposite. A counter-apologetic must take believers where they are and move them (or push them) in the right direction, the direction that the sciences have shown us. But since believers usually denigrate the sciences (# 1) I start with the other areas of criticism (#'s 2-7), especially biblical and historical criticism (# 2), and philosophy, especially the philosophy of religion (# 3).

From having studied these issues as a former Christian insider for a number of years this is what I think. Take it for what it's worth. But I think I know what I'm talking about. Don't get me wrong. Every area of expertise is important if we want to change the mind of the believer. But this is the type of critique of the Christian faith I offer.

I've written about this before.