Phil Bair On Atheism, Miracles, and Extraordinary Evidence

No intellectual should expect that a good argument is one that convinces reasonable people. What we should expect is that an argument is a good one, or a strong one, or very strong one, irrespective of whether it is a convincing one. Even though I know this, I still try to come up with arguments that are convincing to most reasonable people. I expect kickback from Christian believers. What can annoy me is kickback from other atheists and agnostics, especially if they don't let it go after a while, until they say nothing new I haven't considered before. More on that in another post.

This post will concern Phil Bair, a good guy who engages me on Facebook from time to time. He's spent 40 years by his count, studying these issues. He even wrote a book. His target is atheism.

Bair still claims non-believers have no objective criteria for what counts as extrordinary evidence, even though I previously answered his objection:
I know what does not count as extraordinary evidence. Second- third- fourth-hand hearsay testimonial evidence doesn’t count, nor circumstantial evidence, nor anecdotal evidence as reported in documents that are centuries later than the supposed events, which were copied by scribes and theologians who had no qualms about including forgeries. I also know that subjective feelings or experiences or inner voices don’t count as extraordinary evidence, nor someone who tells others his writings are inspired, nor divine communication through dreams, or visions. LINK
Once these facts are acknowledged all Bair has to do is the math. Just subtract from his apologetics these "evidences" and see what's left of his apologetics.

Speaking of math...

Since I first responded to him I have now gone farther by specifying the kind of objective evidence that's required.

Bair said: "Whether something is improbable is ultimately irrelevant to the issue of the historical evidence supporting it. The only thing that matters is whether or not it's true."

My response:
Sure, what matters is the truth, but the thing that matters most is why a reasonable god allegedly created people with irrational cognitive biased brains like ours, which are willing to deceive their hosts with comfortable myths of a sky daddy who loves and cares for them when the evidence of horrendous suffering is overwhelmingly against it, and who are willing to believe in miracles and myths and fantasy beings like Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and Easter Bunny without any credible evidence, and who as adults, defend what they were taught at the age of four years old.
References follow. Prepare for an education.

-- Watch this talk by Peter Boghossian. It's alone can bring you to your senses. "Faith Based Belief Processes Are Unreliable"

--Comedian Bill Burr nails it.

--There are at least seven problems with believing in the biblical claims of miracles.

--I referred him to my anthologies on miracles and suffering then said this:
Become better informed. Stop special pleading. Stop being the answer man. Be open-minded enough to admit your faith lacks relevant objective evidence. Be different than lifelong apologists for Mormonism, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, and other faiths. Cultivate the quality of authenticity or honesty in searching for the truth.
Bair said he had read a few of my books (!!) and subsequently went on an attack against atheism, and told me to become better informed about my "faith" by reading his book.

--I responded:
Phil Bair just for a point of reference. Atheism could be wrong and a nebulous god of deism might exist instead. Don't make the nonsequitur to think in those kind of extremes. Either your fundamentalist Christianity or atheism? No!

All non-Christian believers in every major religion and sect, and all pantheists, Buddhists, Hindu's, Muslims, Jews, and cults and paranormal groups reject atheism in favor of their own sect specific faiths.

So even if you are right about atheism (which I could care less, really) you must still deal with my criticisms of your faith, because they are the same ones liberals use, and deists, panentheists, and every religion under the sun.
-- Bair:
John W. Loftus I'm not the one who is presenting the false dichotomy between "fundamentalist" Christianity or atheism. You're committing the fallacy of the argument from ignorance. Whether non-Christians reject atheism for their own faiths is irrelevant.

I do deal with your criticisms, and have been for years. They are nothing new, and not original with you. These fallacies have been around for decades and even centuries. If you would take the time to read my book like I've taken the time to read yours in good faith, you would know that, and you wouldn't make the comments you're making. You would know better.

The only thing that matters here is the problem you're running away from and hiding behind the plurality of faiths to avoid. So I recommend you stop hiding and avoiding the obvious. How are you going to solve your fatal problem of epistemology? You haven't even begun to address that issue. Until you do, everything else is a waste of time.
My response: Phil Bair if the problem of religious diversity can be settled at all, it will be done from the perspective of an outsider.

John W. Loftus perhaps. But an insider can analyze a question "from the perspective of an outsider." All they have to do is adopt your outsider perspective principle. I have found that principle useful on several occasions. (I don't know if that principle is original with you, but you're the first one I heard it from, and you described it eloquently.)
My Response: Phil Bair it was basically from the perspective of an insider I came to disbelief. But the perspective of the outsider is quicker and easier.


There! That was helpful and informative, a basic waste of time. But I do offer very strong arguments, even if they are not convincing. Don't I? ;-)


John W. Loftus is a philosopher and counter-apologist credited with 12 critically acclaimed books, including The Case against Miracles, God and Horrendous Suffering, and Varieties of Jesus Mythicism. Please support DC by sharing our posts, or by subscribing, donating, or buying our books at Amazon. Thank you so much!