The Demon, Matrix, Material World, and Dream Possibilities

Below is Appendix C from my book, Unapologetic: Why Philosophy of Religion Must End (Pitchstone Publishing, 2015), pp. 257-271. You're welcome! Given the influence of Alvin Plantinga and William Lane Craig, I doubt very much believers have heard these issues discussed like this before. I share it in hopes you'll like what I write enough to read the whole book. 

The Demon, Matrix, Material World,

and Dream Possibilities,

by John W. Loftus

I know as sure as I can know anything that there is a material world and that I can reasonably trust my senses. I conclude that the scientific method is our only sure way for assessing truth claims. These things I know to be the case.

Christian philosopher Alvin Plantinga argues that there are countless things we have proper warrant to believe without proof or evidence, such as the existence of other minds; the continuous existence of the world, even when we don’t perceive it; that we have been alive for more than twenty-four hours; that the past really happened; that we aren’t just brains in a mad scientist’s vat; that we can trust our minds and our senses about the universe; that cause and effect are laws of nature; that nature is ordered, uniform, and intelligible; and so on. So Plantinga rhetorically asks why thebelief in God is in a different category that needs evidence for it.

Christian apologist and philosopher of religion William Lane Craig uses some conjectures to argue as Plantinga does. Dr. Craig writes:

Note : Excerpted with slight edits from my book, The Outsider Test for Faith (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2013), pp. 134–144; 219–221; 223–226.

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Most of our beliefs cannot be evidentially justified. Take, for example, the belief that the world was not created five minutes ago with built-in memory traces, food in our stomachs from meals we never really ate, and other appearances of age. Or the belief that the external world around us is real rather than a computer-generated virtual reality. Anyone who has seen a film like The Matrix realizes that the person living in such a virtual reality has no evidence that he is not in such an illusory world. But surely we’re rational in believing that the world around us is real and has existed longer than five minutes, even though we have no evidence for this. . . . Many of the things we know are not based on evidence. So why must belief in God be so based?1

Christians apologist and philosopher of religion Randal Rauser does the same thing:

Our sensory experience leads us very naturally to believe in the external world. So it is for the Christian’s experience of God. To believe in God is not some arbitrary, top-down explanation we force onto life. Rather, like our experience of matter, it’s a natural, ground-level description of our experience of the world. . . . To put it another way, belief in the external world of matter can be believed rationally without evidence or reasoning. My challenge to you is to explain why belief in the external world is properly basic but belief in God cannot be.2

I have come to the conclusion that all these scenarios are not good defeaters of the demand for sufficient evidence. Take for instance the Cartesian demon hypothesis. Descartes conjectured that there could be an evil demon that deceives us about everything we think is true, and consequently there would be no evidence that could lead us to think otherwise. Is the evil demon hypothesis possible? Yes. Is it probable? Not by a long shot. Descartes used his extreme method of hypothetical doubt like a massive sword. The mere possibility that there is such a demon was enough to cast doubt on his knowledge about the material world. But why must we base what we think on a mere possibility? Once again, probability is all that matters. There is no reason and no evidence to suppose that such a being exists. If looking for and not finding such a demon does not constitute grounds for denying his existence, then looking for and not

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finding the elves of Iceland, the trolls of Norway, the Loch Ness monster, the abominable snowman, bigfoot, the tooth fairy, Santa Claus, satyrs, ghosts, goblins, unicorns, mermaids, or hobbits does not constitute grounds for denying their existence either. Even if such a demon exists I should still conclude what I do because of the lack of evidence.

Michael Martin argues that if there is an evil demon that deceives us, then we would have to say that no belief is rational, and as such “it would seem to entail that we could never be justified in thinking that it was.”3 Such a possibility undercuts any hope of knowing anything at all, and that’s a pill no reasonable person should swallow. Martin adds that it’s more reasonable to think we can come to correct conclusions based on the evidence than that such an evil demon exists, because it’s a much simpler view without adding entities unnecessarily (Ockham’s razor), and he argues that there is no reason to accept the demon possibility because it is unfalsifiable. He also argues that the demon hypothesis cannot explain the survival of the human race, since in order to survive in this world human beings have needed to act on correct conclusions derived from the world around us. So this is strong evidence that we are not being deceived by that demon.

Descartes searched for certain knowledge, a goal that was long ago abandoned by most philosophers. But a lack of certainty does little to undercut the need for sufficient evidence before accepting a proposition about the nature of our experience in this world. All we need to do is (1) think inductively rather than deductively, (2) think exclusively in terms of probabilities, and (3) understand that when speaking of sufficient evidence what is meant is evidence plus reasoning based on that evidence. The requirement for sufficient evidence does not come from a deductive argument stemming from the first principles of philosophy. No, it comes by means of an inductive argument based on the results of science. So an inductive argument that leads to a probable conclusion about the need for sufficient evidence cannot be self-defeating. This conclusion might be wrong, as improbable as that is, but it’s not self-defeating. If, in addition, we think exclusively in terms of probabilities rather than possibilities, we won’t need to achieve certainty with regard to any proposition either. A good argument based on some evidence is good enough. This means that if we understand the requirement for sufficient evidence is based on evidence plus reasoning based on that evidence, there can be no objection to this requirement.

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Who in their right mind would not want sufficient evidence for what they accept as true? The evidence for this requirement can be found everywhere, leading us to an exceedingly probable conclusion. Again, probability is all that matters. Christians cannot slip in the mere possibility that there are things they can believe without sufficient evidence when the total weight of evidence is against such a bald-faced assertion. We need only look to the alternative proposition that people are within their epistemic rights to believe without sufficient evidence in any other area. That’s a recipe for disaster.

What about the possibility seen in the blockbuster movie The Matrix? The possibility that I’m presently living in a virtual, matrix world, rather than in the real world, cannot be taken seriously by any intelligent person. The story is extremely implausible. I see no reason why there would be any knowledge of the matrix by people living in it, since the matrix determines all their experiences. So how could taking a virtual red pill while in the matrix get someone out of it and into the real world in the first place? As far as Neo, the protagonist in The Matrix, knows, the red pill could have been nothing more than a hallucinogenic drug. And even if Neo came to believe a real world lies beyond his own virtual, matrix world, how could he know that the so-called real world isn’t just another matrix beyond the one he experiences? Neo would have no good reason for concluding that he knows which world is the really real world at that point. The really real world could be beyond the one he experienced after taking the red pill, or beyond that one, or beyond that one, and so forth. If all we need to be concerned with is what is possible rather than what is probable we couldn’t claim to know anything at all. We would end up as epistemological solipsists. So, as David Mitsuo Nixon has argued with respect to the matrix, “The proper response to someone’s telling me that my belief could be false is, ‘So what?’ It’s not possibility that matters, it’s probability. So until you give me a good reason to think that my belief is not just possibly false, but probably false, I’m not changing anything about what I believe or what I think I know.”4

In fact, believing we’re in a matrix would be a much closer parallel for believing in God than Craig may realize. Craig is actually giving us a reason to doubt an ad hoc, unevidenced assumption like God. For if it’s silly to believe in the matrix, it should be silly to believe in God. As I’ve argued before, Christians repeatedly retreat to the position that what they believe

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is “possible” or “not impossible.” A possibility is not a probability. The inference does not follow. It’s a huge non sequitur.

These questions are the stock-in-trade of Western philosophers who want to explore the boundaries of knowledge. But ask them if they seriously entertain them and they will almost to a person say no.

Take as another example the existence of a material world. Christian apologist and philosopher of religion Thomas Talbott argued that by examining religious faiths from the perspective of an outsider, with the Outsider Test for Faith, I don’t have any basis for thinking there is a material world.5 I find it amazing that apologists elevate bizarre hypothetical scenarios in order to object to a healthy amount of skepticism. I mean, really, for all of Talbott’s verbosity he thinks, like I do, that there is a material world. I taught philosophy. I know what it’s like to argue that there isn’t a material world. I did it every semester whenever I taught my introduction to philosophy class. It was fun to do. It takes students by surprise as they struggle to find reasons why they think otherwise. It was, to use Talbott’s own phrase, “a pedagogical device.”6 Apparently then, Talbott is stuck in a pedagogical mode, which he states as follows:

As any good teacher knows, a less than fully accurate statement will sometimes reveal more to beginning students, or do more to nudge them in the right direction, than a fully accurate statement will when the latter would be unintelligible to them. As I have elsewhere put it: “Like many teachers, I often find myself saying things to beginning students that I would prefer them to reinterpret (perhaps even to discard) as they mature into more advanced students.”7

Being pedagogical just won’t do here. Either Talbott thinks there is a material world or he does not. If he does, then why bother with this objection at all? Christian apologist and philosopher of religion Mark Hanna thinks there is a contradiction in my reasoning:

It is patently contradictory to say, on the one hand, as Loftus does, that the scientific method is our “only” sure way for assessing truth claims and to say, on the other hand, that we know certain things, such as the existence of a material world and the essential reliability of our senses, which are not the results but the pre-requirements of implanting “the scientific method.”8

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My reasons for thinking there is a material world are similar to Dr. Samuel Johnson’s kicking a stone and declaring he had refuted George Berkeley’s idealism. They are also similar to G. E. Moore’s assertion that he’s more assured he has a pencil in his hand than that the skeptical arguments to the contrary are correct.9 There are plenty of other reasons. One of them is simply that it makes no difference at all if there isn’t a physical universe. There ought to be some sort of difference between propositions if we are to make sense of them as different propositions. Ockham’s razor does the requisite work after acknowledging this. Another reason is science itself. How can we conceive of it working without a materially existing world? Why do we need brains, a liver, lungs, and organs of any kind? Why does surgery save us from death if these organs are not real? How does a doctor prescribe a pill to heal us if there is no material body? What then causes us to be healed if the pill doesn’t do it? Where’s the mechanism for producing a healing effect from a nonphysical cause? To argue there is a spiritual reality that heals us means we do not need to take the prescribed pill at all. Why not just pray instead? Why bother with medicine or surgery at all?

Additionally, why do I have the experience of moving from place to place? Who is moving if I am not the one doing this? How can there be a change of scenery if I do not have a physical body that moves? And who or what guarantees that when I step outside my house day after day the house has the same physical characteristics when I return? Why should our experience be the same every time we look at a given object unless there really is a physical object and a physical world?

The burden of proof is therefore laid squarely on the back of anyone who denies this. But there is no way anyone can deny a material world, since one must presuppose it for the sake of the arguments. After all, these arguments require physical evidence of some kind, so where are we supposed to find this physical evidence if it doesn’t exist? Why not just dispense with the physical evidence altogether and simply assert that an external material universe does not exist, since if this is the case, the physical evidence is irrelevant?

Even scientists who argue for a holographic universe, who think our experience is nothing but a hologram, do not deny that a physical universe exists, because they base their conclusions on the physical evidence. How is it possible to argue there is no material world from evidence that cannot exist without a material world? This would be contradictory. There must be

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some physical evidence for this conclusion. And if there is evidence, then the material world—at least some kind of material world—does exist. It may not be like the one we experience, but it still would exist.

How would such a nonmaterial idealist be able to exclude the possibility that there is a totally different kind of reality beyond the spiritual one, or another reality beyond that one, and so forth? That’s why Ockham’s razor stops these kinds of questions with the simplest explanation rather than adding on entities endlessly. The simplest explanation is that a physical universe of some kind exists. Talbott argues that

with respect to his [Loftus’s] belief in an external physical reality, the perspective of an outsider would be that of many Hindus, an idealist, a panpsychist, a panentheist, or perhaps even a philosophical skeptic such as David Hume. So if Loftus should subject his own belief in an external physical reality to the Outsider Test, then he would need to examine that belief at least as skeptically as an idealist or some other outsider might examine it. And yet, one searches in vain for the slightest hint of doubt on his part or even for a willingness to examine an outsider argument against physical realism (of which there are many).10

If Talbott thinks for one moment that, as an outsider, I must take an outsider stance to a healthy amount of skepticism based in science and reason, then he needs to show why the science I base my argument on is faulty and then propose an alternative that can solve the problem of religious diversity better. The bottom line is that idealism is religious in nature. It seems to me the only people who argue that there is no material world are believers, like George Berkeley, who used this as an argument to God’s existence. He used it in an attempt to solve the mind/ brain problem, which would otherwise undercut his religious faith, by denying the existence of brains. Only religious people would think this, and only a philosopher of religion would use this argument, which is one reason so many people are beginning to eschew philosophy of religion as vacuous.

Talbott also argues that because David Hume was looking for and did not find certainty when it came to a material universe, I should likewise be skeptical that there is a material world. But Talbott should know that the quest for certainty died soon after Hume. Certainty is an unattainable goal. To Talbott or anyone else who may suggest that I might possibility be wrong about a material world, all I can say is, so what? Probability

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is the only thing that matters. Until he gives me a reason to think I am probably wrong, I’m not changing anything I think. We’re always talking about probabilities, not certainties. And we’re not in his introduction to philosophy class either. He should own up to what he really thinks on this issue. I have provided my reasons, just as I did about the matrix and demon hypotheses. That there is a material world passes the outsider test of an informed skepticism.

Consider next the reasons to think the world has existed for more than five minutes. We have memories that are usually correct. We know people with whom we can reminisce. We have baby pictures of ourselves and old shoes, clothes, and memorabilia from previous years. There are artifacts from previous eras, too, including archaeological evidence of our ancient past. There are rock formations that show the earth to be a few billion years old. We also have scientific evidence for the Big Bang. That the world has existed longer than five minutes is extremely probable. To someone who claims differently, I merely say again, so what? Possibility does not matter. No wonder I think scientifically uniformed philosophy is of little use. No wonder it has little or no respect among real scientists.

As one last example, when it comes to the question of whether I’m dreaming right now, Norman Malcolm, in his book Dreaming, and Bernard Williams, in his book Descartes, have made the case that there is a difference between dreams and our waking experience.11 The fact that we can distinguish between them presupposes that we are aware of both states as well as the differences between them. It’s only from the perspective of being awake that we can explain our dreams. Hence we can only make sense of this distinction if we are sometimes awake. And since this is the case, all our experiences throughout our entire lives cannot be made up merely of a sequence of dreams. I still may not know exactly when I’m dreaming, but it’s highly probable that I’m awake right now as I type these words and as I read over them.

One thing I have personally found is that when it comes to reading a document of any kind I cannot do so in my dreams. I suspect it’s because my dreaming mind has to simultaneously write whatever it is I’m reading in a dream, and writing is hard mental work, the kind that doesn’t take place on the spur of the moment even when I’m awake. But when I’m awake I can read through a whole book. So I can know I’m awake whenever I’m reading a book.

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Furthermore, I can have conversations with people during my waking hours that can be the basis for subsequent conversations the next day, after I’ve slept and subsequently risen from bed. I don’t fall asleep while eating dinner and I don’t wake up while running a race. I fall asleep in bed and wake up in the same bed I laid down in, except if I sleepwalk or someone picks me up and carries me to another bed while I’m sleeping. I sometimes wake up from dreams a couple of times per night. But I always wake up in the same bed in which I fell asleep. In my dreams I can have the experience of seeing or doing things that go against the laws of nature, like having the superhuman power of flight or seeing something transformed into something else. The best explanation is that we know when we are awake, even if our dreams can fool us.

I live my life based on short-term memories. If I were to doubt them and habitually fail to arrive for appointments I’ve made the previous day, I would fail in life, groping without a compass through a haphazard dream world of random choices. I would be an unreliable person. Life demands that I trust my short-term memories, that I know I am not now dreaming, that I arrive at appointments I made the previous day while awake. I should do so even if I am dreaming right now. It doesn’t change a thing if I am. My point is that faith has nothing to do with this reasoning process. Probabilities are all that matter.

What Christian apologists are doing with all these bizarre scenarios is leveling the playing field between what they claim to know on faith and what we know based on experiencing the natural world. So David Eller has rightly argued that “knowing is not believing.” He claims that if believers “can drag down real knowledge to their level and erase any distinctions between the true and the false, the known and the merely felt or believed or guessed, they can rest comfortably in their own undeserved self-certainty.” According to him, “knowledge is about reason” while “belief is about faith.” He says, “The two are logically and psychologically utterly different and even incompatible.”12 He simply refuses to play this religious language game.

* * * * *

This is what I know about faith: Faith has no method.

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Faith cannot solve any problems. Faith cannot explain anything. Faith depends on mysteries. Faith can and does lead to a denial of the evidence. Faith is pretty much immune from debunking. Faith is rooted in fear and ignorance. With faith as a foundation anything at all can be believed or denied.

The problem is that practically nothing is certain. But accepting some conclusion because it’s merely possible is irrational. We should never do that. I suppose it’s possible a man could jump off a building and fly, right? After all, he could instantaneously grow wings or a huge burst of air could keep him afloat or a supernatural force could propel him through the air. It’s even possible that the man could be dreaming, and in the dream he can fly, or that there isn’t a material world, and in the world of his mind he can fly. Okay, I understand all this. All these scenarios are remotely possible, I suppose, but because they are so remote I consider them virtually impossible.

By contrast, consider the opposite scenario. It’s probable that if the man jumps off a building he will fall to the ground. How probable is this? Well, since it’s possible he won’t fall (per our examples above), we cannot say with certainty that he will fall. But it’s virtually certain that he will. In between these extremes there are a lot of different odds for something, stretching from extremely improbable, very improbable, improbable, and slightly improbable to even odds, slightly probable, probable, very probable, and extremely probable. As I have said, we should think exclusively in terms of probabilities. We don’t have a word to differentiate between the odds on that continuum stretching from virtually impossible to virtually certain. But does anyone really want to suggest the word faith applies to these different probabilities such that there is the same amount of faith required to accept any one of them? If so, that is being irrational.

If believers want to say that more faith is required to accept something that is virtually impossible and less faith is required to accept something that is virtually certain, what can they possibly mean? What is faith at that point? Faith adds nothing to the actual probabilities. Having more of it or less of it does not change anything. If it’s possible to accept a virtually impossible conclusion by having more faith, that’s irrational. And if we have a virtually certain conclusion then we don’t need faith at all.

What about something that is only slightly probable, one might ask. What if we accept something that has only a 60 percent chance of being true? I still don’t see where faith can change the actual probabilities. Faith

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cannot change a thing, you see. Faith adds nothing. Accepting faith as a basis for knowledge is irrational. Who would fill in the probability gap with anything more than what the probabilities actually show us?

Not me.

The only sense I can make of the way believers use the word faith is that it’s an irrational leap over the probabilities. Believers fill in the actual probabilities with faith in order to call an improbable conclusion extremely probable, and that is quite simply irrational. A probability is a probability is a probability. When it comes to propositions about entities that exist or events that may have taken place, we must think exclusively in terms of probabilities.

* * * * *

Randal Rauser thinks it’s easy to define faith. He defines it as “assent to a proposition that is conceivably false.”13 By doing so he’s lowered the bar so far that everyone could be thought to have faith. On the basis of this self-serving definition he can go on to claim Christians are doing nothing more than what all other people do. Faith, then, is equally involved when it comes to trusting our short-term memories, our senses, and even scientific conclusions that are based on an overwhelming amount of physical evidence.

Now I don’t doubt for a minute that all propositions are conceivably false. What I deny is that mere possibilities count as anything significant. The more something is considered conceivably false, the less we should pay attention to it, for if we were to treat every proposition as being equally likely to be false, simply because any fact is conceivably false, we would all be paralyzed and unable to accept any proposition as true. This is what I object to.

Let’s just focus on one example, the fact that the sun will rise tomorrow morning over the horizon where I live in Indiana. Given that the sun has risen every day of the earth’s existence, and given that the earth has existed for about 4.5 billion years, the odds that it will rise again tomorrow are about 1.643 trillion to 1. So when I say I know the sun will rise today I can say this with a great deal of certainty. The odds are virtually certain the sun will rise over the horizon (even if clouds might hide it from view).

The question is whether I need to be absolutely certain that the sun

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will rise tomorrow. I think not, obviously so. I don’t need this gap to be filled. I don’t need to be certain the sun will rise tomorrow. I am quite comfortable going with the odds, the probabilities. I could be wrong, but so what? Probability is all that matters. We should think exclusively in terms of probabilities. Faith adds nothing to my calculations at all. This goes for everything else I think is probably true.

Is faith used to calculate the very probabilities I use to conclude the sun will rise tomorrow? How so? That a great deal of background knowledge from personal experience is used to calculate the probabilities is granted, and most all of it could conceivably be false, too. So? This background knowledge has the weight of probability; at least, we accept it as more probable than not overall. We cannot do otherwise. What else do we have for judging our background knowledge except the probabilities? I trust my background knowledge not because of faith, but because it is built up based on the evidence of personal experience one layer at a time from birth. Trust is based on the probabilities, which are in turn based on the evidence of past experience, that’s why faith is not the same as trust. If it were the same, Rauser would be equivocating on the meaning of the word faith, for faith would become equivalent to trusting the probabilities, which is the very thing for which I argue. Therefore, to say we need faith to think the sun will rise tomorrow is at best superfluous, completely unnecessary, utterly irrelevant, and at worst irrational.

Christians will typically respond that faith is what is required to uphold the things we believe are most probable. How does faith do that? Imagine flipping a quarter. The probability of getting heads is equal to the probability of getting tails. Where is faith? What does it do here? How does having faith change the odds? Imagine a lottery in which you have a 1 in 80 million chance of winning. Where is faith? What does it do here? How does having faith change the odds? Imagine a sports contest, say a boxing match. Gamblers place their bets on who will win based on the odds. Where is faith? What does it do here? How does having faith change the odds?

When it comes to providing scientific evidence that we should think exclusively in terms of probabilities we must think in Bayesian terms. The two hypotheses to be compared are: (1) science helps us arrive at the truth and (2) faith helps us arrive at the truth. Since faith has no method, solves no problems, and reaches conclusions contrary to probabilities that

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are calculated based on the evidence generated by objective observation and experimentation, the probability that it helps us arrive at the truth is extremely low.

The really intriguing cases have to do with a host of hypothetical scenarios. Am I really typing these words in September 2012? There is faith involved, they argue, since it’s conceivable that I’m not. For all I know, it’s currently 2032 and a mad scientist, having just extracted my brain, is now pouring chemicals over it so that I’m merely remembering that I typed these words twenty years in the past. There is a host of scenarios like these. Perhaps our universe is nothing more than a raindrop in a thunderstorm that’s taking place in a much larger universe. Perhaps. Perhaps.

I have argued that none of these hypothetical scenarios are probable, but that’s beside the point here. Let’s call these scenarios possible explanations for our mundane experience of life. Rauser claims that anyone who assents to the proposition that they are probably false has faith. But what Rauser has failed to provide in his definition is the continuum by which he judges something as conceivably false. Is everything conceivably false to the same degree? Or are there some things that are more or less probable?

So he has a choice to make. Either (a) he must say there is no way at all to judge between the probabilities of these scenarios, including our mundane experience of life, which means all the scenarios are equally probable, or (b) he must admit he’s thinking about all of them exclusively in terms of the probabilities after all. In either case, Rauser doesn’t have a soapbox to preach on, for it follows that choosing (a) requires Rauser should be a skeptic, a real skeptic, a nonbeliever, and, beyond this, potentially an epistemological solipsist, while choosing (b) dispenses with the need for, and the value of, faith itself. So in the end Rauser is playing a Christian language game, one that no one needs to accept.

But wait! Don’t change the channel. There’s more.

Let’s say we are living in the matrix or dreaming right now. It still doesn’t change the fact that we should think exclusively in terms of the probabilities inside the matrix or the dream. If reality is up for grabs, with no way to assess any probabilities at all, then we might as well take a gun and shoot ourselves in the head. After all, perhaps there isn’t a bullet in the gun? Perhaps the bullet won’t fire even if it exists? Perhaps there isn’t really a gun in our hand? Perhaps we’ll miss if we pull the trigger? Perhaps it won’t hurt even if it hits our head? Perhaps our head will heal instantly even if

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it hurts us? What’s the probability we’ll die? We might just be dreaming instead. And we might as well rob a bank, too. Hey, why not? What’s the probability we might get away with it? What if we’re merely brains in a vat and we already got away with it or we already paid the price in prison twenty years ago? What difference does it make now? So even if we’re inside the matrix or we’re dreaming or our brains are in a vat, we should still assess Christianity based on the probabilities. Probabilities are all that matter. Faith adds nothing to the probabilities, nothing at all. Rauser’s definition of faith is therefore utterly irrelevant to whether Christianity is true. It’s a Christian language game, pure and simple.

Notes

1. William Lane Craig, “The Witness of the Holy Spirit,” Reasonable Faith, http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-witness-of-the-holy-spirit (accessed November 26, 2012).

2. Randal Rauser, The Swedish Atheist, the Scuba Diver, and Other Apologetic Rabbit Trails (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2012), chapter 6.

3. See Michael Martin, Atheism: A Philosophical Justification (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1990), pp. 35–38.

4. David Mitsuo Nixon, “The Matrix Possibility,” in The Matrix and Philosophy: Welcome to the Desert of the Real, ed. William Irwin (Chicago: Open Court, 2002), p. 30.

5. Thomas Talbott, “The Outsider Test for Faith: How Serious a Challenge Is It?” http://www.willamette.edu/~ttalbott/Loftus% 20OTF2. pdf (accessed November 26, 2012).

6.  Ibid, p. 24, n. 23.

7.  Ibid., p. 26.

8. Mark Hanna, Biblical Christianity: Truth or Delusion (Xulon Press, 2011), p. 125.

9. G. E. Moore, “A Defense of Common Sense,” Digital Text International, http://www.ditext.com/moore/common-sense.html (accessed December 27, 2012).

    10. Talbott, “Outsider Test for Faith,” p. 24.

  11. See Norman Malcolm, “Dreaming and Skepticism,” Philosophical Review
65, no. 1 (January 1956): 14–37; Norman Malcolm, Dreaming (New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1976); and Bernard Williams, Descartes: The Project of Pure Enquiry, rev. ed. (New York: Routledge, 2005).

  12. David Eller, Natural Atheism (Cranford, NJ: American Atheist Press, 2004), pp. 132–33. For more, read chapters 5 and 11 in his book Atheism Advanced: Further Thoughts of a Freethinker (Cranford, NJ: American Atheist Press, 2007).

  13. See Randal Rauser’s post “John Loftus Challenges Me to Define Faith,” March 10, 2012, Randal Rauser, http://randalrauser.com/2012/ 03/john-loftus-challenges-me-to-define-faith/.

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