Showing posts with label "Rauser". Show all posts
Showing posts with label "Rauser". Show all posts

The Amateurishness and Toxicity of Randal Rauser

Benjamin Blake Speed Watkins put up a twofold discussion starter question on Twitter, which he's very good at doing. He asked, "What are ways that atheists and theists can raise the level of discourse online? How do we get these discussions to look more like philosophy?" 
Presumably he's addressing our lower levels of discourse and our lower levels of philosophy. He wanted to know how we can raise them up to better, higher standards. In what follows you'll see an egregious example of the problem he seeks to address. Since he can be a bit provocative at times, I began with something provocative.

The Biggest Christian Obfuscation of Them All, On Faith, Destroyed by Tweets

Here is the biggest Christian obfuscation of them all about--you guessed it--faith. It's stated and destroyed in a few short back-and-forth Tweets! 

Rauser Lacks Understanding, But That's What Faith Prohibits


Randal Rauser On Hitchens' Razor


I've recently defended Hitchens' Razor. I think it's a superior viewpoint when looking at miracle claims. Breaking News!!! Randal Rauser doesn't think so, at all. Want to know why? It has to do with the evidence for an external world. Here it is, along with my argumentum ad twitter responses. I think it's one of my best Twitter taken downs.

"God of Genocide? A Debate on Biblical Violence" The Text of My 12 Minute Debate Opener Against Randal Rauser

There’s so much divinely caused and commanded violence in the Bible it can be said that the fear of an angry punishing God is its most prevalent theme, hands down. From the irrational and horrific punishments in the Garden of Eden, to the irrational and horrific punishments predicted in the book of Revelation, and everything in between, we see an angry, cruel, and barbaric god. That’s his usual mode of operation. If people obeyed they were rewarded. But woe to people who didn’t obey.

No wonder serious biblical scholars argue that the god of the Bible is modeled after ancient kings, who were themselves often cruel towards their own subjects. God is just like what we find in the story of Job. Job was a good man but God destroyed everything he had, and killed all his sons, daughters and servants,  just to win a bet with Satan. Such a wanton disregard toward a human being is utterly reprehensible and barbaric. Kings could do that. But a perfectly good god should not do it.

Tonight everything hinges on Rauser’s moral intuitions. His moral intuitions cause him to believe in two contrary irreconcilable propositions. On the one hand, he believes the Bible uniquely and unmistakably reveals the actions and commands of god. On another hand, he rejects the violence in the Bible which uniquely and unmistakably reveals a cruel god.

To accomplish this feat Rauser offers a scenario to show we can sometimes trust our intuitions, despite the lack of objective evidence. He asks us to consider a man who sincerely believed he was innocent of a crime even though all the objective evidence pointed to his guilt. Rauser claims the man is in a position to know he’s innocent because he personally knows that he’s innocent, even if the objective evidence points to him. So let’s picture this. There are several eyewitnesses along with video footage of the man killing someone with a gun he had purchased the day before, which was found at the scene of the crime with his fingerprints on it. With this objective evidence the man should honestly accept that he has a serious case of amnesia, or been drugged, hypnotized, or even lobotomized. He is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Rauser's Moorean Shift


[Note: I watched some of a recent online interview with Dr. Rauser — just enough to get the gist — and wrote the following about his argument this morning. I wasn't aware that the debate with Loftus was already tonight. Maybe the following will be useful for those who watch it. I should also add that there may be additional details to Rauser's argument that this doesn't cover.]

In the book God? A Debate between a Christian and an Atheist (p. 124), William Lane Craig replies to the argument:

If God exists, gratuitous suffering does not exist
Gratuitous suffering exists
Therefore, God does not exist

by means of a so-called “Moorean shift,” in this case by arguing instead:

If God exists, gratuitous suffering does not exist
God exists
Therefore, gratuitous suffering does not exist.

(This is called a Moorean shift after the British philosopher G. E. Moore, who famously turned arguments for philosophical skepticism — e.g., that you might be a brain in a vat — around in this manner.)

What Craig is doing is pointing out that one can deny a premise of an argument if doing so seems more reasonable than accepting its conclusion. He thinks the existence of God is more certain than that of gratuitous suffering. Therefore, rather than accepting the conclusion that God does not exist, he finds it more reasonable to deny the claim that gratuitous suffering exists. Of course, we can easily disagree with Craig's use of this strategy here. The existence of gratuitous suffering (suffering that is morally unjustified and which therefore an all-powerful and perfectly good being would not allow) seems far more certain than the existence of the being himself. So there are good and bad uses of this strategy.

Dr. Randal Rauser Asks Me for a Debate Rematch: "God of Genocide? A Debate on Biblical Violence"


I was happy to be asked to debate him and have agreed! It should be fun and informative and challenging.
Previously we had debated the existence of God at his home church in Edmonton, Canada, on June 5, 2013. On May 4th we're going to debate again, this time at Modern Day Debate which has a Religion and Atheism Debates channel with 45.6K subscribers! Our debate proposition is this: "The Bible, with its divinely commanded violence, wasn't inspired by a perfect God."
I'm sure his material can be found in his just recently released book from "2 Cup Press", Jesus Loves Caananites, you know, the people Yahweh told the Israelites to slaughter back before his day. 

When asked, Randal told me to prep by re-reading our co-written book God or Godless. Okay, I will. I would love it if my readers would do so as well. It's a really good book! [Blurbs below]. 
Even though our relationship had deteriorated to the point that he blocked me from his Twitter feed and prohibited me from commenting on his blog (which in all honesty was my fault due to an utter frustation with his obtuseness), I asked Randal late in January to consider writing a blurb for my very last book on the incompatibility of God and horrendous suffering, to be released near Halloween. He agreed and I sent him the book files for review. He read them then shocked me with this blurb:
As a Christian apologist, I can say that there is no intellectual objection to Christianity more daunting than the problem of horrendous suffering. In this important new book, John Loftus has gathered a diverse collection of voices that seek to build a comprehensive, multi-pronged critique of Christianity based on this most difficult problem. No Christian apologist can afford to ignore it. -- Dr. Randal Rauser, Professor of Historical Theology, Taylor Seminary.
I'm supposing he has some answers to my anthology, we'll see. Got any advice?

Anselm "Faith Seeking Confirmation"

I think Anselm's dictum "faith seeking understanding" is to be understood in the history of theology and philosophy to be equivalent to "Faith Seeking Confirmation." If that's how it's historically used then that's what it means. Below is an updated edit from chapter 2 of my my book, Unapologetic: Why Philosophy of Religion Must End.
There is a common theme among St. Anselm's work and the work of other obfuscationist theologians and philosophers that needs to be highlighted. It’s called faith seeking confirmation. We see this in Anselm with regard to his new atonement theory and his ontological argument.
Anselm therefore is exhibit “A” in defense of what atheist philosopher Stephen Law said: “Anything based on faith, no matter how ludicrous, can be made to be consistent with the available evidence, given a little patience and ingenuity.”1 If I could pick one sentence, one aphorism, one proverb that highlights the main reason philosophy of religion (PoR) must end, it’s Law’s. I’ll call it Law’s law of faith.

Another Case Study In How To Defend Obfuscate The Christian Faith, Part 2

Previously I had written a post titled, Subjective Private Religious Experiences Prove Nothing! Randal Rauser objected to it, so I wrote another one titled, Another Case Study In How To Defend Obfuscate The Christian Faith, Part 1. I'm finally getting around to Part 2, where I offer four tests for the veracity of private subjective miracle claims.

Darren Slade wrote an Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion entry on Miracle Eyewitness Reports, containing a wealth of information packed into a small entry. It speaks to what remains of any attempt to say someone experienced a private miracle. There are way too many distortions and psychological variables that the so-called witness himself should question his own judgment on the matter. If the so-called eyewitness himself cannot find any independent third party objective corroboration of the alleged miracle, not even he should believe it occurred.

Quotes from Slade on weighing the accuracy of miracle reports:

Another Case Study In How To Defend Obfuscate The Christian Faith, Part 1

As readers know I wrote a book on this topic, titled, you guessed it, How to Defend the Christian Faith (subtitled, Advice from an Atheist). The book has received some good recommendations including those from Christian scholars Karl Gilberson, Chad Meister, and Gary Habermas who has recommended it for his PhD apologetics students.

Our case study today is from apologist Randal Rauser, who objected to a recent post of mine, titled Subjective Private Religious Experiences Prove Nothing. The first question is why Rauser the apologist would even care? Surely he has the goods, the objective evidence, a sufficient amount of it, such that he doesn't need to bother with subjective private religious experiences. Right? So by dealing with what I wrote he tacitly admits that a sufficient amount of third party independent corroborative objective evidence does not exist. For if it did, he could ignore what I said. My stated requirement for "a sufficient amount of third party independent corroborative objective evidence", while clumsy and a bit redundant, says it all. The two parties involved are the person claiming to have subjective private religious experiences and a god who provides them. We need sufficient independent evidence, corroborative objective evidence, that has the potential for reasonably convincing third parties.

I'll call these alleged subjective religious experiences private miracles since they cannot be adequately explained by the natural processes of the brain alone, just as biblical miracles cannot be adequately explained by the natural processes of nature alone. Sufficient objective evidence of miracles, the kind we're looking for, the kind we need, is independent corroborative evidence that has the potential for convincing reasonable informed third party adults, whether they're privately experienced in the mind or publicly experienced in the world outside the mind. So all by themselves subjective religious experiences of a private miracle prove nothing to reasonable informed third party adults.

To be clear, I don't deny that these private subjective religious experiences have the potential for convincing people who have experienced them. Sadly, they can and they do convince childish uniformed ignorant gullible superstitious people. What I deny is that they have the potential for convincing reasonable people. That's because to convince a person they should also have the potential for convincing reasonable informed third party adults. To be additionally clear, I'm not talking about some hypothetical fictionalized story of a private miracle experience created to obfuscate actual testimonies. No, I'm talking about the kinds of testimonies people actually claim of private miracles. They are no more able to convince reasonable informed third party adults than ancient biblical testimonies to miracles can.

Ten Lessons From Randal Rauser On How Not to Lose Gracefully

Dr. Randal Rauser and I co-wrote the debate book, God or Godless?, according to which, on most accounts he lost. So he's reviewing his own book on his blog. That's not bad in itself, so long as its educational. One should learn from failed attempts, yes. But he's whining, mischaracterizing and special pleading his case. Typical Christian apologist.

Take for instance his review of chapter five. In that chapter he wanted to debate whether science is a substitute for religion. *Cough* Commenting after the fact on his blog he adds:

Tristan Vick's New Book Exposes Randal Rauser As a Rhetorician Without Much Substance

Tristan Vick is the Advocatus Atheist and has interacted with Randal Rauser for a few years. This past weekend Vick released a new book dealing with the rhetoric of Rauser, titled The Swedish Fish, Deflating the Scuba Diver and Working the Rabbit's Foot, which Edward Babinski and Robert M. Price helped him on.I've seen an advanced copy and I recommended it in these words:
Randal Rauser prides himself on reaching out to atheists. But if Tristan Vick’s book is any indication, he’s failing. He’s failing precisely because he’s not really interested in searching for truth but in defending what he already believes is truth. Although Vick doesn’t have the credentials Rauser has, it doesn’t take much to find fault with the rhetoric that Rauser substitutes in place of good arguments. Tristan Vick effectively demonstrates he will say just about anything in defense of his faith. Well done Tristan!

I'm going recap how Rauser has done so far, and give my predictions of upcoming projects.

David Marshall's Newest Book

Christians have had different responses to the Outsider Test for Faith (OTF), probably because they don't know what to do with it. Christian apologists Norman Geisler, Victor Reppert, Thomas Talbott, Mark Hanna, Randal Rauser and Matthew Flannagan have all rejected it. David Marshall is inclined to embrace it, so I welcome that. He's agreed to shoulder the burden of proof. Now we need to hold him to that. His previous chapter on it can be found in True Reason: Confronting the Irrationality of the New Atheism.

I'm a bit curious to see what Marshall says that might be new in his book, but I can't find it on Amazon yet. Marshall writes about it here. What I'd like to know is how Randal Rauser can reject the OTF and yet endorse Marshall's book. In any case the Arizona Atheist wrote a nice review of Marshall's chapter in "True Reason" seen here.

A lot of atheists instantly embrace the OTF since it seems so intuitively obvious. What they don't realize is how much effort it takes to defend it from believers who are impervious to reason. What I predict is that when the OTF comes up in an online forum, Christians will bring up Marshall's book, or some other one, and say I've been answered. If you as an atheist intend to use the OTF, you had better know how to defend it. So you should read how I do so in my book, The Outsider Test for Faith: How to Know Which Religion Is True.I cover every major objection to it such that neither Marshall nor anyone else can even put a dent in its armor.

Dr. Randal Rauser is a Liar! A Liar For Jesus. There is No Escaping this.

Previously I have hesitated to say Christian apologists are liars. I have excused them because of their delusion. No More. Randal Rauser is a bald faced liar for Jesus. We have no more reason to trust anything he says, anything in defense of his ridiculous faith, none. Lest he delete his post I'll reproduce it below with a link. First the title:

Loftus admits Boghossian doesn’t care 
about truth. I call that bogusian!
 Liar! I did no such thing. Here is what Rauser said, see for yourselves:

Russell Blackford Comments On the Book, "God or Godless"

Russell Blackford is a philosopher with numerous books to his name. On Facebook he said this:
I'm currently reading God or Godless?by John W. Loftus and Randal Rauser. From my perspective, the former is intellectually demolishing the latter. You may think I'm biased, but it's not that simple. I suspect that I would (to my dismay) have had the same response even in my Christian days. Loftus is very good in this debate, but even that is not the problem for Rauser. So much Christian apologetics may be internally consistent... but still looks bizarre and implausible the moment you try to look at it from the outside. There's not much Rauser can do about this.
Biblical scholar Robert Price said the same thing. Dustin Lawson, Josh McDowell's infidel disciple, agreed wholeheartedly.

This is all gratifying to me personally. For anyone who has not seen it, co-author Randal Rauser and I debated each other in Edmonton, Canada, on June 5, 2013. Enjoy it below:

John W. Loftus vs Randal Rauser Debate the Existence of God

This debate took place in Dr. Rauser's home church in Edmonton, Canada, on June 5, 2013. Enjoy.

Dr. Vincent Torley vs Dr. Randal Rauser

Torley spends a great deal of time defending the indefensible. This time he calls out Rauser, which I find interesting and funny. To read what he wrote you can do so right here, under the heading, "Does the reliability of associative knowledge in animals legitimize scientific inference?"
In an article on his Website, Debunking Christianity, the well-known skeptic and former preacher John Loftus, M.A., M.Div., author of Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity, defends the possibility of scientific knowledge along the following lines:
“If there is no God then we don’t know anything.” False. If so, chimps don’t know anything either. They don’t know how to get food, or mate or even where to live. Without knowing anything they should’ve died off a long time ago. And yet here they are. They don’t need a god to know these things. Why do we need a god for knowledge? We learn through a process of trial and error. Since we’ve survived as a human species, we have acquired reliable knowledge about our world. Period.
"There are several things wrong with this argument," Torley writes.

Countering The Accusation That There is Nothing New in My Books

One of the most common claims about my books, coming mostly from Christians but also from a few atheists, neither of whom have any credentials or body of work to their names, is the accusation that there is nothing new in them. I think the reason they say this is because it makes them sound intelligent. For it's very very difficult to come up with a new argument in this late stage of human understanding. Anyone can say this with little fear of being wrong (except when it comes to new scientific findings). Any ignoramus can say such a thing too. It makes them sound superior without actually doing the hard work themselves, of in-depth researching for the best arguments in the available literature and then trying to make a good case themselves. Confound the ancients, they've stolen all of our ideas! So here's my attempt at disabusing them of this claim, something I recently wrote in response to an atheist who said it about the book God or Godless?:

Is Randal Rauser Impervious to Reason?

I have said this about Rauser before. See the definition at left? I could say it of any Christian to some degree, depending on how close he or she is to the truth (liberals are closer than progressive evangelicals who are closer than fundamentalists). Well is he?

Every claim is context dependent. I admit Rauser reasons well in other areas of his life unrelated to his faith. He could even teach a critical thinking class. So he's rational, very much so. But like other Christians he is not rational to believe or defend Christianity because it is not true. When it comes to Christianity he is a believer. Like all believers his brain must basically shut down when it comes to faith. When it comes to faith his brain must disengage. It cannot connect the dots. It refuses to connect them. Faith stops the brain from working properly. Faith is a cognitive bias that causes a believer to overestimate any confirming evidence and underestimate any disconfirming evidence. So his brain will not let reason penetrate it given his faith bias. Some people have even described faith as a virus of the brain (or mind). It makes the brain sick. Maybe Marx said it best though. It's an opiate, a deadening drug.

The Canadian Debate Tour with Randal Rauser Was Very Successful

After having met Randal Rauser and laughed together I now consider him a friend. We've had some harsh words in the past but there is nothing like actually meeting people to realize that they are people. I think this was a good lesson and one I wish others could recognize, whether it's atheists debating other atheists, Christians debating other Christians, atheists and Christians debating each other, or anyone else who debates online. Randal wrote the book, You're Not As Crazy As I Think: Dialogue in a World of Loud Voices and Hardened Opinions, which I positively reviewed on Amazon. His book should serve a reminder that just because we disagree, the other side isn't crazy. Atheists, for instance, need to make a distinction that although faith is irrational, people like Randal are not irrational. It's a tough distinction to make and maintain, but we should try as best as we can, even though it can be very difficult.

This is just one of a few reasons I think the God or Godless debate tour, graciously sponsored by Taylor Seminary in Edmonton, Canada, was very successful. Let me comment then on my trip.