Showing posts with label Mark Mittelberg. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mark Mittelberg. Show all posts

People Who Shouldn't Be Trusted As Experts in Religious Matters. Reviewing Mittelberg's Book "Confident Christianity" Part 13

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Earlier I had offered up Five Things That Disqualify People From Being Experts. Now it's time to mention several indicators showing who shouldn't be trusted as experts in religious matters. These are indicators, some of which are strong indicators, but on their own they don't necessarily disqualify people from being experts in religious matters, although they can. I've categorized them in four groups of indicators: Ignorance, Faulty Reasoning, Faulty Research, and Dishonest or Ulterior Motives. (I'm not going to provide examples in several cases so suggest them as you can.)

Dr. John Shook On Pragmatism, Commenting on Mittelberg's Book "Confident Christianity"

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Dr. Shook is a leading expert on Pragmatism. So I asked him to comment on Mittelberg's inability to distinguish between pragmatism and relativism. He offered one quick helpful comment:
Pragmatism says that anyone finding out what reality is like has to examine all available evidence pro and con, and then go get fresh evidence that tests the current view. Pragmatism is about the scientific method. It looks like relativism to someone who wants final answers right now. Only one pragmatist, William James, ever said that what is useful is true, and he only said that to make a helpful analogy, not explain the theory. If morality, not reality, is the topic, pragmatism is skeptical towards people who think they know the absolute rules for life. Test those rules by applying them in the real world - you will find out you actually know a lot less. Morality should serve what is good for all lives; lives must not be sacrificed for abstract principle.
There. Asking an expert. That was easy!

Five Things That Disqualify People From Being Experts in Religious Matters. Reviewing Mittelberg's Book "Confident Christianity" Part 12

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I'm reviewing Mark Mittelberg's book Confident Faith. [See the "Mark Mittelberg" tag below for others]. Mittelberg had argued we need authorities since we cannot be experts in everything. So the "question is not if we'll be under authority, but which authorities we'll trust and respond to?" (p. 66) Trust! That's a key point. For my purposes I'm talking about experts with regard to the truth and their level of competence in religious matters (my focus). Are Mark Mittelberg and other conservative Christian apologists to be considered experts we can trust?

In post 10 of this series I made two points. 1) People should not be trusted as experts in religious matters who are not just wrong, but incompetent and even dishonest with the facts. And I provided some evidence in several links that there are some apologists, even top apologists, who are ignorant, incompetent and even dishonest with the facts. They should not be considered experts worthy of our trust. I also argued that 2) Mittelberg's dim view of science should disqualify him as an expert whom we can trust in Religious Matters. One would think science is a bunch of guesswork from what he wrote. Anyone who talks that way about science is not just ignorant but incompetent, and maybe dishonest with the facts. So he's not an expert we can trust, period. Then I gave him an assignment to look at two books of science in hopes he might change his deluded mind. If he's an honest person who truly wants to know the truth, they will change it. [If you object to my harsh language I'm just being honest with the facts. No personal offense should be taken. See Dr. Stephen Law's Five Morals To Guide Atheists and Believers In Our Debates.]

Apologists Aren't Happy With the Internet. Reviewing Mittelberg's "Confident Christianity" Part 11

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I'm reviewing Mark Mittelberg's book Confident Faith. [See the "Mark Mittelberg" tag below for others]. I'm doing this online for all to see. I like it. Christian apologists don't.

William Lane Craig picks a question of the week to answer on his Reasonable Faith website. On October 21, 2013 he wrote an answer to a Christian who was in the throes of doubt due to the writings of David G. McAfee. He or she wrote:

How Can We Decide Between Experts? Reviewing Mittelberg's "Confident Christianity" Part 10

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I'm reviewing Mark Mittelberg's book Confident Faith. [See the "Mark Mittelberg" tag below for others]. Mittelberg had argued we need authorities since we cannot be experts in everything. So the "question is not if we'll be under authority, but which authorities we'll trust and respond to?" (p. 66) When some red flags go up we need to consider second opinions and better authorities. Trust! That is a key point. Who ya gonna trust?

I'm talking about experts with regard to the truth and their level of competence. What are we to do when experts disagree? How can we non-experts choose between experts? Do we have to be experts to choose between experts? There is a whole lot of literature to sift through on these questions.

The Authoritarian Violent Path to Faith. Reviewing Mittelberg's "Confident Christianity" Part 9

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I'm reviewing Mark Mittelberg's book Confident Faith. [See the "Mark Mittelberg" tag below for others]. In this post I'm going to write on a path to faith Mittelberg didn't mention, and probably didn't even think about. I previously wrote about the Authoritarian Path to Faith, i.e., "Truth Is What You've Always Been Told You Must Believe", which is being required to believe authority figures. However, being required to have "blind obedience" to "unquestioned authority" is bad, and very dangerous.

But being forced to believe under the threat of torture or death is so much worse. Any faith that does this is unworthy of belief. Period. There are no circumstances where this can be morally justified. So if any religion does this to gain converts, especially over the course of centuries and sanctioned by an overwhelming number of its intellectuals, leaders and practitioners, then such a religion should be discarded forever into the dustbin of history. At no point would a loving omniscient God allow his people to think this was a good thing to do. So if such a god cannot help his people refrain from doing this to others, he cannot do anything else in human history either, including starting such a religion in the first place.

Hoisting Mittelberg By His Own Petard: The Authoritarian Path to Faith. Reviewing Mittelberg's "Confident Christianity" Part 8

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I'm reviewing Mark Mittelberg's book Confident Faith. [See the "Mark Mittelberg" tag below for others]. Mittelberg discusses Six Paths of Faith in his book. In this post I"m going to write on the third path below: "Truth Is What You've Always Been Told You Must Believe".

1) The Relativistic Path: "Truth is Whatever Works for You"
2) The Traditional Faith Path: "Truth is What You've Always Been Taught"
3) The Authoritarian Faith Path: "Truth Is What You've Always Been Told You Must Believe"
4) The Intuitive Faith Path" "Truth Is What You Feel In Your Heart"
5) The Mystical Faith Path" "Truth Is What You Think God Told You"
6) The Evidential Faith Path: "Truth Is What Logic and Evidence Point To"

If you think #3 the Authoritarian Path of faith is the same as #2 the Traditional Path of faith, I'm with you. Still it probably deserves a separate chapter since they bring up different issues. Mittelberg distinguishes between them: The Traditional Path of faith (#2) is more of a religious tradition passed down to children from generation to generation that is passively received, whereas the Authoritarian path (#3) is based on "submission to a religious leader--past or present--and the ideas that leader holds up as the standard to live by." (p. 61) It's being required to believe authority figures. Being required to have "blind obedience" to "unquestioned authority" is bad, and very dangerous.

The Evidential Value of Conversion/Deconversion Stories. Reviewing Mittelberg's "Confident Christianity" Part 7

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I'm reviewing Mark Mittelberg's book Confident Faith. [See the "Mark Mittelberg" tag below for others].

I want to digress a bit for this post to discuss the value of personal conversion/deconversion stories. [Nomenclature: A conversion story is one which an atheist or nonbeliever becomes a Christian. A deconversion story is one in which a Christian becomes a non-believer or atheist.] In Mittelberg's book, conversion stories seem to play an important role. He discusses the apostle Paul's Damascus Road conversion experience, who was a persecutor of the church then a believer. Then there's Augustine of Hippo's conversion, from out of the pagan religion of Manichaeism. Jumping to our time he tells us of Lee Strobel, an atheist who turned evangelical, and the late Nabeel Qureshi, who was a Muslim but later became an evangelical after discussions with David Wood, who has his own shocking conversion story from atheist to evangelical Christian (which has 825K hits so far!). There is Mark Mittelberg's own story in this book, from a doubter to a confident Christian. He mentions other nonbelievers who became Christians, like Simon Greeleaf, Frank Morison (A.K.A. Albert Henry Ross), C.S. Lewis and Josh McDowell. Mittelberg also exploits the late Antony Flew's story (pp. 144-145), who was an atheist philosopher but came to believe in a deistic creator of the universe (but nothing more).

Mittelberg never tells any Christian-to-atheist deconversion stories. He just tells atheist-to-Christian conversion stories (plus Antony Flew's story). Should we fault him for not telling any deconversion stories? Yes, I think so! For it means he's not offering readers any evidence to consider, but rather trying to persuade them to believe based on the conclusions others reached. His faulty line of reasoning goes this: since atheist person X became a Christian, you should too. Why should that matter? He had asked readers to follow the evidence for themselves. But by putting forth several stories of skeptic/atheist conversions to Christianity he's not actually presenting any objective evidence for the readers to consider. Instead, he's presenting the conclusions of others about the evidence, which is arguing by authority, the very thing he questions later. He had also asked readers to follow logic. But by adopting the conclusion of others just because they adopted it is not logical. Why not just present the evidence? The stories are a propaganda technique designed purposefully to persuade.

Traditional Faith? Reviewing Mittelberg's "Confident Christianity" Part 6

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I'm reviewing Mark Mittelberg's book Confident Faith: Building a Firm Foundation for Your Belief (2013)—which won the Outreach Magazine's 2014 apologetics book of the year award. So far his book has been flying under the atheist radar. I aim to rectify that with a few posts offering my thoughts and criticisms of it. [See the "Mark Mittelberg" tag below for others].

The Six Paths of Faith are as follows, of which I'll deal with the second one below:

1) The Relativistic Path: "Truth is Whatever Works for You"
2) The Traditional Faith Path: "Truth is What You've Always Been Taught"
3) The Authoritarian Faith Path: "Truth Is What You've Always Been Told You Must Believe"
4) The Intuitive Faith Path" "Truth Is What You Feel In Your Heart"
5) The Mystical Faith Path" "Truth Is What You Think God Told You"
6) The Evidential Faith Path: "Truth Is What Logic and Evidence Point To"

Pragmatism? Reviewing Mittelberg's "Confident Christianity" Part 5

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I'm reviewing Mark Mittelberg's book Confident Faith: Building a Firm Foundation for Your Belief (2013)—which won the Outreach Magazine's 2014 apologetics book of the year award. So far his book has been flying under the atheist radar. I aim to rectify that with a few posts offering my thoughts and criticisms of it. [See the "Mark Mittelberg" tag below for others]

In Part One of his book the author discusses Six Paths of Faith, which represent the "criteria" readers are using to base their beliefs on, the goal of which is to get readers to reassess their faith. Hopefully though, readers don't do as Mittelberg did, since when he decided to reassess his faith due to the questioning of a college professor, he decided not to truly reassess it. In his words: "My Christian conclusions were, I'm convinced, correct, so I needed to go back and shore up the foundations underlying my faith." (p. 21) If that's what reassessing one's faith is about, Muslims would end up shoring up their faith as would Hindus, and almost everyone else. That's because, as Warren Buffett tells us, “What the human being is best at doing is interpreting all new information so that their prior conclusions remain intact.” [Quoted in Confirmation Bias: Why You Should Seek Out Disconfirming Evidence.] In fact, it's worse than that. The brain treats questions about beliefs just exactly like they're physical threats to its host. This means you must really want to know the truth in order to find it. You must force your brain to go against what it tells you to do. The only way to properly reassess one's childhood indoctrinated faith is to treat it as an outsider would, a non-believer, by requiring--no demanding--nothing less than sufficient objective publicly verifiable evidence for your faith, the same kind of evidence you would require of any ancient Chinese religion that made a claim about a virgin giving birth to an incarnate god. Think about this. What would it require? I've said agnosticism is the default outsider perspective, but one could also say if you're a Christian, treat your faith as if you're non-Christian, if you're a Muslim, treat your faith as if you're a non-Muslim, and so forth.

Why Do Christians Believe? Reviewing Mittelberg's "Confident Christianity" Part 4

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Mark Mittelberg
Mark Mittelberg is a bestselling author, sought-after speaker, and the Executive Director of the Center for Strategic Evangelism, in partnership with Houston Baptist University. He wrote the book Confident Faith: Building a Firm Foundation for Your Belief (2013)—which won the Outreach Magazine's 2014 apologetics book of the year award. Yet, it appears his book has been flying under the atheist radar—so far. I aim to rectify that with a few posts offering my thoughts and criticisms of it. I found Mark’s book recently in a Goodwill store for $1. That was a lucky find. Thank Good...will.

Mittelberg begins his book in Part 1, "Six Paths of Faith", by speaking about approaches, or methods readers adopt to embrace their respective faiths (remember, *cough* he says we all have faith). "This is crucial" he says, "because the method (or methods) you use in deciding what to believe has a huge bearing on what those beliefs will actually be, as well as how confident you'll be in holding on to them." (p. 9) "Most people never consider this" he goes on to say. "They just arbitrarily adopt an approach--or adopt one that's been handed to them--and uncritically employ it to choose a set of beliefs that may or may not really add up." (p. 10)

Why Faith? Reviewing Mittelberg's Book "Confident Christianity" Part 3

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Mark Mittelberg is a bestselling author, sought-after speaker, and the Executive Director of the Center for Strategic Evangelism, in partnership with Houston Baptist University. He wrote the book Confident Faith: Building a Firm Foundation for Your Belief (2013)—which won the Outreach Magazine's 2014 apologetics book of the year award. Yet, it appears his book has been flying under the atheist radar—so far. I aim to rectify that with a few posts offering my thoughts and criticisms of it.

The third important matter that comes to mind is to wonder what Mittelberg was thinking when he defined faith? He defines faith as "beliefs and actions that are based on something considered to be trustworthy--even in the absence of proof" (p. 2). According to Mittelberg then, if your conclusions (i.e., beliefs) and actions are located above the threshold of what is trustworthy, you have a reasonable faith. If they are located below that threshold, you have an unreasonable faith. His main polemical point is that everyone has faith. For if we base our conclusions on anything less than absolute proof we do so on faith.

Mittelberg brashly tells readers Richard Dawkins has faith because on his 1-7 spectrum of atheist probability Dawkins is only a 6.9! Dawkins's conclusion, he says, "is a belief that he holds in the absence of real proof...one that goes beyond what can be known with certainty." (p. 4) "Dawkins doesn't know there is no God...Rather he takes it on faith there is actually no God" (p. 4, italics from Mittelberg). Dawkins "exhibits what might best be described as a religious faith" Mittelberg says, because he can only say God "almost certainly does not exist" (p. 141, italics from Mittelberg).

Why Apologetics Books? Reviewing Mittelberg's "Confident Christianity" Part 2

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Mark Mittelberg is a bestselling author, sought-after speaker, and the Executive Director of the Center for Strategic Evangelism, in partnership with Houston Baptist University. He wrote the book Confident Faith: Building a Firm Foundation for Your Belief (2013)—which won the Outreach Magazine's 2014 apologetics book of the year award. Yet, it appears his book has been flying under the atheist radar—so far. I aim to rectify that with a few posts offering my thoughts and criticisms of it.

Mark begins by telling us what he aims to do. Is this an investigative book giving the pros and cons of Christianity, letting reader decide? No, of course not. It's a polemical book. Does it aim to convince nonbelievers and people of different faiths? Again, no, not primarily anyway. As the subtitle says, it aims to build "a firm foundation for your belief (i.e., your Christian belief)." I know publishers have a big influence on the titles of books. Yet Mark says he's writing mainly for Christians, and only secondarily for others. He says, "if you're a Christian, how certain are you that your faith is based on reliable information--that it's really true? This book will help you answer that question. And if you believe something other than Christianity, how can you test your beliefs if they square with reality? We'll address that issue too." (p. xi)

An Introduction to Mark Mittelberg's Book "Confident Christianity" Part 1

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Mark Mittelberg
Mark Mittelberg is a bestselling author, sought-after speaker, and the Executive Director of the Center for Strategic Evangelism, in partnership with Houston Baptist University. He wrote the book Confident Faith: Building a Firm Foundation for Your Belief (2013)—which won the Outreach Magazine's 2014 apologetics book of the year award. Yet, it appears his book has been flying under the atheist radar—so far. I aim to rectify that with a few posts offering my thoughts and criticisms of it.

I found Mark’s book recently in a Goodwill store for $1. That was a lucky find. I didn’t know of his book until then. Thank Good...will. I have met him before, at a debate I had with David Wood. What I didn’t know was how similar our backgrounds are. We both studied at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and we both earned a masters degrees in the philosophy of religion there (him a M.A.; me a Th.M.). We also studied under the late Stuart Hackett while there, as did Paul Copan, as did William Lane Craig before us, who has admitted his debt to Hackett. LINK. Upon Stu’s death I wrote a post remembering him titled, Remembering and Honoring Professor Stuart C. Hackett. Hackett was Mark's "primary philosophical mentor" (Confident Faith, p. 271, note #2). William Lane Craig was mine. Perhaps Craig was gone by the time Mark attended, I don't know.