Showing posts with label Pragmatism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pragmatism. Show all posts

Christian Apologists Reject Truth By Rejecting Both Relativism (the problem) and Objective Evidence (the solution)

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Christian apologists must denigrate science to believe. That is a fact. It should warn everyone to avoid it, or any other religious faith. Not long ago David Marshall objected to my quoting this from a CSI episode: "People lie. The only thing we can count on is the evidence." Why would he do that unless he's denigrating science? apologist Mark Mittelberg also has a dim view of science.

On Facebook I made the comment: "Every claim about the nature of nature, or how it works--or worked--needs sufficient objective evidence commensurate with the type of claim being made."

Christian apologist Matthew Flannagan responded: "That claim of course leads to an infinite regress, so it's hard to understand why you take it seriously."

I replied: "Matthew Flannagan my first thought is if you are right then all claims lead to an infinite regress. For if sufficient objective evidence isn't the foundation of knowledge nothing else works. So if all claims lead to an infinite regress Pragmatism is the view that sufficient objective evidence works to get at the truth better than any other foundation."

I had a debate/discussion with apologist Travis Dickinson where he made the claim that relativism is self-refuting. I responded that relativists think in exclusively terms of the probabilities, so what they say cannot be self-refuting. Dickenson should just remember how he starts his philosophy classes. Instructors dislodge the idea of certainty out of their students by asking them to justify why they aren't dreaming, or in a Matrix, or brains in a vat. Any college student knows certainty is an impossible goal, so whether they state it or not these former students, who go on to become philosophers and intellectuals in the universities, are always talking in terms of probabilities. So relativism cannot be self-refuting. They are saying it's highly likely objective truth is beyond our means of knowing it, or knowing it completely, or knowing it unless there is objective evidence for it. Their statements cannot be self-refuting since they're not universalized statements. In a world where our brains haven't evolved to seek after objective truth, but rather to survive, Pragmatism (which acknowledges this about the human brain) is the only way forward. Pragmatism embraces objective evidence as a way to get at the truth precisely because our brains skewer the data in favor of preferred comfortable tribal social beliefs.

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!

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.