[FoRK] RE: reas. conv. 12/4: Beyond Faith

Russell Turpin < deafbox at hotmail.com > on > Mon Dec 4 18:14:44 PST 2006

"Dr. Ernie Prabhakar" <drernie at radicalcentrism.org>:
>Let me make sure I understand you correctly. Your basic argument appears to 
>be: a) The epistemology that Christianity uses to understand God's Revealed 
>will is based primarily on faith (particularly in the Bible)

Yes.

>b) The epistemology that scientists use to understand Reality is  based 
>primarily on reason

It depends on what you mean by "understand." It has created models
of various scope and reliability, with enough specificity that they
can be tested.

>c) Reality, unlike Revelation, is available on a equal footing to all  
>interested comers, and thus amenable to "trial by experiment."

I don't know the extent to which Reality is available. Scientific
models need to be open to use and testing by all interested and
learned observers.

>d) Revelation, as its own prior, is only accessible to the given sect that 
>believes in it..

Yep. It is inherently irrational.

>.. and thus disputes between differing Revelations inevitably tend
>towards settlement via "trial by combat."

If at all.

>Which brings us to Jeff's final question: Yes, I *do* have an  empirical 
>test[7] that would convince me that my beliefs are fatally flawed: "Create 
>a self-supporting community of like-minded individuals that demonstrates 
>superior ethical behavior towards both each other and hostile outsiders for 
>more than a single generation."

The nature of that test, and the others on that page, is practically
an argument from consequence: you believe Christianity is true because
it has beneficial effects. The point I was pressing in some previous
posts is that EVEN IF Christianity uniquely has some beneficial
consequences, that is not in the least an argument for its theological
doctrines, nor does it make faith in any way more rational.

Perhaps that point can be expressed in another way. There are various
things we consider good. Christianity prioritizes certain things:
faith, love, and charity. I consider the first of those a flaw, a kind
of intellectual dishonesty whose practice leads to a variety of other
intellectual dishonesties. So perhaps I should set the following
empirical test of Christianity: I will believe there is something to
it when you can create a self-supporting community of Christians who
are not continually plying themselves with the kind of dishonesty
common in Christian apologetics from Paul to today.

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