Dear Christian: If Most People On Earth Choose Their Faith Based on the Religion of their Parents, and Given the Great Religious Diversity on Earth, Isn’t it Statistically Likely that Your Belief is Wrong?

Image result for map of the world's religions

 

It’s not like there are only two religions on earth.  If there were, by picking one of them you would have a 50% chance of being correct (assuming that at least one religion is true, when in fact, it is possible that they are all false).  In reality, there are twenty major world religions and many more nativist religions.  By picking one religion, you are rejecting all the others.  And since your religious affiliation is very likely to have been determined, or at least heavily influenced, by the faith choice of your parents, isn’t the statistical likelihood of your religious choice being the one true faith very, very low?

And as we learned in the last post, once someone has made a faith choice and has then been indoctrinated in that faith choice for years, in particular if this indoctrination started in their childhood, even overwhelming contradictory evidence rarely causes them to change their minds.

So with this inherent bias towards our parents’ belief system, how can each of us evaluate our worldview, whether it be a religious or a non-religious worldview, to see if it stands up to scrutiny?  I suggest John Loftus’ Outsider Test for Faith:

The outsider’s attitude when it comes to examining other religions is one of informed skepticism:

  1.  It assumes one’s own religious faith has the burden of proof.
  2.  It adopts the methodological-naturalist viewpoint whereby one assumes that there is a natural explanation for the origins of one’s religion, its holy books, and its extraordinary claims of miracles.
  3.  It demands sufficient evidence, scientific evidence, before concluding a religion is true.
  4.  Most importantly, it disallows any faith in the religion under investigation, since the informed skeptic cannot leap over the lack of [sufficient] evidence by punting to faith.

Gary:  I added [sufficient] to point number four because I seriously doubt that any Christian will agree with the statement that their belief lacks (any) evidence.

 

 

End of post.

 

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Dear Christian: If Most People On Earth Choose Their Faith Based on the Religion of their Parents, and Given the Great Religious Diversity on Earth, Isn’t it Statistically Likely that Your Belief is Wrong?

  1. Loftus’ four points are somewhat bogus…

    He clearly thinks one should approach the question of religion from a pre-determined standpoint (or view) of a non-theist. But, if one already holds to such a metaphysic, then there is precisely no reason at all to fool with Loftus’ four steps.

    Take step #2, for example: “It adopts the methodological-naturalist viewpoint whereby one assumes that there is a natural explanation for the origins of one’s religion, its holy books, and its extraordinary claims of miracles.”

    If one assumes the metaphysic of a non-theist, then one would then posit that there is a “natural explanation” for the existence of the universe. Yet, there is absolutely no data whatsoever from before the Big Bang. And, there never will be such data, because we can’t go back before the beginning of time to gather it. That’s science. And, more and more scientists are concluding that we can not, and never will be able to know how the universe began.

    So, if science cannot provide a natural explanation for the origin of the universe, and can never know what preceeded the Big Bang, then the non-theist is simply assuming a “natural explanation”. Yet, that assumption is no more valid or rational than the theists assumption of a Creator.

    Nonetheless, Loftus is trying to limit the possibilities of “exploration” of a religious faith, such that miracles cannot be considered. And yet, the existence of the universe may well be miraculous, and science certainly cannot say with any certainty that it is not. If Loftus cannot apply his own methodology to showing the beginning, start, or creation of the universe was not a miracle, then it is highly disingenuous, even intellectually hypocritical, to expect an inquiry into a religion to not allow for – at least – a miracle of creation.

    I could go on, but I won’t. Loftus’ approach is total BS.

    Like

    1. His point is that one should evaluate one’s own belief system (whatever it is) using the same methodology one uses to evaluate the truth claims of others. One does not need to rule out the possibility of the supernatural to do this. For instance, how many Christians would give two seconds of thought to some guy’s claim that last night, he was abducted by flying unicorns, flown to a planet in a distant galaxy where he underwent three hours of mind-probing, before being brought back to earth and tucked into bed—all before sunrise!

      The person making this claim might sincerely believe it to be true and state, “If one allows for all possibilities, including the possible existence of the supernatural, my overnight voyage to another galaxy on a winged unicorn is just as possible as your resurrected Jesus story!”

      And he would be right.

      But the Christian would still refuse to give this guy’s story any serious consideration, wouldn’t he (or she)? Why? Because the improbability of this story is not primarily based on the reality or non-reality of the supernatural, but on the very high probability that there are several, much more probable, natural explanations, for this man’s very, very odd story.

      And that is what Loftus is asking Christians to do for their own odd story!

      (I am engaging you in conversation, ft, simply because you have stayed on topic and have not engaged in personal attacks. Deviate from this behavior and I will block your current IP address as I did the previous.)

      Like

  2. I would revise Loftus’ “Outsider Test” definition to make it applicable to ALL beliefs, not just supernatural beliefs, thereby eliminating the objection given in the comment above:

    The outsider’s attitude when it comes to examining one’s own beliefs should be exactly the same used when he or she examines the beliefs of others. It is one of informed skepticism:

    1. It assumes one’s own belief has the burden of proof.
    2. It adopts the methodological-naturalist viewpoint whereby one assumes that there is most likely a natural explanation for the origins of own’s own belief just as most people usually assume that there is most likely a natural explanation for the beliefs of others. This does not exclude the possibility of a supernatural explanation in either case, only that a supernatural explanation is usually, for most people, the least expected explanation for the beliefs of others so it should be assumed to be the least expected explanation for our own beliefs. In other words, very probable natural explanations must be ruled out first, before considering supernatural explanations. This is what most of us do for the beliefs of others, so to be consistent, we should apply the same standard to our beliefs.
    3. It demands sufficient evidence, scientific evidence, before concluding any universal truth claim is true.
    4. Most importantly, it disallows any belief based on emotions (hoping that something is true) in the evaluation of our beliefs, since the informed skeptic cannot leap over the lack of sufficient evidence by punting to emotions [hoping that it is true].

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s