Can One Dismiss a World Religion’s Supernatural Claims Without In-Depth Knowledge of Those Claims? Yep!

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“I contend we are both atheists, I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

—Stephen F Roberts

Randal Rauser, sophisticated (he has a PhD) Christian apologist:

[T]here is a glaring problem here: Roberts himself has clearly not carefully canvassed the thought-worlds, communal praxis, and evidential basis of the countless world religions. If he had, he would never have said anything as inane as “When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.” The fact is that distinct adherents to different religions all have distinct levels of intelligence and knowledge about their religious perspective and the supporting evidence for it, a distinct range of experiences and intuitions, and a distinct range of exposure to alternative views.

The real problem, of course, is that Roberts engages in a little game of self-deception by limiting the field of players to those who espouse specific “religions” by some particular socially constructed definition of “religion”. In fact, the real issue is not about religions per se but rather about worldviews, and the epistemic humility to recognize that one’s dismissal of worldviews other than one’s own is always limited by one’s own epistemic horizons. And in the case of Roberts, those horizons are limited indeed.

Gary:

What the esteemed Dr. Rauser is really saying is that because Mr. Roberts has not done an in-depth study of every worldview on the planet, he has no grounds for dismissing anyone else’s worldview. Is that realistic?? Is that rational??

I don’t think so.

I don’t need to do an in-depth study of tarot card readers and psychics to dismiss their claims with not a second’s consideration. I just have to use my university educated brain and critical thinking skills to dismiss their claims as superstitious, ignorant nonsense.

I don’t need to do an in-depth study of Mormonism to dismiss, with not a second’s consideration, the claim that a guy in the nineteenth century named Joseph received a message on golden plates from a celestial being named Moroni. I just have to use my university educated brain and critical thinking skills to dismiss this claim as superstitious, ignorant nonsense.

I don’t need to do an in-depth study of Islam to dismiss, with not a second’s consideration, the claim that a guy in the seventh century named Mohammad received a message from a celestial being named Gabriel and later rode a winged horse into outer space (heaven). I just have to use my university educated brain and critical thinking skills to dismiss this claim as superstitious, ignorant nonsense.

And lastly, I don’t need to do an in-depth study of Christianity to dismiss, with not a second’s consideration, claims that include: a first century virgin being impregnated without the assistance of a male human; a man who can walk on water, turn water into wine; heal the blind; raise the dead; raise himself from the dead; and finally, levitate from the top of a mountain into outer space. I just have to use my university educated brain and critical thinking skills to dismiss this claim, too, as superstitious, ignorant nonsense.

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End of post.

3 thoughts on “Can One Dismiss a World Religion’s Supernatural Claims Without In-Depth Knowledge of Those Claims? Yep!

    1. From my Christian days I remember many Christians knew almost nothing about any other religion. The attitude was just “I’m know I’m right, so they must be wrong.” There is even a bit of this in Randal’s book “What’s So Confusing About Grace.”

      In the chapter on “Mormons and other people who believe the wrong things,” he says in high school he read a few chapters of the BOM before losing interest. Then, in college, he invited a couple Mormon door to door missionaries in and had a conversation where he listened to their their pitch and then gave his rebuttal, with a bit if back and forth afterwards, which showed him how they distort Christian thought, and therefore are wrong. I’ve been reading his blog for years, and have never seen him say he has gone back and read the complete BOM, or read any Mormon thinkers or academics, so I will assume he hasn’t.

      But imagine his reaction (or if one follows his blog, one doesn’t need to imagine) if one were to reject Christianity after reading the first few books of the Bible – Genesis, Exodus and Leviticus, and a one or two hour conversation with a couple teenage or early twenties aged Evangelical Christians.

      Liked by 2 people

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