The Cowboy Who Wasn't There: E-book Companion Site

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Are There Really Atheist/Skeptic Apologetics?

Guest commentator Morrison recently wrote that we have become inactive here with our posts and updates while John Loftus of Debunking Christianity ups his level of "aggressiveness." While this means very little in terms of significance to myself and JP Holding (because what we are usually faced with is what John has discussed plenty in detail before and it can only become irritatingly repetitive), I figure what the heck as usual. This blog exists for a reason. Keep in mind, however, the reasons for such sporadic intervals in updates is simply based on two major factors: 1) This blog is not our lives and neither is John Loftus, believe it or not, and 2) There are, admittely, more important priorities at stake other than debating on the internet. I'm sure even our detracting critics can agree with these sentiments, even if they don't believe for a second they apply to us the staff. This blog is somewhat fun to manage and it also gives us a medium for calling out John's material in a way he despises and would preferably censor [except when he attempts to do so here, he gets bitch-slapped, not us ;)], it's not a career job for us and this blog has made very little in terms of profit and income. After all this is Debunking Loftus, not Debunking Christianity (:P), and our approach to these subjects of discussions stems from an entirely different even if somewhat similar rationale.

The title of this post was prompted by John's self-defense against a skeptic's critique of his infamous but ineffective and shortcoming OTF (otherwise spelled out as "Outsider Test for Faith" for you noobs). To those of you that have kept up with this blog since the exact date of inception, what you are about to skim over is probably not something that will keep you too terribly interested or will really stick out in your mind as intriguing or intellectually stimulating, but we'll take a jab at it anyway.

John Loftus: I will offer a brief response to Thrasymachus who claims that the Outsider Test is a failure.

I'll place his words in blockquotes:
I’m not a believer, but I’m also not convinced that the OTF is the rhetorical silver bullet it is made out to be. I hope to clarify and augment the OTF to avoid some of the more common criticisms, and hopefully cut through some of the confusion between Loftus and his detractors. In the final reckoning, though, I will show the OTF isn’t a significantly persuasive force for Atheism.
The OTF is no silver bullet. There are no silver bullets. If that is the standard then all counter Christian apologetics fail.

Our commentary: There are no "silver bullets" lurking around that you might be able to spot John? None at all? If there are no "silver bullets" than by what term or labeling reference do we ascribe to the intent of bolstering confidence in your arguments, your colleagues' arguments, or even the arguments of New Atheists in general? If there are no arguments out there that stand out from the rest, then isn't it a rehashing of old and limited materials to defend a worldview/cause not worth defending?

As I penned back in 2010 in one of the entries to my logic series concerning John's favorite forms of argument, I specifically listed the fallacy of equivocation (i.e., double meaning for a single, specific word) as one argumentative pattern trait we can attribute to this line of reasoning. To what exactly am I referring too? John's strung together sentence of "counter Christian apologetics."

Now I may appear to be a pain in the ass for going here, but why should a "counter Christian" worldview (more specifically in this case, atheism/agnosticism/skepticism) need apologetics at all? Again, atheism according to many belonging to the New Atheist movement and related groups state with fervor that atheism is merely the disbelief in the existence of God or a god. What exactly is there to defend here?

And of course, without having self-recognition or introspection in mind, John has argued this too. So, it would seem quite strange that one would be an apologist for a worldview that espouses nothing more than a disbelief in deities, wouldn't it?

There's an interesting trip wire that never seems to get answered/resolved by John and the like. Instead, it usually boils down to dealing justice against Christians because they are running the spinwheel like a high speed car chase, and someone needs to put them in their place.

And let's just take away atheism from the picture for a second. Now what are we left with exactly? "Counter Christian apologetics" conveys unspecified and undefined meanings. It fails for explaining things. Are we rooting for pagans? Muslims? Jews? Buddhists? Hindus? Oh, none of the above?

So what is it really? It's the defense of a negative, a position not swayed or determined by the tenents of any faith or doctrine. It's just intended to counteract the nonsense of religion and its grip on society.

What’s the test?

What exactly is the outsider test? “to test their own adopted religious faith from the perspective of an outsider with the same level of skepticism they use to evaluate other religious faiths” isn’t entirely clear. This lack of clarity – both from Loftus and his critics – makes the argument very hard to dissect indeed.
John Loftus: I'm sorry, what isn’t clear about it? I first proposed it on a blog post and have refined it since then. What matters is how I articulate it now.

Our commentary: Yes and no, John. If you are going to put forth a faith-shattering argument, it should account for any potential loopholes. Even if you are a human being and therefore incapable of constructing the perfect argument, your goal is to bring a religion down to its needs and then sever its head from the rest of the body. And Thrascymachus did specify what wasn't clear about your argument. You boldy propose that the primary mechanism for getting your argument off the ground is to create more doubt in one's religious beliefs by cross-examination. However, this falls flat on its face because you are making an erroneous assumption about individuals based on groups. You are defying categorical logic.

John Loftus: I have defined the outsider as the consistent skeptic, a person who uses the same level of skepticism to evaluate all religious faiths.

Our commentary: Again, you spell your defiance and reluctance to embrace categorical logic in spades with this statement. Your argument is improbable by its very first premise, and by this it cannot lead and follow into subsequent premises and is deprived of a valid conclusion. You tread into deep territory with this one, because consistency once again varies from individual to individual, and furthermore because humans are fallible and without a constant system of checks and balances of the self, you run short on ammunition as to what a "consistent skeptic" is (think 9/11 truthers, many of whom may and do have valid political points about the government, yet are relunctant and unwilling to see the reality of September 11, 2001: That is to say, it was not plotted by the United States government, it was a successful terrorist attack employed by Al Qaeda).

Now it's time to go back to the drawing board. I'm sure many of you will enjoy ripping this to shreds, but I need to do more important things now. Until my next post...


  1. Loftus has long become uninteresting.

    He wrote something like 10 books and they are virtually copies of each other with some minor changes here and there (like bad movie or video game sequels) and his blog does not fare much better.

    Besides if I think of a SERIOUS "Outsider Test for Faith" I immediately think of Thomas Aquinas who always tried to find objections to his own arguments and solve/answer such objections.
    Many Christian thinkers were 'self-critics'... but Loftus fails under his own test... His arguments are hardly unconvincing. He likes to throw challenges but does not date take them himself.

    He is not an 'honest doubter' (his blog is “debunking Christianity” not “doubting Christianity”... which means he assumes a priori that Christianity is false... and that is not honest doubting).

    I think Loftus wrongly assumes that if a believer takes the OTF he will become atheist (so he shares much in common with Dawkins in his ideas apparently), however I think that if a believer takes an honest OTF, his faith might even be reinforced.

    I was taking the OTF challenge long before I even knew who Loftus was… and many Christian thinkers (today and in the past) did not avoid thinking about their faith and challenge it.

    In the end we can ignore Loftus: he invented ‘hot water’ and he’s also dishonest in his intellectual behavior.

  2. Good answer!

    Looks like you win and I have egg on my face!

  3. Ah but Ismael. He'd say you didn't take it. Why? Well you're still a Christian. Only ones who truly take the OTF forsake Christianity.

  4. Bitch slapped? That's a very Christian word. Do you pray to Jesus with that mouth?

  5. Sorry Rob but you are one of the many people who clearly hasn't taken the time to do the research on me. Better yet, check out the FAQ before responding if you have any plans on doing so.


If you are unaware of the rules on comments, please consult this post for more information.

Complaints and suggestions about the blog's comment moderation policies should be addressed here.

READ BEFORE POSTING: Do not post comments if they do not deal with the topic addressed in our posts and ESPECIALLY if they deal with pointing out the hypocricy of Christians and the flaws of the Christian religion. This is not about issues of sensitivity but maintaining an atmosphere of freshness and relevant discourse. ANYONE posting these comments (in the event they do NOT deal with the topics we have introduced) will have their comments deleted without warning. Post with care and attention to this simple request, thank you.

NOTE: This blog mirrors Debunking Christianity in that we allow only registered users of Blogger and Google accounts in commenting on our web pages. Anonymous commentators are not permitted.