The intrepid S1lverBullet posed a direct question to me: “what qualifies as a defeater to belief in Yawheh/Jesus/Holy Ghost? A logical impossibility? What, exactly?” Later he explained further what he was looking for: “I was asking what might qualify as a defeater? A defeater would be identified by what criteria? It seems that his [Randal’s] beliefs must be shown to be logically impossible, as mere logical possibility is the all-too-common response to defeaters. So is that the standard for a defeater?”
In other words, S1lverBullet thought I was, as he put it, engaging in “special pleading” on the part of my religious beliefs to indemnify them against critical inspection.
(Puzzled head scratch.) There are many potential defeaters for Christian beliefs. For example, the alleged incoherence of a thinking spiritual substance, or the incompossibility of two or more divine attributes, or an attack on the historicity of the resurrection.
But even if there are multiple potential avenues that one might travel down to falsify Christian belief, that belief is, nonetheless, notoriously difficult to falsify in any determinative, absolute sense. S1lverBullet apparently thinks that fact somehow counts against Christianity . But why would that be? One would expect that any major belief system which has been around for a couple millennia would be rather difficult to falsify. That’s why it’s still around after two millennia!
Consider another belief system: naturalism. The Atheist Missionary linked me to comments by the atheist Richard Carrier which included the following statement from Carrier:
“I am a first-order physicalist (I believe everything that exists is solely and entirely caused by physical things and events….)”
Carrier’s statement here represents a form of naturalism, a belief system which can trace a lineage back to Greek philosophers like Lucretius and even Democritus. So is it any surprise that naturalism, like Christianity, appears to the outsider to be hydra-headed, chameleon-like, a worldview with a thousand faces? Yet naturalism has persisted and has come down in innumerable incarnations with a thousand changes as it has struggled to accommodate putative disconfirming data like qualia, free will, abstract objects, moral value and many others. As a result, Carrier’s naturalism is both like, and radically distinct from, the naturalism of Lucretius just like my Christianity is both like, and radically distinct from, the Christianity of Augustine.
Now the fact is that I think there are many solid defeaters against naturalism, including the type of naturalism that Carrier subscribes to. And these defeaters are sufficient to keep me from being a naturalist even if, alas, they are not sufficient to keep him from it. And he would no doubt say the same thing about Christianity.
So here we have two worldview belief systems, eminently open to falsification on the periphery, but rather recalcitrant to falsification at their core. What then is S1lverBullet really complaining about?