Hi, everyone.

My goal here is not to argue that Christianity is true, but that I'm reasonable to be a Christian. I don't care if you agree with me about Christianity, but I do want to persuade you that I'm not stupid, crazy, insane, or in any other epistemically lamentable state, for being a Christian. What follows is a sketch that I can expand as people ask reasonable questions.

Keeping this as short as reasonably possible, I'm a Christian because I think that God exists and that God resurrected Jesus. As Pascal suggested, if I think both of these claims are probably true, then it makes sense for me to foster a belief in the Christian religion by going to church, praying, and so on. Christianity will be the "best bet" in that event, such that it will make more sense for me to foster a belief in Christianity than to foster a belief in another religion or foster no belief in any religion. So, the question is whether or not I can justify my belief that both of these claims are probably true.

My justification for my belief that God exists is an inductive argument for the existence of God which it isn't easy to express briefly, so I won't try. However, I will say that it pulls on the following versions of the following arguments.

(1) A cosmological argument from the existence of a complex physical universe
(2) A teleological argument from temporal regularity
(3) A teleological argument from spatial regularity, or "fine tuning"
(4) An argument from beauty
(5) An argument from moral awareness
(6) An argument from consciousness
(7) An argument from our ability to make significant decisions, or "providence"
(8) An argument from miracles
(9) An argument from history

The above arguments come together to form a cumulative case which I think is sufficient to justify the following.

(10) Therefore, it is at least as likely as not that God exists.

I then introduce the following propositions.

(11) If X is as likely as not to exist based on the other evidence, and if additionally I have an experience that seems to be of X, then X probably exists.
(12) I have had experiences that seemed to be of God.

So, from (1)-(9) I inductively infer (10), and from (10), (11) and (12) I deductively infer that God probably exists.

I have my belief that God exists based on the above arguments, but I have my belief in the Resurrection partly in the basic way. The idea of a properly basic belief takes off from the observation that we all have to begin building our structure of knowledge from certain plausible assumptions, and to me, one of these assumptions is that the Resurrection occurred. This, in combination with my belief that God would have reason to resurrect Christ if he had the moral character displayed in the Gospels, seems to me to warrant a belief that God probably resurrected Jesus.

So, given that I think God probably exists and that God probably resurrected Jesus, it's reasonable for me to cultivate a belief in the Christian religion by the methods suggested by Pascal.

Views: 877

Comment by Cara Coleen on May 31, 2012 at 3:56pm

@Kris

I concede that a difference of opinion does not mean there is not an objective truth. While there may not actually be an Invisible Pink Unicorn, our opinions on that fact may vary. But are you saying that beauty itself is not subjective? Beauty is an adjective, not a thing.

Comment by Robert Karp on May 31, 2012 at 3:58pm

Real. Not opinion. Here's proof.

Comment by Mabel on May 31, 2012 at 4:06pm

@ Robert - omg lmao!

Comment by John Major on May 31, 2012 at 5:30pm
@william. You haven't said much about your argument from history. I'd like to hear more, particularly on the claim central to your faith that Jesus was raised from the dead. This simply cannot be an historical claim, merely a theological claim. We cannot know what happened two thousand years ago, merely posit what we think most probably happened based on the evidence. The miracle of the reanimation of a body three days dead and having it walk through solid rock is something that is not observed and so by definition must be the amongst the least likely conclusions that can be drawn from the available evidence.
Comment by William Occam on May 31, 2012 at 5:47pm

Thanks for the question, John Major. The argument from history is more or less distinct from my reasons for believing that the Resurrection occurred, however. I believe in the Resurrection partly in the basic way, partly for a priori philosophical reasons, and partly based on what testimonial evidence there is.

Comment by kris feenstra on May 31, 2012 at 5:57pm

@Cara

There's no reason it can't have objective and subjective components.  It doesn't have to fall strictly into one category or the other.  In cases where beauty serves a more direct evolutionary function,  I think it's likely to be more objective than subjective.

I'm afraid I don't understand what you mean by beauty being an adjective. 

 

Comment by archaeopteryx on May 31, 2012 at 6:36pm

William - RE: "partly based on what testimonial evidence there is."

Since all four "Gospels," Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were not written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and since only Matthew (Levi) and John (son of Zebedee) were even there in the first place, to just what "testimonial evidence" could you refer.

(BTW - I much prefer your razor to my Gillette --)

Comment by matt.clerke on May 31, 2012 at 8:11pm

I eagerly await your posts better explaining your various arguments... I hope they will be posted as discussion so that we can track replies better?

Comment by Dustin on May 31, 2012 at 10:04pm

It is interesting to me - this 'beauty therefore design' argument.  But what they don't do is say they don't find a pile of steaming shit beautiful - Or find it beautiful when a lion is ripping the flesh off a little baby girl - Or find a long dirt road surrounded by lots of dirt beautiful - Or find it beautiful when a natural disaster kills millions.  

You must believe the designer 'designed' all those listed above and anything you can list as 'dislike'.  

Comment by Ron V on May 31, 2012 at 10:40pm

Prayer- no credible, reproducible evidence for the efficacy of prayer (in fact, the STEP trials showed a trend toward a negative outcome if people knew they were prayed for).

Resurrection- seriously?  This is based on hearsay/the Bible.  Where is this resurrected Jesus and all the other Hebrew zombies whose "tombs were opened and appeared to many?"

The fundamental premise of Christianity - human sacrifice - again, seriously? Animal sacrifice is bad enough, but to accept human sacrifice as a basis for a religion - really?

For most of your post, your "points" are addressed in the following (these are just off the top of my head, but I'm sure there are others)-  The Case Against God (Smith), God- the Failed Hypothesis (Stenger), The Fallacy of Fine Tuning (Stenger), The Origin of the Universe (Barrow), and The Evolution of Morality (Joyce).

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