Tim Crane: Are False Beliefs Irrational?

The Amateur Exegete

Tim Crane, The Meaning of Belief: Religion from an Atheist’s Point of View (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2017), 149-150.

I will say that someone can have a reason for believing something even if this belief is, in fact, not true. Pre-Copernican astronomers had reasons to believe the sun orbited the earth, we can assume – they were not irrational fools – but nonetheless this belief was false. So if a justified belief is one for which there is a reason, this is compatible with its being a false belief. The important interim conclusion, then, is that a belief can be false – that is, untrue, incorrect – without being irrational. Someone can do their best by the lights of current knowledge and evidence and yet end up with a false belief.

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Steven Tiger: The Bible’s Inconsistenices Are Not Surprising

Steven Tiger: The Bible’s Inconsistencies Are Not Surprising

The Amateur Exegete

Steven Tiger, Doctrine Impossible: A Journey from Dogmatic Religiosity to Rational Spirituality (Lexington, KY: 2017), 74-75.

From a rational perspective, the clear implication of this 2000-year history of heterodoxy is that the Bible is not the inerrant word of God but the fallible words of countless ordinary and mostly anonymous people, compiled over the ages. In light of the Bible’s diverse human authorship, its inconsistencies are entirely to be expected, but that implication is exactly what the bibliolaters cannot accept. Questioning the authority of the Bible would mean facing the intrinsic uncertainty of faith without the comforting illusion of proof.

The doctrinal wars and inquisitions that have stained the course of Christian history are evidence that the quest for certainty through uniformity of belief has been a catastrophic failure. The adherents of opposing doctrines were all convinced that they alone possessed the truth and that their unprovable beliefs had to…

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Tim Bayne: Divine Hiddenness

The Problem of Divine Hiddenness

The Amateur Exegete

Tim Bayne, Philosophy of Religion: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2018), 52-53.

Religious writers have long puzzled over the reasons for God’s silence, but Nietzsche regarded the silence of God as something more than a pastoral challenge: he saw it as an objection to the very reasonableness of religious belief. Assuming – as theists invariably do – that God wants to be recognized and worshipped, why does God not make Godself manifest? Perhaps, Nietzsche suggests, God is ‘silent’ because God doesn’t exist.

In recent years, Nietzsche’s challenge has been forcefully developed by the philosopher J.L. Schellenberg, who argues that the very fact that the evidence for God’s existence is inconclusive is itself a strong reason for disbelief. The God of theism, he argues, would always be open to a personal relationship with us, and a precondition of that relationship is believing that God exists. ‘If a perfectly loving…

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Tim Bayne: Why Should Soul-Making Be Necessary?

Soul-Making Theodicy is Deficient

The Amateur Exegete

Tim Bayne, Philosophy of Religion: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2018), 68.

Even if advocates of the soul-making theodicy can show that the benefits of soul-making are absorbed by the badness of the evils that give rise to them, one might ask why soul-making is necessary in the first place. Perhaps we must be exposed to pain and suffering in order to become virtuous moral agents, but why didn’t God create creatures who were innately disposed to display moral virtue – creatures that don’t require the kind of moral training that we do?

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Steven Tiger: The Contradiction at the Heart of Hamartiology

Steven Tiger: The Contradiction at the Heart of Hamartiology

The Amateur Exegete

Steven Tiger, Doctrine Impossible: A Journey from Dogmatic Religiosity to Rational Spirituality (Lexington, KY: 2017), 123.

This is the self-contradiction at the heart of Christian doctrine on the nature and origin of sin. If A&E [i.e. Adam and Eve] did not have this flaw – this pre-existing imperfection called sin – they would have obeyed God. But their disobedience shows that they did have that flaw, which implicates God for having created them with it. A&E made their own free-will choice to disobey him; but God bears some of the responsibility for their act.

Suppose a craftsman builds a table that looks perfect but collapses when a small weight is placed upon it as a test. Was it perfect until it was tested? Would we accept the craftsman’s explanation that the collapse was not his fault because the table was not broken at the time he finished it? Isn’t it…

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