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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Retaking the Outsider Test

The Outsider Test is a criterion for rational faith put forth by former Christian apologist turned atheist, John W. Loftus. Loftus argues that for many believers, the religion practiced is not one that they choose, but usually one which they were born into, or are determined by cultural or national factors.

Since your religion is essentially randomly determined, you should examine your beliefs with every bit as much skepticism as you would any other religion. In other words, evaluate your beliefs as if you were an outsider to that faith, with no bias or preconceived notions.

One of the nuances of the Outsider Test is that it claims atheism as the intellectual default. Skepticism is the most rational initial response to supernatural claims.

I have several objections to the Outsider Test, such as the fact that it teaches atheists not to think, that since their position is the default, they do not need to examine their beliefs.

However, RD Miksa has written a rather lengthy paper, in the form of a blog called Taking Over the Outsider Test for Faith (OTF), in which he argues that the Outsider Test does not actually support atheism at all. In fact, it supports theism, super-naturalism, and intelligent design.

For those of you with the patience to read a long (about 22K words), informal paper on the philosophy of religion, I strongly recommend this work.


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