Brian and Kelly: Please explain what you mean by "theism is irrational"
Brian and Kelly have claimed that theism is irrational. I’ve asked them to clarify what they mean by this claim. Now, they don’t have to explain the very nature of rationality itself; that would be an unfair demand. My request is modest. Just provide the rough definition of rationality that you’re working with when you claim that theism is irrational. You can do this by filling in the blank of the following schema:
A person’s belief in some proposition is rational if and only if, roughly, _________________________________________________________________.
I want to know what exactly Brian and Kelly would write here. They make the claim about theism being irrational. What precisely do they have in mind when they say this? So far they haven’t answered, and no doubt this is due to their busy schedules. As we’ve been waiting for their response, Scottmax (in another thread) has tried to answer my question from his own perspective. Here’s his answer:
"A person's belief in some proposition p is rational if and only if, roughly, all propositions supporting that belief are non-contradictory and all objections proposed for that belief can likewise be answered without contradiction. "
I am a theist. That is, I believe in the proposition God exists. So am I rational or not, given Scottmax’s definition? Well, I cannot find any contradictions among the set of propositions in favor of that belief, nor have I asserted any contradictions in response to objections. So it appears to me that I've satisfied the conditions in Scottmax’s definition; given his view of rationality, he shouldn’t hesitate to count my belief in theism as rational. Of course, it doesn't follow from the fact that one is rational in believing that God exists, that God in fact exists. People have rational but false beliefs all the time. As I stated in another thread, the truth value of a proposition is to be distinguished from the reasons one has for believing in that proposition. Remember, what we’re concerned with here is not whether God exists, but whether it’s rational to believe he exists. So far it seems to me that Scottmax should say that I’m rational for believing in God, given that I’ve conformed to his view of rationality. I await his objections to this.
Tilberian also attempted to answer the question. I cannot hold my theistic belief on rational grounds, says Tilberian, “because there is no evidence for God and God as described in all theologies violates logic and known natural law.” But it’s unclear what Tilberian means by “evidence”. Under what conditions, according to Tilberian, does something count as good evidence for something else? It’s also unclear what he means by “violates logic and known natural law”. So I’ll wait for him to be more precise before we discuss his view of rationality.
P.S. For the interested reader, I have provided a list of some contemporary analytic philosophers and logicians who are theists. The list includes Alexander Pruss, Peter Forrest, Michael Bergmann, William Vallicella, Lynn Rudder Baker, Robert Koons, Douglas Groothius, Nicholas Rescher, Bas van Fraasen, Timothy McGrew, John Hawthorne, Dean Zimmerman, Hud Hudson, Richard Davis, Eleonore Stump, Robin Collins, Peter van Inwagen, William Alston, Keith Derose, Michael Sudduth. There are hundreds more. (Send me a private message for more resources.) The reason I provide this list is so we have something against which we can test the definitions different people proffer. A plausible definition should be such that if we were to apply it as a rule of thumb to the relevant theistic beliefs expressed in the writings of these philosophers, we would be able to legitimately classify the philosophers as irrational to the extent that they hold those theistic beliefs.
Rude, offensive, irrational jackass.