Throughout my posts and essays I champion the use of objectivity in assessing truth claims. John Loftus, in a recent response to a Christian review of his book The Christian Delusion, eloquently describes the importance of applying objective tests to truth claims, particularly those of a religious nature. (His full post can be found here.)
As human beings we are not like the Spock in Star Trek. We don’t think logically. This is the human condition. But precisely because of the human condition we should try to be as objective as possible with what we think is true.
If human beings reason so badly that we implicitly adopt what we were taught to believe in our respective cultures so much that they become like blinders on our eyes, and if we’re that bad at weighing the claims of beliefs that have little or no evidence for them to decide between differing ones, then we cannot offer a milquetoast test that asks people to be objective and fair about that which they were raised to believe and defend. What we are enculturated with is who we are. We cannot see the water we swim in. We cannot pluck our eyes out and look at them. So we cannot simply ask people to be objective and fair. Believers already think they are being objective because they can’t see that they are not! Just look at how confident some Muslims are that they are being objective. Some of them are so certain they’re objective about their faith they are willing to fly planes into buildings. Ask them if they’re objective and it would be a no brainer for them. But ask them to subject their own faith to the same level of skepticism they use to reject other faiths and THAT will get their attention [Loftus’s emphasis]. Since we cannot pluck out their eyes we must offer them a shocking test, one that may help get them out of their dogmatic slumbers like nothing else can do. And they will object as strenuously as they can to the OTF [Outsider Test for Faith] because they know their faith does not pass that test.
For more on the Outsider Test for Faith, see this post.