Of course, don't take my judgment without checking it out. See these two links particularly to see what I mean: One and Two, and additionally this comment (which responds to me). What I will expect you'll find is that they've demanded that everything be done under the banner of theological assumption. Since my point all along is that doing so constitutes pretending to know what we do not know (at the least, the theological assumption), we have reached an impasse, and they've resorted purely to burden shifting, goalpost moving, and circularity denying, along with outright misrepresentation (this link being a relatively benign example--there are many others).
I've got three suggestions for a more productive avenue for discourse, and I've mentioned one of them to him on the comments on his blog. Another is well known to them already. (I should also note to his friends and followers there that since the comment threads (One and Two) have gone into total meltdown as well, I will not be participating there any longer until they get back on the rails, hence my lack of response to their arguments since this offer.) These suggestions are:
- To discuss "why is it considered virtuous (or unvirtuous, if they wish to take that side) to avoid revising one's beliefs?"
- To address "what would convince them, as Christians, to reject or revise their Christian beliefs?"
- For them to admit explicitly, openly, and unequivocally, as I've repeatedly asked, merely that their beliefs are not something they can know to be true (even if they want to continue believing them anyway for other reasons).
I'll indicate again under what circumstances I would be willing to change my beliefs about God and Christianity. My minimum bar is evidence that does not depend upon the beliefs themselves to have more plausibility than other explanations. This answers #2, and despite their protests, I do not think this standard is unreasonable or necessarily impossible. Indeed, I think they'd need at least this much and more before being able to consider a different religion, even if a true one (different than the one they have now) unequivocally appeared in the world suddenly later this afternoon--that is, not only do I think I'm open to the truth whatever it is, I think they have in place a mechanism that is resistant to it if it should happen to disagree with their current beliefs.
As to #1, to show my sincerity, I think it is unvirtuous to avoid revising one's beliefs because only by revision of belief can we reject bad ideas and get closer to a state where we primarily (or only) hold good ones. I also see faith as a cognitive bias that gets directly in the way of revising one's own beliefs, so they know where I stand. Further, for the same reason mentioned above and because I and we collectively as a species have speculated wrongly so many times, I think informed skepticism, that is reasonable doubt with a willingness to change one's mind, is a profound virtue. Of course, I also think that gullibility is not so good, so I have standards (as mentioned above) that prevent changing my mind when I shouldn't.
The direct responses so far to my suggestion of the first question have indicated that they may be too doxastically entrenched to reset to a productive discussion at present (see: 1, 2, 3). That's fine. I'm not putting a time limit on this, as these things take a great deal of time to work through. I do hope when they can, though, they'll answer these questions for us, and more importantly for themselves.
Tom, I look forward to your response(s).