Belief Convinces Skeptics? Maybe Not.


In this article, (Click me Here)a writer attempts to make a case for accepting religious claims, specifically those of Christianity, based only on personal testimony and alleged experience, and compares the apostle Peter with a master salesman who could convince the most reticent of doubters.

There are several problems with the claims in this article, and I’ll go from the most likely premise which needs to be established as a truth-condition for the claims to the least likely, each assumption hinging on the ones prior to it:

First, there is the premise that Peter historically existed as a real person, not a fictional or mythical character. This is possible, and even likely, though I haven’t seen any definite confirmation of this by biblical historians and scholars, so I have the fewest problems with it. It could very well be, even with some considerable exaggeration in the accounts of him over time.

Second, dependent on the first, is the premise that what Peter has been credited as saying, he actually, literally did. It is likely that some of what he has been credited as saying he did, and that some has been added to and embellished by others after him. This happens a lot in the evolution of religious narratives and scriptures.

Third, and finally, this argument assumes as a given that everything Peter said is actually true, not merely that he believed it so, and no rationale is given to accept Peter’s claims unless one is already inclined to accept both the validity of the source, and the truth of the claims. These claims both beg the question and are based on fallacious appeals to authority and pragmatism (“I’ve been there, done that, I say it, and it works for me, so it must be true…”)for their establishment, and I’m afraid that to those who don’t already believe and know something about logical fallacies, they aren’t very convincing at all.

I remain skeptical, but it was a nice try, and an interesting exercise for putting my thoughts in order.

About Troy Loy

I seek to learn through this site and others how to better my ability as a person and my skill at using my reason and understanding to best effect. I do fractal artwork as a hobby, and I'm working to develop it to professional levels, though I've a bit to go till I reach that degree of skill! This is a crazy world we're in, but maybe I can do a little, if only that, to make it a bit more sane than it otherwise would be.

Posted on Monday, 0:26, February 28, 2011, in Logic & Philosophy and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. well in the ancient world hearsay was pretty much all you had to go on … for instance outside of plato’s it really can’t be known with any certainty that socrates existed … one of my own great heros pythagoras comes down to us only from legends … in the case of st peter though paul’s letter to the galatians mentions paul meeting with the man several times and their being in conflict and such

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    • Good points on that. I think that the stereotype of ancient people being credulous and covered in cowmuck are exaggerated sometimes, but standards were lower then, and those who had the luxury and time for critical thinking were few and often wealthy. Even characters like Robin Hood and Arthur Pendragon are known mostly from legend, in some cases possibly conflated from separate individuals into one figure.

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