I’d never heard of the Outsider Test of Faith (OTF) before today, though components of the idea had occurred to me in my numerous reflections on theology (e.g. that any individual’s particular religious belief is an accident of parentage and geography, that religious people often hold the peculiar position different religions are less credible than their own). Indeed, I suspect the same is true of most people who take a critical stance on religious belief. Anyway, Jerry Coyne has a nice summary of the idea, as expressed by John W. Loftus in his book The Outsider Test of Faith. It is an extraordinarily simple idea, but also extremely powerful as an analytical tool for scrutinizing religious faith and subsequently reducing it to balanced skepticism (if equitably applied – admittedly a rather precarious stipulation, considering the disposition of many religious people).
I’ve finally finished reading theology, though I suspect I’ll dip into it now and again when my stomach feels strong enough. Now I can cleanse my brain by reading some heathen literature, and have just finished John Loftus’s book, The Outsider Test for Faith: How to Know Which Religion is Really True (Prometheus, published March, 2013). I recommend it to readers, particularly those who haven’t followed John’s scattered writings about this idea:
I’ve written about the Outsider Test for Faith (OTF) before, and you can read an early version of John’s idea here. It’s a simple idea, but one that nobody had formally proposed as a way to gauge whether one’s religious beliefs are “correct.” In this book, John present the theory in extenso and discusses (and rebuts) some of the criticisms offered by religionists like Alvin Plantinga.
As Thomas Henry Huxley remarked when hearing about Darwin’s On the Origin of…
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