“Is God a Delusion”

I recently read Eric Reitan’s quite good Is God a Delusion?: A Reply to Religion’s Cultured Despisers. I agree with most his book, and will later talk about several other subjects the book brings up. However I want to talk about how my interpretation of Russell’s Teapot differs from Reitan’s.

Reitan sees Russell’s Teapot as applying only when something is principle verifiable: It is irrational to believe an arbitrary empirical claim. Thus RT does not apply to claims which make no predictions about future observations. His conception of God does not make any predictions.

However I think RT is clearly about any arbitrary claim. Thus it applies to arbitrary claims about transcendent realities: It is irrational to believe any arbitrary claim.

As there can’t be any strong evidence for Reitan’s belief in a personal God, it is an arbitrary claim, and is irrational.

Reformed epistemology argues other beliefs we automatically accept are equally arbitrary. Notably, our belief in a persistent external world can’t be proven. Currently I cannot formulate a way to argue belief in a persistent external world is not arbitrary, and to be honest I would not be extremely surprised if there is no persistent external world.

So both belief in external reality, and belief in God are arbitrary, and irrational. In fact any belief which does not make predictions is irrational.

Clearly this is unsatisfactory.

Personally my solution is to abandon particular beliefs about unobservables. That my perceptions follow regular patterns, and that assuming there is a persistent external world provides good predictions about those patterns is clearly true. Beyond that perhaps we should be agnostic.

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