Originally posted by twhitehead
Several theists have in the past made the claim that those that do not believe as they do are deluded. So my question is how do they know they are not the ones deluded? I guess its even possible that we are all deluded and nobody sees the truth.
Is there a reliable way to test your own beliefs and identify whether or not it is your and not the other guy ...[text shortened]... check his reasons, double check my reasons, and see if they stand up.
So what are your tests?
It seems risky to base any dispute between believers and non believers on the suggestion that one group is either more intelligent / stupid or more rational / irrational or better educated / less educated than the other.
Let us imagine that you have arrived at your tests for a well founded belief by means of education or by use of reason. Why do you assume that believers lack education or lack the use of Reason, when there are centuries of reasoned thought behind modern religious thinking and Plato's Rationality was itself religious in its nature? Why do you not accept that there are ways to arrive at belief that make perfectly appropriate use of reasoning?
The trouble with "Reason" is that it has to work with some premises, assumption, or first principles: one tends to Reason from one thing to another, not from nothing. So the conclusions you arrive at will have a lot to do with where you start from and with what constraints.
RJH for example proposes that one should commence from the Bible as the first and solid foundation for whatever follows. Now we can demonstrate that when he claims to be doing this, he relies along the way on statements that we know for a fact and can demonstrate to be false even in their own terms, without having to propose a Scientific alternative. But can we demonstrate that other believers are lying in support of their faith? Maybe that is so for individuals and groups, but can it be generally the case or universally the case? That is harder to demonstrate and it takes some presumption to assert that there are no sincere believers in religious dogmas. And anyway, historically and today, many people profess religious faith and self identify as practising Christians who have made no attempt whatever to study the Bible, let alone critically interpret it. Indeed, Catholics have largely been discouraged from private Bible reading. So I suspect that most Christians have a pretty vague notion of what it is they are required by their religious affiliation to believe. Their beliefs might be summed up with the one word "whatever" and a shrug of the shoulders.
I am just not convinced that you can separate religious thinking from "Scientific" thinking by relying on the use of Reason as a critical test. Too much of Rationalism is religious in its roots and history. It would not otherwise have reached us from the Greeks through Islam and Judaism (Maimonides in particular) and then Anselm and Aquinas. These guys were not seeking to topple any icons.
By the way, a brief study of psychotherapy might persuade you that many deluded and very mad people have scrupulously rational grounds for their delusions.