Norman Geisler's objections:
1) “If ‘most of us most of the time come to our beliefs for a variety of reasons having little to do with empirical evidence and logical reasoning,’ then can we not assume that Loftus came to his atheistic views the same way?”
This is Mr. Geisler's objections to John Loftus' Outsider Test of Faith.
Here is the Outsider Test of Faith.
When believers criticize the other faiths they reject, they use reason and science to do so. They assume these other religions have the burden of proof. They assume human not divine authors to their holy book(s). They assume a human not a divine origin to their faiths.Believers do this when rejecting other faiths. So dispensing all of the red herrings about morality and a non-material universe, the OTF simply asks believers to do unto their own faith what they do unto other faiths. All it asks of them is to be consistent. The OTF asks why believers operate on a double standard. If that's how they reject other faiths then they should apply that same standard to their own. Let reason and science rather than faith be their guide. Assume your own faith has the burden of proof. Assume human rather than divine authors to your holy book(s) and see what you get. If there is a divine author behind the texts it should be known even with that initial skeptical assumption.
Okay, Objection No. 1.
My objection to Mr. Geisler's point here is that his is a political objection, which we can break down into two parts, which are presented to us as an 'if/then' proposition.
‘most of us most of the time come to our beliefs for a variety of reasons having little to do with empirical evidence and logical reasoning..'
Mr. Geisler is overgeneralizing here. Sure our parents beliefs were passed down to us while we were learning to speak, learning our place in the world, but even as youngsters still learning, we compare how words are used by others, which is empirical and logical.
If grandpa is joking around and tells us that the sky is green we'll quickly object that 'everyone else' knows that the sky is blue. We remember the data, mom talking about the nice blue sky today, dad agreeing, them talking about things being blue and the colour of those things being the colour of the sky, and so forth.
Of course I'm talking about how we learned when we were children and an even more political response to my example would be to get all philosophical on me here and argue with me about whether and under what circumstances the sky is actually blue.
In fact our grasp of reality is being constantly tested by everyone else and by ourselves from just about day one.
Point is that the very general, the most general case for Geisler's point isn't true although one's religious beliefs are included in everyones' lives too. i.e. Most will confirm that the sky is blue and most people in your life will confirm their religious beliefs too.
This is what the OTF is all about, and couching beliefs as stuff generally outside empirical evidence and logical reasoning, is nonsensical in the very general terms since we're not about to question all of our beliefs all the time, we've done the empirical data collecting long ago(blue is blue is blue) and our logical reasoning( the damn sky IS blue) ever since we knew the words.
"... can we not assume that Loftus came to his atheistic views the same way?”
The OTF is not about Loftus' beliefs and how he came to believe them, it's about how you can argue against faiths other than your own in one way but dare not argue for your own faith in that same way.
We can illustrate the disconnect easily enough, like one of those general I.Q. tests.
Pick out the one which doesn't fit.
1)Belief in ghosts
2)Belief in a supernatural realm
3)Belief in God
4)Belief that the motion of the stars and planets influence our lives.
5) Not believing that there are ghosts or a supernatural realm or a God or that the motion of the stars and planets influence our lives.
I know, I know, it's kind of tricky. I was thinking '4', since I don't believe in Astrology, then I realised that no matter if I believed any of the 'beliefs', no matter if any of the 'beliefs' were true, number 5 IS THE ODD MAN OUT!
As a theist(Christian, Muslim, Jew etc.) your likely to know all the semantic ducks and weaves and dodges such as Atheism is just another belief system, if I say it's not, it's just non-belief, you can retort, "Well, it's belief that there is no God then.", basically dragging non-beliers down that very disingenuous rabbit trail.
So, it would appear that our Geisler fellow, if not a completely disingenuous, intellectually dishonest asshole, is pandering to his audience who are a closed community who are more than willing to take for granted that atheism is a belief system.