"And, I concur; considering the Bible and Christianity without a prior God belief is meaningless."
Commenter MS Quixote raised this point in the midst of a discussion on the blog Daylight Atheism.
I have seen this point raised so many times that I feel it is necessary for me to address this point directly, once and for all, on record.
First, what exactly does it mean to consider the Bible and Christianity?
I state here that I am assuming that what I mean by "considering the Bible and Christianity" is that I am considering whether I believe the spiritual claims are true. If this can be said more precisely, please let me know how I can summarize this in a more accurate way.
I assume that MS Quixote wants to know if the claims of the Bible and Christianity are true, and that he assumes that other people want to know if the claims of the Bible and Christianity are true, and that this is what he means when he says "considering the Bible and Christianity".
I hope I have made correct assumptions in determining what each of us is trying to accomplish when we consider the Bible and Christianity, because those assumptions are fundamental to this exercise.
In the comments section of the original entry by MS Quixote, I noted that Muslims do approach the Bible and Christianity with a prior god belief, but they still have different god beliefs than Christians.
MS Quixote was gracious enough to recognize this, and amended his statement to say that one needs a Christian god belief before considering Christianity and the Bible in a meaningful way. At least, I hope this is what he meant to say, and that I have correctly stated his position.
In suggesting an experiment with MS Quixote's line of reasoning, I am providing the following counter-examples for comparison:
"And, I concur; considering the Qu'ran and Islam without a prior belief in Allah is meaningless."
"And, I concur; considering the Book of Mormon without a prior belief in the revelations of Joseph Smith is meaningless."
"And, I concur; considering the Bhagavad-Gita without a prior belief in Krishna is meaningless."
I wonder if MS Quixote would have any objections to these lines of reasoning if he encountered them in a discussion from a fellow theist, albeit one of a different belief system than his own?
If Christianity can be a properly basic belief, then can Hinduism also be a properly basic belief? Can Islam be a properly basic belief? What about Mormonism?
According to the basic tenets of these religions, not all of them can be true. Therefore, if one can say that the followers of all of these religions have properly basic beliefs, one can say that out of a large number of the people who have properly basic beliefs, many of them have properly basic beliefs that are wrong.
I believe that this circumstance should give anyone who defends religious belief with the notion of "properly basic belief" a moment of pause.
If a large number of people who have properly basic beliefs about a subject are wrong, then one should acknowledge that having a properly basic belief alone is not good enough as a standard for one to be confident of one's conclusions about a subject.
The idea that only consideration of Christianity with a prior belief in the Christian god can be meaningful does not account for the way human beings actually believe in things and acquire beliefs about the subject of religion. I have given counter-examples of patterns of belief in other religious belief systems to demonstrate where I believe that this argument is deficient.
Lastly, there are probably many areas where I have said something that is not as precise as it could be, or I have said something which is a mischaracterization or a misinterpretation, or I have not been clear enough in articulating my ideas. I openly acknowledge the possibility of errors, and if someone can identify them, I will gladly revise my statements. I freely admit that I am a relative novice in discussions of religion and philosophy, but I hope to learn as much as possible as I increase in experience and practice, and to continue a civil and productive discussion of belief and knowledge and "life, the universe, and everything".