Faith as an Epistemological Tool: Is Faith Knowledge or Is Faith Not Knowledge
Name of Presenters: Joe and Lisa
Date and Length of Presentation
20 November 1997 for 50 minutes
Basic Goal of Presentation Aethiest vs. Thiest
Brief Outline of Presentation (as actually delivered):
I am compeled to state that the matter boils down to an argument upon the necessity of logic upon the justification for truth. Issues such as meaning and morality are but red herrings; they have importance -- and the existence of God (or the lack thereof) may be influential upon the conclusions of those issues, but those issues themselves can not be used as proof of God. While God (or his absence) may (or may not) be a required feature in a given system of meanings or moral, as that system may be subjective or flawed, there is no reason to believe that the God necessary to it is true because of the system which has no actual necessity of its own.
While I would conclude logic is a necessary part of the justification process, I must admit this argument is in a way circular, since I must use (and therefore accept) logic to justify that conclusion and I have therefore already determined its necessity. If I begin by rejecting logic, than there are no rules to bound me to concluding its necessity and I can reject it. This is problematic. As a skeptic, I feel that logic's necessity should be proven before accepted and it must be accepted before it can be used, but in the very process of formulating the argument, logic is used and thus the argument is self defeating!
Of course, after one disposes of the need for logic, one essentially disposes of the need for justification. Without logic, "I say so, therefore x" will be an unrefutable argument for any x -- it would only be upon invoking logic that this argument may be defeated.
Going back to logic, however, the above can only conclude in disfunctionalism. For example "I say so, therefore I can safely fly off tall buildings." This failure to apply logic will lead to dangerous, even fatal results. Rationally, I can only see disfunctionalism as undesirable and therefore I must reject it and the premises that lead to it in making those decisions that affect my life or life style.(1)
1. Ultimate truth may be disfunctional -- this I can not, nor would not, deny. However, the very idea of creating a system of beliefs (or analyzing an existing system) seems to be for the purposes of establishing a functional mode of existence, thus we must set aside the former possibilities as otherwise we defeat the purpose of the task of establishing beliefs.
On the other hand, I have no problem with the idea that ultimate truth may be undesirable. In fact I find it likely that it is so. I find it desirable to believe that there is a just and loving God directing human affairs and rewarding and punishing as is just, but I find this idea highly unlikely and I am unable to believe it. Instead, I believe that either (A) there are no gods (the most likely scenario), (B) God(s) can be justly described (from a human standpoint) as either amoral or immoral and accordingly either a-responsible or irresponsible, or (C) the reasoning (or lack thereof) of god(s) is a phenomenia beyond human comprehension; (A) seems of questionable desirability and (B) and (C) seem positively undesirable (at least from the viewpoint of a human interested in both ethics and comprehension such as myself.
[To digress further, I'd like to comment upon the idea that people believe what they want to believe. As should be observed at this point, this is not a notion I buy into for myself; as I find it all to easy to prove that wishs can be proven wrong and it seems impossible to believe something which is contrary to evidence or experience, regardless for the motivations one may have for adopting the belief. I would put forth that the only options I have in terms of belief are in terms of whether to I admit them (either privately or publicly) and whether I explore them (possibily either in depth or in contrast to alien beliefs); the later of these may force a change (either in content or in degree) of belief -- note, however, if the requist data were to be present for modifying the belief, I would not have the option of accepting whether it should be altered. If (hypothetically) I wished to adopt beliefs which are alien to us, I may attempt to explore the belief (or the contrary beliefs which prevent its acceptance) until I find enough evidence (which may or may not occur), but the belief can not be adopted by mere wishful thinking no matter how much I desired to or expressed that I already have the belief.
Perhaps I attribute my personal property of functioning in a rational manner to more of
humanity than is just, but I am forced to question that others can so easily delude themselves into
elevating mere wishful thinking to the status of beliefs. It is undeniably true that many people
seem to habor faiths that are in accord with their wishs. However, commiting by word or by
action to any faith does not necessarily imply that the person believes the system to which he
commits; humans lie -- even to themselves. When an argument can be reduced to "Either God
exists or y" where y is considered to be an ugly possibility that the person is unwilling to consider
and therefore taken as impossible, I find myself reluctant to say "they believe in God" as much as
"they wish to believe in God and to avoid considering the opposite possibility" -- which is neither
the same thing nor a finalization of the argument.. To me, Pascal's argument seems ultimately
translatable to "I do not necessarily believe in god, but uncertain of the contrary, I shall by word
and deed commit myself to the possibility as I may be better off that way" with an implecation that
God won't know / care of his lingering doubt which he may repress from his own consciousness
even while doubt seems the fundamental reason for his argument. Return