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Faith and accidental true belief May 9, 2011

Posted by shaunphilly in religion, atheism, polyamory, culture.
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What is faith, except belief in something that you have no evidence for? Some might say that it is hope for things to be true, but that seems dishonest. When people resort to faith, they are falling back into a corner of belief despite the fact that your skeptical questions have not been sufficiently answered. They don’t have an actual reason, based on facts of any kind, to believe what they do, but they believe it anyway.

In re-reading Plato’s Theaetatus just recently, I was thinking about the idea of faith in light of justification. Are people of faith justified in believing what they do? More specifically, is an article of faith something that can be intellectually respectable?

No.

A proposition given without any rational basis, whether from logical argument or empirical evidence, is not a belief that has merit.  And despite what apologists say, the arguments for god, especially the specific gods of religions like Christianity, don’t have merit.  Why would anyone take such a proposition seriously, except for the fact that they were exposed to accept it under youth or emotional upheaval, as well as the subsequent emotional association with the idea. It may actually be held as an idea and accepted as a fact, but without a reason to accept it, it’s just credulity.

And further, it would not be justifiable even if it happened to be true. Why not? Because the criteria to consider a belief justified is whether there is justification (yes, it’s that obvious) for the belief.

To be correct about a belief by accident, that is to say to accept it without rational justification, and have it be true anyway is merely a stroke of luck.  To take pride in being right by accident is no better than thinking that the lottery numbers you chose were right before the drawing.  And faith, being a belief without rational justification, due to the fact that the belief lacks evidence, is therefore at best accidental true belief.  At worst, it is a false belief held for no reason.

This is just one of the reasons why Pascal’s wager (the idea that we should believe just in case it is true) is so absurd.

If you cannot supply good reasons to believe something, then you cannot be surprised when other people do not accept your belief as intellectually respectable. Further, you may not have any justification for believing it yourself, in which case your credulity may be a reason to wonder about whether you are a person worthy of respect as a rational person

Rational is as rational does, or something.

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