This is a blog to discuss philosophy, chess, politics,
C. S. Lewis, or whatever it is that I'm in the mood to discuss.
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Putting words into a person's mouth
In this post, a student drops a class by a philosophy instructor who identifies himself as a theist, but says that God can neither be proven or disproven. The student assumes that the teacher was claiming that it follows from the fact that he believes in God but thinks it unprovable, that he believes in God because he considers the negative to be unprovable. But he said no such thing, or at least is not reported as saying any such thing.
I wrote in response:
Let's see, the professor believes A) that God exists, and B) one cannot either prove or disprove that God exists. He never said B therefore A, that I can see.
I take it that the professor does not accept strong rationalism, which is defined as follows:
"Lets start on one end of the spectrum, with strong rationalism. It proposes that “in order for a religious belief system to be properly and rationally accepted, it must be possible to prove that the belief system is true.” By ‘prove’ it is meant that it is possible to show that a belief is true, in a way that is convincing to any intelligent person. "
But do we expect this level of proof with respect to other beliefs? It seems to me that I can be reasonable in thinking that a lot of things are true even if not everyone ought to believe it. I think that Hillary Clinton is more likely than not to win the 2016 Democratic nomination for President, but if someone assessed the evidence differently, I wouldn't necessarily think they were being irrational.
Actually the definition of strong rationalism should be altered a little, because what it actually says is that it ought to be convincing to all intelligent persons.