Monday, May 26, 2014

Boghossian's Definition of Faith: "Without Evidence" or "Beyond the Evidence"?

I just finished listening to the debate between philosophers Tim McGrew and Peter Boghossian A Manual for Creating Atheists - Unbelievable?.

I just have a small observation to add to the debate, which is that in Boghossian's very last comment he seems to revise his definition of faith from "belief without evidence" to "belief beyond the evidence" or "belief that isn't warranted by the evidence."  That seems to me to be a very significant revision.  I believe in an external world based on my sense experiences being systematic and stubborn.  But it could be that I'm just dreaming very systematically and stubbornly.  So I believe in an external world "beyond the evidence."  I believe in other minds largely because they seem to say and do things that I would say and do.  That's some evidence, but certainly not enough evidence to justify my belief that there are all these other minds.   I only have my own mind as one example from which I am generalizing to all other minds.  Hardly a strong inductive argument.  So I believe in other minds "beyond the evidence."

So if Boghossian's definition of faith is "belief beyond the evidence," then I suspect that most of us, atheists, agnostics, or religious people, have faith all the time.  For Boghossian to maintain that faith is a peculiar property of religious people, he needs to maintain that people have religious belief without any evidence whatsoever.  And I think Boghossian would believe this beyond the evidence, or perhaps even without evidence?

HT: Randal Rauser.

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