Wednesday, August 18, 2010

L 3.2

Loftus quotes W. K. Clifford regarding belief: "No religious belief system is capable of meeting the high standards that believing in anything requires, so no reasonable person should accept any religious belief system". (p. 48)

Loftus needs to be careful in citing this quote because naturalism itself is a belief. Non-theists frequently misunderstand their own belief system. They often think that their position represents non-belief or a-belief which is absolutely not the case. Observations don’t exist in a vacuum. The reason why someone objects to a certain belief is because they believe something else. Otherwise, there would be nothing from which to launch the objection in the first place. Non-theism, sans agnosticism, is the assertion that naturalism is all there is – there is nothing supernatural. A non-theist might still object to this characterization by repeating their system cannot be categorized as a belief but, that in itself is a belief. It is a belief in non-religious belief. Non-theism, including atheism, is a belief system and an inadequate one at that. No person can guarantee that there is no God, nothing supernatural or that naturalism is all there is. Atheists say God doesn’t exist or that there is nothing supernatural. God is supernatural. In order to substantiate the claim that God doesn’t exist, you would have to go to the supernatural realm and check everywhere. No one has ever done that. It’s unlikely anyone ever will. The claim requires knowledge that no person is capable of attaining. On the other hand, we can say that there is a God because there is evidence that God has revealed Himself to people.

Agnosticism is the belief that we either can’t know if God exists or we don’t have enough information to make a determination. Strong agnosticism, that we can’t know, isn’t accurate. We can potentially know that God exists via revelation. Other agnostics maintain that there isn’t enough evidence to say one way or the other. Fundamentally, this belief isn’t different than the atheist claim that there isn’t enough evidence to say God exists. Both the weak agnostic and the atheist are open to God’s existence provided there is enough proof. In that sense, the two claims can be treated the same and the atheist claim has been, and continues to be, dealt with.

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