Tuesday, September 23, 2008

An entire building made of concrete

From the Jolly Nihilist's latest answer:

Faith indeed played a role in permitting my foundation—evidentialism—to be laid. However, once in possession of a foundation upon which to build, the temporary scaffolding (faith) became outmoded…no longer needed.

I don't have a whole lot to say in response to the Jolly Nihilist's latest post, actually. I'm pretty happy with what he's said, and so there might only be a little more fleshing-out to do before I spend some time on his extension of the Flying Ethereal Cosmic Flying Catfish Monster business.
But Vox Veritatis and I put our heads together and came up with some questions to ask him.

A note before the questions - Keep in mind that the JN has retreated to this admission of the faith-scaffolding b/c it has become clear that his First Principle - that evidence is the best way for humans to approximate truth - cannot justify itself. Any attempt to do so ends up in an infinite regress.

1) I know you didn't continue with the scaffolding of faith. Why didn't you keep relying on faith? After all, you consider that faith was sufficient to get you to your big First Principle that you find so attractive, while that FP could never get you there by itself.

2) Why did you choose this FP? It seems a completely arbitrary standard. Why not the equally-but-no-less-arbitrary "mustard is the best way to discover truth"? Mustard as FP is not self-justifying either, but one could just as easily make evidence-free faith appeals to it, just as you have to your evidentialist FP.
I don't expect the JN to go this route, but rather other commenters - the fact that mustard is a prima facie silly example makes no difference. Unless the argument for the evidentialist FP is successful, it is just as arbitrary as mustard.

And remember - the JN cannot say "I chose this FP b/c it seems to me to be the best way to live in this world", b/c then I'd request evidence that it is, and we're back where we started - at the choice between faith and an infinite regress of evidence, and this question itself leads to the infinite regress.

3) The JN said:
I use faith once…as scaffolding…to lay my building’s foundation. This hardly equates to a life rife with faith appeals.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm sure you would claim that your life is rife with appeals to evidence. That's the best way to discover truth, after all.

So it goes like this:


| Answer |
| Question |
| Evidentialist FP |
| Faith scaffolding |


You appeal to something more basic to answer less basic questions. In doing so, how is it an avoidance of appealing to the faith foundation-scaffolding? This question is meant to unmask atheists' widespread allergy to claiming that their position is faith-based. Faith is for wackos and fundies, after all, not for rational people like atheists with rational positions like atheism.

4) In what way is this evidentialism thing a FIRST Principle since faith precedes it logically?


The Jolly Nihilist said...


You've been answered here.


Rhology said...

I left what would seem to be a concluding comment on this topic on that same post, for anyone who cares.