Reasonable Atheism

Over here, there is a discussion as to how it can be that atheists can be punnished by God if their atheistic belief is the belief that is epistemically justified for them. It does seem that there are atheists who are epistemically justified in their belief of atheism. That is, it seems like for at least some individual's the evidence that they have best supports atheism. This entails that believing theism would be unjustified for those individuals.

Nonetheless, if salvation is based upon belief (I don't think this is quite right, but belief does seem to at least be essential), then individuals who are justified in their atheism are punnished for 'following their evidence'. Something might seem strange about this.

One could, like Kierkegaard seems to place the importance on faith and divorce faith from reason, but I have never found such a move appealing.

I think that the answer here lies in terms of justification. Here, I distinguished between epistemic justification (that one's belief fits with one's evidence) and meaty justification (that one is epistemically justified and also responsible in having gathered evidence). There is room to criticize the atheist since even if her belief in atheism is justified it can be that she has not been responsible in gathering evidence regarding the issue. Not only is this defense possible, I think it gets the situation right. The evidence is out there -- we are without excuse -- though this does not entail that every individual will be epistemically justified.

Pacal's Wager has import here. Though the pragmatic considerations that Pascal brings to bear on the rationality of belief in God do not affect the justification of that proposition, they do bring out the importance of that issue. The importance of the truth of theism makes it critical that one responsibly seek out evidence. Such a pursuit should consume us.

I would claim that the atheist is only justified in her atheism since she has not been responsible enough in pursuing the relevant evidence. If so, then it makes sense that she is punnished for believing what she should on her evidence. After all, it's much easier to see how we can be responsible for our actions (evidence gathering) than it is for our beliefs (since they are no directly voluntary).

1 comment:

chumly said...

I wonder if any players in the NFL Draft are Atheists?