[The previous series, 124, can be found [url=https://forum.evangelicaluniversalist.com/t/jrps-bite-sized-metaphysics-series-124/782/1]here. This series, 125, picks up with the topic arrived at the end of the previous series. An index with links to all parts of the work as they are posted can be found here.]
[This series concludes Chapter 12, “Supernature and Evidence”]
[As a reminder, this is the final main chapter of argumentation for Series 100, or for Section One of the whole book. Chapter 13 will be a summary of material covered in Series 100.]
[Entry 1 for “evidence from reasonable scepticism to reasonable belief”]
(Note: the previous series ended with the question, “Regardless of what I may be currently sceptical of, and putting myself back into the place of someone sceptical of what I believe, what kind of evidence would I accept as grounds for changing my mind to belief instead?”)
I will presume I am not in the grip of a strong emotional pull toward some belief. I do not (speaking actually as a Christian) deny that God can and does convict many people through a process that doesn’t seem, at first, to have much to do with analysis. But I think that sooner or later the converted sceptic, whether to or from a religious belief, should face questions of coherency and intelligibility in the new position he is taking. Otherwise, I cannot see how he would be acting responsibly.
I think it is easier for errors (or ‘heresies’, religiously speaking) to hide behind overt inscrutability than behind dense logic. Indeed, the density of a train of thought can only hide an error by being difficult to work through and thus effectively inscrutable to people who lack the tools and training to sift through the claim. But that kind of inscrutability can, in principle, be effectively ‘seen-through’, to discover real strengths and weaknesses; while the overt inscrutability of ‘mystery’ claims (improperly so-called, for ‘mysteries’, at least in the canonical New Testament texts, involve new knowledge, not un-knowledge or currently-held secrets), or of ‘glorious contradictions’, never pretended to be intelligible. But this also means they are humanly indistinguishable from error. That means it would be entirely up to God (insofar as a religious belief goes) to provide an emotional impulse so powerful that people are headed off from false beliefs. But this obviously is not the case; if God exists, He does not regularly do that: otherwise everyone on the planet, and throughout history, regardless of any other circumstances, would already believe a particular set of religious doctrines to be true, while having absolutely no understanding of what they’re believing at all, merely ‘feeling’ those ideas must nevertheless be true–and in a purely irresponsible fashion as well.
(Footnote: there are of course some Christian and other theistic believers, such as hyper-Calvinist Christians, who do in fact believe that all Christian belief is ‘implanted’ in a non-rational fashion (sub-fideistically, not even as an assertion by the person) into those whom God elects for that purpose. But even they would have to agree that God does not regularly do this. History simply says otherwise. And besides, or so such people sometimes argue, what would be the value of everyone being elected to the spiritually elite?–some people should be refused such an honor and/or such a salvation for comparison purposes so that those chosen to be elite will be more grateful for their elected status.)