[This is a continuation of Section Two, Reason and the First Person. An index with links to all parts of the work as they are posted can be found [url=https://forum.evangelicaluniversalist.com/t/sword-to-the-heart-reason-and-the-first-person/1081/1]here.]
[This series continues Chapter 17, “Atheism and the Justification of Justification Ability”.]
The previous entry ended with: “I will illustrate this formal problem underlying the connection between atheism and human justification attempts, by presenting an imaginary dialogue between Chase (whom I will arbitrarily assign to the atheist role) and Reed (whom I will assign as the theist, using a variation of the theistic Argument from Reason).”
(As with all my dialogues, unless I have specifically said otherwise, this one is fictional–I am arguing against myself, in both directions, as an illustration of the application of the principles I have been discussing. I will add parenthetical notes like this on occasion however.)
Reed: So, you claim that reality is, at bottom, non-rational.
Chase: Yes, I do; in the sense of being “non-sentient”.
(Note: Chase is not using ‘non-rational’ to mean invalid. It would be silly for him to claim that reality is at bottom ‘invalid’!)
R: Is your claim itself non-rational, or is it rational?
C: My claim is rational; if it was non-rational, it would not be worthy of potential trust.
(Note: Similarly, Chase is not using ‘rational’ to mean valid; so he is not instantly introduced a category error here by jumping between concepts. I will return next chapter to the question of trustworthiness in a world with only non-rational behaviors.)
R: I agree; although of course an honest mistake or a dishonest cheating is also rational.
C: I agree; those are rational behaviors. The dishonest man, such as the Christian who fudges on his history to mislead the simple and gain power over them, is still engaging in a rational action. That is why I consider such a person wicked, not merely misguided. On the other hand, if I have added up my logic incorrectly due to human error, that mistake also does not negate the rationality of my action.
(Note: Chase is committed to avoiding the externalistic fallacy: his rationality is not merely the formal validity of his thinking, and he does not claim the rationality of other people on that ground either. (His ethical judgment against this hypothetical Christian would not necessarily extend to all Christians, of course; he would think the other ones, like Reed, are making an honest mistake somewhere.))