[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 concludes Chapter 18, “Atheism and the Justification of Non-Justification Ability”. It also concludes the fictional dialogue that has been going since chp 17. As it’s something of a grand finale, though not to the Section yet, it’ll be about twice as long as usual.]
(picking up from the end of the previous entry)
Chase (the atheist): … That doesn’t mean I am active!
Reed (the theist): No, not necessarily. But by denying it per hypothesis, you leave yourself no possible way to reach even merely probably reliable “perceptions of reality”. Your perceptions of probability end up trapped in a formal limbo where no judgments of their relative worth–compared to other estimates of probability for instance–can be legitimately made. Those judgments which might possibly ratify the probability estimates, require active ability to exist on our part. If that ability is proposed not to exist, neither can those judgments effectively exist. Something like judgments could effectively exist; but their potential effectiveness will also be put under the same explanation which already requires the probability estimates to be potentially reliable.
Once again you have tried to justify the potential effectiveness of your mental processes, against a sceptical threat–a sceptical threat that atheism leads to as the first rational conclusion!–by presuming first that they can be effective. But if you presume that your mental processes can be effective, then it is merely redundant to try to justify later that they can be effective. You cannot legitimately prove that legitimate proofs don’t have to exist.
C: All right, so… what if I have a lifetime of a million centuries behind me?