Hello to all!
Alright – so I haven’t learned my lesson yet. My first post (on the appropriateness of Religion as evidence in Philosophical arguments) just leaves me wanting for more discussion on this general subject.
I talked about Religious Fideism in a response I gave in the comments for that post, and stated it as my current position when it came to religious beliefs. Specifically, I am referring to the view that one “assents” to believing some religious claim or “fact” by means of faith rather than some line of rational reasoning. If you choose to believe that God exists, for example – then so be it. If you don’t – so be it anyway.
But what I want to focus on isn’t what “faith” is in the definitional sense (which is certainly something that I owe to anyone who wants to challenge me on whether Religious Fideism is cogent). I wish to turn to something else which might undermine Religious Fideism – though I certainly hope doesn’t.
I am afraid that Religious Fideism might find itself in a vicious Catch-22, such that the position might not be that “rational” to hold.
Here’s my line of reasoning here, and then you guys can comment on where I go wrong, if I go wrong.
Religious Fideism (or RF) heavily depends on “faith.” Without it, the view cannot hold. But the view also mentions the idea of “assent” to beliefs based on that faith.
So, it appears, prima facie, that some form of metaphysical Libertarianism (not to confuse it with political Libertarianism), would have to be the case to make the most sense out of this. I mean, it would be weird to think that all of our actions are determined, yet Religious Fideism can still hold. That doesn’t seem to be part of what this position entails. Some sort of “free will” (or FW) on the part of the believer is needed.
Even “free action” doesn’t seem to help as it leaves out the possibility of “free will,” which means that it can be compatible with some form of determinism, which, as I just mentioned, wouldn’t capture what I see Religious Fideism as being.
Okay. So far, it appears that getting RF is going to require FW.
Hence, RF → FW.
Now, how can we get FW? If one appeals to God, then it doesn’t appear to get one anywhere because RF implies subjective assent to religious beliefs, including God’s existence. But that isn’t what is needed here.
What if we talk about causes? What if Reid is right and we are the causes of all of our actions (which are effects)? That would be great. Let’s assume, for the sake of this post, that this holds cogently.
But wait . . . . . . . . if we want to take on this type of position, then we could just get ourselves into the problem of whether there is an infinite regression in the causal chain, or if there is a first cause. The former doesn’t seem like an appealing choice, as it doesn’t get one anywhere.
But what about the latter? If there is a “first cause,” then what would it be? God?
Well here we go again. We get, again, more Religious Fideism.
Okay, let’s scrap that, then. What else could we use to get FW? An appeal to our make-up (or constitution)? But that just leads us to the same problem as the whole “cause-effect” business. We can continue up the chain until infinity or some first cause, in which case we end up with some more possible RF.
All that gets us is RF → FW, and FW → RF. But that’s a Catch-22.
And even if we assume FW to be the case (for whatever reason), isn’t it going to have to be based on some form of Religious Fideism? If God’s existence (in an objective sense) is going to base free will, then it looks odd to then go and talk about free will and then Religious Fideism.
Alright, I’ll stop before I start confusing myself on where I want to go with this. I’d be very interested in hearing what you guys have to say on this issue.
George (“The Meager Weakling”)