Posts tagged ‘evidentialism’

August 23rd, 2013

Q&A 32: Young Earth Creationism as an Apologetic Methodology?

by Max Andrews

Q&A GraphicQuestion:

Max,

First of all, I want to congratulate you on your opportunity to study in Scotland! What an honor! I look forward to seeing where that will take you. Secondly, I want to be clear that the motivation of my questioning is NOT to simply stir controversy, and not to put you in a difficult position to answer. However, the nature of the topic of my question tends to cause controversy among some, so be warned.

My question is one regarding the relationship between Young Earth Creationism, the science and religion “conflict”, and the ministry of apologetics. I have been wrestling with this topic for about six months now, and I am seeking your insight to gain some clarity, understanding, and advice.

Earlier this year, I completed the undergraduate Creation Studies class at Liberty University. Although I enjoyed the class, at the end of the six week course I remained unconvinced that the Young-Earth view is a proper interpretation of Genesis 1, or an accurate scientific explanation of the universe we observe. My skepticism of YEC raised several other questions regarding apologetic ministry and the supposed conflict between science and religion.
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January 4th, 2013

We Have a Moral Obligation to Follow the Evidence

by Max Andrews

evidence2I consider myself a moderate evidentialist when it comes to epistemology.  There is a sense of deontology to it in that one ought to base their beliefs corresponding to the evidence; however, there is a sense in which one may hold a belief without sufficient evidence and still be rational.  The source of truth is the objective prime reality and our knowledge should correspond to the truth of reality.  My epistemology yields my theology in the sense of scientific theology.  What I know about reality is what I know about God.[1]

Everything that we know is intuitive or experiential.  Intuition will be discussed later but the knowledge gained is from sensory apparatus’.  The characters read on paper are only the result of photons reflecting off of the paper and the photoreceptors in the eye receiving that information.  All knowledge cannot be deemed sensory only since it seems feasible that a person with a sensory handicap or no functioning sensory apparatus’ may still be justified in believing in his own existence by intuition (as well as moral truths).  The task of justification, or determining the truth of p, must meet the criteria of an inference to the best explanation (IBE).

Consider the following definition for justification:

            S is justified in believing p = S possesses sufficient evidence for p to be true.

October 18th, 2012

The Epistemology Directory

by Max Andrews
Below is a collection of all my blog posts specifically related to epistemology.
  1. My Evidentialist Epistemology
  2. Onto-Relationships and Epistemology
  3. Why Plantinga’s Warrant Cannot Circumvent the Gettier Problem
  4. A General Rule for Gettier Cases
  5. Empiricism and Being in the Right Phenomenological Frame of Mind
  6. Meet Philosopher Linda Zagzebski
  7. The Connection Between Phenomenology and Existentialism
  8. A Response to Alvin Plantinga’s “The Reformed Objection to Natural Theology”
  9. Alex Rosenberg on Whether Philosophy Emerges from Science
  10. Steven Wykstra’s “Toward a Sensible Evidentialism: ‘On the Notion of Needing Evidence.’”
  11. Immanuel Kant’s Categorical Epistemology
  12. New Paper: “Epistemological Scientific Realism and the Onto-Relationship of Inferentially Justified and Non-Inferentially Justified Beliefs”
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June 15th, 2012

WK Clifford’s “Ethics of Belief”

by Max Andrews

W.K. Clifford summarized this deontic model of rationality when he stated, “it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.  If a man, holding a belief which he was taught in childhood or persuaded of afterwards, keeps down and pushes away any doubts which arise about it in his mind… the life of that man is one long sin against mankind.”[1] Clifford gives the scenario of a seafaring ship and the ship owner’s knowledge of the integrity of the ship.  In Clifford’s alternated ending the ship owner is responsible or equally guilty for the shipwreck even though it never happened.  The reason why he’s responsible is because he knew that that’s what could have happened.

The deontic aspect of belief and knowledge is not so much how one forms a belief but rather what that belief is.  This ethic on pertains to what the belief is and how it measures to the evidence.  The justificatory means is peripheral as long as the belief corresponds to reality.  Initially, this seems an untenable position assuming that it may be possible to know the objective truth about all of reality.  In order for one to be justified and to have knowledge without being at fault ethically the belief must be congruent to the evidence.  This allows for reasonable accountability and correction of one’s beliefs and it permits the advancement of knowledge, to learn, and paradigm shifts.

June 11th, 2012

Stephen Wyksrta’s “Toward a Sensible Evidentialism: On the Notion of ‘Needing Evidence’”

by Max Andrews

Wykstra argues contra ‘Calvinian’ epistemology, a la Alvin Plantinga, which suggests that belief in God is properly basic.  Wykstra puts forth a case for evidentialism.  His goal was to not refute Plantinga’s view but instead relocate the discussion so that evidentialism will appear as a viable option. With this option of evidentialism he doesn’t attempt to say that it’s necessarily absent from a Calvinian point of view but that Calvinians’ need to understand the role of evidence.  It’s not that evidentialism is wrong or that the Calvinian can’t use evidentialism but it’s that Calvinians can have their claim of properly basic beliefs without completely dismissing the evidentialist position.

Logically prior to such inferential reasoning is intuition or basic beliefs.  These beliefs may also be considered properly basic.  The belief that this glass of water in front of me will quench my thirst if I drink it is not inferred back from previous experiences coupled with an application of a synthetic a priori principle of induction.  Though this example is not how we form our beliefs psychologically or historically, it can be formed via instances of past experience and induction in the logical sense.  This is how the properly basic beliefs are related to God’s existence. 

Wykstra’s argument:

May 1st, 2012

My Evidentialist Epistemology

by Max Andrews

I would consider my epistemic position to be a moderate evidentialist. (This is just a brief outline).  There is a sense of deontology to it in that one ought to base their beliefs corresponding to the evidence; however, there is a sense in which one may hold a belief without sufficient evidence and still be rational.  The source of truth is the objective prime reality and our knowledge should correspond to the truth of reality.  My epistemology yields my theology in the sense of scientific theology.  What I know about reality is what I know about God.[1]

Everything that we know is intuitive or experiential.  Intuition will be discussed later but the knowledge gained is from sensory apparatus’.  The characters read on paper are only the result of photons reflecting off of the paper and the photoreceptors in the eye receiving that information.  All knowledge cannot be deemed sensory only since it seems feasible that a person with a sensory handicap or no functioning sensory apparatus’ may still be justified in believing in his own existence by intuition (as well as moral truths).  The task of justification, or determining the truth of p, must meet the criteria of an inference to the best explanation (IBE).

Consider the following definition for justification:

            S is justified in believing p = S possesses sufficient evidence for p to be true. 

April 9th, 2012

Calculating the Sufficiency of Belief Probabilistically

by Max Andrews

Here is a real simple model that can be used to determine how we weight our beliefs.  As an evidentialist, I appropriate the degree of belief of commitment to a belief according to it’s evidence.  The question of sufficiency may be expressed probabilistically.  If my belief p is sufficient then it must be 0 < p ≤ 1 where p is > .5.  Expressing the value of p is difficult and may certainly have values that may be measured and compared but there are also instances where p must be assigned an arbitrary value that must be determined intuitively or against the aggregate whole of one’s current knowledge [if p is novel].  Additionally, if p is not equivalent to 1 then all future tensed propositions may only be expressed probabilistically.

Why these criteria for determining the value of p?  There may be instances when p may be assigned a definitive value.  Suppose that I am colorblind, to an extent, and red and purple are indistinguishable for me and that they are the same shade.  Suppose I have three marbles in my pocket that are similar in weight and texture (or otherwise may only be distinguished by color) and I have been told by a reliable source that there is one red marble and two purple marbles.  The probability of me pulling out the red marble is .333.  I pull out a marble and it is red.  Let p be the belief that I pulled a purple marble from my pocket.  With the background knowledge, k, that I have the inability to differentiate red from purple; I am justified in assigning a value of .333 to p even though I actually pulled out a red marble.  Would I then be justified?