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Friday, January 30, 2004

The 'No Evidence' Objection: Another perspective.

Absolutely speaking, if no question begging evidence is allowed to count as genuine evidence for Christianity, then there is no evidence for Christianity and there in principle could be no evidence for it.. But since there could be no evidence for any position on this condition, Christianity is no worse off than any other view. Given the impossibity of providing evidence on this condition, we cannot be obliged to do so, since ought implies can.

But there is a religious aspect to the problem as well as an evidential one. It would be difficult to see the practical meaning of a religious faith if it did not make a practical difference in our lives whether we believed it or not, and if it did, this would be a kind of evidence for it to be true or verisimilitudenous. If Christianity did not make a difference there would be no motive to be one. This includes even the case if a religion only makes a practical difference only after death, since I think that skepticism is still an issue even if one were to have an afterlife experince. (Imagine: you could be standing in the heavenly throne room in the presence of glory and still wonder if reductive materialism is true.)

But perhaps the religious deminsion of making a practical difference, being a practical context, there is need to worry about the non-question-begging condition. The evidence for the truth of Christianity does not have to not be question-begging for practical purposes as long as a religious attitude toward life provides a context in which Christianity makes a discernable difference. It would not matter if philosophic objectivity is impossible for a Christian faith, if Christianity makes the best sense of experience within a religious perspective (not to be confused with the idea of having a religious experience).

It might be logically impossible even for an omnipotent God to provide evidence only on the condition that only the non-question begging condition be satisfied. But if the religious perspective is adopted it would be morally troubling if granting religious presuppositions there is no evident difference a particular religion makes. Of course, only those who really do surrendar to a religious perspective are in a position to se whether or not this is so.

However, this has to be contrasted with an approach to religion which, like Freudian analysis, is not open to criticism or falsification. The idea of a religious perspective has to be nuetral enough such that accepting a religious perspective does not entail an acceptance of Christianity no matter what. We may not able to specify in advance what evidencxe would lead someone to or away from Christianity but that such is the case is at least a possibility. I also think that the question "What counts as being part of a religious perspective?" is a valid question and can be answered by the comparitive phenomenology of religion.

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