Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Are you sure?: The Faith Continuum

One of Smith’s critiques of McLaren was his assertion that modernism is built on “Cartesian foundationalism. McLaren thinks there’s no room for doubt as a Christian in the modern model, that we must have “indubitable beliefs.” But Smith asserts this is too high a bar for faith. There’s actually a faith continuum (“degrees of justification”) that was helpful for me in the sense that it puts me at ease that I can still believe something and not defend against any and every weird possibility that a skeptic may throw at me. Here’s the key paragraph on this issue in Smith (116-117):

“So beliefs can have degrees of justification, and the amount of
justification a belief may enjoy may vary over time, due to a variety of
influences on our assessment of the evidence (such as more cognitive material to
process, or very painful circumstances from our past). Roderick Chisholm
has classified a scale of these degrees of justfiiction:
6. Certain
5. Obvious
4. Evident
3. Beyond reasonable doubt
2. Epistemically in the clear
1. Probable
0. Counterbalanced (the evidence for and against offset each other)
-1. Probably false
-2. In the clear to disbelieve
-3. Reasonable to disbelieve
-4. Evidently false
-5. Obviously false
-6. Certainly false
I don’t know where all my beliefs fit on this, but it is liberating for me to some degree. I also admit I’m not necessarily philosophically astute, so I’d love some gentle rebuke if this is bunk. Like I say at the top of the blog, I read a bunch, but I’m not the greatest thinker all the time. What do you think?

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