Confidence in Religious Beliefs

Today in our Philosophy 1100H class, we discussed the perspective described by William L. Rowe called “friendly atheism” and how in essence, it seems impossible. A friendly atheist is one who believes that they are rationally justified in their religious beliefs, but who also believes others are rationally justified in their own. For example, a friendly atheist would be able to “agree to disagree” with a theist in terms of their belief in religion. Rowe himself along with Richard Feldman both conclude, however, that friendly atheism is inherently futile. If two people fully believe that they are correct and rationally justified in their beliefs, and their beliefs contrast, then there is no way for either one to believe the other can be rationally justified-its just not logical. I, however, have experienced a lack of certainty in my beliefs in any direction. With all of the evidence that I have gained throughout my lifetime, I do not see myself fit to make the ultimate decision about my fate, and I believe that very few people, if any, really are 100% certain in their beliefs. How is it possible to believe in something that you don’t know is true? Although people may have experience religious fallacies or supernatural miracles, there is no solid factual evidence of a superior being (otherwise everyone would believe in the same one). Essentially, I do believe we can “agree to disagree.” On some level, people can recognize that someone else could be right, and to completely dismiss another’s ideals is generally irrational. People may have ideas that can persuade them in certain directions, but to conclude that something that is not within our reality is completely true seems irrational. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an atheist or a theist, I’m simply somewhere in-between. I believe most, if not all, people are somewhere in-between, yet they hold on to whatever helps them sleep at night. At the end of the day, I have my reality, and that’s all I need.

3 thoughts on “Confidence in Religious Beliefs

  1. I completely agree with your point of view, Kevin. I was also skeptical of Rowe’s and Feldman’s conclusions that it is irrational for two individuals who strongly believe their viewpoints to be correct and rational to view the opposing viewpoint as incorrect. Although I consider myself a theist and feel I am rationally justified and correct (due to my cultural upbringing) in believing God exists, I can completely see how another individual would disagree. That is, I can completely envision why and how an atheist would believe God does not exist and I consider this opposing argument perfectly rational and also correct. In essence, then, I believe I am on the same page as Feldman’s students and feel it is perfectly acceptable to “agree to disagree,” as you had said.

  2. I completely agree with your point of view, Kevin. I was also skeptical of Rowe’s and Feldman’s conclusions that it is irrational for two individuals who strongly believe their viewpoints to be correct and rational to view the opposing viewpoint as incorrect. Although I consider myself a theist and feel I am rationally justified and correct (due to my cultural upbringing) in believing God exists, I can completely see how another individual would disagree. That is, I can completely envision why and how an atheist would believe God does not exist and I consider this opposing argument perfectly rational and also correct. In essence, then, I believe I am on the same page as Feldman’s students and feel it is perfectly acceptable to “agree to disagree,” as you had said.

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