How Can We Know The Truth?

If faith is a firm belief in something for which there is no proof, and truth is anything which is in accordance with fact or reality, is it possible that faith and truth may not overlap? To be more specific, if someone does not personally know whether their faith is in accordance with reality, should this be a reason for pause? I get deeper into trying to discern this distinction in my post: Is Faith Synonymous With Truth? Check it out and let me know what you think?


71 thoughts on “How Can We Know The Truth?

  1. truth isn’t correspondence to reality. what test can we conjure to see how our language computers it?

    truth is a grade. it is an “A” given to any sentence we feel justified to assert more than any other. justification of through deliberation which all hangs on reason to assert.

    positivism was abandoned long ago, and though you can hear folks like hawking and mlodinow cry “philosophy is dead”, one can’t help but laugh when the next idea they utter is “new”, but it’s 1840’s peircean pragmatism, and is philosophy rather than science. all we can say is that belief is justified by whatever reasons we’d like, by whatever method leave us most comfortable, most satisfied.

    if faith is supposedly belief without reason, then how is the desire to have something be true any different than the desire to know what is true? the only difference is the reason for faith is that one wants to obtain in the future while other propositions speak to what has obtained.

    and to be consistent with theories of knowledge, blind faith is exactly akin to the principle of “benefit of the doubt”, where one doesn’t know what to believe but must believe something because belief is action and the outcome has moral implications.

    so as it regards the world we live in, faith is a proposition about the way things ought to be, whether that be that a certain kind of god should exist, or whether or not one will be hopeful out dreadful about what kind of world we’re creating to live in, or whether or not a person, discounted by nearly the whole of society, is worth you loving just the same.

    at the heart of epistemology is this: we only know ourselves because of our reiteration to other things; reality is our mirror. so then, we want to know what the case is with reality so we can know ourselves as clearly as we can. this makes all inquiry a moral, ethical enterprise. being human, being self-aware, conscious, entails to bring an agent with a will. in that case, we also learn about ourselves through the kinds of things we desire. so then, in all matters of faith, this too is a moral, ethical enterprise because especially in this case, we are responsible for the kind of world that results from our belief “that it will be so” as opposed to “it is true that this is so”; two very similar propositions but one far more existentially urgent.

    that sense of urgency, by the way, is why people don’t think of truth in terms of being a sentence, but instead as some property of things in the world. there is no truth property and capital “T” truth is just the reification of the desire to know things as they are. There is only reality and what we choose to say about it and intersubjective agreement of the best way to talk about it. in the end, truth may best be seen as the ethical conversation about the way things are, and faith similarly seen as the ethical conversation about the way things should be.

    just a thought.


      • What if we think about it in this way, Steven? Are you familiar with the logical fallacy known as unfalsifiability?

        It provides the example here of the Catholic teaching of transubstantiation. It is claimed that the bread and wine turn into the literal flesh and blood of Jesus. However, the kicker is that this claim can neither be falsified or confirmed through testing.

        Whether it is a false claim, we cannot demonstrate it, and whether it is a true claim we cannot confirm it. Catholics teach that it is a “substance” change, whatever that means, rather than a chemical or material change.

        It seems to me that having faith in God is something akin to believing that just because God can neither be proven or disproven to exist, we can therefore believe, if we so choose, that God exists and this is the truth.

        That doesn’t seem right to me. That doesn’t seem to be a good way to talk about the truth. One can say that that they hope it is true that God exists, but they cannot say that it is true that God exists. Not in the strict sense of understanding that truth can in some way be known. In my opinion, to know a truth is to have it correspond to reality in some way, shape, or form. Otherwise, the alternative viewpoint is taking away all meaning from that word. Truth can then be whatever we want it to be, and I’m not relativist.

        I take David Hume’s approach, “a wise man therefore proportions his belief to the evidence.” Belief corresponds to what is and can be known, rather that what is not known.

        There are so many unfalsifiable statements that are clearly not worth our time to consider. Belief that the gods of Greek Mythology exist for example, belief in fairies, leprechauns, or really anything that I or anyone else desires to make up. I can posit for instance that God exists in the form of a Great Grey Wolf. Who is going to disprove the truth of that statement?

        This is why I cannot take a word as precious as truth and align it with statements that can neither be proven or disproven. I put those statements in a category called, unknown or unverified. Unknown and unverified statements can just as likely be false. Again, there are are a myriad of unfalsifiable claims that are clearly false and I suspect, though I do not know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that belief in God is false. I do not assert this absolutely. I cannot know this absolutely, but I do suspect this until Theism can meet its burden of proof


      • in three decades of study in epistemology, i have never heard of a fallacy of unsatisfiability … likely, because there is no such fallacy. falsifiability is merely one of those conditions we place on sentences making us comfortable and satisfied, et. al.. we certainly know it isn’t a requirement of saying something is true. for instance, i’m going to be shot in five minutes, but i very confidently assert the sun will rise tomorrow none the less, though i cannot falsify the claim. too, i cannot falsify determinism. in fact, truisms are absolutely true and undoubtable and by definition, unfalsifiable.

        neither theism nor atheism have any burden of proof whatever. neither are assertions and only assertions have onus, but even then, not all do. but what is true is that for all rational people, all beliefs will be justified. in that case, both the theist and atheist must have positive response to believe or doubt (see russell, on human knowledge, or ayer, language, truth, and logic).



      • i should point out words like “confident” and “good” are not part of logic but are psychology. “confidently asserting” has no bearing on the truth-value of what is asserted, and “good reasons” are one man’s gold and another’s pyrite.

        and everything is belief, and belief corresponds our perception of reality, not the way things are themselves; ding an sich. what is known is only the set: “justified beliefs”.

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      • I like that, I can agree with that. Psychology does seem to play a large role. Confidence can feed into being more doxastically closed to a different point of view. So, in order to persuade, we need to start addressing confidence and ask what it is epistemically based upon. If someone’s confidence is sky high where their epistemic foundation is poor and very weak, we may have a logical flaw that needs to be addressed. Once it is treated, one can hopefully become more open to a point of view that is more logically sound. It takes a lot of time and patience, at least, within the realm of faith without proof.

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      • most fail to connect to epistemology because they don’t account for the uncertainty we have in every context and that our dispositions begin deeply rooted in psychologies we cannot connect with our easily override.

        what do you think about my starting theism and atheism are epistemically identical in premises and only differing in conclusion?

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    • I actually didn’t define faith as belief without reason, I defined it as belief without proof. I know that the Theist comes up with reasons for believing, but these reasons do not appear to correlate with what can be known specifically with regard to whether a God exists.

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      • If we cannot know that a God exists, then what is the point of believing that a God exists? Why develop this uncontrollable impression about reality, as you have called it? If it is not known whether or not truth derives from that belief, and in this case, let’s just call truth something that we can know to be true or factual, then what reason is there to believe? How do we get from a lack of knowledge to a confident belief? What reason bridges lack of knowledge and the belief that God is real?

        In the end I want to ask this all important question, if one has an uncontrollable impression that a God exists, and this person admits that they do not know that a God exists, then is it possible or likely in some way that this could be a case of false pattern recognition about what reality is at its core? That’s my question for you and I really appreciate your openness!

        The reason that I have for not trusting my former impression that a God exists, is because belief in God, any God or gods, is virtually indistinguishable from belief in a myriad of supernatural claims that Theists already confidently suspect, are not true.

        Fill in the blank… Hindu gods, a strict belief in Allah over the Triune Christian God, belief in Vishnu, Shiva, and Brahmah. No matter how we formulate it, if we do not know it, and we cannot prove it, and yet we also can distinguish that Zeus and Thor probably do not exist even though we can’t totally disprove it, then perhaps the same is true in the case of the God of Theism?

        Since this really could be the case, in my view, my methodology withholds belief in Theism until it can meet its burden of proof. I otherwise have no way of even knowing whether truth overlaps with faith in God. I hope that makes sense.


      • i can buy either, but proof really doesn’t mean anything. to me, there’s only reason to assert. i can make sound arguments for and against god, so, i just don’t find them interesting. nobody knows. i don’t particularly care either way.


      • There you have it then, what is the reason that you would assert in favor of belief in God if you admittedly do not know if this being exists? What is the reason that bridges that first statement of uncertainty with this uncontrollable impression that a God exists? What is the reason for your faith? Can you specifically name what that reason is?

        Is it possible that belief without proof is in fact belief without reason?


      • i just disclose that that’s my disposition. i don’t assert any case for or against. beliefs are always rooted in sentiment (ie the non cognitive) but not all beliefs are rationally arrived at; there’s no saying any sort is better than another … though you could, as nietzsche railed against reason in twilight of the idols. and again, i explained, i don’t have faith of any sort.

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      • So, your earlier uncontrollable impression of a God’s existence cannot be thought of as your faith that a God exists? If one has the impression that a God exists, wouldn’t this imply that they believe that a God exists?

        Is it important for you to have reasons for your beliefs?


      • let me put it this way.

        there can’t be evidence for god, so neither theist out atheist appeal to evidence for justification.

        next, is it logic? no. abductive inference is not syllogism, syllogism proves nothing in reality, and since soundness is the ultimate test of logic and sound arguments for and against, you have to ask if logic itself is leading anyone to any conclusion at all. no. in all cases, reasonableness is the glue of logic.

        all that is left then is essentially “what makes sense of this state of affairs?”

        so, so far, the epistemology for atheism and theism is identical. the conclusions differ but the basis of the difference is only impressions; abduction.

        yes, it is imperative to have reasons for any belief. but here, the reason to be atheist or theist is only that one has an impression. one can only own they have one disposition or other. that means again, all beliefs begin with impression but not all beliefs can be justified as well as we’d like, and with god, all we can do is say we do our don’t get that impression. that’s it.

        yes, i believe there’s is something like a god, but this is not a cognitive decision. and by the way, there is no choice in believing anything anyway; we will always and only believe what we think the case is, in all cases with exceptions of psychological disorder and where the truth can’t be known and we apply the principle of “the benefit of the doubt” for when we can’t simply withhold judgement.

        with me so far?


      • key for you to understand is that belief is NOT faith. belief is epistemology and psychology is “an attitudinal disposition toward a state of affairs”.

        i have a disposition about the question of the existence of god; yours is toward doubting the verity of the proposition while mine is toward affirming it.


      • I’ll give you attitudinal disposition, but can you answer me this? You’ve already agreed that there is no proof for God’s existence. If there is no proof, then is there any reason to think that God exists? If there is no proof and there is no reason because there is no proof, then are there in all actuality any sound or valid arguments for the existence of God?

        Logically speaking, in your case, would it make more sense to have an attitudinal disposition of doubt, or an attitudinal disposition of having the uncontrollable impression that a God exists? I’m trying to speak your language here. If there is no proof for God, and if you can agree that lack of proof is in fact a lack of a reason, then do you presently have any reason to think that a God exists?

        What is the reason that you use to bridge your lack of knowledge due to lack of proof, with an attitudinal disposition that a God exists?

        Is your psychology in alignment with the facts?


      • let’s see if this makes sense.

        proof is a word completely without meaning. again, to me and other epistemologist, proof entails only to “reason to assert”. one reason to assert may be an artifact out observation and so on. another reason to assert may be purely rational. i hope you get that i’m saying whatever critiques you may have for the theist, they equally apply for the atheist.

        so, what i said is there cannot be evidence for deity. evidence being some manifestation in reality. however, there are plenty of reasons to believe and even assert the existence of deity.

        but consider this: the impression that there is some big other cannot be invented. all ideas are based in reality. god is a necessary idea determined to arise given the reality that exists and given how we perceive it. this makes the impression sound, rationally, and empirical (ie by way of experience).

        to be clear, neither a theist nor an atheist would deny numinous experiences exist. the theist attributes them to deity. the atheist attributes them to our being human and that being an ordinary response to an extraordinary experience. so, who’s right and, based on what?

        we can likewise all agree with ex nihilo nihil fit, and with krauss and his observation that “since nothing comes from nothing” (rational justification) and “since we cannot create not do we ever observe nothing”, something eternal exists.

        but just like numinous experience, why would we accept our reject the idea this eternality is volitional or inert … except for this darned impression that just is or isn’t?

        hear me on this. i think the question of the existence of god is a dumb question. if there’s a god, god-talk doesn’t apply to it. if there’s no god, god-talk still doesn’t apply. my focus is on what we say about god and whether or not it moves us toward community and human well-being.

        you’d really enjoy youtubing peter rollins, a theologian and philosopher who sees things here just as i do and thinks only in terms of the functional role of beliefs rather than the particulars themselves.

        anyway, are you still with me and an i making sense to you?

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      • I also do not agree with you that faith is not an attitudinal predisposition, I think that is a great way to talk about faith, it is a conviction, a feeling, an attitude, a mentality that a God exists. It is this mentality that I contend is not in line with the facts. If one does not know that a God exists then one does not have sound reasons to believe. Those reasons haven’t been found and they may never be found. Which could very well be a consequence of there being no God in all actuality.

        Why is it that you think that the impression that there is a “big other” cannot be invented. I’ll invent a variation of that right now, there is a “big other” but God is not the right word to use for this big other. This big other is more so like a robot than it is a person. It is not a conscious big other, it just is, it functions and computes and here we are. We are the result of a big other that is in essence akin to an eternal supercomputer. This is the correct way to understand what is beyond the natural. Now, I just totally invented that. Why is it that any other form of “big other” could not be invented? Is it only because some of us develop an attitudinal predisposition to believe it?


      • i meant that faith is not belief, not that faith doesn’t entail belief. in other words, all cows are mammals but not all mammals are cows. of course faith is a disposition. what you seemed to be implying is that there is knowledge and then there are beliefs, faith being equivalent to belief. the point is everything is a belief.

        as for faith, it doesn’t matter if there is a god. faith is the practice of what is believed; it isn’t at all about propositions. the question you may be interested in is, for instance, if some practice of religion promised some particular result, you practiced and got said result, should we think the practice or its basis was untrue?

        i ask because at least in the christian tradition, faith is merely the knowledge that god is a mystery we will never understand, but in the practice of seeking what is good, the nature of both god and man are revealed and we experience a more full life. now whether or not there is a god ought to seem inconsequential to the fact that some assertion yielded a predicted and desired result. WHAT “is not in line with the facts”?

        moreover, if god transcends then god is not a matter of any fact and neither of us can point to ANY fact and make any point at all about the existence of god. if god is imminent, he’s indistinguishable from reality.

        the question you aren’t asking is what is your basis for not thinking there is a god, and if it turns out that it to is an abduction, then it is the same basis; ie what makes the most sense to you.

        a side note too is that facts are all apparent.

        the predicate of both philosophy and psychology is the principle of “place”, which is the observation that no thought arises in a vacuum and their basis is reality itself, no matter how abstract the though, because reality is our frame of reference. so why do i think the impression of some big other isn’t invented? first, because i do not deduce out infer the disposition. it exist without conscious deliberation. second is the fact of place. and when you say you’re going to invent a big other, you aren’t counter arguing. kant notes for us in CPR, there is first a conception, then an image. reality and humanity combine and people conceive of something “more”. a million ideations of it exist, of which yours is just one more. but it is the conception that no one can invent. however, ALL images of the big other ARE man-made; because god is ineffable.

        are we on the same page here?


      • I think that faith, as you and I have been talking about it, is equivalent to belief in a God without evidence. I would make it a point to differentiate that kind of faith from, say, having faith that when the power is working properly in my house, the light switch is going to turn on my light and illuminate the room. As long as the power is working properly and the light bulb isn’t broken, my faith that electricity is going to do its job is a pretty sound faith to hold. The same is true for any kind of faith that can correlate to the way we know things to function and operate in the world. The faith that a pencil will drop to the floor as it falls of the table. The faith that when I strum strings on my guitar it will make a sound. These are all examples of faith applied properly in my view. This is faith informed by the evidence. You and I both agree that faith in God is not informed by the evidence, where we differ, is that you still think it is a sound disposition to assume that God exists. You just seem to feel that way, well, have you ever felt a certain way and been wrong about it? You found out in that instance that that was not a sound belief. I contend that if you do not know that a God exists, then you do not know if it is a sound belief. If you do not know that it is a sound belief then you shouldn’t presume that it is. Not without evidence. Not without sound reasons. This is the time, in my view, to suspend judgement and withhold belief until you can find that sound reason. I must warn you though. That sound reason may never be found. That is a distinct possibility to consider.


      • faith is belief without evidence. but faith is also confidence because of evidence, because of experience, etc. and trust because of the same things. we just need to be sure and know what sort of thing we mean to say or imply when using the term, just like all other words.

        you really have to hear me though on the meanings of the words i’m using. a disposition is not an assumption. a disposition is an inclination none had control of and only experience can change it.

        yes! of course i “feel” there is something like a god. that’s what a disposition is. and of course i could be wrong, and i said that in my opening remarks. what i have also said is that this is the same basis for atheism; an impression about the world.

        i hope you realize that what makes a sound argument is NOT knowing the conclusion is true (like knowing THAT god exists) but that the premises are actually true, making the conclusion necessarily true, at least rationally.


      • If you start saying things like, I have a disposition to think that a God exists, I have this impression about the world, I have an inclination that I cannot control, then I would say that you are in essence admitting that you harbor a belief in God wholly and apart from any evidence or proof. Not only that, but you harbor a belief in a God wholly and apart from any reason to do so. I say this because you have still, after being asked multiple times, not given a reason for why you have an attitude that God exists. You’ve made it more than an attitude though. You’ve said things like, “uncontrollable impression, inclination, disposition, attitude, belief,” you have also used belief multiple times. I’m lumping it all together now to show you that you have been inconsistent. You said that you believe, but then you have retreated into attitudinal disposition. You have said that you have an uncontrollable impression, which, to me sounds like a pretty strong belief, to, well, no, I don’t believe per se. You’ve said that you believe and then you’ve said that you don’t believe? You’ve even said that you don’t think that a God exists? My friend, you’ve told me both that you think that a God exists and that you don’t think that a God exists. You’ve said that you believe that a God exists, but that you don’t believe that a God exists. You’ve been all over the board today. Since you have admitted that you do not know that a God exists, I’ll state it like this.

        1) You do not know that a God exists.
        2) If you do not know that a God exists, then you do not have reason to think that a God exists.
        3) You do not have reason to think that a God exists because you have admitted that you have no proof that a God exists.
        4) If you have no proof that a God exists, then you equally have no stated reason to think that a God exists.
        5) Since you have not stated a reason for why you think/believe/have the impression that a God exists, at this point in time, you either need to decide whether you really do have any valid reason to hold this belief, or whether this belief is presently unsound and should thereby be suspended and discarded?

        Steve, what is your criteria for believing in a thing? What conditions must be met in your view in order to hold a justified belief? In Philosophy we know that knowledge is defined as a justified true belief. Are beliefs apart from knowledge in any way justified, if so, how?


      • by definition, i believe there is a god. does that imply that i pontificated and concluded and hence arrived at this belief? no, that’s not how things work.

        since there can be no evidence for deity, then you and i both have an inclination from an impression of the world about the question of the existence of deity. and yes, it really sucks ass neither of us can appeal to evidence because i’m sure we both feel that gives us better reasons for having the dispositions we do, and may even change them.

        again, proof is merely reason to assert. both of us can only abductively infer, and so the “best explanation” is purely subjective. that too, sucks ass but that’s just a fact of the matter.

        however, you’re going to have to tell me why the two reasons i have are not any reasons at all. i assert, along with two scientific fields of inquiry, the thoughts do not arise in a vacuum and reality itself necessitates the idea of god, since we conceive of deity at all. and too, that by scrutiny rationally and scientifically, the most sound thing to say is that something eternal exists.

        you’re saying i’m being inconsistent. how do?! an impression is an inkling. a disposition is an inclination towards said inkling, and these are all various attitudes toward some conception … hence “attitudinal disposition about some state of affairs”.

        i said i have a disposition about the question of the existence of deity. by definition then, i believe something like a good exists. HOWEVER, NOT ALL BELIEFS ARE DELIBERATED, AND SO, I DO NOT THINK THERE IS OR IS NOT A GOD.

        i’m not yelling from anger but from the fact you have still missed this important fact for at least the fourth time.

        1) i do not know god exists
        2) reasons to think god exist are what cause one to say one knows. it is absurd to say one first knows the truth and then fusses with the reasons.
        3) i have two very good and sound reasons from premises which are true, and so the conclusion is necessarily true … and the rest (ie volition) is completely subjective … not just with theism but the denial of volition from an impression the universe is without it.
        4) i gave proof because i have two sound reasons that warrant assertability.
        5) hour many times are you going to ignore the fact i have justified through reasons, rational and empirical and scientific.

        and no, in philosophy, knowledge is precariously defined and were you is student, you wouldn’t describe it otherwise. but as far as JTB goes, gettier proved with counter examples that there is only justified belief and affirmed the pragmatic view that there is no difference between truth and justification.

        beliefs aren’t from knowledge. beliefs are what knowledge is. THAT is what we know from philosophy. and because of this, your last question isn’t even coherent, addressable.


      • I didn’t mean or intend to come off as combative, is there something I said that came off that way? I’d say that we’re having a spirited debate, but I harbor no ill will toward you. Debate can become a bit of an interrogation, but I assure you I mean well. I don’t want you to feel as if I disrespect you or think negatively of you. I’m dealing with the ideas alone. Does that make sense?

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      • it just seemed you were overly oppositional and not really hearing what i was saying, such as accusations of inconsistency feather than saying the terms seem inconsistent followed by a request to clear it up rather than merely concluding it’s not just a communication problem but a rational one.

        i’m pretty sanguine about the conversation. i don’t see it as a debate or as spirited. i see us talking about something interesting and we’re learning a bit about each other in the process.

        i just want to make sure that if i’m seeing you off, then i need to check myself or we may just need to have a break.

        yes though, you make perfect sense.

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      • It’s been fun discussing things thus far. It’s getting late for me. I’ll be back on tomorrow to respond and thanks for bringing up the Gettier Problem, that’ll be interesting to discuss!

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      • hey! again, i love talking shop and appreciate you indulging me. my biggest with is that o wasn’t old and blind with fat fingers … or, that i had the ability to correct all the typos and bad text gesturing and such so that i could correct them before you had to deal with them. 😉

        anyway, sleep well. catch you later. and, thanks again.


      • I don’t know that I believe that “no proof” means nothing to you. Let’s talk more about logical proof and having sound reasons. Reasoning seems to mean something to you and you still haven’t answered my basic question. What is your reason for making the leap from lack of knowledge about a God’s existence to having the uncontrollable impression that a God exists? Can you identify that specific reason? If not, how can it be sound to assert your uncontrollable impression is valid? What is the reason that would make your attitudinal disposition valid?

        I’ve identified it Steve, what is your epistemological “reason to assert” that your attitudinal disposition is an appropriate one to have? If you cannot identify the reason that you have made the leap from lack of knowledge/ not knowing if a God exists, to having a specific attitudinal disposition that convinces you that a God exists, then what reason have you at all for maintaining that attitude? Wouldn’t it appear to be out of alignment with the facts?

        So, I agree with you that there is no evidence for deity, but I do not agree with you that there are reasons to think there is one. If there exists no reason to go from “I don’t know if a God exists,” to “I have the attitudinal predisposition that a God exists,” then your fallacy is found right here. I submit that it is a fallacy to have an attitudinal predisposition that thinks there is a God, when one has already admitted that they do not possess knowledge of a God. These things shouldn’t be held in tandem.

        I also agree with you that your predisposition won’t change on a dime. It can gradually change if you are open the logic I have just provided. If you end up agreeing that you have in fact committed a logical fallacy concerning your attitudinal disposition, I think there is good reason for this attitude to evolve. Perhaps for you to not have such a predisposition toward God beliefs until you can find a sound reason for doing so. Does this sound fair?

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      • give me a minute to type this one up. can we maybe cover things one at a time? if so, from the top, “proof” means something to me and what i said it means is “reason to assert” which is sort-hand for “warranted assertability”. simply, the reason i think there is a god is precisely because i get the impression that is the case. and given the same shady epistemology is justifying doubting as believing, there’s simply no better reason (literally) to think otherwise.

        let me know if you want to one-by-one this … if not, i write up one big response … it may just be a while before i can get to it.


      • I appreciate very much that this is an interest of yours. Also, I’m very much enjoying this debate. We’ve found where we clearly disagree but I’m nonetheless enjoying what you have to say. It’s very interesting. I’m holding strong that I’ve found a fallacy within your viewpoint, but we’ll keep hashing it out, maybe you can change my mind as time goes on, but first I want to see if you end of agreeing with my observation? Thanks!

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      • oh, i have no desire to change anyone’s mind on god. i care about the same sorts of things you do, i suspect. this, in this case, is a great topic to use in order to talk about epistemology. that’s where i find my enthusiasm, i guess.

        thank you for taking the time to exchange ideas!


      • There may be a good reason to simply not believe in Theism until you can find reason to. So far, I have still not found your reason for believing it. Your actual specific reason for holding “I don’t know that a God exists,” in tandem with, “I think that a God does exist.” If you cannot name that reason then I contend that is possible that there is no sound reason to hold those two statements in tandem and that it is probably time to reevaluate your methodology for belief. I’m not saying that you may not eventually find a sound reason, but you have so far not presented it, and I suspect that it could be because there is not a reason to think that.

        I should actually be a little more clear, it is actually contradictory to say, “I do not know this,” and “I believe this.” You have failed then to justify this belief with a reason. Why should you hold this belief without reason? Your faith then would be just as you defined it earlier. It would be belief without reason.


      • the point is, i do not THINK there is a god. belief entails action, not active deliberation. for instance, a person believes in gravity though they may have never actively thought about it. a person may believe the sun will rise or that what has happened in the past will consistently happen in the future, never having thought about it at all. again, belief is action and belief is disposition. the professional parlance is that in all these cases, deliberated or not, one “acts as if” something is the case and while thought is required as the basis of how one will “act as if”, not all thought is conscious out deliberated.

        so, i’m saying i believe there is a god AND i have no idea whether or not there is one. in formal dialectics: i have an affirmative disposition to the idea of god but not through some deliberate analysis (ie cognitive thought process).

        again, the named reason is 1) its natural and necessary and send to be the case, 2) because of “place”.

        validity is merely grammar. soundness merely means that, rather than presuming the premises are true, the premises are actually true. and so when it actually is true that “nothing” is not a state that has ever been, it is a sound, necessary conclusion that something eternal exists.

        how is any of this unreasonable, lacking justification, or not sound.

        and again here, you intend i have faith. i do not. faith is intentional. i merely have a disposition, and therefore, i have a belief. faith is NOT belief.


      • i have a disposition and since it isn’t deliberate or constructed, there’s nothing assumed. i don’t assume there is a god at all. i simply recognize i am disposed to thinking it may be the case. and because of this, i don’t assert there are gods precisely because i don’t know.

        dispositions are beliefs and not all beliefs are rationally arrived at; such as feeling like the universe is determined, though it’s not, or that the sky is blue, but colors don’t exist.

        when a person “acts as if” then they are acting “according to”, and it may be according to cognitive ideas of the way things are, or things never considered at all (such as the belief “i exist” or “others exist” or “reality is real”).

        do you follow what i’m saying?


      • Why should a disposition be a belief? Why not just say, I have a favorable attitude toward the existence of God, however, I do not believe that God exists. I do not believe because I do not know. Wouldn’t this be more sound?


      • it’s axiomatic. meaning, that is the definition. you’re asking why we call red, red.

        you keep using the word sound but you can’t be using it in any strict sense. do you just mean, “the most reasonable thing to think?”

        too, is there something amiss if in the jungles of viet nam, a soldier on patrol has an impression, a disposition, that he’s walking into an ambush but couldn’t care less about deliberating about the verity of it because there were far more important things to worry about than that one little answer? the soldier believes without deliberation that he will be ambushed, he doesn’t claim to know because he’s not acting through cognition even enough to deliberate the truth of the impression. the soldier “acts as if” he is walking into an ambush because he acts “according to” the impression he has, given his experiences and his immediate place in time.

        make sense?

        Liked by 1 person

      • In this case you are alluding to a justified disposition that one can harbor in that context. His awareness of his surroundings is heightened to pick up any kind of strange pattern or cue that could lead to a bad outcome. It is intelligent to pick up on anything that could be off in that scenario. It’s a game of Chess where either you or your enemy has to make the better move first. If you don’t get ahead, if you can’t pick up on those signals, you’re dead. This is in a context where very minute cues are expected and these are cues that are provided by real actors in that scenario. My friend, we don’t even know if God is a real actor. We have nothing to go off of. I contend that without knowledge that a God exists, we are totally and completely in the dark. We don’t know what God and human relations would even entail. We can speculate all day long. We can look at alleged accounts of it in the Bible or really any holy text. We however, do not know if those accounts even provide accurate and dependable information of what a God and human scenario should even look like.


      • the soldier is taking what he knows and seeks patterns. from this, he infers there may be an ambush.

        a theist takes what he knows and seeks patterns. from that, he infers some big other.

        an atheist takes what he knows and seeks patterns. from that, he doesn’t infer volition in the universe.

        again, no one knows here. no one has evidence. logic doesn’t entail truth. it’s merely formal grammar predicated on reasonableness. and what’s reasonable to the soldier, to the theist, and to the atheist is exactly what seems apparent to reach of them.

        if you would, tell me something else atheism is based on, that’d be great … but for sure, pointing at various features of reailty are only affirmations that they are exactly what leave you with your impression, not that your impression is valid or sound.

        put it this way. there are two identical universes except that one has a god and one doesn’t. if one cannot offer a means to distinguish between either kind of universe then there’s no telling which sort we live in and there’s nothing we can point to in reality to justify any disposition about the existence of deity.

        make sense?


      • and by the way, LOL, you’re nicer than i am! you only think that our knowledge of god depends on knowing he exists. on the other hand, i assert that nothing can be known about transcendent beings since they transcend our only frame of reference; ie the natural. so despite knowing whether or not they is a god, we are no closer to comprehending one in any way, shape or form.


      • also, of the principle of place holds, then the idea of god is not a predisposition, it is just a disposition, valid and sound because it came to mind naturally and necessarily as a consequence of how the world is and how people perceive it. belief in god then is not out of alignment with the facts but a result of encountering facts of reality. that, however, doesn’t mean we theists are not all totally wrong though!

        and too, reason isn’t a requirement of any belief; for neitzsche, reason is a defense of what one already believes (see: twilight of the idols).


      • If I had a strong disposition to think that an eternally existing, immaterial and undetectable can of dog food was responsible for my existence, would this be a sound belief (aka disposition) to have about my existence?


      • no.

        unlike your scenario, there is the observable fact that “nothing” has never been an actual state of affairs. so, it is a logical certainty that something eternal exists, and by definition, has no cause but is the cause of all things which began to exist.

        the only question is whether or not this eternality is volitional or inert … and both the atheist and theist can only abductively infer what that case is.


      • I don’t know that I agree that it is a logical certainty that something eternal exists. I don’t know enough about the universe to really have an opinion either way. It’s possible but I don’t know enough about it. What if all of this is a random blurb that spontaneously occurs for a few billion years and then disappears. How would we know to discern the difference between an eternal set of properties and a random/spontaneous set of properties? It’s beyond my pay grade if you ask me. 🙂


      • well, at best and at least, we can agree with someone like krauss who, through science, concludes something is eternal by noting that it’s impossible to even demonstrate “nothing” is a possible state. we could agree to some other idea like blurbs, but these aren’t genuine reasons to doubt. peirce called unjustified doubt “pretend doubt”.

        all of this god stuff is beyond my pay grade … we’re left to just speculate.


      • I do agree that it appears impossible to demonstrate nothingness. Also, I didn’t use the word doubt with regard to an eternal universe. I said I don’t know, as in, I do not possess certainty in that regard. That is a matter that really could go either way for me because as I said, I have no idea if we live in an eternally existing universe. It is possible, but I have no way of knowing. What pushes me over the edge of a neutral uncertainty with regard to the God question, is, as I illustrated earlier, there appears to be no way to determine whether belief in the God of Theism is any more valid than beliefs that are clearly false. These surrounding claims which are also not able to be tested or falsified and yet are clearly wrong (Zeus, Thor, Vishnu, Fairies, Ghosts, Orbiting undetectable teapots, Leprechauns, a super powerful God that I can make up on the spot) since the God of Theism is indistinguishable from false and erroneous claims, I am inclined to think that it is rather likely that belief in the God of Theism is a false belief. There is a slight chance that I am wrong. I am open to being wrong, however, we need to 1) Set apart the God of Theism from other claims that are clearly wrong and erroneous. That would move me out of having a skeptical disposition. 2) We need a sound reason to narrow in on the God of the Theism. We need to find ways to make a proper judgment call. An unembodied mind exists, here is why. This unembodied mind has a personality, here is why. This unembodied mind is uncaused, here is why. Without knowledge about God we have no way of reasoning what a universe created by this being would look like. Without knowledge about God we have no way of properly discerning whether any of the attributes that are assigned to this God are necessarily required for us to exist. Must God be an unembodied mind? Why? Perhaps an alternative perspective is that our universe may derive from an impersonal force? Something akin to a supercomputer? No personality, no official mind? Who are we to make any kind of judgment? I’ll agree with what you said elsewhere, I really is all speculation. I do my best not to put my confidence in speculation. I do my best to suspend judgment and not believe in what is speculative? Why should I believe in things that are purely speculative and could be just as likely wrong or erroneous? I can entertain the possibility but I find no reason to believe in speculative things. I will say. I do like the idea of a Multiverse but I do not believe that a Multiverse exists. I’ll believe it if and when we find out about it. I do have a favorable disposition toward that idea, however. Perhaps one can have a favorable disposition toward the idea of God and yet not believe that such a being exists?


      • certainly, if we were to agree with krauss that the most justified thing to say, via reason and observation, is that something is eternal, then it’s left to volition. for our discussion, I’m not interested in arguing that. that’s very uninteresting. for me, this is about getting you to realize that when faced with asking whether or not some first cause it’s volitional, the answer for either is based on nothing more than whether or not the universe seems intentional or intended, and this is the very question that creates the concept of some big other to begin with. but at any rate, the world either send to you to be intentional or not. but that’s merely identical justification for any and all dispositions about god one could hold.

        what i think is a mistake is to have begun exploring the idea of god as if it was a proposition. it’s certainly not how most religions approach god-talk, that’s including christians up until the enlightenment with the advent of calvinism and this vacuous idea of certainty. god is necessarily a human experience and only divine in the sense that our image of god has caused us to transcend ourselves, at least in the sense of our own expectations we have for ourselves. at most, pushing us into hope through compassion. and whether you take that as poetry or take it as true in the sense you ask for, i (and a while history of tradition) take it as true in the sense that it resonates with all that i am and am compelled to become like that image of goodness i have in mind.

        so, my focus isn’t on whether or not asserting “deity exist” is correct or whether or not that deity is zeus, yahweh, elohim, or vishnu, or brahman. my focus is on the fact that man, not on his own, conceived of deity, called it eternally ineffable, and has created countless images of the gods, all in the image of himself … and my question is instead asking


  2. I think it depends on how Theism wants to play ball. So many Theists want to argue that God exists. So many make statements that say, “God spoke to me, God revealed to me, God loves me….etc…” In my opinion if folks are going to talk about God as if he is real and present then they have the onus to demonstrate how these statements are factual to an Atheist like myself. So the onus begins once Theists start claiming that God is real and present around an Atheist who does not perceive reality in such a way. Also, a truthseeking Atheist such as myself wants to believe in true things, therefore, if a Theist can meet their burden of proof, I will happily acknowledge their beliefs as true.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m willing to not use that term unfalsifiability if it isn’t needed. How about, any belief or statement that is not falsifiable? I would lump God into that category and I would say that since we cannot test this claim there is no point in calling it truth until it can be tested and verified as true. I still find no good reason to think of Theism as true until it can be shown to be true. This is why I suspect that faith and truth probably do not overlap.


    • atheism is not falsifiable, neither is theism. again, in thirty years, i have never heard of that fallacy and there’s never been a dispute that it has no bearing on a proposition’s truth-value.


      • You probably need to know how I define Atheism then. I define Atheism as a lack of belief in a God or gods. It is not the assertion that there is no God, but it is the acknowledgement that if there is no way to prove that God exists, and if there is no way to disprove it, it leaves one epistemically in the dark. For myself and many other Atheists this translates into having virtually no certainty about the claims of Theism. If I can’t have certainty about something, I can’t bring myself to belief. There are two things going on here. I lack any certainty as to whether a God exists, and this translates into me not believing it. I do in some sense believe that a God does not exist, but I don’t argue from what I believe. I argue from where I have no certainty. I connect that uncertainty to an inability to demonstrate whether the claims of Theism are true and as far as I can discern, Theistic claims appear to be no different than claims that really are not worth our time. Claims that Zeus or Thor are actual gods, claims that fairies and ghosts exist, claims that that all of the millions of Hindu gods exist, they all appear equally extraordinary and I do not believe these claims without evidence. I therefore strive to proportion my belief to the evidence, there is no evidence for God, I thereby have do not believe that this God exists. For myself, belief begins when anything can be shown to be the truth and I define truth as anything that corresponds to reality.


      • sentences are what we say are true. sentences cannot correspond to reality. our thoughts about reality correspond to our perceptions of reailty, but justification is only an extension; as kant said, a process of thought affirming a thought through more thinking.

        i wonder why none in science or philosophy hold to correspondence theories of truth, but lay persons do. we’re i to guess, it is psychology. there simply is nothing any one of us can be certain of in any epistemic sense at all. indeed the valuation OF truth is ENTIRELY psychology.

        as to atheism, i understand what you are saying but you’re going to have to understand it is wrong.

        bertrand russell and many other analytic philosophers, like c.s. peirce, putting theories of knowledge together agree that 1) denial is a positive assertion because it is asserting a state of affairs, and 2) and doubt, because it is a disposition toward a state of affairs, is a belief, and 3) must also have positive reasons for it.

        (see “on human knowledge” and “some four incompatibilities”)

        so, an atheist is one who denies “[it is true that] deity exist” but that denial is NOT a disposition toward “[it is true that] deity do not exist” because indeed, an atheist can believe BOTH statements are false. all that is being contested is the truth-value of each assertion and nothing more. (again, russell, on human knowledge … denial is a brand new belief and not an antithetical belief about the subject asserted, just the opposition that “false” has to “true”).

        i hope that all makes sense.

        if it does then you’ll maybe see some inconsistencies in the expectations you’ve expressed.

        anyway, that’s all just to say that i do understand your definition of atheism, but at the same time, feel a need to contrast your terms with what we have come to understand in epistemology.

        notice too, most of those i’m referring to are atheist though i could pull from many others in the field … all in an effort to give you the idea i’ve got no other skin the game but epistemology itself.


      • let me add that since you define atheism in relation to theism, we can do the same with theism.

        at that point, both are a person who has an impression about the world the other lacks.

        but note, neither lacks a disposition to the *question*, “is there a god?”

        in philosophy as well as psychology, belief is defined an attitudinal disposition toward a state of affairs … and the disposition is always positive.


  4. Faith and truth could overlap and probably do overlap in some cases, but to lump the two together with regard to the God question, I find as dubious and I wouldn’t recommend it. It doesn’t appear modest to me. It appears presumptuous.


    • i am disposed to thinking there is a god. that’s an uncontrollable impression i have about the world. i can only try to make sense of what it could mean or imply of it were true. so, though i believe there is a god, i have no faith there is or isn’t a god. even if there is, god is ineffable and so nothing we think out day about god can be about god.

      so, nothing anyone thinks or say about god is a proposition with truth-value. god is a metaphysical proposition in which there is a case, but one we cannot know for many reasons.

      as a christian, i’m only concerned with thinking and saying things worth saying, hearing, and ultimately, doing. in other words, god-talk is isn’t true or false but either with something, or worthless. but if you understand that beliefs entail to action, then you can understand why these sorts of propositions still matter even without having truth-values proper; because in being with believing even still, or behaviors rightly change in response.

      hope that makes sense.


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