Conversations with Angie: More on "proof"
I've been debating with myself about whether I should post this next email. I kind of feel like I'm beating a dead horse. I decided to post it anyway, since it's Friday. This way, I can start something new on Monday.
[blah blah blah]
Assuming I understand what you mean by "proved," I agree with you. It sounds like you're basically saying that nothing in philosophy can be proved in the sense of being demonstrated to the satisfaction of everybody. Philosophers debate things endlessly, and there's never any resolution. If that's what you mean, then I agree with you. I don't think there's a single issue that all philosophers agree on.
It doesn't frustrate me as much as you, though. I think it's part of what makes philosphy interesting. There are some issues, though, that I think every reasonable person OUGHT to have resolved. I mean I think there are some basic philosophical questions that we can know the answers to with certainty. I think we can know the laws of logic with certainty, and yet there's a lot of philosophers who dispute them.
Truth isn't arrived at by counting noses, though. I mean the only reason I get frustrated with the fact that people deny logic, is that you can't reason with them. Logic is necessary for any kind of rational thought, so if somebody denies logic, there's nowhere to begin. But on the other hand, the fact that there are quacks out there who deny logic doesn't shake my belief in logic at all.
There are also people out there who deny the existence of the external world. They say it's all just an illusion. Debates on the existence of the external world can go back and forth forever, and it can never be proved one way or the other. But the way I look at it, it doesn't need to be proved. I just ask myself which is more reasonable to believe--that it's real or that it's not real? It just doesn't follow that because two people disagree on something that neither knows the truth.
So the unresolved questions of philosophy don't bother me as long as I can resolve some of them to my own satisfaction. I have changed my views on things before. I read a whole lot of stuff. Sometimes I agree, sometimes I disagree, and sometimes I'm pursuaded to change my mind. The whole process has caused me to be a little more cautious than I used to be about buying into things I hear about. I'll usually remain agnostic about something until I have good reasons to lean one way or the other. The more you know about something, the more prone you are to have an opinion about it.
>At the same time, I still have that lingering
>need to be convinced of the truth of something before
>applying it in my life.
Are you convinced that there's no God? Or do you just THINK there's no God? There are some things that we just have no choice but to act on, even if we lack certainty. This whole God thing seems to be one of those things. You're either a Christian or you're not a Christian. A person who isn't sure whether God exists or not but suspects that it's slightly more likely that God DOES exist still has to decide whether he's going to be a Christian or not. The same decision faces somebody who thinks it's slightly more likely that God does NOT exist. It can be frustrating when it seems like both sides have good arguments, but if you're in a situation where you have to make a choice, it seems like you ought to go with whatever side seems stronger, even if it only seems a little stronger. I guess I'm beating a dead horse, though, huh?
I've got one more response to the problem of evil, don't you worry, I'll get to it some day. Then we can move on.
Conversations with Angie: The problem of gratuitous evil