Do beliefs require proof to be valid?

From: (James J. Lippard)
Date: 1 Jul 1998 20:11:00 -0700
Message-ID: <6neto4$>

In article <>, Archangel
   <> wrote:

> Now that we've agreed on some general concepts about
> evidence, we can look at some more specific questions:
>1.  Do beliefs require proof to be valid?

What do you mean by "valid"? Arguments have validity just in case their conclusions follow logically from their premises.

Beliefs can be true or false, justified or unjustified. Justification is generally held to be a matter of evidence, though there are other epistemological theories of justification. (E.g., reliabilism says that a belief is justified iff it is produced by a reliable belief-forming process or method, and it is an empirical question what belief-forming processes or methods are reliable.)

> 2. Can a belief ever be an extraordinary claim?

Of course. Can a justified belief ever be an extraordinary claim (or, to put it another way, can a belief in the truth of an extraordinary claim ever be justified)? Yes.

> 3. Can beliefs be right or wrong?

Of course.

> 4. Who would be qualified to testify about the existance/
> nonexistance of God?

God himself, other supernatural beings well acquainted with God, human eyewitnesses with the appropriate knowledge of cognitive psychology, sociology, theology, and philosophy to distinguish apprehension of God from alternative naturalistic explanations of their experiences. (Actually, the witnesses would not necessarily have to possess that knowledge themselves, but others would have to bring that knowledge to bear on their claims in order to gauge the credibility of the claim to have observed or otherwise experienced God.)

> 5. What type of non-physical evidence would be adequate
> to prove (or at least support) the existance/non-existance of God?

Perhaps an appropriate philosophical argument.

> 6. What type of physical evidence would be adequate
> to prove (or at least support) the existance/non-existance of God?

God could easily (effortlessly, given his omnipotence) make his presence known to anyone, assuming that (a) he exists and (b) he has a desire for us to know him, in an infinite number of possible ways. (One example: simultaneously speaking to every human on the planet in their own language with the same message, that everyone could verify with everyone else, and then being available for a followup question and answer session with whoever wanted to participate.)

> Archangel

Jim Lippard    lippard@(
Phoenix, Arizona
PGP Fingerprint: B130 7BE1 18C1 AA4C 4D51  388F 6E6D 2C7A 36D3 CB4F

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