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Evidentialism and Reformed Epistemology

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Soyeong

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Evidence and Beliefs
« on: May 17, 2014, 01:08:14 am »
I'll start with a few definitions of evidence:

(http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/evidence)
something which shows that something else exists or is true

(http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/evidence)
1. that which tends to prove or disprove something; ground for belief; proof.
2. something that makes plain or clear; an indication or sign: His flushed look was visible evidence of his fever.

(http://www.thefreedictionary.com/evidence)
1. A thing or things helpful in forming a conclusion or judgment: The broken window was evidence that a burglary had taken place. Scientists weigh the evidence for and against a hypothesis.
2. Something indicative; an outward sign: evidence of grief on a mourner's face.
1. ground for belief or disbelief; data on which to base proof or to establish truth or falsehood

From these definitions, I gather that whatever is grounds for belief is evidence.  Having grounds for a belief is required in order to form a belief, so all beliefs have evidence.  In other words, the minimum requirement for someone forming a belief is for them to interpret some information as indicating or making clear that that belief is true.  When someone thinks that there is a sufficiently strong indication that something is true, they think they are justified in forming the belief that it is, so all beliefs are justified.  You can disagree about whether the evidence is sufficiently strong enough to justify forming your own beliefs, but your disagreement does not mean that they were unjustified in forming their beliefs, and vice versa. 

If a parent tells their child that something is true, they are indicating to their child that it is true, so it is evidence by definition.  The same is true for a teacher telling their student that something is true or for an eyewitness claiming what they witnessed.  If a mundane claim comes from what is thought to be a trustworthy source, it can in itself be sufficiently strong enough evidence to be used as grounds for belief.  People often require additional evidence for claims that are not as mundane in order for it be sufficiently strong enough to justify forming their belief.  Scientific evidence is better in degree of strength, but it is not different in type because it still fills the role of indicating something is true.

A standard of evidence is a bar that evidence needs to be strong enough to beat in order to be convincing.  Everyone has their own subjective standard for what they find convincing, such what their parents say, what a teacher says, what the internet says, or what scholars say.  Organizations can also have standards of evidence, such as what is admissible in a court of law or peer review.  However, these standards are all subjective and no amount of subjective confirmation can show that a particular interpretation is objective or impossible of being wrong.  Without that, we can't say that someone's interpretation is objectively wrong.

Two people can have the same set of evidence and disagree about what is most strongly indicates to be true, so evidence can indicate multiple and conflicting things are true at the same time.  For instance, the only way I can account for the fact that there are people who have formed the belief that God exists after reading the Bible is to say that it indicated to them that that is true.  Conversely, there are people who have read the Bible and formed the belief that God is a myth, so the Bible also indicates that.  So the issue isn't that evidence indicates one position and not the other, but about which position you think it most strongly indicates. 

When someone claims that there is no evidence for a particular position, I think what they should claim instead is that the evidence is weak or insufficient because rather than talking about their opinion of the quality of the evidence, they are making a statement about the its existence.  In other words, in order for it to be true that there is no evidence for a position, there could not exist anything that could be interpreted to indicate that that position is true.  I think it is impossible for a belief to spontaneously pop into someone's head for absolutely no reason, so if someone has formed a belief, it is only because there was evidence for it.
"Faith is nothing less than the will to keep one's mind fixed precisely on what reason has discovered to it.”

Yeshua answered them, “The reason you go astray is that you are ignorant both of the Tanakh and of the power of God. - Matthews 22:29 (CJB)

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Agrippa

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Re: Evidence and Beliefs
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2014, 08:05:09 pm »
Hi Brother - ya okay. I agree. BTW, I'm gonna haveta go some to catch up to your post total, lol.

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Soyeong

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Re: Evidence and Beliefs
« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2014, 08:45:06 pm »
Hi Brother - ya okay. I agree. BTW, I'm gonna haveta go some to catch up to your post total, lol.
Hey, don't worry, it won't take you long.   
"Faith is nothing less than the will to keep one's mind fixed precisely on what reason has discovered to it.”

Yeshua answered them, “The reason you go astray is that you are ignorant both of the Tanakh and of the power of God. - Matthews 22:29 (CJB)