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Evidentialism is applied in describing a simple common sense position that any controversial claims made should have a good evidence to back it up. In other words, a belief ought to be held firmly only if it has a lot of evidence whether the evidence will be held at all or at least given up easily in the event of conflicting evidence is a difference case. Nonevidentialism, on the other hand, is described as an event where one may not query the truth of the second hypothesis as presented by evidentialist argument against belief in God, but he or she will plainly and ardently rebuff the first hypothesis of the argument.
William Kingdon Clifford was a known philosopher and a mathematician whose works placed much emphasis on philosophy as opposed to mathematics. Through his journal titled “contemporary review,” he emphasized on various ethics of belief. He was critical of the criteria applied in the analysis of facts, which elucidated how an idea could be held or defended. According to the journal, it was not sensible to decide on what to believe in without any kind of formulation or direction. In his works, hee concluded that it is wrong to believe, hold, and defend anything with no adequate proof to back it up. In this regard, he coined the term evidentialism to suggest any argument must have sufficient facts to support it. This philosophy can be narrowly linked to skepticism since it relies on empirical evidence to support an idea.
Blaise Pascal, a Roman Catholic apologist in the 17th century and famously known for his ‘warger argument’, claimed that the heart has its own reasons for which the reasons know nothing. He additionally described that truth cannot just be reasons or proof and therefore, reliability on faith is equally important in seeking truth. Blaise defended his religious viewpoint and knowledge on the reality of God’s existence, although he acknowledged the fact that it cannot be demonstrated. Blaise’s viewpoint could only be illustrated as fideism or as incredulity meaning the reliance on the belief rather than faith or reason to preserve and support a belief on something. On the other hand, as expressed above, evidentialism disproves fideism main beliefs and urges people at least to gather facts on a given principle. This paper therefore highlights the fundamental significance of reasons and justification as opposed to holding faith based beliefs that carry no reasoning. In essence, Clifford’s philosophies are better suited in the modern world than the philosophies of Blaise.
William Clifford held on the belief that it was very wrong for someone to believe or argue on something without enough proof to back up the evidence. To Clifford and other atheist evidentialists, believing and arguing on something was senseless. Clifford applied an example of a man who had an out of order ship to give details on his philosophy. In the illustration, the man was of the view that the vessel was fine and went ahead to overlook the fact that the ship was really out of order and that it was safe for the travelers on board. He thought he would do the repairs later after the trip. The man sought to avoid the time that it would take to repair the vessel since it would cost him. The ship did not make to the place destined since the owner decided to act on an unprincipled belief that the ship was okay rather than inspecting it to come up with facts on its condition.
Clifford questioned the outcome of the voyage in his journal. He raised serious ethical issues on whether the act was either wrong or right, irrespective of the outcome. Clifford in his periodical wanted to raise the issue of ethics and decency and to him, the proprietor of the vessel in question was not accurate in acting on viewpoints and faith since he should have based his assumptions on proof, as this would have ensured the ship arrive at the desired destination in good shape. Based on this example, the argument that ‘no need of evidence’, as Blaise argues seems unfounded and lacks the logic of intelligence.
It is therefore evident from Clifford’s explanation that a proof can only be considered if it is of the same measure and nature as the belief itself. Therefore, a construction of an idea can only be suitable on this type of asceticism as compared to the reasonable evidence, which is solid when subjected to a number of situations. The journal further explains that the firmness of a proof is the one that is accepted anywhere, anytime, and by anyone. This nature of evidentialism is mostly accepted in liberating people from adverse beliefs to expunge gullibility. Clifford’s journal depicts science as evidential because it insists on practical approach to adverse beliefs. This makes such beliefs hard to refute due to their nature of pragmatic approach as opposed to knowledge based on religion. Blaise on the other hand, on his quest to entice people on believing in God, suggests that no proof or reasoning is needed to suggest that God actually exists but either way there is also no proof to suggest that God does not actually exist. Since there is no evidence suggesting that God exist, it does not permit people to run away from the reality.
Blaise’s Non Evidentialism
Blaise’s objections for evidence insist that some beliefs do not need actual evidence to prove on their existence. For Blaise, some proofs may just be justified through faith and belief, something he referred to as spiritual epistemology. Blaise’s principles such as God’s existence cannot be proved as false and neither can it be proved as truth. With this statement, Blaise goes further to make a conclusion that it is difficult to demonstrate some facts and therefore their justification can only be done through acts of faith. Faith in most instances cannot be justified by proof or explanation and consequently, the evidentialist atheists have constantly dismissed their nonevidentialist atheist counterparts as unfound and that they lack the logic of intelligence since most of their ideas were mainly confound towards religion and the belief of the existence of God.
Blaise Pascal’s objective on William Clifford’s evidentialism puts on the difference between unsatisfactory proof to cling to a belief and non-evidentialism. However, some moderate evidentialists allow some proof to support certain beliefs even if they do not hold. The evidentialists are never keen on making sure some viewpoints are sensible implying their proofs are easily subjected exceptions. In cases where the proofs supporting the beliefs are low, the beliefs are considered similar as those of nonevidentialism (Dougherty 12). This brings on a difficulty in distinguishing between the moderate evidence and the non-moderate evidence and therefore making it more difficult in defending the strict evidentialism. Blaise drew up another argument concerning the nature of human conditions. He sought to persuade people to believe in God. In his argument, Blaise explained that human beings are both noble and wretched. He clarified that man is gracious because he was made in the image and the resemblance of God, but he is dejected because he went against the ways that God wanted to an extent of failing to admit the reality that God exists.
Clifford’s and the Blaise’s philosophy suggest that evidentialism is suitable for the open-minded and enlightened individuals. Critics have repeatedly argued that believing and following nonevidentialism is like following nonsense. Studies conducted globally prove that choosing to follow faith rather than scientific principles, especially in the enlightened societies, is more of being unreasonable and negligent. Nonevidentualism can at times mislead for example when a pastor denies to take her daughter to the hospital based on the belief that God will eventually heal her, such beliefs are the reasons why evidentialism is more important than nonevidentialism based on the fact that evidentialism is based on truth and evidence.
It is established that evidentialism is far more reasonable in the civilized world as compared to non-evidentalism. Its rationale however is doubtable because reliance on faith to explain some beliefs is not easy to be established. Believing on the facts that God really exist is a matter that is usually accepted by heart and the refusal to believe in such claims is the same as being skeptic.
Dougherty, Trent. Evidentialism and Its Discontents. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. Print.