“Atheism a faith position too” – best shot?
Let’s look at the second of the two arguments I sketched out for science (and any atheism dependent on it) being a “faith position” too. It went like this:
The sceptic about the external world shows that our belief that our senses are a reliable guide to reality cannot be justified. But then, as science and indeed all our beliefs about the external world are based on the assumption that our senses are a reliable guide to reality, they too are rooted in “faith”. So belief in God is no more a “faith position” than is empirical science.
One response would be to say that while:
(i) our senses are a reliable guide to reality
(ii) there is a God
are both equally unjustifiable, and so, if you like, “faith positions”, the fact is we all assume (i). By contrast, (ii) is an additional assumption we don’t need to make. So the principle of economy says that if we can get away with assuming just (i), we should do so. Adding (ii) as a second assumption requires considerably more “faith”.
Trouble with this move is that some theists maintain that if we accept (ii), then (i) is no longer an assumption. We can justify it by appealing to (ii) (in the style of Descartes – a good God would not allow us systematically to be deceived).
So, each belief involves an equal amount of “faith”.
I think there’s a more obvious and better objection to the above argument for science (and any dependent atheism) being a “faith position, in fact. Coming to that shortly….