Classical foundationalism is dead. But that does not stop foolish atheists like Francois Tremblay from continuing to promote such an outdated epistemological starting point. Francois Tremblay is an atheist who complains about, “Chris Bolt, who wrote a rant against the principle that, ‘It is wrong always, everywhere and for everyone to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.’” He writes, “I find this fascinating because this principle is so obvious and so straightforward that the idea of someone arguing against it seems strange at best.”
Right, so it’s an “obvious” and “so straightforward” principle. It’s “strange” that someone would argue against it. Well, I find it obvious and straightforward that Tremblay is a creature of God who persists in sin against Him, and, were it not for the sinful willingness of humanity to suppress the truth in its unrighteousness, I would find it strange that Tremblay argues against the aforementioned proposition. But using the rhetoric of “obvious” and “straightforward” and “strange” is not actually an argument, now is it?
Tremblay continues, “I mean, it is so obvious as to seem almost tautological (if there’s not enough evidence to believe something, then there’s just not enough evidence to believe in it!).” Unfortunately, what Tremblay has stated here is not the same proposition that I am objecting to. He may want to read a bit closer, or, if he read and understood, then he needs to quit lying about what I am actually objecting to.
Tremblay quotes me as follows:
A self-refuting statement is a statement with a self-referential problem. A self-refuting statement not only refers to itself, but actually proves itself false! Remember Clifford’s claim that, “It is wrong always, everywhere and for everyone to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.”Clifford’s claim can be labeled with a “C,” so that C = “It is wrong always, everywhere and for everyone to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.” Now, why should anyone believe C? Or more to the point, what evidence is there for believing that C is true at all? The claim is certainly not self-evident, and it is difficult to imagine what sort of evidence might be offered in its favor. So according to the requirements of C, C must be rejected. And that is something like the aforementioned idea of a self-refuting statement. God has implanted beliefs in human beings that are not obtained in virtue of evidentialism.
Tremblay responds as follows:
This is Chris Bolt’s whole reasoning: he personally doesn’t see any evidence for C (presumably because it’s too “difficult to imagine,” and Bolt has a very meager imagination), therefore C is false. Well then, I officially declare the theory of relativity false because I personally see no evidence for it (GPS? I don’t need no stinkin’ GPS!).
Oh, it’s not that I have a meager imagination, but that the proposition in question is, unlike propositions concerning the theory of relativity, not one which admits of the type of evidence Tremblay and others need to offer in support of it. And if it were, and if there were evidence, then surely Tremblay and others would offer it. Does he do so? No.
Instead, Tremblay writes, “Obviously C is self-evident, because evidence is already defined as that which tends to prove or disprove something.” But that doesn’t make a bit of sense, does it? It does not follow from:
- “Evidence is that which tends to prove or disprove something.”
- “It is wrong always, everywhere and for everyone to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.”
Tremblay thinks he is using my argument against me by asking, “Did God implant the belief in us that God implanted beliefs in our brain?” He complains that I have presented many different lines of evidence in my entry, and that, “This is self-contradictory, since he’s made it clear that he doesn’t believe in evidence.” Well, no, I’ve not written that. I believe quite strongly in the place of evidence, but I do not believe in classical foundationalism like Tremblay. That type of thinking has been repeatedly refuted. Tremblay is just a philosophical flat-earther.
This shows in the rest of the rhetoric Tremblay offers. He quotes me as follows:
Truth be known, there are all sorts of beliefs that the unbeliever accepts on his or her own and apart from evidence anyway. For example, most people accept that other minds exist, yet there is zero evidence that this is the case. The same is true with respect to the principle of the uniformity of nature, or the premise that things will tend to go on the way that they have in the past. Such beliefs are just taken for granted, and are assumed to be rational, but they do not admit of any evidence in favor of their acceptance. So the unbeliever is a bit of a hypocrite when it comes to demanding evidence for the existence of God. Knowing God is every bit as basic as knowing oneself.
In response, Tremblay says, “Obviously there is plenty of evidence for other minds.” Okay Tremblay. What is that evidence? He writes, “We know for a fact that other people were made like we were, have brains like ours, and we have the technology to detect the brain activity that accompanies mental activity.” Wait a second, other people were *made* like we were? I didn’t think an atheist could say that. Oops! In any event, Tremblay’s response to my claim that there is no evidence that other minds exist is to dogmatically state that other people are “made” like we are, in other words, with minds. And so Tremblay’s response to the claim that there is no evidence for other minds is to say “Nuh uh, other people are like us [in that they have minds]!” Forgive me if I am not immediately persuaded by a simple assertion to the contrary of my claim. Next, Tremblay states that other people have brains. That, of course, must be scientifically tested in every case, and even then does not prove that we have minds, as opposed to lumps of grey matter. Finally, Tremblay argues that we can technologically detect brain activity that accompanies mental activity. But notice what he’s done here. He’s said we can determine the presence of brain activity through technology. Yet, he has merely assumed that the aforementioned brain activity accompanies mental activity. A lot of physicalists are laughing right about now.
Tremblay goes on in his unwarranted confidence to assert, “We also have plenty of evidence for the uniformity of nature.” Oh? I’m really interested to hear this one.
The most direct and obvious evidence for the uniformity of nature is that we are alive, as any change in any fundamental parameter of the universe (such as the speed of light, as many Creationists posit) changes all the others, and our bodies function on the basis of the laws discovered by chemistry and physics.
Of course, his statement that “any fundamental parameter of the universe…changes all the others,” as well as his statement that “our bodies function on the basis of the laws discovered by chemistry and physics” both assume the uniformity of nature, which is precisely that which he is attempting to establish! Sorry Francois, but no cigar! You really can’t rationally argue for the laws of chemistry and physics by assuming that there are laws of chemistry and physics!
He also writes, “So the fact that life was able to evolve and survive for almost four billion years is proof that the laws of nature are pretty damn stable.” And, of course, even if that is true, he has no evidence that said laws will continue to operate with such stability!
“Another powerful line of evidence for the uniformity of nature is the resounding success of scientific inquiry; if nature was not uniform, then we would have no laws to discover.” Ah, but scientific success today does not entail scientific success tomorrow, does it? I’m not convinced that Tremblay understands the problem. Tremblay’s statement is also a fallacious argument from consequences as currently stated.
However, Tremblay does conclude, “To take away the uniformity of nature means to take away our confidence in our senses and in their input. But the only possible outcome of this is either madness or massive self-delusion.” I’m still waiting on that evidence Tremblay is writing blank checks for that would establish he is not mad or deluded.
Tremblay seems to think that Christianity, with its good and providential God of Scripture, offers its own problems with respect to the uniformity of nature because of “its cartoon universe where donkeys and snakes talk,” but he misses that talking donkeys and snakes are anomalies establishing the uniformity of nature, not undercutting it like his fictional universe where humans pop up out of nowhere and start blogging about such abstract notions and unproven notions as a uniformity of nature.