Home > conflict, Conscience, genesis > Reaction to Genesis 1

Reaction to Genesis 1

My Nine-Year-Bible posts rarely generate any traffic, either on my blog or when they cross-post automatically to Facebook.

After making a comment about the strange ordering of creation in my last post, I had three FB friends unfollow me. It also generated a sharp disagreement between two others.

I’ve made well over 2000 posts since December 2007.

What prompts such strong reactions to this chapter?

I wonder if it’s because Genesis 1 is dependent upon our rock bottom beliefs.

Another influential type of challenge to obligatory belief assessment in the face of religious diversity has been raised by Jerome Gellman. The focus of his challenge centers on what he identifies as rock bottom beliefs. Such beliefs, as Gellman defines them, are the epistemic givens in a religious belief system — the assumed, foundational truths upon which all else is built. Gellman grants that if a religious belief affirmed by an exclusivist is not rock bottom (is not a foundational assumption), then it may well be subject to obligatory belief assessment in the face of religious diversity. However, he argues, since belief assessment only makes sense when one isn’t certain that the belief in question is true, and since rock bottom religious beliefs are among the foundational truths — the basic, assumed truths — in an exclusivist’s epistemic system, no assessment is necessary. Rather, when an exclusivist encounters a challenge to such a belief — for example, a challenge to her rock bottom belief in God’s ultimate control over all earthly affairs — she can, utilizing the G. E. Moore switch, justifiably maintain that because her rock bottom belief is true, the competing belief can be rejected (Gellman 1993, 345–364; Gellman 1998, 229–235).

Furthermore, Gellman has added more recently, even if we grant that rock bottom beliefs are at times open to belief assessment, the exclusivist need not engage in such assessment in the face of religious diversity unless she finds the awareness of such diversity causes her to lose significant confidence in her own perspective. In the absence of this type of internal conflict, she “may rationally invoke her unreflective religious belief to defeat opposing religious claims, without having to consider the question any further” (Gellman 2000, 403).

Some, though, remain uneasy with Gellman’s contention that we need only assess those basic, rock bottom beliefs in which we have lost confidence. It is clearly the case that exclusivists do sometimes lose confidence in beliefs in which they once had a great deal of confidence, and that this was frequently due to the fact that these beliefs were rationally assessed. Consequently, if we assume, as it seems Gellman does, that one of our epistemic goals should be to maximize truth, then it doesn’t appear, some maintain, that the fact that a challenged basic belief isn’t at present “squeaking” is a sufficient reason for the religious exclusivist faced with diversity of opinion not to engage in belief assessment (Basinger 2002, 42–43) (Retrieved from http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/religious-pluralism/ accessed right after the Super Bowl on 2/1/2015).

In any case, when rock bottom beliefs are challenged, there is no arguing with or against the evidence. It becomes a matter of faith.

Is it healthier to run away from rock bottom faith challenges, or is it better to face them head on?

I wonder if our answer to this question says more about a person’s individual temperament and upbringing than it does about any particular religious, spiritual, or scientific truth.

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Categories: conflict, Conscience, genesis
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