Originally posted by Apologia4JC18 in the thread What is the difference between "atheism" and "Fundy Atheism"? on December 21st 2005:
Originally posted by John Powell
Thank you for the clarification. I actually agree with this formulation, but I have two questions.
First, with respect to the existence of God: it has always seemed to me that the denial of God could be made only on the supposition that certain contingent beings have not had causes (if all contingent beings have had causes, then it seems to follow necessarily that an eternal, uncaused cause of all contingent beings must exist).
But it also seems like the claim that atheists must make amounts to an extraordinary claim, according to your definition. Certainly, no one has verified the existence of an uncaused contingent being. It also seems to be true that the claim that any particular contingent being has arisen without a cause is "seldom correct", to say the least.
Wouldn't the denial of the causal premise (and therefore, the denial of God) then count as an extraordinary claim requiring extraordinary evidence?
Secondly, the principle seems to turn on what one takes to be reliable. If one claims A as reliable evidence for B, someone could ask "How do you know A is reliable?" If one claims C as evidence for the reliability of A, one could ask "How do you know C is reliable?" and on down the line, ad infinitum. Presumably, there must be a stopping point, or there could never have been an end point (as there must be).
Thus the question seems to be, "How can our choice of starting points be justified when it is presumably the case that any number of such points could yield a coherent set of propositions?"