On Obstinacy in Belief
1. Two kinds of attitudes to belief:
1.1. Scientific attitude to belief: scientists proportioned their belief to the evidence.
1.2. Christian attitude to belief: it is based on a faith.
1.3. Lewis' standpoint in this essay: to define the above two attitudes more closely and open a discourse between the two:
2. A word about belief in general:
is not so common in the scientific life.
2.1."Proportioning belief to evidence"
2.1.1. Scientists are mainly concerned not with believing things but with finding things out.
2.1.2. Scientists try to escape from belief and unbelief into knowledge.
2.1.3. Scientists' hypotheses are not believes.
(Discuss the difference between hypotheses and believes)
2.2. The usage of the verb "believes"expresses a weak degree of opinion.
“I believe” in the sentences, "where is Tom?" "Gone to London, I believe."
2.2.1. There is no great difficulty in making the hardened materialist understand the sort of mental attitude, which a Christian holds when he/she utters
2.2.2. We are speaking of belief and disbelief in the strongest degree but not of knowledge.
2.2.3. Belief, in this sense, is assent to a proposition which we think so overwhelmingly probable that there is a psychological exclusion of doubt, though not a logical exclusion of dispute.
3. Believing and knowing:
3.1. When the logical certainty is absent, men choose to use the word "believe."
3.1.1. The man who accepts Christianity always thinks that he had good evidence but the man who dose not accepts Christianity can also think that he had evidence to against the belief.
3.1.2. Believers are not cut off from unbelievers by any portentous inferiority of intelligence or any perverse refusal to think.
3.1.3. Men wish on both sides: there is fear-fulfillment as well as wish-fulfillment.
3.2. When men succeed in knowing things, they no longer say they believe.
3.2.1. "All men alike, on questions which interest them, escape from the region of belief into that of knowledge when they can, and if they succeed in knowing, they no longer say they believe" (p. 130).
4.Christians' "I believe" and the convinced atheist's "I don't believe a word of it":
4.1. The strong believers or disbelievers of course think they have very strong evidence.
4.2. There is no need to suppose stark unreason on either side. We need only suppose that one side has estimated the evidence wrongly.
4.3. The charge of irrationality and resistance to evidence becomes really important.
4.4. The faintest evidence against a favorite hypothesis must be exposed to every test.
4.5.If we consider the scientist not among his hypotheses in the laboratory but among the beliefs in his ordinary life, the contrast between him and the Christian would be weakened.
5. A precaution against exaggerating the difference between Christian obstinacy in belief and the behavior of normal people about their non-theological beliefs:
Lewis claims that the obstinacy of a believer is in no way comparable with the stubbornness of a bad scientist refusing to abandon an indefensible hypothesis.
Example of the stubbornness of refusing to abandon an indefensible hypothesis
Bush Vs. Zombies
5.1. There are times when we can do all that a fellow creature needs if only he will trust us.
5.2. We ask them to believe that what is painful will relieve their pain and that what looks dangerous is their only safety (e.g. extracting a thorn from a child's finger).
5.3. To support all these incredible we can rely only on the other party's confidence in us.
5.4. No one blames us for demanding such faith. No one blames them for giving it.
5.5. The content of our original belief by logical necessity entails the proposition that such behavior is appropriate.
5.6. "trust" and "evidence"
5.7.We must expect a priori that His operations will often appear to us far form beneficent and far from wise.
5.8.To love involves trusting the beloved beyond the evidence.
6. Faith and Truth:
6.1 A faith, if it happens to be true, is obviously what we need.
6.2. There can also be faith where it is wholly ungrounded. (e.g. Ducks' confidence in the farmer's wife.)
6.3. Faith and trust:
Do we need evidences to trust? Is it possible that what we trusted is a delusion?
Summary of C.S. Leiws' argument:
There are two different attitudes of belief, scientific one and religious one. The former involves the facts and evidence; the latter has no necessary attempt in seeking for facts. The former ends in knowledge; the latter ends in faith. One can be a scientist in his perfection, and meanwhile a religious believer. These are two different kind of needs.
Holding a religious faith is different from holding an indefensible hypothesis. It could be a psychological need and based on trust. If a faith is true, than it is what we need. If a faith is ungrounded, than it could be a delusion. For a believer, that a faith is true or not is out of question.
Therefore, it could be better if religion and science co-exist.