"Allow me to ask you a question, friend. In what way do you conceive of the reality of your own existence in its subjective dimensions?"This is a tough question to answer and often seems to be the stopping point for epistemology (the nature and scope of knowledge). I mean do I live in Chicago, Illinois or The Matrix?
What we say we know is predicated on certain basic facts which ultimately we need to accept otherwise we get to an infinite regress of "why?"
The heart of JT's question challenges this basicality and seems to challenge me to consider the nature of my doubts relative to how I come to my knowledge (subjectively speaking).
I of course concede that I am a novice of evidentialism where some sort of objective method must be practiced when considering claims otherwise we become subject to our intuition which, given subjective license, has shown itself to be a poor predictor of what is real.
Therefore I take faith-claims as poor evidence but JT challenges this in fairness by illustrating how my comfort with deduction demands a faith proposition in set-theory (the foundation for mathematics) due to set-theory's honest criticism (like Wittgenstein's critique of set-theory relative to infinities and thus its illusory nature).
I don't share JT's concern however when addressing the question of religious faith vs. testable evidence and my apparent "faith" in set theory.
Set theory works at a primitive level when cultural noise is included.
It simply is and is basically real.
2+2=4 has the same meaning across cultures but not necessarily across all religions as my friend Lady Atheist pointed out when she wrote me and said that 2+2=4 can mean,
"For Unitarian Universalists 2 + 2 = well, that depends on who's countingand so although deduction may depend upon faith in the subjective "realness" of set-theory; set-theory can't be twisted by the subjective popular or social response a set-theory believer has in it (or we would have to see Lady Atheist's illustration as computational rather than satirical.)
For Mormons 2 + 2 = not enough wimmin
For Creationists, 2 + 2 = 22
For UFOlogists 2 + 2 = 42
For Scientologists 2 + 2 = 2384792.19827"
The question brings to the front for me the nature of doubt. It seems that there are at least two types of doubt when considering faith and what we know. There is emotional doubt and epistemic doubt.
Emotional doubt can use religion as a resolution of it (although the practice of certain theologies like my former Calvinist Christianity actually feeds the doubt due to concepts like sin) while epistemic doubt demands an analysis of data hygiene through methodological means like set-theory.
If one wants to assert that they have had a subjective experience with God and it has resolved their fear of death then it seems the subjective nature of this information offers resolution to a real emotional doubt and it can't be analyzed for its fact or fiction but, if the same person then seeks to extend this experience to an assertion that God is a triune being detailed in scripture, I can comfortably assess the data set of the bible (e.g. it's reliance on similar ancient Near Eastern myth for its narrative, its noted redaction, geographic dependence on discrete Christian tradition) and question the level of epistemic doubt still unresolved by this assertion.
I can further cross-reference the believer's assertion to the fact of a biblical God by inferring motivation due to psychology, anthropology or other sciences.
Subjectivity as JT so rightly challenges me is an essential property for all of our knowledge but how we understand it's meaning relative to the type of doubt it resolves helps indicate how trust-worthy it is.
I have no problem if someone wishes to assert that they know who god is but I do have a problem if they try to convince me that this knowledge is beyond doubt.