Old 03-16-2009, 07:36 PM   #31
Sternwallow
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Sorry about the poor spelling...just typed it in too fast. The i isn't even struck with a finger on the same fuckin' hand!


Two things:


(1) My profile's indication of my Catholicism is perhaps a misnomer. I did put that there for lack of a better term. I grew up Catholic, I am a theist, and I still recognize some of the sacerdotal rites of the church. This does not mean that I am a proponent of thinking the world is flat, or of boy-fucking, or any such garbage. If you insist on mocking the Catholic thing, go ahead and get it out of your system, but know that I am not your usual catholic and that the insult will probably not pertain to me.


(2) Foundational beliefs are had all the time. They stem from a response to the regress problem that surfaced as a result of skeptical discussions. The regress problem is simple. You start by saying something that you know to be the case...it can be anything. "I know that it is ~2:45 pm right now."
Skeptic: "how do you know that?"
You: "Because the clock says so"
Skeptic: "How do you know the clock is right?"
You: "Because a reliable sensory experience tells me so"
Skeptic: "How do you know it's reliable?"
etc.

The point of the regress problem is to show that the Pyrrhonian skeptic will just keep asking these questions no matter how many times you justify the knowledge with other knowledge. We have four distinct choices here:
1. We accept skepticism whole-heartedly and convert at once.
2. We accept infinitism and say that an infinite hierarchy of embedded knowledge is no problem at all.
3. We accept that all pieces of knowledge are justified by some other pieces of knowledge so that they all justify one another in a sort of holistic web [this is called coherentism]. If this one doesn't already make some sense, consider that scientific theory works very much in this way.
4. We accept that, at some point, we just stop playing and assert that the last piece of knowledge given in the hierarchy is foundational in nature; that is, it need not have any justification, at least in ways relevantly similar to the other pieces of knowledge we have justified.

Doxastic foundationalism is like #4, but does not take foundations to be knowledge. Here's why: almost every plausible [non-skeptical] epistemic account talks about justification being a necessary condition on knowledge. But if foundations are without justification [in this use of the word], and justification looks to be a necessary condition on knowledge, then foundations cannot be knowledge. What's the solution? As far as I'm concerned, doxastic foundationalism circumvents this issue, because not all beliefs are justified [or even justifiable]. Basic beliefs work in just this way.



So I hope that makes more precise what I am about. Do let me know if anything needs further clarification.
That was a nice, coherent presentation, thanks.

What, then are the highest level foundational beliefs that support a belief in God? Is there a set of foundational beliefs at a deeper level of justification that could make a skeptic consider a god to be possible? If not, then why do you consider a god to exist?

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Old 03-16-2009, 07:43 PM   #32
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He likes capitals?
Just noticed, it looks like a lumpy inverted udder.

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Old 03-16-2009, 07:56 PM   #33
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That was a nice, coherent presentation, thanks.

What, then are the highest level foundational beliefs that support a belief in God? Is there a set of foundational beliefs at a deeper level of justification that could make a skeptic consider a god to be possible? If not, then why do you consider a god to exist?


I'm not certain what your first question is asking. I don't know what a "highest level foundational belief" would be. Could you explain further?


As per your second question, I think the conditions you have placed on belief are too strong. The question is a bit leading, but it looks like it suggests that any candidate for a belief ought to look convincing to the skeptic, but even propositions like "I know I have hands" are rejected by most skeptics. Perhaps you mean to use skeptic not to denote a Pyrrhonian skeptic but rather someone who is skeptical just about the logical possibility of the supernatural. Does that sound more akin to what you were after?

Also, what is logically possible is vastly different than what is logically impossible. The latter deals exclusively in necessary truths, while the former only informs what logic does not show to be impossible. Logically possible claims could still be genuinely impossible for independent reasons. So, even if the skeptic [in whatever sense the term may be used] admits that the existence of a god is logically possible, they have made no real progress toward asserting that such a being in fact does exist. We have a further issue: if a god can exist, and a certain god does exist, then what is its modal status [does it exist necessarily or contingently]?

So as not to obscure your final question with all of this clarification talk, let me just say clearly that I don't think that my convincing skeptics is a necessary condition on my beliefs. Why should it be?


For the record, I find dialogue with subscribers to various types of skepticism very helpful, but I don't think I should have to ask their permission to hold certain foundations true.


Perhaps I misunderstood the connection between the second and last question of yours, and I can tell it was a particularly important connection.
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Old 03-16-2009, 11:28 PM   #34
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I am familiar with religious history. I studied with a prominent Assyriologist for some time.



I'm not sure what qualitative similarity between religions points to. Oftentimes the similarities are presumed to be polemic, but I'm not convinced. Neither am I convinced that the material was just ripped off between religions. I am obviously no more certain in these kinds of assumptions than anyone, so I usually abstain from using those loose connections as indicators of any kind.


I don't ignore their existence, but I'm not sure how that's supposed to affect the truth value of a proposition like e.g. GOD exists.

Perhaps there is another perspective to be had here..?
BTW, religious beliefs are a form of neurological disorder in my book and those of some neurologists, thought they avoid the term,

The perspective that we are evolved mutated primates that created belief in god with our brains is simply a truth proven by neurobiology. The acceptance of an imaginary friend ( as is god & other delusions) as reality is sign of schizophrenia. There are as many gods, demons, as the brain can imagine.

Deep spiritualism & faith ( on educated folks) are simply disturbances of cognition not unlike those found in the schizotypal, the addicted to mind altering drugs, the mentally retarded, and folks prone to temporal lobe epilepsy. The brain, though extremely complex, is the organ that produces the mind giving us cognition. No PhD in neurology needed to understand this fact.

Tell me, does the brain created belief in god or does it pick it up from god like a radio picks up waves? what is it?

In my view religious folks are simply suffering from a neurological disorder, which by distorting the perception of reality eroding the ability to reason impede those infected ( faith-psychosis) from separating delusional fantasies producing dopamine and tangible down to earth realities. They are not unlike children which are unable to tell one from the other either.

Any educated adult believing Santa is real would be deemed retarded psychotic or both having an obviously malfunctioning brain while an educated theologian believing in the resurrected Zombie Jesus would be deemed a person of faith, ergo sane, aren't those delusions occurring in the brain and both worthy of the insane ( psychotic)?

I fail to see the difference between a deeply religious person and one suffering from latent schizophrenia. Both can become full blown i.e Doe of Heaven's gate, Koresh, Andrea Yates, Jim Jones, 9-11 pilots, suicide bombers, Buddhist monks that immolated themselves protesting Vietnam war etc etc

Religious beliefs are simply, IMHO, an acceptable psychosis that dares not to speak its true name.

Christians and other folks infected with delusional beliefs think and reason like schizophrenics or temporal lobe epileptics. Their morality is dictated by an invisible friend called Jesus.
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Old 03-17-2009, 06:23 AM   #35
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It looks like I need to be more explicit than this:
Quote:
What, then are the highest level foundational beliefs that support a belief in God? Is there a set of foundational beliefs at a deeper level of justification that could make a skeptic consider a god to be possible? If not, then why do you consider a god to exist?
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I'm not certain what your first question is asking. I don't know what a "highest level foundational belief" would be. Could you explain further?
As I understand foundationalism, there are foundational beliefs that, themselves do not require support. These can be traced to deeper beliefs but the regress must stop somewhere.
I am asking what specific beliefs you hold that are such foundational beliefs that need no further scrutiny. Do you, for example, believe that the universe must have had a vastly intelligent and powerful creator?
Quote:
As per your second question, I think the conditions you have placed on belief are too strong. The question is a bit leading, but it looks like it suggests that any candidate for a belief ought to look convincing to the skeptic, but even propositions like "I know I have hands" are rejected by most skeptics. Perhaps you mean to use skeptic not to denote a Pyrrhonian skeptic but rather someone who is skeptical just about the logical possibility of the supernatural. Does that sound more akin to what you were after?
Yes, a regular skeptic who is willing to question any propositions, even those that seem well established.

What foundational beliefs would establish the logical possibility of a god?
Quote:
Also, what is logically possible is vastly different than what is logically impossible. The latter deals exclusively in necessary truths, while the former only informs what logic does not show to be impossible. Logically possible claims could still be genuinely impossible for independent reasons. So, even if the skeptic [in whatever sense the term may be used] admits that the existence of a god is logically possible, they have made no real progress toward asserting that such a being in fact does exist.
I think that eliminating half of the field of alternatives is some pretty valuable progress.
Quote:
We have a further issue: if a god can exist, and a certain god does exist, then what is its modal status [does it exist necessarily or contingently]?
Once it is shown that a particular god is impossible, questions about its being necessary or contingent become moot. Acknowledging that some sort of god may be possible still leaves the bulk of work undone. There has been no god in all of the cataloged ten thousand or so, shown to be logically possible. I know that doesn't preclude the possibility of one being found that exists. It does, however, indict all of the known, major and minor gods.
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So as not to obscure your final question with all of this clarification talk, let me just say clearly that I don't think that my convincing skeptics is a necessary condition on my beliefs. Why should it be?
If your idea is logically viable, it should be convincing to skeptics, like us. So I ask to be convinced. Belief won't cut it, neither will proof from scripture; only logical argument will do.
Quote:
For the record, I find dialogue with subscribers to various types of skepticism very helpful, but I don't think I should have to ask their permission to hold certain foundations true.
Heavens no, but we cannot evaluate your beliefs and their foundations for our own edification if you do not identify what these beliefs are.

Feel free to believe the moon walk was faked, or any other notion, if you wish, but do not expect us to accept it just on your say-so.
Quote:
Perhaps I misunderstood the connection between the second and last question of yours, and I can tell it was a particularly important connection.
The last question was a contraction of two: if you believe in God, what are the foundational beliefs on which you base this belief?

If we share foundational beliefs then the difference between you believing in God and our un-belief is a matter of interpretation. If we do not share the foundational beliefs then our difference shows a discrepancy between your beliefs and ours and probably between some of the beliefs and reality.
The first alternative, interpretation probably can't be argued to a conclusion. The second, validity of specific beliefs, can be reasonably discussed.

"Those who most loudly proclaim their honesty are least likely to possess it."
"Atheism: rejecting all absurdity." S.H.
"Reality, the God alternative"
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Old 03-17-2009, 11:02 AM   #36
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It looks like I need to be more explicit than this:As I understand foundationalism, there are foundational beliefs that, themselves do not require support. These can be traced to deeper beliefs but the regress must stop somewhere.
I am asking what specific beliefs you hold that are such foundational beliefs that need no further scrutiny. Do you, for example, believe that the universe must have had a vastly intelligent and powerful creator?
Yes, a regular skeptic who is willing to question any propositions, even those that seem well established.

What foundational beliefs would establish the logical possibility of a god?
I think that eliminating half of the field of alternatives is some pretty valuable progress.
Once it is shown that a particular god is impossible, questions about its being necessary or contingent become moot. Acknowledging that some sort of god may be possible still leaves the bulk of work undone. There has been no god in all of the cataloged ten thousand or so, shown to be logically possible. I know that doesn't preclude the possibility of one being found that exists. It does, however, indict all of the known, major and minor gods.
If your idea is logically viable, it should be convincing to skeptics, like us. So I ask to be convinced. Belief won't cut it, neither will proof from scripture; only logical argument will do.
Heavens no, but we cannot evaluate your beliefs and their foundations for our own edification if you do not identify what these beliefs are.

Feel free to believe the moon walk was faked, or any other notion, if you wish, but do not expect us to accept it just on your say-so.
The last question was a contraction of two: if you believe in God, what are the foundational beliefs on which you base this belief?

If we share foundational beliefs then the difference between you believing in God and our un-belief is a matter of interpretation. If we do not share the foundational beliefs then our difference shows a discrepancy between your beliefs and ours and probably between some of the beliefs and reality.
The first alternative, interpretation probably can't be argued to a conclusion. The second, validity of specific beliefs, can be reasonably discussed.



Thanks for the clarification, Stern. I think I understand better, now.

First, you are quite right that, if we showed that the existence of any god was logically impossible, that pondering about its modal status would be useless. I'm not convinced that the existence of at least one supernatural mind is a logical impossibility. I guess you could say that I'm skeptical about that notion.

You also had a very penetrating question about the sorts of foundations that would allow me to coherently believe in a god. It's not the case that any one of those foundations is itself a belief that some particular god exists, although I will admit that I think such an option is open to the doxastic foundationalist.

You mentioned that no god in the sort of general catalogue of gods has been shown to be logically possible. The trouble for the theist is [I would say] just the opposite. Not one has been properly shown to be logically impossible. Here's where the modal status becomes important. If it is logically impossible for any god to exist, then the following holds: "Necessarily, no could ever exist."

This seems to me like a lofty claim. I hear quite often that some scientific laws, facts, theories, etc. in conjunction with one another prove that god does not exist. Even if I could accept this notion, it would only haven proven the non-existence of a god contingently. We are an impossibly long leap from showing that, necessarily, no god could ever exist. This is, I think, the importance of pondering the modal status of the supernatural. It is faulty at best to move from contingent truths like scientific facts/laws to metaphysically or logically necessary truths like out-and-out impossibility. You could make the argument that scientific facts aren't the sort of things that have a modal status, but that would be wildly contentious.

As for your condition of convincing the skeptic, I must admit that again we part ways here. I do not think that "logical viability" and "convincing to skeptics" are logically equivalent. Also, I'm not sure what logical viability entails. If it is merely logical possibility, then I'm afraid we're back to square one, because it doesn't look like we can prove the logical impossibility of the existence of at least one supernatural mind a posteriori.

"...but do not expect us to accept it just on your say-so."

I sure don't expect that. I don't expect that of anybody. In fact, when people ask me to start spinning substantive philosophic theories I always make certain that they are prepared to chew on the notions themselves and not simply 'take my word for it.' I'm very glad that the folks on this forum have given such thought to their positions on ontological plausibilities...it's a thing that I think is entirely too rare.

I agree that unaided belief should not convince anyone. I do not expect that you will hear my belief and be convinced -- that's really not what I'm after. I also have no problem presenting my favored epistemic accounts.


So as not to circumvent the heart of the question, I need to give an example of what I mean by basic belief. I have what I think is an innate idea: "the notion of consistency."

Scientific theory works in a very coherentist way. An hypothesis is presented as one or a series of propositions, and then the propositions at stake are tested as to their correspondence with the external world...wonderfully potent way to come to know certain types of propositions and inferences a posteriori. We then take the inferences and compile them is such a way as to be most consistent. Natural scientists are among the best at teasing out inconsistencies and then asking the hard question of why they are present. They are also among the lest reticent to chop off a part of a theory and start back at the drawing board when they recognize inconsistency. This is honest work. When I ask scientists whether they subscribe to a coherentist criteriology on truth they always say "yes." When I ask them whether they subscribe to an epistemic architecture that could most accurately be called hollistically coherentist in nature, the ones who understand the question always say "yes." When I ask them what it is that justifies their belief that the dialetheists are wrong and that consistency of factual observations is important, they usually don't really have an answer. Why are the dialetheists wrong? More precisely, what coherentist reason could you give as justification for the claim that the dialeteists are wrong?

Dialetheists, by the way, are people who reject the law non-contradiction. Graham Priest is probably the most famous living proponent of this view.

If I'm right, and there is no coherentist answer, then perhaps there is a foundational answer: I have a basic belief that two inconsistent propositions cannot at once be candidates for knowledge. I don't see how we can reach the same [very crucial] conclusion given a coherentist architecture.

Does that help flesh out what kinds of beliefs might be basic?

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Old 03-17-2009, 11:19 AM   #37
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Back to square one!

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Old 03-17-2009, 11:45 AM   #38
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Thanks for the clarification, Stern. I think I understand better, now.

First, you are quite right that, if we showed that the existence of any god was logically impossible, that pondering about its modal status would be useless. I'm not convinced that the existence of at least one supernatural mind is a logical impossibility. I guess you could say that I'm skeptical about that notion.

You also had a very penetrating question about the sorts of foundations that would allow me to coherently believe in a god. It's not the case that any one of those foundations is itself a belief that some particular god exists, although I will admit that I think such an option is open to the doxastic foundationalist.

You mentioned that no god in the sort of general catalogue of gods has been shown to be logically possible. The trouble for the theist is [I would say] just the opposite. Not one has been properly shown to be logically impossible. Here's where the modal status becomes important. If it is logically impossible for any god to exist, then the following holds: "Necessarily, no could ever exist."

This seems to me like a lofty claim. I hear quite often that some scientific laws, facts, theories, etc. in conjunction with one another prove that god does not exist. Even if I could accept this notion, it would only haven proven the non-existence of a god contingently. We are an impossibly long leap from showing that, necessarily, no god could ever exist. This is, I think, the importance of pondering the modal status of the supernatural. It is faulty at best to move from contingent truths like scientific facts/laws to metaphysically or logically necessary truths like out-and-out impossibility. You could make the argument that scientific facts aren't the sort of things that have a modal status, but that would be wildly contentious.

As for your condition of convincing the skeptic, I must admit that again we part ways here. I do not think that "logical viability" and "convincing to skeptics" are logically equivalent. Also, I'm not sure what logical viability entails. If it is merely logical possibility, then I'm afraid we're back to square one, because it doesn't look like we can prove the logical impossibility of the existence of at least one supernatural mind a posteriori.

"...but do not expect us to accept it just on your say-so."

I sure don't expect that. I don't expect that of anybody. In fact, when people ask me to start spinning substantive philosophic theories I always make certain that they are prepared to chew on the notions themselves and not simply 'take my word for it.' I'm very glad that the folks on this forum have given such thought to their positions on ontological plausibilities...it's a thing that I think is entirely too rare.

I agree that unaided belief should not convince anyone. I do not expect that you will hear my belief and be convinced -- that's really not what I'm after. I also have no problem presenting my favored epistemic accounts.


So as not to circumvent the heart of the question, I need to give an example of what I mean by basic belief. I have what I think is an innate idea: "the notion of consistency."

Scientific theory works in a very coherentist way. An hypothesis is presented as one or a series of propositions, and then the propositions at stake are tested as to their correspondence with the external world...wonderfully potent way to come to know certain types of propositions and inferences a posteriori. We then take the inferences and compile them is such a way as to be most consistent. Natural scientists are among the best at teasing out inconsistencies and then asking the hard question of why they are present. They are also among the lest reticent to chop off a part of a theory and start back at the drawing board when they recognize inconsistency. This is honest work. When I ask scientists whether they subscribe to a coherentist criteriology on truth they always say "yes." When I ask them whether they subscribe to an epistemic architecture that could most accurately be called hollistically coherentist in nature, the ones who understand the question always say "yes." When I ask them what it is that justifies their belief that the dialetheists are wrong and that consistency of factual observations is important, they usually don't really have an answer. Why are the dialetheists wrong? More precisely, what coherentist reason could you give as justification for the claim that the dialeteists are wrong?

Dialetheists, by the way, are people who reject the law non-contradiction. Graham Priest is probably the most famous living proponent of this view.

If I'm right, and there is no coherentist answer, then perhaps there is a foundational answer: I have a basic belief that two inconsistent propositions cannot at once be candidates for knowledge. I don't see how we can reach the same [very crucial] conclusion given a coherentist architecture.

Does that help flesh out what kinds of beliefs might be basic?
Yup.

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Old 03-18-2009, 02:43 AM   #39
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Old 03-18-2009, 08:28 PM   #40
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That's not real, right? Can a giraffe do that? I suspect I am a dummy for asking, but I just have to know...
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Old 03-18-2009, 08:29 PM   #41
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Oh, and welcome Seth. Sorry that I can't respond intelligently to your intro: couldn't understand it.
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Old 03-18-2009, 11:39 PM   #42
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Oh, and welcome Seth. Sorry that I can't respond intelligently to your intro: couldn't understand it.
Oh, don't worry. A full one-third of what I say is probably total crap. The trouble is, like everybody else, I don't have any idea which third it is.


DAMN YOU MONTY HALL!!!!!!
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Old 03-19-2009, 01:19 AM   #43
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A full one-third of what I say is probably total crap. The trouble is, like everybody else, I don't have any idea which third it is.
At last - you've typed something I understand - although I'd suggest two-thirds is probably much nearer the mark.

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Old 03-19-2009, 06:02 AM   #44
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Oh, don't worry. A full one-third of what I say is probably total crap. The trouble is, like everybody else, I don't have any idea which third it is.


DAMN YOU MONTY HALL!!!!!!

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Old 03-19-2009, 10:46 AM   #45
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Seth,

Your reasons for being here and mine are essentially the same I think. You expressed them far better than I could. Anybody who wants to be intellectually responsible needs to subject his/her beliefs to the most difficult tests to which they can be subject.

You obviously know far more about this stuff than I do, so I’d like to ask you some questions to see if you can help clarify my position.

In the epistemology thread you said something to the effect that “epistemic contextualism is bullshit.” You also said, I think, that you reject the notion that knowledge must be absolutely certain. Knowledge claims can be fallible. I just started reading modern epistemology, so, based on your two claims, I think my understanding of contextualism must be off. I was under the impression that contextualism was simply the idea that two traditional presuppositions of skepticism need not be endorsed. Those two ideas being that knowledge claims are guilty until proven innocent, leading to an infinite, vicious regress, and, following from this, that knowledge claims need to be absolutely certain.

In other words, I thought that as long as one acknowledges that claims to knowledge are fallible, then one is a contextualist, since the way by which claims are show to be fallible is by the introduction of some defeater for a necessary premise. Depending on your context you may or may not be aware of, or you may or may not allow, certain defeaters. (Allowing/disallowing defeaters is obviously contentious, and I think the idea is only around to preserve the usefulness of terms like “justification” and “knowledge”. For example, scientific contexts do not concern themselves, for the most part, with skeptical defeaters like BIV scenarios in order to preserve the claim that knowledge and justification gained via the senses obtain in certain cases.)

Sooooo my first question is: “What problems do you have with contextualism?”

Second, I see one very clear claim you’ve made to an a priori foundation: the law of non-contradiction. What are some others? If these foundations are necessarily true, how would you respond to one who questions that claim of necessity? In other words, what separates a dumbass dogmatic assertion like "The bible is infallible" from the type of foundation you've described? That’s really four questions, but you get the idea.

Thanks
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