Byzantine Pilgrimage Art by Gary Vikan

By Gary Vikan

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In the context of many attempted proofs, such discomfort is quite legitimate. But we have refused so to define what a proof is that knowledge of the truth of the conclusion beforehand disqualifies an argument from being a successful proof, since proving can have more purposes than one. So our definition of proof allows for an argument with a theistic premiss to count.

But where the denial of p leads to contradictions, I am more inclined to accept that there is no premiss and amend my account of the second condition to allow for this. Amended in the required way, it would read as follows: a successful proof, thus far, is an argument in which the conclusion derives either from premisses which are true, or is shown to have a contradictory which leads to contradictions. What I subsequently say about proof will, I think, still hold with this condition added - except, of course, that what I say about the relationships between premiss and conclusion will not apply.

Suppose religion could be provided with a method of proof. Suppose, for example, as was suggested earlier, that the divine omnipotence was so manifest that whenever anyone denied a Christian doctrine he was at once struck dead by a thunderbolt. No doubt the conversion of 45 England would ensue with a rapidity undreamt of by the Anglican bishops. But since the Christian faith sees true religion only in a free decision made in faith and love, the religion would by this vindication be destroyed.

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