So I have been thinking a lot lately about the beliefs that I hold key and how strongly I believe, or even should believe them. While learning a lot about epistemology I have come to the conclusion that, though I do have justification for most of the beliefs I hold, I think I do hold some rather dogmatically (that is, without proper epistemic justification). The issue that comes mainly to my mind is the debate between Calvinism and Arminianism. I have been dogmatically against Calvinism pretty much ever since I discovered what belief in that theology entails. While holding the belief in Arminianism rather dogmatically, I still do maintain several lines of argumentation to justify my overall rejection. I do have to admit that I have just as many philosophical misgivings about the theology as I do theological misgivings. However, I am afraid that I have come to the point where there is no amount of information that could change my mind on this issue. This scares me because I want to maintain an openness about the issue that allows me to change positions based on where the evidence, biblical, theological and philosophical, leads. While I do know that several of my dogmatic beliefs are properly, and justifiable, lodged in the "unchangeable" section of my mind, I'm not sure if this belief belongs there or not.
Of course, this kind of closed-mindedness about certain beliefs isn't a bad thing. In fact it is called foundationalism, which is the major epistemological theory of justification for knowledge-claims that many of us hold, especially the theists among us. Basically, foundationalism holds that there are certain key beliefs that do not need justification and instead provide the foundation for all other knowledge. Strong foundationalism has been shown to be sorely lacking in philosophical sophistication and subsequently rejected by most scholars since not ALL of our beliefs can actually be traced back to these basic or foundational beliefs. However, a weaker form of foundationalism can, I believe, be rationally defended and maintained. This weaker form (also called moderate or broad foundationalism) just holds that we do indeed have beliefs that do not need justification and are just "given". It's really up for grabs how many beliefs that really encompasses. Recognizing that I can't make a strict case for theological beliefs being so foundational as to lack the the need for justification (because I think most are, and need to be, justified) I think their is a parallel between foundationalism in regards to basic beliefs and a sort of theological foundationalism (those beliefs we take as a given) in theologizing. For instance, some of the beliefs that I hold, while I feel they are completely justified, cannot be rejected based on any amount of evidence - no matter what form that comes in. Some of these beliefs are: the proposition that God exists, the deity of Christ, the historicity and salvific accomplishment of the Cross, etc. And I don't know where to stop adding beliefs. Are there ones I have included (in my stock of knowledge, not in this list) which need to be open to amendment? This issue bothers me because I want to be open new issues. I can't decide where Calvinism falls in this matter. Though I completely affirm those who do hold this view, I wonder how far we have all come from being open to contradictory evidence. I know, for instance, that there is a Calvinistic response to every argument or verse I could bring up - as the Calvinist knows in regards to my own view. But on something like the deity of Christ there are also secular liberal critics who could probably argue quite effectively that this fact is a myth. And on the issue of divinity, I cannot be persuaded, no matter how convincing the evidence, that it is not true. So I guess the question is, what beliefs do I put in the "unchangeable" box and which do I remain open about?