Views of an Agnostic
by: Ross E. Browne
This is part 2 of Ross E. Browne's 1915 book, Views of an Agnostic.
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There are a number of elementary articles of belief which I must adopt in entering upon any practical pursuit in life. Among these I now call to mind the following as being broadly applicable, and having impressed me most definitely.
I have complete faith in the reliability of the simple, logical processes of the normal mind in its wide-awake state. The most striking example is in our established system of mathematics. I cannot conceive of a sane mind seriously denying the correctness of the processes involved.
I believe in the existence of substance and the reality of the phenomena I witness. Bishop Berkeley was apparently in an unhealthy frame of mind when he reached his conclusion that these things have no existence outside of the imagination. Our inability to prove a proposition does not necessarily establish the contrary. This belief is instinctive and the burden of proof rests upon him who maintains a contrary theory.
I must accept the evidences of my senses, but the interpretations I place upon these are to some extent provisional or subject to verification by comparison of experiences, especially in cases of conflict with reason. I recognize the fact that my senses may and occasionally do deceive me, but I have nothing else to depend upon for the establishment of the facts which I must know in order to obtain any practical comprehension whatever of my surroundings, or even to maintain my existence.
In the same way I must provisionally rely upon my memory, imperfect though it may be.