Norman forms the belief that the president is in New York by way of a clairvoyance faculty he doesn’t know he has. Many agree that his belief is unjustified but disagree about why it is unjustified. I argue that the lack of justification cannot be explained by a higher-level evidence requirement on justification, but it can be explained by a no-defeater requirement. I then explain how you can use cognitive faculties you don’t know you have. Lastly, I use lessons from (...) the foregoing to compare Norman’s belief, formed by clairvoyance, with Sally’s theistic belief, formed by a sensus divinitatis. (shrink)
Some philosophers and scientists argue that as science progresses the religious domain shrinks ever more. They see the advance of science as an argument against religion and for naturalism. In what follows I construct the argument that is tacit in this line of reasoning and criticize it.
Theistic and analytic philosophers of religion typically privilege classical theism and monotheism by ignoring or underestimating the great threat of polytheism. We develop an argument from infinitely many alternatives, which decisively demonstrates that if a monotheistic or polytheistic god-model obtains, it will almost certainly be polytheistic. Probabilistic calculations are performed in order to illustrate the difficulties faced by the monotheistic proponent. After considering possible objections, such as whether there should be limits placed on how many possible god-models could obtain, we (...) conclude that our argument from infinitely many alternatives is sound, and highly unlikely to be overcome. (shrink)
An objection that has been raised to the conciliatory stance on the epistemic significance of peer disagreement known as the Equal Weight View is that it is self-defeating, self-undermining, or self-refuting. The proponent of that view claims that equal weight should be given to all the parties to a peer dispute. Hence, if one of his epistemic peers defends the opposite view, he is required to give equal weight to the two rival views, thereby undermining his confidence in the correctness (...) of the Equal Weight View. It seems that the same objection could be leveled against those who claim to suspend judgment in the face of pervasive unresolvable disagreements, as do the Pyrrhonian skeptics. In this paper, I explore the kind of response to the objection that could be offered from a neo-Pyrrhonian perspective, with the aim of better understanding the intriguing character of Pyrrhonian skepticism. (shrink)
Alvin Plantinga’s religious epistemology has been used to respond to many debunking arguments against theistic belief. However, critics have claimed that Plantinga’s religious epistemology conflicts with skeptical theism, a view often used in response to the problem of evil. If they are correct, then a common way of responding to debunking arguments conflicts with a common way of responding to the problem of evil. In this paper, I examine the critics’ claims and argue that they are right. I then present (...) two revised versions of Plantinga’s argument for his religious epistemology. I call the first a 'religion-based argument' and the second an 'intention-based argument'. Both are compatible with skeptical theism, and both can be used to respond to debunking arguments. They apply only to theistic beliefs of actual persons who have what I call 'doxastically valuable relationships' with God – valuable relationships the goods of which entail the belief that God exists. (shrink)
Rob Lovering has recently argued that since theists have been unable, by means of philosophical arguments, to convince 85 percent of professional philosophers that God exists, at least one of their defining beliefs must be either false or meaningless. This paper is a critical examination of his argument. First we present Lovering’s argument and point out its salient features. Next we explain why the argument’s conclusion is entirely acceptable for theists, even if, as we show, there are multiple problems with (...) the premises. (shrink)
Discussion of the role which religious experience can play in warranting theistic belief has received a great deal of attention within contemporary philosophy of religion. By contrast, the relationship between experience and atheistic belief has received relatively little focus. Our aim in this paper is to begin to remedy that neglect. In particular, we focus on the hitherto under-discussed question of whether experiences of God’s absence can provide positive epistemic status for a belief in God’s nonexistence. We argue that there (...) is good reason to accept an epistemic parity between experiences of God’s presence and experiences of God’s absence. (shrink)
Aquinas’s thought is often considered an exemplary balance between Christian faith and natural reason. However, it is not always sufficiently clear what such balance consists of. With respect to the relation between philosophical topics and the Christian faith, various scholars have advanced perspectives that, although supported by Aquinas’s texts, contrast one another. Some maintain that Aquinas elaborated his philosophical view without being under the influence of faith. Others believe that the Christian faith constitutes an indispensable component of Aquinas’s view; at (...) least when Aquinas focused on those statements that, though maintainable by mere reason, belong to the Christian revelation. In this essay I intend to show that the aforementioned perspectives can be reconciled on the basis of Aquinas’s concept of faith. If we do not limit ourselves to considering faith as the assent to the revealed truth, but also look at what leads the believer to assent—i.e., charity that unites the believer with God and is gratuitously conceded by God himself—then the relation between faith and reason appears to be twofold. On the one hand, the truths of faith cannot participate in the rational inquiry, because according to Aquinas faith lacks the evidence searched for by natural reason. On the other hand, since Aquinas holds that faith is the assent to the revelation due to the love for God that is granted by God himself, the believer will take faith as more certain than intellect and science, and the truths of faith will constitute the orientation and criterion of her/his rational investigation. The truths shall constitute orientation because the believer aims to confirm by reason what she/he already believes. They will also be criterion, because in case of a contradiction between rational arguments and revealed truths, reason must be considered mistaken and the rational investigation must start anew from the beginning. (shrink)
In this article I shall analyse and evaluate analytic theists’ views of what it takes to be a person of faith. I suggest that the subject can be approached by posing requirements a person must allegedly fulfil in order to count as a person of faith. These requirements can be referred to as aspects of faith. According to my analysis, four different aspects of faith can be distinguished: the cognitive, the evaluative-affective, the practical, and the interpersonal. There have been divergent (...) assessments about which aspects are indispensable for faith and how they should be understood. (shrink)
There are three theories of luck in the literature, each of which tends to appeal to philosophers pursuing different concerns. These are the probability, modal, and control views. I will argue that all three theories are irreparably defective; not only are there counterexamples to each of the three theories of luck, but there are three previously undiscussed classes of counterexamples against them. These are the problems of lucky necessities, skillful luck, and diachronic luck. I conclude that a serious reevaluation of (...) the role of luck in philosophy is called for. (shrink)
This paper explores religious belief in connection with epistemological disjunctivism. It applies recent advances in epistemological disjunctivism to the religious case for displaying an attractive model of specifically Christian religious belief. What results is a heretofore unoccupied position in religious epistemology—a view I call ‘religious epistemological disjunctivism’. My general argument is that RED furnishes superior explanations for the sort of ‘grasp of the truth’ which should undergird ‘matured Christian conviction’ of religious propositions. To this end I first display the more (...) familiar perceptual epistemological disjunctivism, contrasting it with both externalist and classically internalist views. This prepares the way for introducing RED with its own distinctive factive mental state operator—pneuming that p. In this second section I present the RED model, not failing to address a potential problem concerning religious disagreement. I also clarify RED’s distinctive internalist aspect, describing how it comports with contemporary internalist thinking in epistemology. I then move in section three to criticize externalist and classical internalist views, showing where they fail to make proper sense of the sort of knowing which should ground mature Christian conviction. Specifically, I highlight three intuitions which I think any theory of religious belief should capture: what I call the case-closed intuition, the good believer intuition, and the Plantingian platitude. This is all to set up for the final section where I argue that RED is superior for understanding proper religious believing—capturing the aforementioned intuitions. (shrink)
The problem of divine hiddenness, currently a much-discussed topic in analytic philosophy of religion, can be summarized in the question, ‘Why is God not more obvious or apparent?’ Sometimes the problem is used to undermine theistic belief. Here we seek to add a unique contribution to the growing debate on this theme from the perspective of Reformed epistemology, particularly Alvin Plantinga's construal; moreover, we do so in a way that is theologically relevant. We conclude, with assistance from Scripture and from (...) Plantinga, that the problem of divine hiddenness is not a problem for the Reformed epistemologist. (shrink)
We shall examine some conceptual tensions in Hick’s ‘pluralism’ in the light of S. Radhakrishnan’s reformulation of classical Advaita. Hick himself often quoted Radhakrishnan’s translations from the Hindu scriptures in support of his own claims about divine ineffability, transformative experience and religious pluralism. However, while Hick developed these themes partly through an adaptation of Kantian epistemology, Radhakrishnan derived them ultimately from Śaṁkara, and these two distinctive points of origin lead to somewhat different types of reconstruction of the diversity of world (...) religions. Our argument will highlight the point that Radhakrishnan is not a ‘pluralist’ in terms of Hick’s understanding of the Real. The Advaitin ultimate, while it too like Hick’s Real cannot be encapsulated by human categories, is, however, not strongly ineffable, because some substantive descriptions, according to the Advaitic tradition, are more accurate than others. Our comparative analysis will reveal that they differ because they are located in two somewhat divergent metaphysical schemes. In turn, we will be able to revisit, through this dialogue between Hick and Radhakrishnan, the intensely vexed question of whether Hick’s version of pluralism is in fact a form of covert exclusivism. (shrink)
Hume was a cognitive scientist of religion avant la lettre. His Natural History of Religion (1757 ) locates the origins of religion in human nature. This paper explores similarities between some of his ideas and the cognitive science of religion, the multidisciplinary study of the psychological origins of religious beliefs. It also considers Hume’s distinction between two questions about religion: its foundation in reason (the domain of natural theology and philosophy of religion) and its origin in human nature (the domain (...) of cognitive science of religion). (shrink)
Religious epistemology is the study of how subjects' religious beliefs can have, or fail to have, some form of positive epistemic status and whether they even need such status appropriate to their kind. The current debate is focused most centrally upon the kind of basis upon which a religious believer can be rationally justified in holding certain beliefs about God and whether it is necessary to be so justified to believe as a religious believer ought. Engaging these issues are primarily (...) three groups of people who call themselves ‘fideists’, ‘Reformed epistemologists’, and ‘evidentialists’. Each group has a position, but the positions are not mutually exclusive in every case, and in the debate, the names better describe the groups' emphases than mutually exclusive positions in the debate. In this article, we will first give a brief historical survey of evidentialism, fideism, and reformed epistemology. Second, we will give the fideist's position. Third, we will give the evidentialist's position. Fourth, we will give the reformed epistemologist's position, and last, we will include some comments on the current state of the debate, where we will show that the groups' positions are not mutually exclusive. (shrink)
In this paper I introduce John D. Caputo’s view of the divine and argue against his claim that we can preserve faith in God while dropping the idea of divine revelation. Despite Caputo’s apophatic point of view, he makes two claims with regard to God, or ’the divine’. First, he claims that we all have a divine call for justice and compassion in us. Secondly, he claims that God’s kingdom comes true if we make it happen and that this is (...) something we can hope for. In the first half of this paper I will argue that Caputo does not have to reject the idea of revelation if we understand revelation as involving an interpretation of the experiences with the divine. In the second half, I will claim that Caputo even has to allow for divine revelation if he wants to stick to his positive statements about God. We can only know that a desire is divine if we have criteria to distinguish the divine from the profane or the diabolic. Based on Richard Kearney and John Hick I argue that particular traditions offer such criteria and that they ultimately depend on what is taken to be God’s will. Likewise, to hope that the kingdom of God comes and to act in a way that realizes it presupposes that the agent believes this to be the way God wants him to live—and God’s will must have somehow been disclosed. (shrink)
For over 20 years, Alvin Plantinga has been advocating his Evolutionary Argument against Naturalism, or EAAN. We will argue that this argument functions as an atypical form of global skepticism, and Plantinga’s development of it has repercussions for other types of skepticism. First, we will go over the similarities and differences; for example, the standard ways of avoiding other forms of skepticism, namely by adopting some form of naturalized or externalist epistemology, do not work with the EAAN. Plantinga himself is (...) a naturalized epistemologist, and his skepticism comes from within this perspective. Next, we will look at how Plantinga moved from presenting his skepticism diachronically, as a loop, to presenting it synchronically, as an infinite regress. Finally, we can extend this move from Plantinga’s skepticism to other forms of global skepticism, in so far as these will involve the rejection of our cognitive faculties’ reliability, and formulate them synchronically as well. Global skepticism is often accused of instability, since it leads us to skepticism about all of our beliefs, including belief in the skeptical scenario itself. Yet formulating it as an infinite regress rather than a loop allows the skeptical charge to go forward. (shrink)
This paper argues, first, that biological evolution can be both random and divinely guided at the same time. Next it discusses the idea that the claim that evolution is unguided is not part of the science of evolution, and defends it against a number of objections.
This article considers the traditional Islamic narrative in the light of the theory of religion espoused by John Hick (1922–2012). We see how the Islamic narrative changes on a Hickean understanding of religion, particularly in the light of the ‘bottom-up’ approach and trans-personal conception of the religious ultimate that it espouses. Where the two readings of Islam appear to conflict, I suggest how they can be reconciled. I argue that if Hick’s theory is incompatible with Islamic belief, then this incompatibility (...) does not manifest itself at the level of belief in the narrative. (shrink)
In this chapter, we attempt to show that J.P. Moreland's understanding of apologetics is beautifully positioned to counter resistance to a rationally defensible Christianity—resistance arising from the mistaken idea that any rational defense will fail to support or even undermine relationship. We look first at Paul Moser's complaint that since rational apologetics doesn’t prove the God of Christianity, it falls short of delivering what matters most—a personal agent worthy of worship and relationship. We then consider John Wilkinson's charge that the (...) use of reason and argument in evangelistic contexts is relationally futile. Since people aren’t looking for arguments, and logic is an arbitrary human invention, we should present Christianity to others as an irrational faith story. (shrink)
Evolutionary debunking arguments against religious beliefs move from the claim that religious beliefs are caused by off-track processes to the conclusion that said religious beliefs are unjustified and/or false. Prima facie, EDAs commit the genetic fallacy, unduly conflating the context of discovery and the context of justification. In this paper, we first consider whether EDAs necessarily commit the genetic fallacy, and if not, whether modified EDAs provide successful arguments against theism. Then, we critically evaluate more recent attempts to argue that (...) a more promiscuous evolutionary scepticism renders religious belief unjustified because, unlike commonsense and scientific beliefs, religious beliefs have no way out of such scepticism. (shrink)
There is widespread consensus that there are undercutting and rebutting defeaters that diminish or destroy the warrant of a belief B. I argue that there are counterparts of defeaters: the counterparts of undercutting defeaters are “requirement fulfillment beliefs”, the counterparts of rebutting defeaters are “consistency beliefs”. These beliefs confirm the warrant of B, I therefore call them “confirmers”.
In his warranted christian belief, Alvin Plantinga launches a forceful attack on apophaticism, the view that God is in some sense or other beyond description. This paper explores his attack before searching for a Plantinga-proof formulation of apophaticism.
Almost everyone agrees that many testimonial beliefs constitute knowledge. According to non-reductionists, some testimonial beliefs possess positive epistemic status independent of that conferred by perception, memory, and induction. Recently, Jennifer Lackey has provided a counterexample to a popular version of this view. Here I argue that her counterexample fails.
Faith, broadly construed, is central to the political, social and personal life of any rational agent. I argue for two main claims: first, that a typology of faith based on the fine-grained Indic categories of bhakti, śraddhā, prasāda, abhisaṃpratyaya and abhilāṣa dissolves many of the philosophical problems associated with the nature of faith; second, that this typology of faith has elements that cannot be encompassed in a belief-desire psychology. The upshot is that the structure of the mind is more complicated (...) than belief-desire psychology admits and that understanding the nature of faith has a role to play in charting the structure of the mind. (shrink)
Most streams of Christianity have emphasized the unknowability of God, but they have also asserted that Christ is the criterion through whom we may have limited access to the depths of God, and through whose life and death we can formulate the doctrine of God as Triune. This standpoint, however, leads to certain complications regarding ‘translating’ the Christian message to adherents of other religious traditions, and in particular the question, ‘Why do you accept Christ as the criterion?’, is one that (...) Christian thinkers have attempted to answer in different ways. There are two influential responses to this query in recent Christian thought: an ‘evidentialist’ approach which gradually moves from a theistic metaphysics to a Christ-centred soteriology, and an ‘unapologetic’ standpoint which takes God's self-disclosure in Christ as the perspectival lens through which to view the world. The opposition between these two groups is primarily over the status of ‘natural theology’, that is, whether we may speak of a ‘natural’ reason, which human beings possess even outside the circle of the Christian revelation, and through which they may arrive at some minimalist understanding of the divine reality. I outline the status of ‘natural theology’ in these strands of contemporary Christian thought, from Barthian ‘Christomonism’ to post-liberal theology to Reformed epistemology, and suggest certain problems within these standpoints which indicate the need for an appropriately qualified ‘natural theology’. Most of the criticisms leveled against ‘natural theology’, whether from secular philosophers or from Christian theologians themselves, can be put in two groups: first, the arguments for God's existence are logically flawed, and, second, even if they succeed they do not point to the Triune God that Christians worship. In contrast to such an old-fashioned ‘natural theology’ which allegedly starts from premises self-evidently true for all rational agents and leads through an inexorable logic to God, the qualified version is an attempt to spell out the doctrinal beliefs of Christianity such as the existence of a personal God who interacts with human beings in different ways, and outline the reasons offered in defence of such statements. In other words, without denying that Christian doctrines operate at one level as the grammatical rules which structure the Christian discourse, such a natural theology insists on the importance of the question of whether these utterances are true, in the sense that they refer to an objective reality which is independent of the Christian life-world. Such a ‘natural theology’, as the discussion will emphasize, is not an optional extra but follows in fact from the internal logic of the Christian position on the universality of God's salvific reach. (shrink)
Some philosophers believe that, when epistemic peers disagree, each has an obligation to accord the other’s assessment equal weight as her own. Other philosophers worry that this Equal-Weight View is vulnerable to straightforward counterexamples, and that it requires an unacceptable degree of spinelessness with respect to our most treasured philosophical, political, and religious beliefs. I think that both of these allegations are false. To show this, I carefully state the Equal-Weight View, motivate it, describe apparent counterexamples to it, and then (...) explain away the apparent counterexamples. Finally, I adapt those explanations to cases of religious disagreement. In the end, we reach the surprising conclusion that—even if the Equal-Weight View is true—in very many cases of religious disagreement between apparent epistemic peers, the parties to the disagreement need not be conciliatory. And what goes for religious beliefs goes for political and philosophical beliefs as well. This strongly suggests that the View does not demand an unacceptable degree of spinelessness. (shrink)
Criteria of historical assessment are applied to the Turin Shroud to determine which hypothesis relating to the image formation process is the most likely. To implement this, a ‘Minimal Facts’ approach is followed that takes into account only physicochemical and historical data receiving the widest consensus among contemporary scientists. The result indicates that the probability of the Shroud of Turin being the real shroud of Jesus of Nazareth is very high; historians and natural theologians should therefore pay it increased attention.
Alvin Plantinga's evolutionary argument against naturalism makes the case that the conjunction of evolutionary theory and naturalism cannot be rationally believed, as, if both evolutionary theory and naturalism were true, it would be highly unlikely that our cognitive faculties are reliable. I present Plantinga's evolutionary argument against naturalism and survey a theory of meaning espoused by Robert Brandom, known as semantic inferentialism. I argue that if one accepts semantic inferentialism, as it is developed by Brandom, then Plantinga's motivation for the (...) evolutionary argument against naturalism is undermined. (shrink)
Despite their divergent metaphysical assumptions, Reformed and evolutionary epistemologists have converged on the notion of proper basicality. Where Reformed epistemologists appeal to God, who has designed the mind in such a way that it successfully aims at the truth, evolutionary epistemologists appeal to natural selection as a mechanism that favors truth-preserving cognitive capacities. This paper investigates whether Reformed and evolutionary epistemological accounts of theistic belief are compatible. We will argue that their chief incompatibility lies in the noetic effects of sin (...) and what may be termed the noetic effects of evolution, systematic tendencies wherein human cognitive faculties go awry. We propose a reconceptualization of the noetic effects of sin to mitigate this tension. (shrink)
A proof is offered that aims to show that there can be no knowledge of God, excluding knowledge based on natural theology, without divine self-testimony. Both special and general revelation, if they occur, would be forms of divine self-testimony. It is argued that this indicates that the best way to model such knowledge of God is on the basis of an analogy with knowledge gained through testimony, rather than perceptual models of knowledge, such as the prominent model defended by Plantinga. (...) Appropriate causal chains and reliable cognitive processes only seem at best to ensure that a belief proposed for acceptance is the belief the testifier wants accepted; they do not ensure that it is rational to accept the belief. This particularly applies where there is much at stake, where it seems rational to seek some form of evidence, if available. Some brief comments are made on Trinitarian self-testimony. Another model of the ‘inner witness’ is briefly sketched out, based on the analogy with conscience. This model may capture some of the features of Plantinga’s approach, but leaves room for a free rejection of divine self-testimony, in a way that the perceptual analogy does not. A point connected to Plantinga’s aims is then made about the link between evidence, value and divine self-testimony, in relation to religious experience. Finally, it is suggested that the earlier proof may apply in a particular sense to all knowledge of God, including that based on natural theology. (shrink)
Locke's reputation as a sceptic regarding testimony, and the resultant mockery by epistemologists with social inclinations, is well known. In particular Michael Welbourne, in his article ‘The Community of Knowledge’ (1981), depicts Lockean epistemology as fundamentally opposed to a social conception of knowledge, claiming that he ‘could not even conceive of the possibility of a community of knowledge’. This interpretation of Locke is flawed. Whilst Locke does not grant the honorific ‘knowledge’ to anything short of certainty, he nonetheless held what (...) we would call ‘testimonial knowledge’ in appropriate esteem. This can be shown by his careful distinction between testimony and mere received opinion. Furthermore, this distinction is dependent upon a knowledge community which enables hearers of testimony to access alternative accounts. In view of this, we can consider Locke's Conduct of the Understanding in a new light. Dedicated to the autodidact adult, The Conduct directs the learner to reason clearly and well. One goal is to render adult students capable of assessing testimony. The advice given is social in nature. The student must not limit his study to ‘one sort of men or one sort of books’. Otherwise, he faces the sort of cognitive isolation which would render him a mere receiver of opinion. The picture of Locke that emerges is not that of a dyed-in-the-wool sceptic regarding testimonial knowledge, but of a philosopher who formed an embryonic social epistemology embedded within a programme of adult education. (shrink)
This article addresses the question of whether God's existence would be obvious to everyone if God performed more miracles. I conclude that it would not be so. I look at cases where people have been confronted with what they believe to be miracles and have either not come to believe in God, or have come to intellectual belief in God but declined to follow him. God's existence could be made undeniable not by spectacular signs, but only by God impressing his (...) existence upon us in a direct, non-propositional way. (shrink)
In disagreements about trivial matters, it often seems appropriate for disputing parties to adopt a ‘middle ground’ view about the disputed matter. But in disputes about more substantial controversies (e.g. in ethics, religion, or politics) this sort of doxastic conduct can seem viciously acquiescent. How should we distinguish between the two kinds of cases, and thereby account for our divergent intuitions about how we ought to respond to them? One possibility is to say that ceding ground in a trivial dispute (...) is appropriate because the disputing parties are usually epistemic peers within the relevant domain, whereas in a more substantial disagreement the disputing parties rarely, if ever, qualify as epistemic peers, and so ‘sticking to one’s guns’ is usually the appropriate doxastic response. My aim in this paper is to explain why this way of drawing the desired distinction is ultimately problematic, even if it seems promising at first blush. (shrink)
The place and significance of religious community is a central concern in recent continental philosophy of religion. Although Kierkegaard is a significant influence for many recent continental philosophers of religion, recent work on his social thought is largely ignored. I begin the paper by describing how recent continental philosophers of religion, in particular John Caputo, John Milbank, and Jürgen Habermas, have used Kierkegaard in order to address social questions. Then I show how recent work on Kierkegaard’s social thought – namely, (...) his social ontology and his account of community – that can enrich discussion in recent continental philosophy of religion about the nature of religious community. (shrink)
In his recently published Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, & Naturalism 2011 Alvin Plantinga criticises Paul Draper’s evolutionary argument against theism as part of a larger project to show that evolution poses no threat to Christian belief. Plantinga focuses upon Draper’s probabilistic claim that the facts of evolution are much more probable on naturalism than on theism, and with regard to that claim makes two specific points. First, Draper’s probabilistic claim contradicts theism’s necessary falsehood; unless Draper wishes to (...) acknowledge that theism is necessarily true, his claim commits him to theism’s contingency and so sets him at odds with a mainstream that sees God’s existence as decidedly noncontingent. Second, Plantinga argues that Draper’s probabilistic claim is, even if true, overwhelmed by counterclaims about facts that are more likely on theism than naturalism. I argue this critique of Draper depends upon a serious error, and that Plantinga overlooks the full implications of his own presuppositions. Correcting these shortcomings shows that Plantinga’s own probabilistic-apologetics (e.g., the ‘Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism’) requires theism’s contingency no less than does Draper’s atheology. (shrink)
Divine revelation is a topical subject, given the many claims to revelation in the modern world. This article looks at recent discussion within the analytic tradition of philosophy which particularly relates to how to evaluate claims about divine revelation. The subjects covered are: defining divine revelation; direct cognition of God; evidence‐based approaches; divine testimony; conversion and faith; competing claims about divine revelation. Brief comments are then made on some related areas.
Ernest Sosa's virtue perspectivism can be thought of as an attempt to capture as much as possible of the Cartesian project in epistemology while remaining within the framework of externalist fallibilism. I argue (a) that Descartes's project was motivated by a desire for intellectual stability and (b) that his project does not suffer from epistemic circularity. By contrast, Sosa's epistemology does entail epistemic circularity and, for this reason, proves unable to secure the sort of intellectual stability Descartes wanted. I then (...) argue that this leaves Sosa's epistemology vulnerable to an important kind of skepticism. (shrink)
The essay is framed by conflict between Christianity and Darwinian science over the history of the world and the nature of human personhood. Evolutionary science narrates a long prehuman geological and biological history filled with vast amounts, kinds, and distributions of apparently random brutal and pointless suffering. It also strongly suggests that the first modern humans were morally primitive. This science seems to discredit Christianity's common meta-narrative of the Fall, understood as a story of Paradise Lost. The author contends that (...) this Augustinian story and its character of Adam as endowed with superhuman gifts, and yet as so fragile as to fall, as claimed, is implausible, at any rate, even apart from science. He proposes that Christians consider adopting a Supralapsarian metaphysics of divine purpose supported by the intuitions of Irenaeus, who depicted the first human beings as comparable to innocent, but morally undeveloped children. In this approach the existence of evils is part of the divine plan to "defeat" them in and through the Incarnation, Atonement, and Resurrection of Christ. Putting an "Irenaean Adam" in place of the "Augustinian" counterpart may not remove conflict with science completely, but at least reduces it, and leads to a Christian narrative that is more plausible, in the light of science. (shrink)
Interpretations of human nature driven by scientific analyses of the origin and development of the human species often assume metaphysical naturalism. This generates restrictive and distortive accounts of key facets of human life and ethics. It fails to make sense of human altruism, and it operates within a wider philosophical framework that lacks explanatory power. The accounts of theistic evolution that seek to redress this, however, too easily fail to take sufficient account of the unique contribution of interpretations from a (...) specifically Christian epistemic base. The latter involve a Christological and, hence, eschatological approach which is intrinsic to the interpretation of human nature in light of the purpose and intentionality of the Creator. Phenomenological approaches to the nature of humanity lack the categories to distinguish between human nature as the object of divine intentionality and its present dysfunctional and, ultimately, subhuman state. (shrink)
It is generally believed that moral reductionism is immune from notorious problems in moral metaphysics and epistemology, such as the problem of moral explanation – it is at least on this dimension that moral reductionism scores better than moral anti- reductionism. However, in this article I reject this popular view. First, I argue that moral reductionism fails to help vindicate the explanatory efficacy of moral properties because the reductionist solution is either circular or otiose. Second, I attempt to show that (...) a successful vindication, if any, of moral explanation requires moral-descriptive irreducibility. My discussion thus raises an explanatory challenge to moral reductionism. (shrink)
It is widely agreed that the ‘Logical’ Argument from Evil (LAFE) is bankrupt. We aim to rehabilitate the LAFE, in the form of what we call the Normatively Relativised Logical Argument from Evil (NRLAFE). There are many different versions of a NRLAFE. We aim to show that one version, what we call the ‘right relationship’ NRLAFE, poses a significant threat to personal-omniGod-theism—understood as requiring the belief that there is an omnipotent, omniscient, perfectly good person who has created our world—because it (...) appeals to value commitments theists themselves are likely to endorse. The ultimate success of this NRLAFE will rest on developing a theological ethics of right relationship that rejects as morally flawed the exercise of omnipotence first to sustain horrors and then to redeem them. Yet a vindicated NRLAFE of this sort need not require atheism, but only rejection of the standard conception of God as a personal omniGod. (shrink)
History and the modern sciences are characterized by what is sometimes called a methodological naturalism that disregards talk of divine agency. Some religious thinkers argue that this reflects a dogmatic materialism: a non-negotiable and a priori commitment to a materialist metaphysics. In response to this charge, I make a sharp distinction between procedural requirements and metaphysical commitments. The procedural requirement of history and the sciences—that proposed explanations appeal to publicly-accessible bodies of evidence—is non-negotiable, but has no metaphysical implications. The metaphysical (...) commitment is naturalistic, but is both a posteriori and provisional, arising from the fact that for more than 400 years no proposed theistic explanation has been shown capable of meeting the procedural requirement. I argue that there is nothing to prevent religious thinkers from seeking to overturn this metaphysically naturalistic stance. But in order to do so they would need to show that their proposed theistic explanations are the best available explanations of a range of phenomena. Until this has been done, the metaphysical naturalism of history and the sciences remains defensible. (shrink)
Like David Silver before them, Erik Baldwin and Michael Thune argue that the facts of religious pluralism present an insurmountable challenge to the rationality of basic exclusive religious belief as construed by Reformed Epistemology.I will show that their argument is unsuccessful. First, their claim that the facts of religious pluralism make it necessary for the religious exclusivist to support her exclusive beliefs with significant reasons is one that the reformed epistemologist has the resources to reject. Secondly, they fail to demonstrate (...) that it is impossible for basic religious beliefs to return to their properly basic state after defeaters against them have been defeated. Finally, I consider whether there is perhaps a similar but better argument in the neighbourhood and conclude in the negative. Reformed Epistemology's defence of exclusivism thus remains undefeated. (shrink)
This paper sketches an evidential atheological argument that can be answered only if one of the central tenets of some theistic traditions is rejected, namely, that (propositional) belief in God is a necessary condition for salvation. The basic structure of the argument is as follows. Under theism, God is essentially omniscient, but no one can be both omniscient and irrational. So, if there is reason to hold that God is irrational, then it would follow that God doesn’t exist. And there (...) is reason to hold that God is irrational. To wit, God both hides and, according to some theistic traditions, requires belief. But it is irrational for God both to hide and require belief; therefore, God is irrational. Since a crucial – and controversial – premise in the argument is that it is irrational for God to both hide and require belief, a large part of the paper is devoted to defending that premise. (shrink)
This paper argues that Pascal's formulation of his famous wager argument licenses an inference about God's nature that ultimately vitiates the claim that wagering for God is in one's rational self-interest. In particular, it is argued that if we accept Pascal's premises, then we can infer that the god for whom Pascal encourages us to wager is irrational. But if God is irrational, then the prudentially rational course of action is to refrain from wagering for him.