Within Jean Paul Sartre’s atheistic program, he objected to Christian mysticism as a delusory desire for substantive being. I suggest that a Christian mystic might reply to Sartre’s attack by claiming that Sartre indeed grasps something right about the human condition but falls short of fully understanding what he grasps. Then I argue that the true basis of Sartre’s atheism is neither philosophical nor existentialist, but rather mystical. Sartre had an early mystical atheistic intuition that later developed into atheistic mystical (...) experience. Sartre experienced the nonexistence of God. (shrink)
Philosophers have given much attention to belief and knowledge. Here I introduce an epistemic category close to but different from belief, that I call ‘ersatz’belief. Recognition of this category refines our catalogue of epistemic attitudes in an important way.
In this paper I defend the possibility that a ‘contented religious exclusivist’, will be fully rational and not neglectful of any of her epistemic duties when faced with the world’s religious diversity. I present an epistemic strategy for reflecting on one's beliefs and then present two features of religious belief that make contented exclusivism a rational possibility. I then argue against the positions of John Hick, David Basinger, and Steven Wykstra on contented exclusivism, and criticize an overly optimistic conception of (...) rationality. Finally, I describe a contented exclusivist who might very well not be fully rational in the face of religious diversity. (shrink)
Recently, "Religious Studies" published an article by Richard Gale and Alexander Pruss, arguing that there exists a necessary being who is a creator of the world. Building on their argument, I argue that, assuming that there is exactly one creator, that creator is essentially omnipotent.
This chapter discusses wide and narrow definitions of “mystical experience” and of “religious experience”; categories and attributes of mystical experience; perennialism vs. constructivism; on the possibility of experiencing God; epistemology: The doxastic practice approach and the argument from perception; criticisms of the doxastic practice approach and the argument from perception; religious diversity; naturalistic explanations; and mysticism, religious experience, and gender.
In what follows I offer an explanation for the evils in our world that should be a live option for theists who accept middle knowledge. My explanation depends on the possibility of a multiverse of radically different kinds of universes. Persons must pass through various universes, the sequence being chosen by God on an individual basis, until reaching God’s goal for them. Our universe is depicted as governed much by chance, and I give a justification, in light of my thesis, (...) for why God would have people pass through a universe of just such a sort. (shrink)
I urge philosophers of religion to investigate far more vigorously than they have until now the acceptability of varied components of the world religions and their epistemological underpinnings. By evaluating "acceptability" I mean evaluation of truth, morality, spiritual efficacy and human flourishing, in fact, any value religious devotees might think significant to their religious lives. Secondly, I urge that philosophers of religion give more attention to what scholars have called the "esoteric" level of world religions, including components of strong ineffability, (...) weak ineffability, and an alleged perennial philosophy. All this should involve a cooperative effort between analytic, comparative, and feminist philosophy of religion. (shrink)
This paper replies to Evan Fales' sociological explanation of mystical experience in two articles in "Religious Studies" vol. 32 (143-63 and 297-313). In these papers Fales applies the ideas of I. M. Lewis on spirit possession to show how mystical experiences can be accounted for as vehicles for the acquisition of political power and social control. The rebuttal of Fales contains three main elements: (a) the presentation of specific examples of theistic mystical experience from Christianity and Judaism which provide counter-examples (...) to Fales' theory; (b) the presentation of some general objections to its plausibility; and (c) an argument for the conclusion that the burden of proof lies with naturalistic, reductionist explanations of religious experiences rather than with theistic interpretations of those experiences. (shrink)
There exists a diversity of "evidence-free" religions, contradicting one an- other. There will be an epistemic problem for a religious devotee either because evidence-free belief is in general not epistemically justified in the face of diversity, or because of a special problem in the religious case. I argue that in general evidence-free belief is epistemically justified in the face of diversity. Then I argue that recent arguments of Wykstra and Basinger fail to show that there is a special problem in (...) the religious case. Finally, I give reasons why religious belief is epistemically justified in the face of diversity. (shrink)
In August of 1989, as an eighteen-year-old atheist spending his last night at home before setting off cross-country for college, I had the one and only mystical experience of my life to date. Rather than grapple with expressing the content of that experience, let me quote from part of the record Blaise Pascal made of his own mystical experience, one that seems to have been similar in many respects to my own.
I examine the two main arguments that Richard Dawkins offers in The God Delusion to convince believers that God does not exist. Dawkins’ arguments, as stated, are not successful. Neither do sympathetic extensive reformulations have what it takes to require a believer to admit that God probably does not exist. I further argue against Dawkins’ assuming that belief in God, if legitimate, can be only a scientific hypothesis.
Chris Tweedt has offered a solution to the “common sense problem of evil,” on which that there is gratuitous evil is justified non-inferentially as a trivial inference from non-inferentially justified premises by invoking versions of CORNEA. Tweedt claims his solution applies not only to the versions of the common sense problem of evil offered by Paul Draper and Trent Dougherty, but also to that offered by me in this journal in 1992. Here I argue that Tweedt fails to defeat this (...) version of the problem. So even if Tweedt’s response to Draper and Dougherty is successful, a version of the common sense problem of evil survives. (shrink)
Introduction i This work is a sustained argument for the rationality of belief in God based on the evidence that across various religions down through history people seem to have experienced God.1 If we conf1ne ourselves to rationality ...
In her important work, Hasidism as Mysticism: Quietistic Elements in Eighteenth Century Hasidic Thought, the late Rivkah Schatz-Uffenheimer depicted early eighteenth-century Hasidism as a movement with pronounced ‘quietist tendencies’. In this paper I raise several difficulties with this thesis. These follow from social-activist features of early Hasidism as well as from a selection from the writings of leading early Hasidic masters. I conclude that a major stream of thought in early Hasidim was not quietist in tendency. Finally, I compare the (...) intentions of the masters I cite to some non-quietist themes in Eastern mystical thought. (Published Online July 10 2006). (shrink)
I argue that reliabilist warrant should not require that a true belief have been produced in accordance with a design plan. At least sometimes, it seems sufficient that there be an intent for the faculty to have the reliable outcomes it in fact has. This pertains to the notion of warrant of Alvin Plantinga.
In this paper I argue that Richard Swinburne fails to adequately support his Principle of Credulity in favor of the validity of alleged experiences of God. I then formulate an alternative, analogical argument for the validity of alleged experiences of God from the validity of sense-perceptual experiences, and defend it against objections of Gale and Fales. But then I argue against trying to establish the validity of alleged experiences of God by analogy.
In ‘The Will to Believe’, the religious hypothesis for William James says, first, ‘that the best things are the more eternal things’, and second, ‘that we are better off now if we believe her first affirmation to be true’ He later qualifies the first affirmation: ‘The more perfect and more eternal aspect of the universe is represented in our religions as having personal form’.
In what follows I wish to make a contribution to the clarification of the logic of the name . I will do so in two stages. In the first stage I will be investigating the meaning of names in general, and how names refer. In the second stage I will attempt to apply the findings of the first stage to the name , in light of the way that name functions in religious discourse.
MAIMONIDES the great systematizer of Jewish Law, left no systematic philosophy for later generations. His philosophical legacy consists mainly of his Guide of the Perplexed and a few lesser philosophical tracts. The Guide is notoriously informal and unsystematic, moving from topic to topic in a manner that appears at times to have no inner logic. The lesser tracts yield only fragments of a whole. In addition, for whatever reasons, Maimonides felt obliged to conceal at least some of his true philosophical (...) positions, displaying to the untrained eye one position, while hinting to the more discerning reader a "true" position lying behind the official one. There is nothing in Maimonides' writings that even begins to approach the monumental architectonic of Aquinas' Summa Theologiae. (shrink)