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)
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 ...
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)
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.
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.
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)
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)
David Basinger has defended his position on the epistemology of religious diversity against a critique I wrote of it in this journal. Basinger endorses the principle that in the face of pervasive epistemic peer conflict a person has a prima facie duty to try to adjudicate the conflict. He defends this position against my claim that religious belief can be non-culpably “rock bottom” and thus escape “Basinger’s Rule.” Here I show why Basinger’s defense against my critique is not satisfactory, and (...) I argue against accepting Basinger’s Rule. (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)
Abraham! Abraham! is an adventure in contemporary theology addressing the akedah (the binding or sacrifice of Isaac) inspired by Kierkegaard and by the Hasidim, especially Rabbi Nachman of Breslav and Rabbi Mordecai Joseph Leiner of Izbica. Gellman presents his version of Kierkegaard and compares and contrasts this with Hasidic thinkers. He then proceeds to employ Kierkegaardian and Hasidic themes to develop a contemporary reading of the story, and, in contrast, presents an understanding of the akedah from Sarah's point of view. (...) Appealing to a wide range of readers interested in existentialism, Hasidism, Christian thought, and feminist thought, Jerome Gellman illustrates the richness in Kierkegaard and Hasidic writings on the akedah. (shrink)
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)
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 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.
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.
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.
If an alleged experience of God can constitute evidence for God’s existence, then it must be possible for God to be a perceptual particular, that is, a substantive, enduring object of perception. Furthermore, if several such experiences are to be cumulative evidence for God’s existence, then it must be possible to reidentify God from experience to experience. I examine both a "conceptual" and an "epistemological" argument against these possibilities that is derived from the work of Richard Gale. I argue that (...) neither of these arguments is successful. For God to be a perceptual particular, he must have an inner life; for God to be reidentified across experiences, he need not exist in dimensions analogous to the spatiotemporal. (shrink)
This book is an investigation into authenticity, certainty, and self-hood as they arise in the story of the binding of Isaac. Gellman provides a new interpretation of Kierkegaard with select Hasidic commentary. Contents: INTRODUCTION: Background to the Book; Hasidism and Existentialism; Preview of the Chapters; THE FEAR AND THE TREMBLING: Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling; The Problem of Hearing and the Problem of Choice; The 'Ethical' for Kierkegaard; The 'Voice of God' for Kierkegaard; The Resolution of the Problems; THE UNCERTAINTY: Mordecai (...) Joseph Leiner of Izbica; Maimonides, Saadia, and Gersonides; The Existentialist Interpretation; The Theological Interpretation; SINNING FOR GOD: The Teleological Suspension of the Ethical; Averah Lishmah-Mordecai Joseph Leiner of Izbica and Zadok Hakohen of Lublin; Divine Determinism; Repentance from Fear and from Love; Averah Lishmah and the Teleological Suspension of the Ethical; THE DOUBLE-MINDEDNESS: Abraham's Prophetic Utterance; Heavy and Light Double Mindedness; The Fire-Elimelech of Lyzhansk; Judah Aryeh Leib of Gur; Abraham's Double-Mindedness; THE PASSION: Abraham Issac Kook; Hegel and Kierkegaard on Religion and Philosophy; Abraham and Idolatry; The Akedah According to Rav Kook; God's Mercy; Rav Kook and Kierkegaard on the Self; Index. (shrink)
Throughout the ages one of the central topics in philosophy of religion has been the rationality of theistic belief. This book proposes that parties on both sides of this debate might shift their attention in a different direction, by focusing on the question of whether it is rational to be a religious theist. Explaining that having theistic beliefs is primarily a cognitive affair but being a religious theist involves a whole way of life that includes one's beliefs, Golding argues that (...) it can be pragmatically rational to be a religious theist even if the evidence for God's existence is minimal. The argument is applied to the case of Judaism, articulating what is involved in religious Judaism and arguing that it is rationally defensible to be a religious Jew. The book concludes with a discussion of whether a similar argument might be constructed for other versions of religious theism such as Christianity or Islam, and for non-theistic religions such as Taoism or Buddhism. Joshua Golding offers a carefully wrought explanation of how it can be rational for someone to live a religious life, in particular, a traditional Jewish life. (shrink)
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.
My paper addresses the possibility of Jews and Christians becoming theologically closer than in the past, given Ward’s Trinity. I address the question of whether Ward’s version of the Trinity necessarily clashes with Jewish tradition. I contend that it does not so clash, especially because for Ward Jesus is only a contingent instantiation of the Word. A Jew could accept the purely logical implications of the Wardian Trinity. I then present a new Jewish theology of Jesus, one that is sympathetic (...) to Jesus, but which denies his divinity. The result is a moving closer of Jewish and Christian theology. (shrink)
In what follows I wish to make a contribution to the clarification of the logic of the name ‘God’. 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 ‘God’, in light of the way that name functions in religious discourse.