A religious tradition’s rational kernel interprets the basic human situation and its attendant religious problem, and proffers a solution. Religious faith involves accepting, and living in accord with, a kernel’s teachings. If the kernel is monotheistic, faith includes trust in God; if a kernel is Christian, it also involves trust in Christ. In addition, faith presupposes a certain epistemological ambiguity. There must be some evidence that the kernel is false, or at least what is such evidence unless one accepts a (...) theory that is based only on the kernel itself. (shrink)
I argue here (in Part II) for mind-body dualism --- a dualism of substances, not merely of properties. I also investigate (in Part Ill) dualism’s relevance to the question of whether one can survive the death of one’s body. Naturally the argument occurs in a philosophical context, and (in Part I) I begin by making that context explicit.
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:94. HUME'S EXPLANATION OF RELIGIOUS BELIEF1 In The Natural History of Religion, David Hume offers a not unsophisticated account of the fact that persons hold religious beliefs. In so doing, he produces an explanatory system analogous to that which occurs concerning causal belief, belief in 'external objects', and belief in an enduring self in the Treatise ¦ The explanation of the occurrence of religious belief is more detailed than (...) the explanation provided in the other cases just mentioned. In the Natural History, Hume devotes a short volume to explaining religious belief, while in the Treatise the causal, external object, and enduring self beliefs merit 2 but long sections. More important, however, than length of treatment is the fact that the pattern of explanation is identical in each instance. The Natural History could be embedded without categorial clash into the Treatise, perhaps as Book Four with"fifteen sections, and each formerly separate volume would shed light on the program and tactics of the other. My interest here is in the epistemic features of the explanatory system Hume developed in the Natural History. Hume forthrightly proclaims that The Natural History Of Religion is in fact an attempt to explain the occurrence of religious belief. He writes: What those principles are, which give rise to the original belief, and what those accidents and causes are, which direct its operation, is the subject of our present enquiry.4 (NHR21) Original belief here does duty for "original religious belief", and as he takes religious belief to be nearly but not altogether universal in scope and astonishingly diverse in object, he supposes the principle, or cause, of such belief to be secondary in the sense that its operation is (so to say) defeasible and its product diversified. Hume's powerful critique of the argument from design in Sections II 95. through VIII of the Dialogues is not the only reason for doubting that his occasional kind remarks concerning it should be taken as indicating that he supposed it sound and valid. The very fact that Hume wrote a book intended to explain the occurrence of religious belief by identifying as its cause a built-in principle and its eliciting stimuli should give us pause about Hume's apparent acceptance of something like the argument from design. For while in the Natural History he says that: The whole frame of nature bespeaks an intelligent author; and no ¦ rational enquirer can, after serious reflection, suspend his belief a moment with regard to the primary principles of genuine Theism and Religion. (NHR21) He speaks, not of a conclusion having been proved true, but of a belief having been rendered unsuspendable. Further, neither we nor Hume will ordinarily offer a causal account of the fact that a person has a belief unless there is doubt that the person has sufficient reason for holding it. He does not, for example, offer any such explanation of our acceptance of sincere present-tense first person psychological reports, concerning the truth (indeed, the incorrigibility ) of which he in the Treatise confidently affirms : For since all actions and sensations of the mind are known to us by consciousness, they must necessarily appear in every particular what they are, and be what they appear. Every thing that enters the mind, being in rea lity perception, 'tis impossible any thing should to feeling appear different. This were to suppose that even where we are most intimately conscious, we might be mistaken. (T190) Or, even more modestly, and without assuming a causal-account and a sufficient-reason-account of a belief to be competing (or even necessarily different) explanations, we may note that Hume proposes to explain the occurrence of religious belief by reference to principle and eliciting stimuli without making reference to reasons or arguments as items possessing epistemic function or 96. evidential force, but only as items capable of triggering a built-in response. That this is_ his tactic I have argued rather fully on another occasion; here I will focus only on the general pattern of Hume's explanation of religious belief. Hume endeavors to explain religious belief without supposing it (in any of its forms) to be true as well as without supposing it... (shrink)