If epistemology is roughly the study of knowledge, justification, warrant, and rationality, then religious epistemology is the study of how these epistemic concepts relate to religious belief and practice. This Element, while surveying various religious epistemologies, argues specifically for Plantingian religious epistemology. It makes the case for proper functionalism and Plantinga's AC models, while it also responds to debunking arguments informed by cognitive science of religion. It serves as a bridge between religious epistemology and natural theology.
Baldwin and McNabb explore how non-Christian religious traditions can utilize Plantinga’s epistemology. This book pays particular attention to the question, if there are believers from differing religious traditions that can rightfully utilize his epistemology, does this somehow prevent a Plantingian’s creedal-specific belief from being warranted?
C-Inductive arguments are arguments that increase the probability of a hypothesis. This can be contrasted with what is called a P-Inductive argument. A P-inductive argument is an argument that shows the overall probability of a hypothesis to be more probable than not. In this paper, we put forth a C-inductive argument for the truth of the Catholic hypothesis (CH). Roughly, we take CH to be the hypothesis that the core creedal beliefs found within the Catholic Tradition are true. Specifically, we (...) argue that we would expect the Miracle of Fátima on CH, but, we wouldn’t expect it as much on ~CH. In order to establish this thesis, we first discuss the basics of confirmation theory. Second, we give the historical context of the Miracle of Fátima. Third, we briefly survey and then reject two possible non-supernatural explanations of the apparent miracle. Doing this will help make plausible that the Miracle of Fátima is actual evidence that a hypothesis needs to predict. Fourth, we give the details as to why we should expect the Miracle of Fátima more on CH than ~CH. Finally, we argue that miracles that occur in Protestant contexts, generally don’t carry the same evidential weight for a Protestant hypothesis as the Miracle of Fátima carries for CH. (shrink)
We aim to further develop and evaluate the prospects of a uniquely Islamic extension of the Standard Aquinas/Calvin model. One obstacle is that certain Qur’an passages such as Surah 8:43–44 apparently suggest that Muslims have reason to think that Allah might be deceiving them. Consistent with perfect/maximally good being theology, Allah would allow such deceptions only if doing so leads to a greater good, so such passages do not necessarily give Muslims reason to doubt Allah’s goodness. Yet the possibility of (...) deception of the faithful threatens to provide a subjective defeater for the (epistemic) reliability of their cognitive faculties. (‘Even if Allah can be morally good while deceiving, how do you know you aren’t being deceived for a greater good on a more macro level, such as about the nature of the Qur’an?’) Similar in structure to Alvin Plantinga’s Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN), this defeater threatens to undermine all of a Muslims warrant claims. We consider and evaluate the reply that there are other Qur’anic passages and/or additional conceptual resources in the Islamic tradition that provide grounds for thinking that God’s faithfulness or truthfulness is more centrally and securely embedded in a Muslim’s noetic structure than such doubts. Specifically, we will argue that under certain conditions, there exists a subjective defeater for some Muslims that, unlike McNabb’s approach, isn’t based off of the proper function condition but Plantinga’s truth aimed condition. (shrink)
In The Problem of Political Authority, Michael Huemer argues that the contractarian and consequentialist groundings of political authority are unsuccessful, and, in fact, that there are no adequate contemporary accounts of political authority. As such, the modern state is illegitimate and we have reasons to affirm political anarchism. We disagree with Huemer’s conclusion. But we consider Huemer’s critiques of contractarianism and consequentialism to be compelling. Here we will juxtapose, alongside Huemer’s critiques, a theistic account of political authority from Nicholas Wolterstorff’s (...) book The Mighty and the Almighty. We think that Wolterstorff’s model does better than contractarianism and consequentialism at answering Huemer’s critiques. We also think that an abductive basis for God’s existence emerges from the inadequate authority accounts that Huemer surveys. (shrink)
Would the existence of extraterrestrial intelligent life conflict in any way with Christian belief? We identify six areas of potential conflict. If there be no conflict in any of these areas—and we argue ultimately there is not—we are confident in declaring that there is no conflict, period. This conclusion underwrites the integrity of theological explorations into the existence of ETI, which has become a topic of increasing interest among theologians in recent years.
Launonen and Mullins argue that if Classical Theism is true, human cognition is likely not theism-tracking, at least, given what we know from cognitive science of religion. In this essay, we develop a model for how classical theists can make sense of the findings from cognitive science, without abandoning their Classical Theist commitments. We also provide an argument for how our model aligns well with the Christian doctrine of general revelation.
Alvin Plantinga over the decades has developed a particular theory of warrant that would allow certain beliefs to be warranted, even if one lacked propositional arguments or evidence for them. One such belief that Plantinga focuses on is belief in God. There have been, however, numerous objections both to Plantinga's theory of warrant and to the religious application that he makes of it. In this article I address an objection from both of these categories. I first tackle an objection that (...) attempts to show that proper function isn't a necessary condition for warrant. After tackling this, I move on to interact with the Pandora's Box Objection. This objection argues that Plantinga's epistemology is weakened by the fact that all sorts of serious religious beliefs could be warranted by using his system. (shrink)
In this essay, we put forth a novel solution to Plantinga’s Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism, utilizing recent work done by Duncan Pritchard on radical skepticism. Key to the success of Plantinga’s argument is the doubting of the reliability of one’s cognitive faculties. We argue that the reliability of one’s cognitive faculties constitutes a hinge commitment, thus is exempt from rational evaluation. In turn, the naturalist who endorses hinge epistemology can deny the key premise in Plantinga’s argument and avoid the dilemma (...) posed on belief in the conjunction of naturalism and evolution. (shrink)
A family of objections to theism aims to show that certain key theological doctrines, when held in conjunction, are incompatible. The longstanding problem of divine foreknowledge and human freedom represents one such objection. In this essay, we provide the theist an epistemic approach to the problem that allows for the rational affirmation of both divine foreknowledge and human freedom despite their prima facie incompatibility. Specifically, we apply James Anderson’s Rational Affirmation of Paradox Theology model to the problem, arguing that the (...) theist can stave off defeat that arises from a belief in the conjunction of both doctrines by appealing to paradox. In order to establish this thesis, we first define key terms as well as lay out the theological fatalist argument. Next, we explicate Anderson’s model and apply it to the foreknowledge and freedom problem. We conclude by addressing the objection that an appeal to paradox is simply special pleading for the theist, arguing that the naturalist can be found in a similar epistemic position. (shrink)
Furthering our project of applying Plantinga’s epistemology to different world religions, we do a comparative study of Mormonism and Vaiśeṣika Hinduism and analyze whether they can utilize Plantinga’s epistemology in order to claim that their beliefs about God if true are probably warranted. Specifically, we argue that they cannot, as ultimately they are unable to account for the preconditions needed to make for an intelligible cognitive design plan, due to either affirming an infinite regress when it comes to the designers (...) of our cognitive faculties or affirming an infinite number of cosmological cycles in which our faculties are formed. (shrink)
In this essay, we engage with Graham Oppy’s work on Thomas Aquinas’s First Way. We argue that Oppy’s objections shouldn’t be seen as successful. In order to establish this thesis, we first analyze Oppy’s exegesis of Aquinas’s First Way, as well as the counter‐arguments he puts forth (including the charge that Aquinas’s argument is invalid or, if deemed valid, forces one to adopt determinism). Next, we address Oppy’s handling of the contemporary scholarship covering the First Way. Specifically, we lay out (...) Edward Feser’s most recent formulation of the argument and analyze Oppy’s main objection to it. (shrink)
In this essay, we respond to Dustin Crummett’s argument that one cannot consistently appeal to body count reasoning to justify being a single-issue pro-life voter if one is also committed to the usual response to the embryo rescue case. Specifically, we argue that a modified version of BCR we call BCR* is consistent with the usual response. We then move to address concerns about the relevance of BCR* to Crummett’s original thesis.
William Lane Craig has defended the following two contentions: If theism is true, we have a sound foundation for morality, and, If theism is false, we do not have a sound foundation for morality. Erik Wielenberg rejects. Specifically, Wielenberg argues that naturalists have resources to make sense of objective moral values, moral duties, and moral knowledge. In response to Wielenberg, I defend Craig’s second contention by arguing that Wielenberg’s theory fails to robustly capture our moral phenomenology as well as make (...) intelligible robust moral knowledge. (shrink)
William Lane Craig has defended the following two contentions: (1) If theism is true, we have a sound foundation for morality, and, (2) If theism is false, we do not have a sound foundation for morality. Erik Wielenberg rejects (2). Specifically, Wielenberg argues that naturalists have resources to make sense of objective moral values, moral duties, and moral knowledge. In response to Wielenberg, I defend Craig’s second contention by arguing that Wielenberg’s theory fails to robustly capture our moral phenomenology as (...) well as make intelligible robust moral knowledge. (shrink)
In Confucian thought, there exists a functional view of rituals in which the participation in ritualistic practices brings about human flourishing. Call this the Confucian Ritual Principle (CRP). Utilizing contemporary psychology, in this paper, we argue for CRP. After linking rituals to human flourishing, we argue that on the hypothesis that Christianity is true, we would expect God to establish highly ritualistic and dogmatic liturgies. Put slightly differently, we argue that we should expect what we call 'high church' on the (...) Christian hypothesis. We then move to engage two objections to our argument. First, we respond to an argument that low church traditions are compatible with CRP. Second, we respond to an objection that argues against the ritual thesis, based on the flourishing of low church traditions. (shrink)
I argue that Alvin Plantinga’s theory of warrant is plausible and that, contrary to the Pandora’s Box objection, there are certain serious world religions that cannot successfully use Plantinga’s epistemology to demonstrate that their beliefs could be warranted in the same way that Christian belief can be warranted. In arguing for, I deploy Ernest Sosa’s Swampman case to show that Plantinga’s proper function condition is a necessary condition for warrant. I then engage three objections to Plantinga’s theory of warrant, each (...) of which attempts to demonstrate that his conditions for warrant are neither necessary nor sufficient. Having defended the plausibility of Plantinga’s theory of warrant, I present and expand his key arguments to the effect that naturalism cannot make use of it. These arguments provide the conceptual tools that are needed to argue for : that there are certain world religions that cannot legitimately use Plantinga’s theory of warrant to demonstrate that their beliefs could be warranted in the same way that Christian belief can be warranted. (shrink)
"Debating Christian Religious Epistemology introduces core questions in the philosophy of religion by bringing five competing viewpoints on the knowledge of God into critical dialogue with one another."--.
As an atheistic religious tradition, Buddhism conventionally stands in opposition to Christianity, and any bridge between them is considered to be riddled with contradictory beliefs on God the creator, salvific power and the afterlife. But what if a Buddhist could also be a Classical Theist? Showing how the various contradictions are not as fundamental as commonly thought, Tyler Dalton McNabb and Erik Baldwin challenge existing assumptions and argue that Classical Theism is, in fact, compatible with Buddhism. They draw parallels between (...) the metaphysical doctrines of both traditions, synthesize their ethical and soteriological commitments and demonstrate that the Theist can interpret the Buddhist's religious experiences, specifically those of emptiness, as veridical, without denying any core doctrine of Classical Theism. By establishing that a synthesis of the two traditions is plausible, this book provides a bold, fresh perspective on the philosophy of religion and reinvigorates philosophical debates between Buddhism and Christianity. (shrink)
Spirituality has become a focus of academic interest within a range of disciplines, including theology, religious studies, psychology and anthropology. Philosophers of religion have, however, typically given the topic of spirituality scant attention. This volume fills this important gap in the field. The volume consists of three main parts: Spiritual practice and philosophical understanding; The spiritual life and being; and Philosophical problems with the spiritual life. The first part contains chapters that are united by discussion of whether or not the (...) topic of spirituality should be given a more fundamental role within the philosophy of religion, and, if so, how that might be accomplished. The second part contains chapters addressing fundamental issues concerning human beings, their lives, and their self-understanding in relation to the spiritual life. The final part engages philosophical problems that emerge when discussing the spiritual life. This is the first volume to bring together discussions of these topics. (shrink)
Molinists generally see Calvinism as possessing certain liabilities from which Molinism is immune. For example, Molinists have traditionally rejected Calvinism, in part, because it allegedly makes God the author of sin. According to Molina, we ‘should not infer that He is in any way a cause of sin’. However, Greg Welty has recently argued by way of his Gunslingers Argument that, when it comes to God’s relationship to evil, Molinism is susceptible to the same liabilities as Calvinism. If his argument (...) is successful, he has undercut, at least partially, justification for believing in Molinism. While I concede that Welty’s argument is successful in that it does undercut some justification for believing in Molinism, this concession does not entail that, as it relates to the problem of evil, the Calvinist and the Molinist are in the same epistemic position. In this article, I argue that, when it comes to God’s relationship to evil, the Molinist is in a superior epistemic situation to the Calvinist. I do this in two steps. First, I argue for what I call the Robust Felix Culpa Theodicy. Second, I argue that the Robust Felix Culpa Theodicy is incompatible with Calvinism. (shrink)