Originally posted by LemonJello
In Thread 159660 we had some discussion regarding rational justification for theistic belief. One of the relevant questions is to what extent a theist (I think a similar question applies to, say, a strong atheist who claims the same god does not exist) should be able to present rational arguments and other evidence in support of that belief ...[text shortened]... aper that discusses this objection:
Sorry for the late reply. I did actually start to write, then had to leave and lost my entire response since it wasn't saved. (Which means it went to hell!
I have to warn you, though, that when you engage me in philosophical battle, you are fighting with an unarmed man. Philosophical Quarterly
is not on my regular reading list. Nevertheless, the least I could do is extend you the courtesy of reading your two references, which i did - painfully.
Actually, the concepts that I did
understand, (or at least think I did) I found quite interesting. I have previously come across Calvin's idea of a sensus divinitatis
. But if he intended it to strengthen his case for christianity, it also makes a case for every single other religion, which isn't really that helpful for his cause.
The idea that I think i grasped is that of the Properly Basic
, i.e. non-inferential belief, which seems to be an important part of the debate. In that matter I agree with the point that "theistic belief can't be properly basic, but only because no kind of belief can be properly basic". It is always against our Background theories. (Aside - when he talks about the Great Pumpkin, I am reminded of the jokes on RHP about the FSM. The same arguments apply!)
When he quotes from his Ref 12 (in the Georgetown article) about a Basic Experience about God, I find myself agreeing with him. (sorry I can't cut&paste from a pdf).
For me the main problem is NOT to be able to prove the existence of God from rational argument. For once, I agree with RJH that this is demonstrated in a Creation all around us. But the biggest problem is (as pointed out by many on this forum, specifically twhitehead and also that thread about the Feedback Loop) why does this God not cause uniformity of belief across all peoples and population groups?
I guess that must be because of this very difference in Background Theories.
But it is for that reason that I find myself in sympathy and solidarity with the contemplative dimension of other religious and sacred traditions.
In summary, I did find the articles, in particular the Georgetown "rebuttal" most interesting, even if much of it went over my head. Thank you for pointing them out to me. I guess that it is wonderful that there are people like Plantinga and the author of the other article to thrash such matters out. But, as I said before, I am certainly not in their league.
There are two quotes that I would like to end with: the first by Rumi, the Sufi mystic who said: "There is a field beyond the knowledge of Right and Wrong - I will meet you there."
The other by Thomas Merton: "I am free, therefore I am lost. There is no more Ego to defend. I simply love." If I had a goal to strive for, that would be it, but clearly I am still very far from it.