What is Faith? – Part 4

We have looked at a simple and widespread understanding of 'faith in God':Definition 1Person P has faith in God IF AND ONLY IF  P believes that God exists.One problem with Def. 1 is that the devil himself would have 'faith in God' based on this definition, and thus this could hardly be considered  to be a virtue, to be the kind of faith that is commended by the Christian religion.According to Swinburne (in Faith and Reason, 2nd ed., hereafter: FAR), the Thomist view of faith is si … [Read more...]

What is Faith? – Part 3

I said that I was not going to walk slowly through the rest of Chapter 4 of Faith and Reason (FAR), by Richard Swinburne.  But there is a lot going on in the next few paragraphs of Chapter 4, and I find myself wanting to make several comments on them.  So, contrary to my previous plans,  I'm going to continue to walk slowly through at least the next few paragraphs.Before we get to Swinburne's characterization of the Thomist view of faith,  I have a couple more comments.  Swinburne focuses on … [Read more...]

What is Faith? – Part 2

What does the word “faith” mean?  According to my dictionary (The American Heritage Dictionary, 2nd College Edition), the word “faith” has several different meanings: Definition 1:  A confident belief in the truth, value, trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.Definition 2:  Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.Definition 3:  Loyalty to a person or thing; allegiance…Definition 4:  Belief and trust in God.Definition 5:  Religious conviction.D … [Read more...]

What is Faith? – Part 1

Some general observations to consider before attempting to answer the question "What is faith?":1. Don't criticize what you can't understand.Or better:  Try to understand what faith is before you try to evaluate the goodness or badness of faith.2. The word 'faith' has multiple definitions in any decent dictionary.The word 'faith' is literally ambiguous.  Some uses or meanings of the word 'faith' should be set aside, and one should focus in on one or two meanings that seem p … [Read more...]

Swinburne’s Argument from Religious Experience – Part 6

I will now try to wrap up this series of posts on Swinburne's Argument from Religious Experience (AFR).   I don't have any big bold conclusion that I'm driving toward, just a few observations, clarifications, and an objection or two.One thing I have done is to make use of the concepts of dependence and independence, which are basic concepts in probability.  I have explored the question of whether and to what extent the veridicality of one generic theistic religious experience (TRE) is de … [Read more...]

Swinburne’s Argument from Religious Experience – Part 5

Here is a brief plot summary of the movie Harvey:Due to his insistence that he has an invisible six-foot rabbit for a best friend, a whimsical middle-aged man is thought by his family to be insane - but he may be wiser than anyone knows.James Stewart played Elwood P. Dowd, the "whimsical middle-aged man" who could apparently see and converse with Harvey, a six-foot rabbit who was invisible to others.  The obvious conclusion is that Elwood is mentally ill and that his experiences of the s … [Read more...]

Swinburne’s Argument from Religious Experience – Part 4

3 TREs with Dependency

Although I have been considering the implications of the idea that the veridicality of a Theistic Religious Experience (TRE) is independent of the veridicality of other TREs, this is NOT the view of Swinburne.  In fact, Swinburne clearly holds the opposite view, the view that the veridicality of a TRE is dependent on the veridicality of other TREs.  I will get into the details of this shortly.First, let me back up for a moment and provide a key definition.  Swinburne defines "religious ex … [Read more...]

Swinburne’s Argument from Religious Experience – Part 3

3 Fair Coin Tosses

Previously, I have only considered the very simple case where one person has a memory of having previously had a theistic religious experience (hereafter: TRE) of a generic sort--an experience in which it seemed (epistemically) to him/her that God was present.  There were a couple of basic points made about probable inferences in contrast to necessary or deductive inferences, but there are even more interesting points of logic and probability ahead as we consider more complex and more realistic … [Read more...]