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...]

G&T Rebuttal, Part 4: Chapter 5

Chapter 5. The First Life: Natural Law or Divine Awe?  In this chapter, G&T defend a design argument focused on the first life. They also present a variety of objections to scientism and materialism.I will provide a very brief summary of their points, before providing my critique.(i) Argument to Design of the First Life: G&T argue that the origin of the first life is evidence favoring theism over naturalism. They emphasize the following points:  (1) all life, including … [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...]

G&T Rebuttal, Part 3: Chapter 4

Chapter 4. Divine Design  G&T provide a brief introduction to what they call ‘the’ Teleological Argument, which they formulate as follows.1. Every design had a designer. 2. The universe has a highly complex design. 3. Therefore, the universe had a Designer. (95)Like the cosmological argument, this argument is deductively valid. Again, my plan is to provide a very brief summary of G&T’s defense of this argument, before providing some critical comments of my own.(i) … [Read more...]

G&T Rebuttal, Part 2: Chapter 3

Chapter 3. In the Beginning There Was a Great SURGE  G&T tell us that the “Cosmological Argument is the argument from the beginning of the universe” (74). That is sloppy; G&T have conflated the family of arguments known as ‘the’ cosmological argument with one specific version of that argument (the kalām cosmological argument). But let that pass. G&T formulate the argument as follows.1. Everything that had a beginning has a cause. 2. The universe had a beginning. 3. The … [Read more...]

What Explains God’s Moral Grounding Power? A Problem for Divine Command Ethics

The Divine Command Theory says that God possesses the power to ground or create moral obligations. Let’s call this power, in virtue of which God’s commands ground moral obligations, ‘moral grounding power’ (MG-power).Moral Grounding Power (MG-power): Being B has MG-power if and only if the commands of B ground moral obligationsI want to write about a question that is very natural but that I think is rather difficult for divine command theorists to answer. The question is: In virtue of wha … [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...]

Swinburne’s Argument from Religious Experience – Part 2

Richard Swinburne's argument from religious experience (AFR) as given in The Existence of God (2nd ed.- hereafter: EOG) is based on three key epistemological  principles: EXPERIENCE …(in the absence of special considerations), if it seems (epistemically) to a subject that x is present (and has some characteristic), then probably x is present (and has that characteristic)… (EOG, p. 303) MEMORY If it seems to a subject that in the past he perceived something  or did something, then (in the abse … [Read more...]


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