What is Faith? – Part 5

We have been examining the Thomist view of faith, as characterized by Richard Swinburne in Faith and Reason (FAR).In order to avoid the implication that one must reason in a circle in order to have 'faith in God', a supporter of the Thomist view of faith can draw a distinction between beliefs about God that are implied by the statement 'God exists' and other beliefs about God that are NOT implied by this claim.  For a Thomist, belief in the existence of God is (or can be) based on reasons or … [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...]

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...]

Swinburne’s Argument from Religious Experience – Part 1

In The Existence of God (2nd edition, hereafter: EOG) , Richard Swinburne presents a careful and systematic case for the existence of God.  Eight of the arguments (that he considers to be significant) are presented as bits of empirical data each of which increases the probability of the hypothesis that God exists a bit (with the exception of the Problem of Evil, which he believes decreases the probability a bit).These eight inductive arguments are supposed to make the hypothesis of the e … [Read more...]

Swinburne’s Cosmological and Teleological Arguments – Part 3

I am exploring a concern about, or potential objection to, Swinburne's inductive cosmological and teleological arguments for the existence of God. The objection I have in mind is something like this, for the cosmological argument:Although the one factual premise of Swinburne's cosmological argument is supposed to be the ONLY contingent factual claim or assumption upon which the conclusion of the argument rests, the argument actually rests on a considerable number and variety of contingent … [Read more...]


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