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Western Worldview #3. Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, others, all share a belief in God, or something very much like God, the grounding of all.

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Presentation on theme: "Western Worldview #3. Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, others, all share a belief in God, or something very much like God, the grounding of all."— Presentation transcript:

1 Western Worldview #3

2 Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, others, all share a belief in God, or something very much like God, the grounding of all existence. Reformed Epistemology is a recent invention that tries to explain how such belief can be rational or reasonable. At the same time, it offers a general account of human knowledge and how beliefs are justified or “warranted.” Since this ‘Reformed’ tradition is the work of Christian philosophers, beginning in the 1960’s, references to the particulars of religious belief are most often to Christian religious belief.

3 Plantinga (1932 –) America Reid ( ) Reformed Epistemology 1700 ScotlandFrance Calvin ( )

4 While Calvin is a famous figure in the history of theology, he was no slouch as a philosopher. In Institutes of the Christian Religion,* Calvin introduces the notion of the sensus divinitatis, or ‘sense of divinity’. This is important because the way Calvin defends the notion involves asserting a form or reliabilism. The sensus divinitatis is an “innate disposition to form belief in God,” according to Calvin, under certain conditions (example in the linked article: observing the starry sky). People have this sort of knowledge of God (among other sorts), Calvin thinks, only when this faculty of belief formation about God is working properly. *See Faith and Philosophy Article

5 Thomas Reid also endorses a form of Reliabilism: Reid's answer to Hume's skeptical and naturalist arguments was to enumerate a set of principles of common sense (sensus communis) which constitute the foundations of rational thought. Anyone who undertakes a philosophical argument, for example, must implicitly presuppose certain beliefs like, "I am talking to a real person," and "There is an external world whose laws do not change," among many other positive, substantive claims. For Reid, the belief in the truth of these principles is not rational; rather, reason itself demands these principles as prerequisites, as does the innate "constitution" of the human mind.” –WikipediaWikipedia Read about Reid

6 In God and Other Minds (1967), Alvin Plantinga argues that belief in God other minds our selves, and the external world are all properly basic. Like Calvin and Reid, Plantinga believes such beliefs are properly believed without evidence. They are beliefs that result from the proper functioning of intellectual faculties.

7 We don’t require argument or evidence from someone who believes, say, ‘My mother loves me’ (which entails the belief ‘Mother has a mind’). Belief in other minds, then, is proper without evidence. Such belief is: Universal Spontaneous The same goes for belief in the external world, belief in oneself, and belief in God, says Plantinga.

8 WK Clifford had argued: To sum up: it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone to believe anything upon insufficient evidence. This principle, Plantinga believes, is false. Some beliefs (those universal and spontaneous beliefs mentioned above, if not others), enjoy freedom from this requirement. Why? Skepticism is the story of this principle’s failure. Read Clifford’s The Ethics of BeliefThe Ethics of Belief

9 What if we all believe in the Great Pumpkin, like Linus, in Charlie Brown’s Halloween Special? Reply: we don’t, but if we did, we would need to defend the belief. Just because we don’t need evidence doesn’t mean we can believe anything. Beliefs must always be defensible. Belief in God is not universal. Reply: Well, it’s nearly so … and, for that particular belief, there is reason to think people may lie or be subject to self-deception. Also, there’s reason to think they may be operating with defective mental equipment. The last point raises the question of Reliabilism again….

10 Karl Marx had said: Religion... is the self-consciousness and the self-feeling of the man who has either not yet found himself, or else (having found himself) has lost himself once more. But man is not an abstract being... Man is the world of men, the State, society. This State, this society, produce religion, produce a perverted world consciousness, because they are a perverted world... Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the feelings of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of unspiritual conditions. It is the opium of the people. From here

11 In contrast, Calvin had urged: Indeed, the perversity of the impious, who though they struggle furiously are unable to extricate themselves from the fear of God, is abundant testimony that his conviction, namely, that there is some God, is naturally inborn in all, and is fixed deep within, as it were in the very marrow.... From this we conclude that it is not a doctrine that must first be learned in school, but one of which each of us is master from his mother's womb and which nature itself permits no man to forget. From here

12 So, who is right, Marx (slide 10) or Calvin (slide 11)? According to Marx, religious belief is perverse. According to Calvin, irreligious belief is perverse. Whose intellectual faculties are functioning properly? Whose belief forming mechanisms are reliable?

13 Plantinga argues that we cannot reasonably trust our belief forming mechanisms if we accept the conjunction of evolution and naturalism (atheism). Unguided evolution cares nothing for true belief. It cares only about survival value. Therefore, unguided evolution undercuts trust in our belief forming mechanisms. He calls this argument An Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism. In other words, Marx’s position is self-referentially incoherent. Calvin wins! (Which you’d expect from a guy who went to Calvin College).

14 All philosopher photos (including God) from Google Images. Search on philosopher’s name. 14


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