Monday, May 1, 2017

Religious Belief and Reason Part 1

Is it rational to believe in God? Believing in the existence of God has been prominent in most cultures in the history of the world. Believing in God or some transcendent reality “has been assumed in virtually every culture throughout human history.”[1] “The issue of the reasonableness or rationality of belief in God or particular beliefs about God typically arises when a religion is confronted with religious competitors or the rise of atheism or agnosticism.”[2] Belief in God in the West has been mainly in one of the monotheistic religions: Jewish, Christian, or Islam. Some of the major issues of religious epistemology are “reasonableness of belief in the Judeo-Christian-Muslim God, the nature of reason, the claim that belief in God is not rational, defenses that it is rational, and approaches that recommend groundless belief in God or philosophical fideism.”[3]
            “Is the belief in God rational?”[4] The evidentialist argues no because of a lack of evidence. “Evidentialism maintains that a belief is rational for a person only if that person has sufficient evidence or arguments or reasons for that belief.[5] Two different types of theists say yes. One group believes there is adequate evidence to support the reasonableness of religious belief; the other group says that evidence is not necessary. “Theistic evidentialists” argue that there is sufficient evidence to support belief in God, but Reformed epistemologist argue that evidence is not required “to ground rational belief in God.”[6] “Philosophical fideists” contend that religious belief does not belong “in the realm of the rational.”[7] The “philosophical non-theists” disagree with the claims of the theists.

[1] Kelly James Clark, “Religious Epistemology” in Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. (accessed April 4, 2017), 1.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Clark, “Religious Epistemology,” 1.

[5] Kelly James Clark, Return to Reason: A Critique of Enlightenment Evidentialism and a Defense of Reason and Belief in God (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1990), 3.

[6] Clark, “Religious Epistemology,” 1.

[7] Ibid.

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