Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Can testimony be the basis for a ‘properly basic belief?’

Christian apologist and theologian Randal Rauser has an idea regarding warranted Christian belief that I find particularly interesting, but ultimately wrong.  Randal’s idea is to take the Reformed Epistemology of Alvin Plantinga a little bit further, he wants to use testimony as a foundation for a properly basic belief in something like Christian theism.
This is something he has written on in his book with Justin Schieber “An Atheist and a Christian Walk into a Bar and a bit about on his blog. 
I should point out that Randal prefers using testimony as a basis for properly basic belief in Christianity compared to the traditional appeals to a Sensus Divinitatus, because he considers appealing to a SD to place the theist at a rhetorical disadvantage.
I think Randal’s intuition about being at a rhetorical disadvantage with the Sensus Divinitatus is correct. A mysterious Sensus Divinitatus providing justification for Christian belief in a pre-evidential way is going to sound outlandish to non-believers, and likely would come as a shock to many lay believers in the pews. It’s akin to saying that one’s “Jesus senses are tingling”

In short, I don’t think that this kind of appeal to testimony as a foundation for a properly basic belief in god is going to work.  I think if he is going to go this kind of Reformed Epistemology route, he’s going to have to appeal to a Sensus Divinitatus, ala Alvin Plantinga.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Necessary vs. Brute Facts in Cosmological Arguments

So I’m a bit late to the party, but I was recently able to listen to the debate between Sean Carroll and Luke Barnes on the Unbelievable podcast.  There’s been some hubbub on Randal’s blog about the rather fantastic episode, and I’d like to make a few points now that I’ve heard it myself.

A lot of the debate was on the ground regarding a naturalist explanation of the universe, assuming the universe (defined as the entirety of physical reality) has a beginning.  The two of them didn’t debate any merits of naturalistic explanations of an eternal universe.

The first bit of hubbub I’m referring to is when Randal accuses Sean of redefining god to not be necessary and to argue against his own definition of god as a non-necessary being.

I think part of this stems from confusion on Randal’s part of what Sean was saying. In his book, Sean argues that there are no necessarily existing beings, so this isn't an imposition of a new definition it's an argued conclusion.  Further, in the debate with Luke, Sean’s main point is that even on theism one has to accept brute facts.   It's this second point of contention that I really want to focus on here.