Intro to Phil of Religion
Intro to Phil of Religion PHIL 383
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This 10 page Class Notes was uploaded by Ms. Jada Ernser on Friday October 30, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to PHIL 383 at University of Massachusetts taught by Staff in Fall. Since its upload, it has received 9 views. For similar materials see /class/232339/phil-383-university-of-massachusetts in PHIL-Philosophy at University of Massachusetts.
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Date Created: 10/30/15
Religious Experience amp Miracles Alston Religious Experience as Perception of God Considers direct supposed experiences of God By direct Alston doesn t mean sensory God is after all spiritual and not the kind of thing that one could see How can we possibly have an experience that isn t sensory in character Generalize from perception my perceiving X consists in X appearing to me in some way To perceive X 1 X must exist 2 I must be causally related to X for example light from X must hit my eye 3 Perceiving X gives rise to further beliefs about X Religious experiences are like normal kinds of experience except that they are not perceptual and are thus conceptualized differently If God exists these conditions could be satisfied in cases of religious experiences An Alstoninspired argument 1 Religious experiences are akin to perceptual experiences of God 2 Perceptual experiences of X give us evidence that X exists 3 If 1 and 2 then religious experiences give us evidence that God exists 4 Therefore religious experiences give us evidence that God exists What would the causal relation to God look like Martin Critique of Religious Experience What reasons can we have for supposing that religious experiences generate true beliefs Psychological hypothesis Religious experience is caused not by something external eg God but by something internal eg the person s own mind Religious experience is hallucination The more plausible the psychological hypothesis is the weaker the evidence from religious experience Generally we don t trust hallucinations because they tell no coherent story about the world Our dreams do not tell a coherent story in the same way that waking life does Is there a common core to mystical experiences Unity Oneness etc But compare perceptions of a loving caring God who created the world from perceptions of a pantheistic holistic God who in some sense is the world Even if this is true why do we favor the veridical religious experience hypothesis over the psychological hypothesis Principle of Credulity PC If it seems to a subject that X is present then probably X is present If it seems to me that there s a chair here there s probably a chair here Negative Principle of Credulity NPC If it seems to a subject that X is absent the probably X is absent If it seems to me that there s no chair here there s probably no chair here Mackie Miracles and Testimony A miracle is a divinely caused violation of a natural law Miracles are possible since both supernatural intervention and violations of natural law are possible Someone who purports to see a miracle must hold that a Some event E occurred b E is a violation of some natural law Note that making one of these plausible makes the other one less plausible Since agnostics and atheists find these kinds of violations to be antecedently implausible miracles will not provide arguments for the existence of God This argument applies in the first person as well as third person how can we trust that we have actually witnessed some miracle How can we trust someone s account when they describe something so implausible Philosophy of Religion Problem of Evil Handout 1 The Argument 1 Evil exists 2 If God exists He would want to prevent all evil 3 If God exists He would be able to prevent all evil 4 If 3 and 4 then if God exists there would be no evil 5 Therefore if God exists there would be no evil 6 Therefore God does not exist Premise 1 seems obvious When we use the world evil we are not assuming any particularly contentious view about ethics Think about undeserved suffering if it makes you more comfortable Premise 2 seems true because God is wholly good Premise 3 seems true because God is all powerful Premise 4 seems true because any being that desires something all things considered and has the ability to achieve that desire will bring it about 5 follows from modus ponens 2 4 6 from modus tollens 1 and 5 Kinds of Evil Moral Evil Evil that comes about as a result of human actions war murder Natural Evil Evil that does not come about as a result of human actions natural processes disease natural disasters Some responses 1 Evil doesn t exist we only think it does Are you kidding me 2 Evil is logically necessary for good This sets a limit on what God can do viz he can t create a good thing without having created evil What is the relation between good and evil Why can t there be a world of only good things ls good and evil more like blue and green or big and small lf good and evil are merely comparative then they are not opposing forces after all Saying that God wants to create good things is only to say that he wants to create some things that are better than other things Why is there so much evil Can t we get by with less 3 Evil is a means to good The Divine Plan Why does God need to subject us to evil in order to bring about good If God is all powerful why can t He give us what is good without also giving us the evil stuff that goes along with it An omnipotent God could give us May owers without April showers 4 The universe is better with some evil in it The existence of evil is logically necessary for the existence of virtues such as benevolence sympathy and heroism Call physical pain first order evil physical pleasure is first order good These virtues benevolence sympathy heroism etc are secondorder goods they logically require first order evil to exist but are worth much more than those evils Is the existence of these virtues really worth the evil that exists How do some evils random lightning strikes create virtue Most importantly first order good and evil also creates second order evil Consider malevolence cruelty and cowardice Wouldn t second order evil be as ilnportant as second order good Do they cancel out 5 The Afterlife All evil that exists in this world is trumped by the infinite goodness of an afterlife How plausible is belief in the afterlife Then why even mess around with the actual world 6 Evil is due to free will The best worlds contain creatures that are free to perform acts of good or evil God could not have created free creatures that are guaranteed to refrain from evil Freedom is some higher order good that trumps first and second order evil Furthermore the first and second order evil that results from freedom are not evils that God is responsible for This only explains moral evil Why couldn t God have made people that always freely choose good Why couldn t he have given us all saintly dispositions Why can t an omnipotent God control our will Handout 6 PM 383 509 Czyj erd CLIFFORD s FVIDENTIAI IsM it is wrong always everywhere and for any one to believe anything upon insuf cient evidence 273 EVIDENTIALISM For all persons S propositions p and times t S ought to believe that p at t iffbelieving p ts S s evidence at t Clari cation IfS ought to believe p then p ts S s evidence This means that there s no situation where you ought to believe something and yet believing that thing doesn t t your evidence pr ts S s evidence then S ought to believe that p This means that there s no situation where p ts your evidence but you ought to refrain from believing p Two ways to think about belief 1 Belief as all7or7nothing eg I either believe that I am in Massachusetts believe that I m not in Massachusetts or withhold belief altogether 2 Belief as graded con dence eg I am very con dent that I am in Bartlett Hall I am somewhat con dent that the bus will arrive on time today I am 5050 about whether or not I ll go out to eat for dinner tonight A natural model of this Probability Pq 1 7 full con dence in q Pq 0 7 no con dence in q Pq 05 7 complete indecision in q TERNARY EVIDENTIALISM There is a certain balance of evidence relative to some proposition p That balance of evidence can give one of three verdicts with respect to p believe p disbelieve p withhold belief regarding p Detective example GRADED EVIDENTIALISM For all persons S propositions p and times t S ought to believe that p at t to degree n if and only if S s evidence at t tells in favor ofp to degree 11 Slogan One ought to proportion one s beliefs to the evidence What evidentialism seems to rule out Full belief in God with doubts about his existence Partial belief in God with weighty reasons for doubt Belief in God or atheism although little reason for believing or for disbelieving WHY THINK FVIDFNTIAI IsM Is TRUE THE SHIP OWNER Clifford s ship owner example What shall we say ofhim Surely this that he was verily guilty of the death of those men It is admitted that he did sincerely believe in the soundness of his ship but the sincerity of his conviction can in no wise help him because 7e lmd no 72371 10 believe on sue7 evideme m Wm be are liim he must be held responsible for it 269 Handout 6 PM 383 509 Czyj ord ARG 1 1 The ship owner was wrong to send out the ship 2 The ship owner s illifounded beliefs necessitated that he send the ship 3 If S doing 39 that S does 1 and S is wrong to do 1 then S is wrong to do x C Thus S is wrong to have illifounded beliefs Probm1 Premise 2 is a version of behaviorism Clifford rejects this even when a man s beliefis so fixed that he cannot think otherwise he still has a choice in regard to the action suggested by it p 270 However Clifford says Nor is that truly a belief at all which has not some in uence upon the actions of him who holds it 270 This suggests ARG 2 1 The ship owner was wrong to send out the ship 239 The ship owner s illifounded beliefs played a role in his sending the ship 339 HS doing xplavs a role in S doing 1 and S is wrong to do 1 then S is wrong to do x C Thus S is wrong to have illifounded beliefs Probm1 Premise 3 looks to be false Bzgger Problem If the ship owner Imdn sent out the ship the belief wouldn t have been wrong WHY THINK EVIDENTIALISM Is TRUE THE GENERAL CASE But forasmuch as no belief held by one man however seemingly trivial the belief and however obscure the believer is ever actually insignificant or without its effect on the fate of mankind we have no choice but to extend our judgement to all cases of beliefwhatever 271 ARG 3 1 All illifounded beliefs either i cause harm directl or ii lead to credulity which causes harm indirectly 2 If something causes harm directh or indirecth then it is wrong C Thus all illifounded beliefs are wrong Probm1 Injection example Counterexarnple to premise 2 ARG 4 1 All illifounded beliefs either i directly cause more harm than not or ii lead to credulity which indirectly causes more harm than not 2 If something causes more harm than not directly or indirecth then it is wrong C Thus all illifounded beliefs are wrong Probm1 Execution example Madman example CounterexaInple to premise 1 FWDENTIAI IsM REFORMUI ATF D EiEVTDENTlALlSM For all persons S propositions p and times t S is z39xim 39m obligated to believe that p at t if and only if believing p fits S s evidence at t Handout 6 PM 383 509 Czyj ord An Armiment Again t Theistic Belief from F 39 39 quot 1 Faith is believing in the absence of suf cient evidence 2 it is wrong always everywhere and for anyone to believe anything upon insuf cient evidence C Therefore faith is wrong always everywhere and for anyone The Thei tic Amo tic Argument from F I I 1 The evidence is not suf cient for belief in theism or atheism 2 Evidentialism is true 3 Thus we ought to withhold belief with respect to theism and atheism C Thus we ought to be agnostics WILLIAM IAMEs WEAK EiEVTDENTlALlSM For all persons S propositions p and times t ifbelieving p ts S39s evidence at t then S ought to believe that p at t A Genuine Option is a Living rather than Dead b Forced rather than Avoidable c Momentous rather than Trivial James paraphrase If confronted with a genuine option where the evidence doesn t tell either way then you ought to follow your heart Q But why not withhold belief VAN INWAGEN Rational Disagreement 7 cases where two mature and intelligent adults know all the arguments and all the evidence on both sides of an issue and yet come down on different sides of that issue I ask again what could it be that justifies us in rejecting political skepticism How can I believe that my political beliefs are justified when these beliefs are rejected by people whose quali cations for engaging in political discourse are as impressive as David Lewis s quali cations for engaging in philosophical discourse These people are aware of at least all the evidence and all the arguments that I am aware of and they are at least as good at evaluating evidence and arguments as I How then can I maintain that the evidence and arguments I can adduce in support of my beliefs actually justify these beliefs If this evidence and these arguments are capable of that then why aren t they capable of convincing these other people that these beliefs are correct 277 The Political gke c Armiment from F 39 39 quot 1 The evidence is not suf cient for belief in ProiA or ConiA 2 Evidentialism is true 3 Thus we ought to withhold belief with respect to A C Thus we ought to be political skeptics with respect to A Kierkegaard Fideism Religious beliefs are not subject to rational evaluation Objective inquiry study into whether the belief in question is true or not Subjective inquiry study into the relation between the believer and what heshe believes Faith is best understood as a kind of subjective inquiry what matters is how you believe and how your beliefs influence how you live Whether or not your belief is actually true is not as important Faith as a kind of embracing of risk It doesn39t matter what you believe so long as you believe it passionately Rational inquiry It seems that religious people do give reasons for believing what they believe and respond to criticism 1 lfthe goal of religious inquiry is not truth then rational inquiry about religious matters is impossible 2 Rational inquiry about religious matters is possible 3 Therefore the goal of religious inquiry is truth Religious beliefs become irrefutable there is no room for doubt about religion let alone philosophy Clifford Unreasonable belief A belief not properly based on or responsive to available evidence If our belief is not open to rational reflection as religious beliefs are for Fideists then it is an unreasonable belief Unreasonable beliefs lead to bad actions 1 lfa belief is unreasonable it will lead to bad actions 2 lfa belief will lead to morally bad actions it is wrong to hold that belief 3 Beliefs that are based in faith are unreasonable 4 Therefore it is wrong to hold beliefs based in faith Weakened argument inductive form 1 lfa belief is unreasonable it is likely to lead to bad actions 2 lfa belief leads to bad actions it is wrong to hold that belief 3 Beliefs that are based in faith are unreasonable 4 Therefore it is likely wrong to hold beliefs based in faith Unreasonable beliefs make us credulous 1 It is wrong to make people credulous 2 If it is wrong to make people credulous then it is wrong to hold unreasonable beliefs 3 Therefore it is wrong to hold unreasonable beliefs Some other normative notions Language etiquette law We need the norms of rationality to make sense of communication science etc Philosophy of Religion Problem of Evil Handout 2 The Argument 1 Evil exists 2 If God exists He would want to prevent all evil 3 If God exists He would be able to prevent all evil 4 If 3 and 4 then if God exists there would be no evil 5 Therefore if God exists there would be no evil 6 Therefore God does not exist The Free Will Defense 2 is false because there are good states of affairs that God cannot bring about without permitting the existence of evil Beingfree with respect to an action means you can perform or not perform an action causal or metaphysical laws do not determine what you will do Being signi cantlyfree means being free with respect to a morally significant action quotA world containing creatures who are significantly free is more valuable all else being equal than a world containing no free creatures at all p 3 28 God could only prevent free creatures from performing morally evil acts by also preventing them from performing morally good acts God cannot create some worlds He cannot create a world where I would freely perform action X in some circumstance C C obtains but I do not do X God can t make a world where I would freely eat waf es for breakfast but instead eat pancakes even though this isn t a logical contradiction Imagine it s true that ifyou pay me 20 I ll freely give you an A It s not Then God could not make a world where you give me 20 and I freely refuse the bribe Evil in this case bribery exists as a necessary consequence of creating creatures who are significantly free 1 Why did God make me such that I would accept bribes 2 How can we make sense of causation on this account if I m free to accept or not accept bribes How does this help with natural evil Maybe other supernatural creatures also have free will and they cause diseases earthquakes etc Rowe and the Evidential Argument from Evil Theist Response to Mackie We can describe a possibility where God exists yet evil also exists Example the free will response Plantinga demons etc An Atheist Reply Maybe there are some possibilities according to which both God and evils exist Those are all cases in which God permits evil to allow for a greater good or avoid a greater evil But that s not how things actually are Look around our evils don t seem to be of that sort NEE for oExcuseEvil an instance of intense human or animal suffering which God could have prevented without thereby losing some greater good or permitting some evil equally bad or worse Rowe s Evidential Argument from Evil restated and hopefully simplified R1 NEEs exist R2 If God exists then no NEEs exist R3 Therefore God does not exist Rowe even though we cannot deductively prove the truth of R1 we have rational grounds for believing it to be true quotIt seems quite unlikely that all the instances of intense suffering occurring daily in our world are intimately related to the occurrence of greater goods or the prevention of evils at least as bad Rowe 358 The Theist s Response The Direct Attack Provide evidence for the falsity of R1 The Indirect Attack The G E Moore Shift M1 God does exist M2 If God exists then no NEEs exist M3 Therefore no NEEs exist
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