Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Rationality of Believing in God

I wrote on this subject earlier, and I've now realized a hole in my argument: clear, personal religious experience of God constitutes empirical evidence for the existence of God, making belief therein rational.


Anonymous said...

You're assuming that personal experience is objective, but it is not.

One definition of "empirical" is, "capable of being verified or disproved by observation or experiment."

The existence of God is experienced by different people in different ways; some would say not at all. God's existence, while I personally believe it to be absolutely true, cannot be objectively verified (or disproved, much to the chagrin of atheists).

John said...

True. Let me rephrase: personal experience is sufficient reason to believe in God for the individual. It is unlikely to be persuasive to anyone else, however.

Is it objective? I suppose as much as the sole witness to a murder can be objective, even if he cannot necessarily prove who did it, his eyes nonetheless saw the event.

John Meunier said...

My very limited knowledge of the words being thrown around here suggests that part of the difficulty is in misplacing the disagreement. In the old debate between rationalism and empiricism the two were understood as rival hypotheses about how knowledge came to be.

An empirical basis for rationalism is a bit like seeking a dry basis for wetness. At least I think so. You'll have to track down a professional epistemologist for a better answer.

From what I understand, John Wesley as an empiricist - the school that says all of our knowledge is derived through our senses.

I'm reading a book by Randy Maddox about John Wesley's theology. Wesley argued that we have spiritual senses that are just as real as our other fives senses.

I believe Wesley also once said that even in the absence of any rational or objective argument in favor of the existence of God, he had all the evidence he required in his heart.

As for objectivity, that is a whole other debate.