Blog Template Theology of the Body: Our Belief III: It's Just So Obvious...

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Our Belief III: It's Just So Obvious...

Modern philosophers agree that the principle of evidentialism- the assertion that belief can only be justified if it can be verified by empirical experiment or sense experience (as in, "I'll believe it only when I see it") -is self-referentially incoherent. That is, such a principle is not self-evident, nor evident to human senses, nor empirically verifiable.

Philosophers such as Alvin Plantinga go on to say that belief in God can be properly basic, or "foundational"- that is, belief in God can be justified without being supported by other propositions. "Proper basicality" is a relative thing; that is, certain beliefs are properly basic in certain circumstances. If I am walking in a garden the belief that “I see a tree” would be properly basic, but if I am sitting in the living room with my eyes closed, it would not be reasonably basic. For humanity alive in the world, the belief that there is a Creator God is properly basic, given our surroundings, and the fact of our religious experience. Religious experience can properly provide the philosophically defensible “ground” for justifying our acceptance of a particular belief. Plantinga calls such an experience “a justifying circumstance.”

Furthermore, one can say, “God has so created us that we have a tendency or disposition to see his hand in the world around us.” Humanity experiences guilt, gratitude, a sense of God’s presence, and a sense that He speaks. These experiences justify such beliefs as “God is speaking to me,” “God has created all this,” or “God forgives me.” Plantinga says, it is these “basic” propositions that then “self-evidently entail that God exists.”

- From Alvin Plantinga, University of Notre Dame