Afterall.net

Consider all. Test All. Hold on to the good.

Illogic Primer Quotes Clippings Books and Bibliography Paper Trails Links Film

The Elusive God

Three questions motivate this book’s account of evidence for the existence of God. First, if God’s existence is hidden, why suppose He exists at all? Second, if God exists, why is He hidden, particularly if God seeks to communicate with people? Third, what are the implications of divine hiddenness for philosophy, theology, and religion’s supposed knowledge of God? This book answers these questions on the basis of a new account of evidence and knowledge of divine reality that challenges skepticism about God’s existence. The central thesis is that we should expect evidence of divine reality to be purposively available to humans, that is, available only in a manner suitable to divine purposes in self-revelation. This lesson generates a seismic shift in our understanding of evidence and knowledge of divine reality. The result is a needed reorienting of religious epistemology to accommodate the character and purposes of an authoritative, perfectly loving God. An interview with Moser is available on the Evangelical Philosophical Society blog.

A Review

I found The Elusive God to be the most profound and interesting work I have read in the past twenty years at the intersection of philosophy and theology. Instead of beginning with a demand for evidence of the
existence of a divine being, the author argues that we should expect any intrusion into our lives of the sort that would convince us that God exists to be authoritative evidence that calls us not only to a cognitive viewpoint but also to a surrendering of our wills. The result of such an investigation is a re-conceptualization of the epistemological landscape relevant to the possibility of the knowledge
of God.’ ~ Jonathan Kvanvig, Baylor University

Table of Contents

    • Preface page ix
    • Introduction 1
    • 1. Questions 1
    • 2. Plans 93. God Undercover 18
  • 1 Doubting Skeptics 29
    • 1. Skepticism 30
    • 2. Divine Evidence 32
    • 3. Judgment 39
    • 4. Under Authority 46
    • 5. Volitional Knowing 55
    • 6. Skeptical Tests 60
    • 7. Trust and Distrust 71
    • 8. Voice Lessons 7
  • 2 Knowing as Attunement 83
    • 1. Rationality and Explanation 83
    • 2. Robust Theism 92
    • 3. Filial Knowledge 95
    • 4. Cognitive Idolatry 101
    • 5. Divine Hiding 105
    • 6. Attunement 113
    • 7. Love’s Evidence 123
    • 8. Revelation for Change 126
  • 3 Dying to Know 144
    • 1. Spirit 144
    • 2. Acquaintance with Power 153
    • 3. Jerusalem and Athens 158
    • 4. Good News 162
    • 5. Forgiveness unto Reconciliation 171
    • 6. Dying and Rising 180
    • 7. Dancing on Graves 186
  • 4 Philosophy Revamped 201
    • 1. Beginning Again 201
    • 2. Pursuing Questions 203
    • 3. Going for Broke 210
    • 4. Two Modes 222
    • 5. Yielding 228
  • 5 Aftermath 242
    • 1. Evidence without Coercion 243
    • 2. Death’s Gain and Loss 247
    • 3. Outside Help 253
    • 4. Dying to Live 257
  • Appendix: Skepticism Undone 265
    • 1. Epistemic Circles 266
    • 2. Epistemic Burdens 272
    • 3. Conclusion 278
    • References 279
    • Index 287

An Excerpt

Introduction

QUESTIONS

According to Blaise Pascal’s Pensées, any
religion denying that God’s existence is concealed is false (1670, sec.
275, Sellier ed.). The same holds for any philosophy, science, or other
theory that denies divine concealment. Let’s say that God’s existence
is concealed, hidden, or incognito for a person at a time if and only if at that time God’s existence fails to be not only obvious but also beyond cognitively reasonable doubt
for that person. Many psychologically normal adults hold that God’s
existence is hidden from them at least at some times. At those times,
they report, God’s existence isn’t obvious or even beyond cognitively
reasonable doubt for them.

   Here and throughout we’ll use the overused term “God” as a maximally honorific title
that connotes an authoritatively and morally perfect being who is
inherently worthy of worship as wholehearted adoration, love, and
trust, even if God doesn’t actually exist. This title, in keeping with
titles generally, is intelligible even if it lacks a titleholder. We’ll
use “authoritative” to signify worthiness of an executive decision-making status in some area, and “perfectly authoritative” to connote such inherent worthiness regarding every relevant area. So, one doesn’t become authoritative just by amassing clout.

   It seems undeniable that God’s existence is
hidden at least from some people at some times. The theme of divine
concealment is endorsed, in one form or another, by many influential
proponents of Jewish and Christian monotheism, including Isaiah,
Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Jesus, Paul, Augustine, Maimonides, Aquinas, Luther,
Pascal, Kierkegaard, Buber, Barth, Brunner, Bonhoeffer, Rahner, and
Heschel. (For references and an extensive bibliography, see
Howard-Snyder and Moser 2002.) The theme receives further support from
many proponents of Islamic monotheism. Very few writers, however, have
developed an account of human knowledge of God’s reality in relation to
divine concealment. This book contends that, despite being concealed at
times, the reality of the God of traditional monotheism is knowable
firsthand by humans on the basis of salient and conclusive, if elusive,
evidence. “Conclusive” evidence, in my taxonomy, is well-founded
undefeated support suitable for (fulfilling the justification condition
for) knowledge; it may or may not be logically, or deductively,
demonstrative.

The conclusive evidence suited to one’s knowing
God’s reality firsthand is, we’ll see, profoundly challenging for
humans and significantly different from our familiar evidence for the
reality of, say, pomegranates or kitchen appliances. Person-intended evidence is typically influenced, if not controlled, by the purposes
of a personal agent, and such purposes may be elusive and subtle, and
leave us with correspondingly elusive and subtle evidence. Conclusive
firsthand evidence for divine reality is, I’ll contend, purposively available to humans, that is, available in a way, and only
in a way, that accommodates the distinctive purposes of a perfectly
loving God. The latter purposes, we’ll see, would aim noncoercively but
authoritatively to transform human purposes to agree with divine
purposes, despite human resistance of various and sundry sorts. In
addition, those purposes would mirror God’s moral character, and thus
be constrained by what it would take for a being of that character to
be self-revealed. They would, accordingly, be anchored in God’s
character, and would not be at all arbitrary or whimsical.

We’ll consider purposively available evidence that is both person-involving and life-involving in its identifying and challenging both who we are and how we live
as morally accountable personal agents under the authority of a
perfectly loving personal God. Such purposively available evidence
would seek whole-hearted transformation of humans toward God’s
character via volitional fellowship with God, where such fellowship
between God and a human requires sharing in each other’s concerns
guided by love. The relevant evidence, then, wouldn’t assume that
humans are just spectators in need of further information or
intellectual enlightenment. It would thus contrast sharply with any
kind of spectator evidence that fails to challenge humans to
yield their wills to a perfectly authoritative agent. We’ll have to
attend, then, to cognitive problems arising from potential human knowers,
including the direction of their wills, beyond any problems with the
relevant available evidence. Many philosophers, including many skeptics
about God’s existence, can benefit from attention to such problems.

One’s willingly receiving evidence that makes a demand on one doesn’t entail one’s willingly conforming
to (the demand of) that evidence. One would willingly conform fully to
the available divine evidence in question if and only if, in response
to that evidence, one willingly satisfied fully God’s demands and
purposes involved in that evidence. The latter purposes may include (a)
God’s revealing to a person the adequacy or inadequacy of that person’s
moral and cognitive standing before God, (b) God’s entering into full
volitional (that is, will-oriented) fellowship with a person on God’s
terms, and (c) God’s transforming a person whole-heartedly from any
selfishness to God’s perfectly loving moral character. The notion of
willing conformity to purposively available divine evidence has been
neglected in philosophical and theological treatments of knowledge of
divine reality. It can shed significant light, however, on the problem
of divine elusiveness and firsthand evidence and knowledge of God’s
existence. Henceforth my talk of evidence and knowledge of God’s
reality concerns firsthand evidence and knowledge, that is,
evidence and knowledge directly from its source. Accordingly, we’ll
bracket the ins and outs of secondhand testimonial evidence and
knowledge, which depend ultimately for their cognitive grounding on
firsthand evidence and knowledge.

This book will identify purposively available evidence that underwrites a new argument from volitional transformation
for God’s reality. The evidence involves an inquirer’s core
motivational attitudes, and thus sidesteps the abstract and speculative
matters characteristic of traditional philosophical arguments for God’s
existence. The book’s treatment of purposively available evidence of
divine reality seeks, accordingly, to reorient not just beliefs but
also readers themselves as personal agents, in terms of their
motivational core. The reorienting involves a change of intentional
attitudes beyond one’s assenting to information. In particular, it
primarily involves one’s will, and not just one’s intellect. It mainly concerns what one intends to be and to do,
and not just what one believes about the world. The proposed
reorienting of religious epistemology will show that some cognitive
questions about (human knowledge of) God’s existence aren’t purely
intellectual but irreducibly involve matters of the human will. We’ll
see how this works, in detail.

Beliefs do indeed matter, in many important ways,
but reality doesn’t consist of beliefs all the way down. The same holds
for human reality, as there’s more to human persons than their beliefs.
Morally responsible personal agents aren’t just belief-holders, since
they intend to act and even do intentionally act at times. They
thereby move themselves and the world too. Whether they also move
Heaven remains to be seen. In effect, this book will contend that they
do, and that this bears on relevant evidence of divine reality.

In light of the distinctive purposively available
evidence to be identified, the primary cognitive issue about (human
knowledge of) God’s reality, at least from an authoritative divine
perspective and perhaps from a judicious human perspective too, would
be not so much

(a) Do we humans know that God exists? as

(b) Are we humans known by God in virtue of (among other things) our freely and agreeably being willing
(i) to be known by God and thereby (ii) to be transformed toward God’s
moral character of perfect love as we are willingly led by God in
volitional fellowship with God, thereby obediently yielding our wills
to God’s authoritative will?

The shift of primary focus from question (a) to question (b) gives divine authority
a central cognitive role, and changes virtually everything in inquiry
about knowledge of God’s existence. It yields, as the book will show, a
Copernican Revolution in cognitive matters about God’s existence, and
it can thereby awaken us from dogmatic slumber regarding divine
reality. We’ll see that question (a) is fruitfully approached via
question (b), given that a perfectly authoritative and loving God would
be distinctively purposive in relating to humans, cognitively (in terms
of evidence and knowledge provided) and otherwise.

God, if real, would seek to have humans answer
question (a) affirmatively by means of answering question (b)
affirmatively, in order to have humans become freely and agreeably
willing to be led by God in volitional fellowship and transformation
toward God’s morally perfect character. Philosophers and others have
generally missed this crucial lesson about knowledge of God’s reality,
perhaps owing to an inadequate notion of divine authority, but we’ll
give this lesson a properly central role in cognitive inquiry about
God’s existence. The result will be a needed reorienting of religious
epistemology in a manner appropriate to the character and
self-manifestation of a perfectly authoritative and loving God. (The
proposed shift is suggested, in passing, in some of Paul’s undisputed
epistles, for example, Galatians 4:9 and 1 Corinthians 8:3; cf. Forsyth
1913.)

Question (b) hides a prior noteworthy question:

(c) Are we humans known by God in virtue of (among other things) our
freely being willing to receive an authoritative call to volitional
fellowship from a God of perfect love that is presented to us in order
to reveal, at least to us, the adequacy or inadequacy of our moral and
cognitive standing before this God?

Question (c) is less demanding of humans than
question (b), because its affirmative answer, unlike that of (b),
doesn’t require one’s being willing to be transformed toward God’s
character of perfect love. I could answer yes to (c) but refuse to
allow myself to be transformed toward a perfectly loving character;
indeed, I could even hate and vigorously oppose God in that case. The
call in question could come in various forms, and in subsequent
chapters we’ll explore its central content and purposes. We’ll assume,
in any case, that perfect love requires one’s sincerely intending what
is morally good for all people, beyond what people actually “deserve”
by familiar retributive standards.

Neither my freely being willing to receive nor my
actually receiving a divine call to volitional fellowship (for what it
actually is intended to be) entails my conforming to or accepting what the call offers or commands
(namely, volitional fellowship with God). Analogously, my receiving an
invitation to a celebration party (for what it actually is intended to
be) doesn’t require my attending the party or even my intending or
being willing to attend. In contrast, an affirmative answer to question
(b) entails one’s being willing to be transformed by God toward a
character of perfect love. A perfectly loving God could, however, use
question (c) as a preliminary means to the more demanding question (b).

We are morally responsible for the questions we
willingly pursue, just as we are similarly responsible for everything
else we intentionally do. The typical focus on question (a) to the
exclusion of questions (b) and (c) tends to place the sole
responsibility on God for supplying the desired knowledge to
humans, as if humans were just spectators who need only to open their
eyes to see the relevant evidence. In contrast, this book’s focus on
questions (b) and (c) as means to answering question (a) directs us to
ask whether we humans are well-positioned to receive any
purposively available evidence and knowledge of God’s reality. Perhaps
we aren’t thus well-positioned, because our wills have gone awry and
thus need attunement to reality, including divine reality. This book
contends that this is indeed so, and redirects the epistemology of
God’s reality accordingly. We’ll see how this change puts human
inquirers themselves under challenging examination.

A rough, inexact visual analogy may be helpful as
a familiar starting place. A volitional commitment to redirect visual
focus can bring a new perspective either on an ambiguous visual figure,
such as the famous duck–rabbit figure, or on an autostereogram where a
three-dimensional visual image is “hidden” (or incognito, we might say)
in a two-dimensional pattern, such as the images at
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autostereogram or at http://www.magiceye.com. The new visual perspective in such cases yields access
to available visual evidence that wouldn’t be received at all apart
from the volitional commitment to redirect visual focus. (This rough
illustrative analogy concerns the role of the will in the reception of some available evidence, not the ultimate accuracy
or truth-conduciveness of the evidence.) Analogously, as we’ll see, the
redirection of one’s will can contribute to one’s receiving otherwise
overlooked but nonetheless purposively available evidence regarding
divine reality. The point, of course, isn’t that I’ll get firsthand
visual evidence of, for instance, what is behind my desk only if I
decide to look behind my desk. It’s rather that some evidence is made
available with a definite purpose regarding how the evidence is to be acquired, and recipients must receive the evidence, if they receive it at all, in keeping with that purpose.

Another rough analogy comes from our offering a
person an unselfish friendship guided by mutual respect, genuine care,
and edifying fellowship in keeping with a morally good relationship.
The person’s receiving some important components of the available
evidence of our offer of friendship would require her willingly
attending to the available evidence of our offer in a way that allows
it to be salient for what it actually is intended to be in her
experience: an evident offer of unselfish friendship that shows genuine
care for her. The person’s attending to the evidence in that way would
contribute to her receiving available evidence regarding us, including
our intentions and moral character, that she would otherwise miss.
Evidence regarding our offer would be available to the person
at the start and could even impinge rather vaguely on her awareness,
but in the absence of her attending to it in the manner indicated, that
evidence (in any ordinary situation) would fall short of being salient
for what it is intended to be in her experience. It wouldn’t then be
received by her for what it is intended to be, regardless of whether
she is willing to receive what is being offered.

If God as authoritative and perfectly loving
invites people into morally caring and edifying fellowship with God on
God’s terms, via human conscience, we have a rough analogy here. In
order to receive the relevant available evidence of God’s invitation
for what it is intended to be, we would need to attend to available
evidence of God’s invitation, in our conscience, in a way that allows
it to be salient for what it actually is intended to be: an evident
invitation to morally caring and edifying fellowship with God. This
would contribute to our receiving available evidence regarding
God’s reality (including evidence regarding God’s intentions and moral
character) that we would otherwise miss. It would change the evidence
from being merely available to us to being received by us as
salient for what it actually is intended to be in our experience. We do
well, then, to acknowledge a crucial role for one’s will in receiving
some purposively available evidence.

One’s firsthand knowledge of God’s reality
requires, of course, that purposively available evidence of divine
reality become more than merely available for one. It requires one’s attending to the available evidence in a way that allows it to attract one’s attention
and become saliently experienced by one for what it actually is
intended to be. In that case, the relevant evidence would be revealed
to one as including a divine authoritative call, or invitation,
to let God know oneself and thereby transform oneself toward God’s
moral character in virtue of one’s being led by God in volitional
fellowship with God. This divine call to such fellowship would be a
natural expression of perfect love, and would come with definite
expectations of humans. Our attending to one’s allowing for this
distinctive evidence in one’s experience would fit with the proposed
shift in focus from question (a) to questions (b) and (c) above. In
addition, this shift would be advisable if the problem in our knowing a
perfectly authoritative God’s reality lies primarily in us
rather than in God, even if at times God’s existence is concealed,
hidden, or incognito. We’ll proceed with careful attention to this
shift, and ask whether, and if so how, human wills can influence divine
concealment.

The previous discussion recommends that we
distinguish between three different kinds of human reception of the
evidence in question: conforming (or, obedient) reception, indifferent reception, and negative (or, disobedient) reception of available evidence indicating a divine call to human transformation. The adjectives conforming, indifferent, and negative concern one’s attitude to the divine call,
beyond one’s simply receiving (evidence of) the call for what it is
intended to be. One’s conforming reception of a party invitation, for
instance, will include one’s satisfying the invitation by one’s
willingly attending the party and perhaps thereby receiving otherwise
unavailable evidence regarding the host of the party, including the
host’s moral character. Likewise, one’s conforming reception of
purposively available evidence of divine reality can lead, as we’ll
see, to otherwise unavailable evidence regarding the divine
evidence-giver. One’s conforming reception of evidence, however,
doesn’t entail one’s deserving reception of evidence; obedient recipients of divine evidence, in particular, may actually be undeserving and unworthy
of it, relative to divine moral perfection. We have intentionally moved
from simple talk of a divine call or invitation to talk of (defeasible
and possibly misleading) evidence of a divine call or
invitation in order to join epistemological disputes in a manner that
avoids begging controversial questions.

Our focus on human willing, in connection with
received purposively available evidence and knowledge of divine
reality, is for a good reason. Human diseases can run deeper than
physical and intellectual diseases, and can bear on our intentional
make-up too, including on our wills. We can be diseased morally
responsible intentional agents, not just diseased bodies or minds. Our intentions
can go astray, even in morally accountable ways. Can they (and we
ourselves) be brought back in line with reality and with what’s truly
good for us? If so, how? We’ll consider a widely neglected affirmative
answer that puts the spotlight on our ways of willing, including our
intentions. (On the causal role of intentions, beyond desires and
beliefs, in actions in general, see Mele and Moser 1994.)

This book’s account of purposively available
conclusive evidence and knowledge of divine reality focuses on a
distinctive kind of evidence available in experience: evident
authoritative divine love expressed via human conscience, including an
evident invitation to repentance and volitional fellowship with God.
Such experiential evidence differs significantly from the mystical,
spectacular, or fantastic religious experiences reported by many
proponents of religious belief (on which see Wiebe 1997, 2004). In
addition, it differs from what some call “numinous” religious
experiences, if being numinous entails “being overwhelmingly powerful”
(cf. Yandell 1993, p. 236). Religious experiences of a mystical,
spectacular, fantastic, or numinous kind are, according to this book’s
account, not only unnecessary but also dangerous for experientially
well-founded theistic belief. Their danger arises from their easily
diverting human attention from what would be crucially important in a
divine self-revelation to humans: namely, the purportedly redemptive
manifestation of a divine authoritatively loving character worthy of
worship and thus of obedient human submission. Such an evident divine
manifestation via human conscience would be humanly suppressible, and
thus not “overwhelmingly powerful.” Even so, such human suppression of
divine evidence could leave salient experiential evidence of its own,
including human restlessness (lack of peace), joylessness, selfish
fear, and a dearth of unselfish love.

Three main questions will occupy us throughout
this book. First, if God’s existence is concealed, hidden, or
incognito, why should we hold that God exists at all? More
specifically, what is the potential in that case for human knowledge of God’s reality based on genuine conclusive evidence? Second, if God exists, why is God’s existence hidden at all,
particularly if God aims to communicate with people in some way and to
lead them into better lives? Third, what are the implications of God’s
concealment for philosophy and religion as they concern talk of God and
of knowledge of God? This book answers these questions with due
aversion to fideism and due attention to conclusive purposively
available evidence that can challenge skeptical doubts about God’s
existence. Careful attention to skeptical qualms will keep us honest in
our inquiry, and save us from any uncritical or cognitively arbitrary
dogmatism. Chapters 1–3 take up the first two main questions, and
Chapter 4 treats the third question. Chapter 5 outlines the aftermath
of the proposed cognitive reorientation as it concerns the human
predicament of destructive selfishness and impending death. The book’s
Appendix defuses any remaining general skeptical worries. The overall
result is a new, skeptic-resistant understanding of purposively
available evidence and knowledge of God’s reality as incognito. This
result, we’ll see, yields an effective new challenge to skepticism
about the reality of God.

2   PLANS

Chapter 1, “Doubting Skeptics,” begins with an
ageless question kicked around by all age groups. Does our available
evidence entitle us to acknowledge a God who can deliver us from the
human predicament of destructive selfishness and impending death? The
underlying issue: is there really a God who can save us and
even cares to save us from our fatal problems? (If a person sincerely
holds that we have no fatal problems, that person may benefit from
consultation with a psychiatrist.) If the God in question actually
exists, how is this God to be flushed out of hiding into plain view? We
want plain view, because plain view seems to be easy view for
us. Plain view evidently won’t ruffle our feathers. What if, however, a
perfectly loving God wants to ruffle our feathers, and even needs, as
God, to ruffle dangerous, life-threatening features of ours? How then
would God relate to humans? We’ll consider a challenging answer that
bears directly on how a worship-worthy God who hides would be known by
humans. Realities intrude in our lives in various ways, and we’ll
attend to a kind of intruding, and corresponding available evidence,
often neglected by philosophers, theologians, and others.

Skeptics about God’s reality, otherwise known as
“agnostics,” propose various doubt-raising questions about God’s
existence. They contend that some questions of theirs decisively resist
answer, owing to inadequate available evidence concerning divine
reality. In particular, skeptics about God’s reality contend thus
regarding the question of God’s existence, and therefore recommend on
evidential grounds that people withhold judgment on the claim that God
exists: that is, neither affirm nor deny the claim. Agnostic skeptics,
then, aren’t atheists, given that the latter actually deny that God
exists.

Skeptics about God’s reality, according to
Chapter 1, have overlooked an important kind of purposively available
evidence for divine reality. One will receive this available evidence
firsthand, as suggested above, only via one’s allowing the evidence to
attract one’s attention in such a way that it becomes saliently
experienced by one for what it actually is intended to be: an evident
divine authoritative call to volitional fellowship whereby one allows
one’s volitional attitudes to be conformed to divine perfect love.
Chapter 1 calls this
perfectly authoritative evidence of divine reality. This is the kind of evidence characteristic of a God worthy of worship.

In contrast with spectator evidence,
perfectly authoritative evidence of divine reality makes an
authoritative call on a person’s life, including a person’s will, to
yield wholeheartedly to divine perfect love, in fellowship with God. It
thereby treats the person as something other than a neutral spectator
or self-sufficient cognitive judge. (Among humans, there are no neutral
spectators or self-sufficient cognitive judges anyway, even if we
sometimes pretend otherwise in classrooms, labs, courtrooms, and
philosophy discussions.) Is the perfectly authoritative evidence in
question real and, if so, where is it to be found? In addition, where
is the corresponding personal authority to be found? Who has the needed
road map to this authority, and what is the price of this map?

Part of the price to be paid, in accordance with question (c) above, is that we must be freely willing to be known
by God in virtue of our allowing a divine authoritative call to
volitional fellowship to be saliently presented to us in such a way
that it judges us in terms of our moral and cognitive standing before
God. This involves the aforementioned decisive shift in focus from
asking simply, “Do I know that God exists?” to asking “Am I willing to be known
by God in virtue of being authoritatively challenged by God for the
sake of my being transformed toward God’s moral character via my being
led by God in volitional fellowship?” The latter question looms large
in this book, and, as suggested, yields a seismic shift in issues
concerning human knowledge of God’s reality. It makes, as we’ll see,
all the difference in the world, and in us too, regarding knowledge of God’s existence.

Chapter 1 introduces a widely ignored notion of volitional knowledge
of God’s reality that would be suited to a purposive authoritative God
who seeks to transform people noncoercively toward God’s moral
character of perfect love. Such knowledge involves perfectly
authoritative evidence demanding that humans yield their wills to the
morally perfect authority offered as the source of the evidence, that
is, God. To the extent that a person is unwilling to be led by God in
transformation toward God’s moral character, a demand of the
authoritative evidence would be violated by that person. For instance,
if a person opposes the unselfishly loving ways of God, that person
would be in volitional conflict with a demand of the evidence in
question.

The demands of the perfectly authoritative
evidence would be fully satisfied only by one’s actual volitional
fellowship with God whereby one allows oneself to be transformed
wholeheartedly toward divine perfect love. The unselfish love inherent
to a morally perfect God’s character would be person-relational
in that it would be genuinely received only via volitional fellowship
of the recipient with the divine giver of this love. Whereas some
evidence is sensitive to intellectual or sensory reception, the
evidence appropriate to volitional knowledge of divine reality is
sensitive to volitional reception of unselfish love. So, we’ll
base the needed account of purposively available authoritative evidence
and knowledge of divine reality on the character of the perfect love
required for worthiness of worship. We thus won’t allow for any ad hoc
cognitive exception for belief in God’s existence, with regard to
needed supporting evidence. Fideism, as suggested, will find no
foothold here. Instead, a distinctive version of volitional theistic
evidentialism will emerge and flourish in subsequent chapters.