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

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Sources

Michael Martin on Religious Experience

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Religious experiences are like those induced by drugs, alcohol, mental illness, and sleep deprivation: They tell no uniform or coherent story, and there is no plausible theory to account for discrepancies among them.

Michael Martin on the Absence of God

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Since experiences of God are good grounds for the existence of God, are not experiences of the absence of God good grounds for the nonexistence of God? After all, many people have tried to experience God and have failed. Cannot these experiences of the absence of God be used by atheists to counter the theistic argument based on experience of the presence of God?

John Hick on the Many Faces of God

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Kant distinguished between noumenon and phenomenon, or between a Ding an sich and that thing as it appears to human consciousness… In this strand of Kant’s thought — not the only strand, but the one which I am seeking to press into service in the epistemology of religion — the noumenal world exists independently of our perception of it and the phenomenal world is that same world as it appears to our human consciousness… I want to say that the noumenal Real is experienced and thought by different human mentalities, forming and formed by different religious traditions, as the range of gods and absolutes which the phenomenology of religion reports.

Miracles and Justified Belief: Further Clarification

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In an ongoing dialogue in this journal (Sophia), Robert Larmer and I have been discussing whether the undisputed occurrence of certain conceivable events — for instance, astonishing healings — could require all honest, thoughtful individuals to acknowledge that God has supernaturally intervened in earthly affairs. I have not denied that a theist (or nontheist) could justifiably consider the occurrence of certain possible (or even actual) events to be strong evidence for theism — for the existence of a God who benevolently intervenes in earthly affairs. But nontheists, I have argued, can justifiably maintain that evil — that the amount and nature of human pain and suffering — stands as strong evidence against God’s existence. Furthermore, I have argued, nontheists can justifiably maintain that the evidence against God’s existence generated by evil would outweigh any amount of evidence for theism that might be produced by any conceivable set of events. And for this reason I have continued to deny that there exists any conceivable context in which a person who did not acknowledge that God has intervened in earthly affairs could justifiably be accused of having conducted herself in a nonrational manner.

Miracles and Natural Explanations

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In response to Robert A. Larmer, Basinger argues: “There is little basis upon which to claim that all proponents of solely natural causation are guilty of dogmatic, uncritical, question-begging reasoning. To claim emphatically that there is in fact no God (and thus no divine causal intervention) may be an unwarranted metaphysical contention. But the nontheist need not be making any such ontological claim. She can simply be saying that, while this epistemological contention is debatable, its affirmation is not necessarily any more dogmatic or question begging than the belief that the ‘total’ evidence makes theistic belief (and thus the possibility of divine intervention) most reasonable.”

Jerry Gill on Faith as a Leap

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On the other hand, there are those who disdain the apologetic task altogether, either because they believe that Christian faith is entirely a gift of God or because they advocate religious commitment as a “leap of faith”. Such thinkers would quote Pascal: “The heart has reasons that reason knows not of”. What those who take this approach overlook is that it proves too much. If Christian belief is justified by faith alone, then so is every other form of belief on the commitment market, since the devotees of each are equally convinced they are right. Besides, it is important to notice that Pascal still called the reasons which are not known by reason, “reasons”.

The Miracle of Theism

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In The Miracle of Theism, J.L. Mackie examines the arguments for and against the existence of God from an atheistic perspective. John Mackie is a highly respected twentieth century philosopher and along with Anthony Flew has been one of the most capable contemporary proponents of atheism. Written almost a quarter of a century ago, “The Miracle of Theism” remains a classic in the field of religious philosophy and is widely considered to be one of the best-stated arguments for atheism in print. Unfortunately, many popular works supporting the atheistic perspective come across as unduly angry and self-righteous. In contrast, Mackie’s work is a much-needed breath of fresh air. One may disagree with Mackie while at the same time respecting his views. ~ A Reader at Amazon.com

The Justification of Religious Belief

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Can the existence of God be demonstrated? Is the very idea of God logically incoherent? What is the nature of the arguments for and against the existence of God, and how do they relate to other kinds of arguments? Is a rational choice between belief and non-belief possible? “The problem before us is that, if systems of religous belief require and admit of rational justification, as has been argued, they ought only to be accepted more or less…”

Gordon Kaufman on Language and Theology

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The central problem of theological discourse, not shared with any other "language game," is the meaning of the term "God." "God" raises special problems of meaning because it is a noun which by definition refers to a reality transcendent of, and thus not locatable within, experience. A new convert may wish to refer the "warm feeling" in his heart to God, but God is hardly to be identified with this emotion; the biblicist may regard the Bible as God’s Word; the moralist may believe God speaks through men’s consciences; the churchman may believe God is present among his people — but each of these would agree that God himself transcends the locus referred to. As the Creator or Source of all that is, God is not to be identified with any particular finite reality; as the proper object of ultimate loyalty or faith, God is to be distinguished from every proximate or penultimate value or being. But if absolutely nothing within our experience can be directly identified as that to which the term "God" properly refers, what meaning does or can the word have?

Francis A. Schaeffer on Believing and Bowing

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I am invited to ask the sufficient questions in regard to details but also in regard to the existence of man. I am invited to ask, the sufficient question and then believe him and bow before him metaphysically in knowing that I exist because he made man, and bow
before him morally as needing his provision for me in the substitutionary, propitiatory death of Christ.

C.S. Lewis on Being Naked Before God

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In the twinkling of an eye, in a time too small to be measured, and in any place, all that seems to divide us from God can flee away, vanish, leaving us naked before Him, like the first man, like the only man, as if nothing but He and I existed. And since that contact cannot be avoided for long, and since it means either bliss or horror, the business of life is to learn to like it. That is the first and great commandment.

The Wisdom to Doubt

Go The Wisdom to Doubt is a major contribution to the contemporary literature on the epistemology of religious belief. Continuing the inquiry begun in his previous book, Prolegomena to a Philosophy of Religion, J. L. Schellenberg here argues that given our limitations and especially our immaturity as a species, there is no reasonable choice but to withhold judgment about the existence of an ultimate salvific reality. Schellenberg defends this conclusion against arguments from religious experience and naturalistic arguments that might seem to make either religious belief or religious disbelief preferable to his skeptical stance. In so doing, he canvasses virtually all of the important recent work on the epistemology of religion. Of particular interest is his call for at least skepticism about theism, the most common religious claim among philosophers. The Wisdom to Doubt expands the author's well-known hiddenness argument against theism and situates it within a larger atheistic argument, itself made to serve the purposes of his broader skeptical case. That case need not, on Schellenberg's view, lead to a dead end but rather functions as a gateway to important new insights about intellectual tasks and religious possibilities. ~ Product Description

Ethics of Belief

Go This volume is presented as a tribute to D.Z. Phillips and the introduction by Eugene Long includes a brief discussion of Phillips' life and work. The first six articles were originally written at the invitation of Phillips for a conference on the ethics of belief held at Claremont Graduate University. Unfortunately Phillips died unexpectedly July 25, 2006 and was unable to participate in the conference. Two additional essays were invited by the editors to help add Phillips' voice to the discussion. Essays by Allen Wood, Richard Amesbury and Van Harvey discuss the question of the ethics of belief in the context of the evidentialist principle most frequently associated with W. K. Clifford. Essays by Ronney Mourad, Jennifer Faust and Robert Audi are concerned with the voluntariness of belief, the persuasive power of arguments and differing conceptions of faith, belief and acceptance. The final two essays by John Whittaker and Anselm Min focus on Phillips' understanding of the logic and rationality of religious belief. The book concludes with a tribute to Phillips written by Patrick Horn. ~ Product Description

J.R. Lucas on Knowing God as a Person

Go If God is a person, it follows that our relations with God are personal relations. ... God is not a Thing. Nor is he an Idea. If we were Platonists, we might believe that there was some technique whereby we could emancipate ourselves from the shackles of our earthly existence and put ourselves on a level with the Forms. But God, being a living spirit, has a different sort of existence from the dead timelessness of the Forms. Knowledge of him is not like knowledge of mathematical truths, which any man can set himself to come to know, but like knowledge of persons, and is essentially an interchange between two parties, requiring not only our wish to know, but his willingness to be known.

Meaning and Mystery

Go Philosophers typically assume that the appropriate way to reflect on God’s existence is to consider whether God is needed as a hypothesis to explain generally accepted facts. In contrast, David Holley proposes that the question of belief should be raised within the practical context of deciding on a life-orienting story, a narrative that enables us to interpret the significance of our experiences and functions as a guide to how to live. Using insights from sociology and cognitive psychology to illuminate the nature of religious beliefs, Holley shows how removing religious questions from their larger practical context distorts our thinking about them. Meaning and Mystery makes abundant use of illustrative material, including examples drawn from television shows such as Joan of Arcadia, from films such as Stranger Than Fiction, as well as from literature such as Les Misérables, Life of Pi, Flatland, and Leo Tolstoy’s A Confession. Challenging the way philosophy has traditionally approached the question of God's existence, this book will be of interest to anyone who wants to think seriously about belief in God. ~ Product Description

Francis A. Schaeffer on Faith in Faith

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Probably the best way to describe this concept of modern theology is to say that it is faith in faith, rather than faith directed to an object which is actually there. Modern man cannot talk about the object of his faith, only about the faith itself. So he can discuss the existence of his faith and its “size” as it exists against all reason, but that is all. Modern man’s faith turns inward. In Christianity the value of faith depends upon the object towards which the faith is directed. So it looks outward to the God who is there, and to the Christ who in history did upon the cross once for all, finished the work of atonement, and on the third day rose again in space and in time. This makes Christian faith open to discussion and verification.

Francis A. Schaeffer on Science and the Unkown

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At the same time one must avoid the opposite mistake of saying that because God has communicated truly concerning science, all scientific study is wasted. This is a false deduction. To say that God communicates truly does not mean that God communicates exhaustively. Even in our human relationships we never have exhaustive communication, though what we do have may be true. Thus, as far as our position in the universe is concerned, though the infinite God has said true things concerning the whole of what he has made, our knowledge is not thereby meant to be static. Created in his image, we are rational and, as such, we are able to, and intended to explore and discover further truth concerning creation.

Francis A. Schaeffer on Revelation and Propositions

Go Why should God not communicate propositionally to man, the verbalizing being, whom he made in such a way that we communicate propositionally to each other? Therefore, in the biblical position there is the possibility of verifiable facts involved: a personal God communicating in verbalized form propositionally to man, not only concerning those things man would call in our generation, religious truths, but also down into the areas of history and science.

Francis A. Schaeffer on Communication

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Communication means that an idea which I have in my mind passes through my lips (or fingers, in most art forms) and reaches the other person’s mind. Adequate communication means that when it reaches the recipient’s
mind, it is substantially the same as when it left mine. This does not mean that it will be completely the same, but that he will nevertheless have substantially realized the point I wish to convey. The words that we use are only a tool for translating the ideas which we wish to communicate.

Michael Polanyi on Christianity and Reason

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The Christian message exploded into this scene as an outrage to rationalism. It restored the I-Thou relation to the very center of everything. It proclaimed that a man put to death a few years before in a remote provincial capital was the Son of Almighty God ruling the universe, and he, this man, had atoned by his death for the sins of mankind. It taught that it was the Christian’s duty to believe in this epochal event and to be totally absorbed by its implications. Faith, faith that mocks reason, faith that scornfully declares itself to be mere foolishness in the face of Greek rationalism — this is what Paul enjoined on his audiences. ¶ The picture is well known. But you may ask where I see any trace here of a new Christian, medieval rationalism striving to reconcile faith with reason. It emerged later as the Christian message spread among an intelligentsia steeped in Greek philosophy. It was formulated by Augustine in terms that became statutory for a thousand years after. Reason was declared by him ancillary to faith, supporting it up to the point where revelation took over, after which in its turn faith opened up new paths to reason… the entire movement of scholastic philosophy from Boethius to William of Ockham was but a variation on this theme. ¶ Ockham brought scholasticism to a close by declaring that faith and reason were incompatible and should be kept strictly separate. Thus he ushered in the period of modern rationalism, which, too, accepts this separation, but with the new proviso that reason alone can establish true knowledge. Henceforth, as John Locke was soon to put it, faith was no longer to be respected as a source of higher light, revealing knowledge that lies beyond the range of observation and reason, but was to be regarded merely as a personal acceptance which falls short of rational demonstrability. The mutual position of the two Augustinian levels of truth was inverted.

John Locke on Authority and Tradition

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Tradition keeps in ignorance or error more people than all the other [the other sources of error] together… I mean the giving up our assent to the common received opinions, either of our friends or party, neighborhood or country. How many men have no other ground for their tenets, than the supposed honesty, or learning, or number of those of the same profession?

Bertrand Russell on Proving God

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I do not pretend to be able to prove that there is no God. I equally cannot prove that Satan is a fiction. The Christian god may exist; so may the gods of Olympus, or of ancient Egypt, or of Babylon. But no one of these hypotheses is more probable than any other: they lie outside the region of even probable knowledge, and therefore there is no reason to consider any of them.

C.S. Lewis on Newspapers

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Even in peacetime I think those are very wrong who say that schoolboys should be encouraged to read the newspapers. Nearly all that a boy reads there in his teens will be seen before he is twenty to have been false in emphasis and interpretation, if not in fact as well, and most of it will have lost all importance. Most of what he remembers he will therefore have to unlearn; and he will probably have acquired an incurable taste for vulgarity and sensationalism and the fatal habit of fluttering from paragraph to paragraph to learn how an actress has been divorced in California, a train derailed in France, and quadruplets born in New Zealand.

C.S. Lewis on Trusting Authority

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Do not be scared by the word authority. Believing things on authority only means believing them because you have been told them by someone you think is trustworthy. Ninety-nine per cent of the things you believe are believed on authority. I believe there is such a place as New York. I have not seen it myself. I could not prove by abstract reasoning that there  must be such a place. I believe it because reliable people have told me so. The ordinary man believes in the Solar System, atoms, evolution, and the circulation of the blood on authority — because the scientists say so. Every historical statement in the world is believed on authority. None of us has seen the Norman Conquest or the defeat of the Armada. None of us could prove them by pure logic as you prove a thing in mathematics. We believe them simply because people who did see them have left writings that tell us about them: in fact, on authority. A man who jibbed at authority in other things as some people do in religion would have to be content to know nothing all his life.

G.K. Chesterton on Tradition

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Tradition means giving a vote to most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death. Democracy tells us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our groom; tradition asks us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our father.