“and if Christ hath not risen, vain is your faith, ye are yet in your sins;”
1 Corinthians 15:17
I want to grant the strongest possible case allowable for the resurrection of Jesus. Therefore, I expect to afford much leeway- indeed, more than is rationally justified- to the claims of the historicity and reliability of the Christian texts. That is to say I will grant, though I do not think it is true, that the eyewitness reports in the gospels and the epistles are from individuals who were neither inappropriately credulous, uneducated, nor emotionally and psychologically unfit to provide generally reliable testimonies. I will further grant, though I do not think it is true, that the gospels and the epistles are independent, generally reliable and unbiased historical documents which track the events under consideration accurately- as accurately as any historical text could, that is. I will also grant, though I do not think it is true, that the testimony of the Church Fathers was generally reliable and has transmitted accurately the succeeding 1,800 years to the current day.
I shall further suppose, though I am not sure how they might accomplish this, that historians can exclude all possible naturalistic explanations, with the exception of so-called swoon hypotheses, to include even future explanations which further scientific investigation might disclose and more elaborate explanations such as extraterrestrial interventions not now seriously entertained. Even then, I shall contend, Christians are not justified in believing that Jesus’ reported postmortem sightings were the result of a Christian miracle. I will argue that even on these favorable grounds the Christian is not justified in believing the Christian god rose Jesus from the dead.
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In a recent and very engaging presentation at UNF, Chris Tucker asked for an argument that shows perception is trustworthy that does not already assume that perception is trustworthy, where perception includes vision, hearing, taste, touch, smell, and proprioception. It was intended to be a trick question as any argument for one type of perception will depend on another. For example, when asked how I can trust my hearing – e.g. that who I heard speaking at the lecture was Chris Tucker and not a recording being played in the background- I can respond that I watched him speak with my very own eyes. So it seems that we are left with basic faculties of perception to form rational beliefs that cannot themselves be verified as trustworthy by argument or experience independent of those faculties. If this is so, argued Tucker, then a common argument against the use of religious experiences to make religious beliefs rational employs inconsistent standards – higher standards are set for religious beliefs than perceptual. I would like to look more closely at Tucker’s objection and consider a way of responding by arguing that the standards for religious beliefs are not higher than those of perceptual beliefs and that perceptual experiences are supported for reasons independent of those experiences. (more…)
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Posted in Asian Philosophy, Buddhism, Christianity, General Interest, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Philosophy of Religion, tagged Christianity, God, Martin Buber, Meister Eckhart, Religion & Spirituality, Religious experience, Romain Rolland, Sigmund Freud on March 29, 2011|
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There is a side-conversation in the comments section of another post discussing religious experiences and their veracity in affirming the existence of a supernatural or religious ’cause’ of such experiences. This side-conversation reminded me of the discussion of cross-checking procedures beteen Alston and Fales, and so I would like to open up a seperate post for discussion on this topic. Below is an exposition of the largest problem I see with the cross-checking procedure theory.
What I propose is that any attempt to utilize intrapersonal religious experiences in order to justify or prove a specific religious position interpersonally must necessarily fail by virtue of a fundamental disconnect. What’s more, the poverty of cross-checking when applied to transcendent religious experiences is not surprising given the very content of such experiences. By attempting to use the personal to prove the general, the intrapersonal to prove the interpersonal, the profundity of the religious experience is lost and becomes fodder for philosophical skeptics. First I shall begin by discussing the type of transcendent religious experience to which I am referring and by citing specific examples. After that I shall introduce the current discussion surrounding the veracity of religious experiences that has carried on between authors such as Alston and Fales, paying specific attention to the concept of cross-checking. From there I shall argue how, based on the intrapersonal nature of these transcendent religious experiences, cross-checking must be re-evaluated as a verification tool. (more…)
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