Originally posted 2015-11-01 08:00:42.
Hi folks! Sorry I wasn’t around last week, there were some things going on that needed to be taken care of. But I’m back and wanted to continue on with where we left off last time. We were going to look at some arguments for the existence of God. And if no one has any objections, I’d like to start with one that’s fairly new to me.
A few weeks ago I was listening to some lectures on my trusty iPod and the lecturer came out with an argument I’d not heard before. It’s taken from Richard Swinburne and his thoughts on the argument for religious experience and how it ties in to the Principle of Credulity.
So, the Principle of Credulity states that if it seems to the subject that “X” is present then “X” probably is present. Swinburne says that the world is probably how we experience it to be. Okay so what does that mean? Let’s just say I’m the subject for right now. And it seems to me that I’m typing a blog post for people to hopefully read. It would be reasonable to determine that I am indeed typing out a blog post that I hope someone will read.. I can hear the tick tick tick of the keys as I type away. I can also see the blinking cursor as I search for words to fill the screen. My senses are telling me that what I am experiencing is real. Also, if you seem to be experiencing this, it would be reasonable to believe that it was actually occurring. We could also come back in a couple of weeks and as long as Ms. Sarindre hasn’t said “Boy, that Vaelerin is out of his mind, I’m going to remove this post!” And we could reaffirm that we had indeed read this.
Now, what about the flip side of this equation? What if it seems to the subject that “X” is NOT present, would it mean that “X” probably is not present? This seems a little tricky to me, but I’ll try to reason it out. I’ve never been to Texas, I’ve never experienced it, would it be likely that Texas doesn’t exist? Somehow I don’t think that argument would get much traction, especially with the residents of Texas. Although, it may drastically reduce their property taxes.
Alright, how can we apply this to a religious experience? We know that it seems that we’re reading this article as I’ve said before and because it seems that we’re reading it, we probably are. And we also know that even if someone else told us that they’d never seen the article and that it probably was never there is not a very good argument. This is what I’m thinking, there are some who would claim that they have had a religious experience and there are those that would claim they have not. Would the lack of experience indicate that there is nothing there? I’m not so sure it would.
And here’s why; I believe there are two worlds. We have the Natural World that we see with our physical eyes. Then, there’s the Supernatural World that we do not see with our physical eyes. I’m thinking that if we start to discount things out of hand because we’ve never been through them, we’re in danger of having to question whether or not anything is real. And that my friends is a mildly disconcerting prospect. What I would suggest is that if we determine that someone’s judgments and assessments of the Natural World seem to be rational then there may be some rationality to their experiences with the Supernatural World as well.
We could probably run around in circles for days on this one of that, I am certain. I think this is a decent argument, but then again; I’m already convinced so it’s not much of a mental leap for me to make. I also think I may have to take a deeper look into this, it seems to hold some interesting prospects. But next week we’ll take a look at something a little bit different.