Belief In God Can Be Rationally Justified Without Needing Evidence

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rebekaht's picture


That's an interesting question. However it's drawing a false comparison. I would have no problem with my mother telling me she had seen a friend at a mall as that friend's existence is not in question. However if my mother told me she saw a live sparkly pink magic unicorn at a mall I would assume that some sort of trick of the eye, optical illusion, special effect or other mistake had happened. I would require factual proof and evidence to accept the existence of magic pink unicorns.

Additionally to this, my mother and my father frequently tell me they have had experiences that involve God. This does not change my requirement for evidence and proof that god exists beyond experiential testimony.

Yochanan יהוה-הוא-אדיב Lilley's picture
@ Andromalius...

@ Andromalius...

You have to be able to make a distinction here.

Firstly, you do trust your parents testimony (generally) as being reliable; so anything they told you they witnessed you would believe as being generally more reliable than not (apart from the issue in question).

Secondly, you have to ask yourself the reason you do not believe their testimony concerning the issue of God; are these reasons rational?

The only way your rejection here could be rational concerning specifically disregarding these testimonies of God, is if you have good reason to believe the proposition they claim they witnessed is false (or more likely false than true) or the faculties they employ are unreliable (so the faculties are of unsound mind). So to have a rational reason to reject these testimonies (and not just special plead them; since you would trust all other testimony as more likely true than false without wanting evidence) you have to do one of two things:

FIRSTLY: You would have to have a positive case (rational reasons) which shows (-X) to be more likely true than (X) below (this case would have to outweigh the weight from the general reliability of the witness testimony - so you can not just be agnostic between the two claims):

(X) God exists (Ultimate Reality is Personal - Theism).
(-X) God does not exist (Ultimate Reality is Impersonal - atheism).

(X) If God existed He would communicate with people.
(-X) God God existed He would not communicate with people.


SECONDLY: If you generally trust human faculties for information, you can not just special plead against the ones which inform us about God, unless you have rational reason to specifically do so. So you would have to have a positive rational reason why these particular faculties are unreliable (see my article for more detail on this); whether of humanity in general (concerning my argument) or of your parents specifically (concerning your point).

I hope this makes sense :)

Sheldon's picture

Not one word about "god's existence being evidenced, let alone proved. Even on the Catholic world news agency. What can it mean?

Yochanan יהוה-הוא-אדיב Lilley's picture


What is your point/argument exactly; specifically in regard to the premises of my argument?

Sheldon's picture
"What is your point/argument

"What is your point/argument exactly; specifically in regard to the premises of my argument?"

My point was axiomatic, and I find it hard to believe it has gone over your head.

Yochanan יהוה-הוא-אדיב Lilley's picture
I do not see how pointing out

I do not see how pointing out that a news agency has not reported God exists has anything to do with a person experiencing God? Are you saying the news agencies are not aware of peoples testimonies concerning them experiencing God?

Sheldon's picture
Are there any confirming the

Are there any confirming the beliefs are rational? Which version of which deity are you claiming logic validates btw? As this is going to be bad news for far more theists than atheists given how many different deities people believe in.

mickron88's picture
this might be the longest

this might be the longest post, can't imagine how people handle to read it


Old man shouts at clouds's picture
@ Qu@si

@ Qu@si

what it boils down to in short is that the writer believes in a specific God, christian in this case and further believes that this god has revealed himself or herself to him and other people in a personal, unprovable way. Therefore god exists.

If you respond to him, like Breezy responds, he comes back with, "well you just didn't understand what I was writing" Which is also bollocks.

He has totally ignored all the revelations of their gods and conversations with their gods reported by other peoples and faiths, Far too numerous, and I cant be fucked to list here. I did have some 10 pages of Greek and Roman, never mind the Native Americans and the Aboriginals characters who claimed interaction with their deities, even a couple of Roman senators.
But thats all of course bollocks according to 'super intelligent' man as only the christian revelation counts.

There ya go mate. Saves a lot of reading. Fuck me it was tortuous.

Sheldon's picture
"(A) "the aim in holding a

"(A) "the aim in holding a belief is to hold a true belief."
(B) They have the moral belief/conviction that a human is morally obligated to talk/think/act reasonably, rationally and logically. That one is acting immoral by being (willfully) irrational.
(C) They just happen to have a preference to be seen as rational. Maybe they think others will respect/like them more if they are seen as rational."

A) Asserting this as generally true seems dubious to me, but even assuming it were true, it tells us nothing about the validity of the belief held or it's rationality.
B) I have seen theists post on here and elsewhere who are happy to ignore logical fallacies in their claims, and even repeat them ad nausea, even after they have been pointed out many times.
C) I don't think this can be inferred as true from the apologetics I have encountered.

Then we have this..

2: Belief Forming Mechanism-
"(A) Sensory experience (this does not just mean physical senses): "

There are non-physical senses? I scoured this section and though it produced a slight dizziness I saw not pretence of objective evidence for this idea.
3: Knowledge----------

There are various models of knowledge. The most common is the JTB model (Justified.True.Belief). The JTB models says for person (X) to have knowledge of (A), there must be these three components...

"American philosopher Edmund Gettier, challenged the long-held justified true belief (or JTB) account of knowledge. In his three-page 1963 paper, titled "Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?", Gettier showed, by means of two counterexamples, that there were cases where individuals had justified the true belief of a claim but still failed to know it. The term "Gettier problem", or "Gettier case", or even the adjective "Gettiered", is sometimes used to describe any case in epistemology that purports to repudiate the JTB account."
"The Sensus Divinitatis and the Witness Of The Holy Spirit are two possible ways a person could form a properly basic belief in/about God."

I found this defintion "Sensus divinitatis ("sense of divinity"), also referred to as sensus deitatis ("sense of deity") or semen religionis ("seed of religion"), is a term first used by French Protestant reformer John Calvin to describe a ***hypothetical*** human sense." again if it;s hypothetical it would have to be objectively evidenced in order for a belief based on it to be objectively rational.Calling it a sense is begging the question, one could refer to it as delusion divinitatis just as easily.
"(1) FIRSTLY: The Sensus Divinitatis... a natural sense that God exists. "

Really? Do other animals have this sense? I didn't see the author trouble us with any objective evidence for this claim, and it gets worse.

"This could be a sense rooted in ones perceptional part of the mind, so that under certain circumstances --say when looking at a beautiful sun set or the face of ones new born child-- the Sensus Divinitatis will form the non-inferential belief, ‘God did that,’ or, ‘Divinity is behind that,’ or, ‘God is good and glorious’ etc..."

Wordy verbiage, nothing more. Hitchens's razor applied.
"(2) SECONDLY: The Witness Of The Holy Spirit..."

I almost tire of saying this but without being able to demonstrate some objective evidence that this experience is not an unbiased delusion it is going in the bin using Hitchens's razor. However it must surely occur to any objective reader that such experiences are being and have been claimed to justify belief in every deity from Zeus to Ganesha. This hardly bodes well for the validity of the experience if it asserted sans evidence, but then we needn't be slogging through this wordfest if the author had any objective evidence.
7: Philosopher(s) Dr Craig and Dr Plantinga’s Thoughts...

No thanks, I have heard quite enough from both of these to know they are more than happy to espouse logically fallacious claims and arguments in the most dishonest fashion.
"philosopher" "Dr William L. Craig states:

"I have elsewhere characterized the witness of the Holy Spirit as self-authenticating,"
" (1) that the experience of the Holy Spirit is veridical and unmistakable (though not necessarily irresistible or indubitable) for the one who has it and attends to it;"

Given his strident opening claim I have placed philosopher in inverted commas, and I should love to see some evidence as to how he asserts this experience as "unmistakably truthful"?

" (2) that such a person does not need supplementary arguments or evidence in order to know and to know with confidence that he is in fact experiencing the Spirit of God;"

Well he would say that wouldn't he, but he is wrong, and again the idea that someone can self validate an experience as true without evidence speaks for itself, and for the claim this can form the rational basis for belief. Does WLC accept that all deities are validated through such claims? I think we can guess the answer to that.

>>I'll be honest here, but I am not prepared to devote any more time to this nonsense. Sorry but there is enough already to make me extremely dubious about the thread premise. I see nothing rational in asserting an experience as true, and claiming it requires no corroborating evidence when the experience involves nothing tangible or material. Human experiences or imaginings if you prefer can be extremely compelling and vivid, this does not remotely suggest they are as WLC claims self authenticating. He is simply not a very good philosopher, as his bias in favour of his own faith too often makes him strident and incautious in his claims.

Cognostic's picture
No. It can't! The only

No. It can't! The only argument that comes near to rationalizing god without evidence is the argument from personal experience. No one can prove that you have not talked to an invisible, omnipotent, omnipresent, flying sky daddy. They can lock you away in a psych ward if the idea begins to affect your social functioning, they can disbelieve you and think you are mad, but your personal experience is your own. It is the only argument that can come close to justifying your own belief. It does not justify it to me but I can not prove that something you assert that happened to you, did not happen unless of course you add to it some sort of realistic aspect. If you see god and talk to him, that is delusion to me. If you show me the tree he snapped in half, I can give you a thousand reasons other than your god that the tree snapped in half.

LogicFTW's picture

Your good post reminds me of a quote that I will probably butcher some:

"Tell your local government you talk to an invisible person that has magical powers they might lock you up in the local psych ward. Come with 9 or more friends and family saying the same thing, they will instead give you a tax break, and vigorously protect your right to congregate and recruit others to the collective unproven fantasy."

Sapporo's picture
If you believe something

If you believe something without evidence...that is the very opposite of rational. Further, to believe something that is impossible is insane.

Sheldon's picture
If you read that out loud in

If you read that out loud in the open air I'll bet birds will fall stunned from the sky. There is nothing rational about believing something without proper evidence, and there certainly is nothing rational about believing things that contradict or deny known facts, as we have seen theists do here repeatedly.

Armando Perez's picture
I am not a philosopher so my

I am not a philosopher so my comprehension of the post (that I fully read!) may be defective but, as with many other philosophical writings, I think it uses a lot of words to say something not that complex. I think the post says that believing in God is justified just by having a personal experience or revelation and that should be enough if the person having the experience is truthful and sane.

I see some problem there: If someone has a personal experience about the presence of giant invisible ants and the person is not certified insane, then it means that invisible giant ants exist? The author of the post will say "no", but you can apply the same reasoning to God so the only possible solution is to say that in the case of God, it is not a delusion because we know that giant invisible ants do not exist and God .... exist, just because. I think is kind of a circular argument or special pleading.

On the other hand to put that and science in a similar standing is not correct. These personal experiences are not repeatable, transferable, or reflect in any way in the real, objective world. Science affirmations can be repeated by anybody and are checked against the real wold to be accepted, and that is a big difference.

If gods interact with our reality, (as theists claim) then there should be effects that can be studied by science, if gods do not interact with reality in any way that science can study then they might as well don't exist.

To open the door to "thing that can be know outside of our senses and reason" is a sure way into irrationality, madness and deceitfulness.


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