Institution Granting Degree
Trinity International University
Rationality, Belief, Postmodern
Enlightenment evidentialism argues that a belief is rational for a person only if that person has sufficient evidence, arguments, or reasons for that belief. Sufficient evidence under this conception of rationality typically follows a classical foundationalist system which argues that the belief that P is rational if and only if P is (1) self-evident, evident to the senses, or incorrigible, or (2) inferable from a set of beliefs that are self-evident, evident to the senses, or incorrigible. In order to be rational about one's beliefs, a cognizer must be able to trace all of one's non-basic beliefs back to self-presenting basic beliefs which coerce (either rationally or probabilistically) one's non-basic beliefs. This approach to rationality carries with it profound implications for the rationality of theistic belief (i.e., the belief that God exists). Most non-theistic evidentialists argue that theistic belief does not satisfy the criteria for rationality because it typically fails to supply the sufficient evidence required to maintain it. By incorporating the valid insights of three contemporary religious epistemologists (Nancey Murphy, Alvin Plantinga, and Richard Swinburne), it is argued that one can arrive at a model of rationality in which sufficient evidence for the rationality of one's beliefs (theistic or otherwise) does not require that a cognizer trace all of one's non-basic beliefs (e.g., belief in God) back to self-presenting basic beliefs that are thought to be coercive on all rationally attentive people. The proposed model of rationality argues that, on one level, sufficient evidence for the rationality of one's beliefs (including theistic belief) incorporates a reason-based conception of justification which may coincide with (but need not) a cognizer's attempts to offer rationally convincing evidence that one's beliefs are true or certain. On another level, being rational about one's beliefs involves attempts to marshall enough of the appropriate kind, quality, and amount of evidence so as to be so rationally convinced of the truth or certainty of a given belief that one can no longer maintain a reasonable doubt.