Philip L. Quinn
This article focuses on the central problem of religious epistemology for monotheistic religions. It is divided into two main sections. The first section discusses arguments for God's existence. It explores what epistemic conditions such arguments would have to satisfy to be successful and whether any arguments satisfy those conditions. The second section examines the claims of Reformed Epistemology about belief in God. It assesses Alvin Plantinga's claim that belief in God is for many theists properly basic, that is, has positive epistemic status even when it is not based on arguments or any other kind of propositional evidence. This article distinguishes two versions of this claim. According to the first, theistic belief is properly basic with respect to justification or rationality. According to the second version, theistic belief is properly basic with respect to warrant.
C. Stephen Evans
The concepts of faith and revelation, though logically distinct, are related in a variety of ways. All of the great theistic religions, especially the Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, have traditionally taught that God can be known only through revelation. Because God is conceived by these traditions to be all-powerful and all-knowing, it is impossible for anyone to gain knowledge of God unless God is willing for this to occur. In some sense, all knowledge of God is made possible by God's decision to allow himself to become known. Reflection on God's revelation in these traditions has generally distinguished between God's general revelation and what are termed special revelations.
In modern usage, “mysticism” refers to mystical experience and to practices, discourse, institutions, and traditions associated therewith. The term “mystical experience” enjoys a great variety of meanings, retaining some of that variety among philosophers. There is no choice but to stipulate meaning for the purposes of this article. A wide definition of “mystical experience” will be more in the spirit of how it figures in general culture, and a narrow definition will echo a meaning common among philosophers. In the wide sense, mystical experiences occur within the religious traditions of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Indian religions, Buddhism, and primal religions. In most of these traditions, the experiences are allegedly of a supersensory reality, such as God, Brahman, or, as in some Buddhist traditions, Nirvana.
Philip L. Quinn
Religious diversity is, of course, nothing new. In the West, Greek observers long ago commented on Egyptian religious beliefs and practices, and the Hebrew Bible records information about the rival religions the Israelites encountered. Surely the early Christians, who were persecuted for refusing to acknowledge the divinity of the Roman emperors, were aware of religious diversity. It did not escape notice in medieval Christendom; Aquinas, for example, cited Maimonides frequently and with great respect. But when the Reformation shattered the unity of Christendom, religious diversity became more salient for the culture of modernity because it had become a source of violent conflict at the heart of Europe. And it appears to be a permanent feature of the pluralistic liberal democracies that have come to be typical of Western Europe and North America. At the beginning of the third millennium of the common era, religious diversity seems to be increasing in importance to philosophical thought.
Adherence to a religion, and participation therein, typically incorporate such actions as worship, prayer, meditation, self-discipline, commemorating certain persons and events, treating certain writings as canonical, allowing one's beliefs and actions to be formed by one's own and others' interpretation of those writings, acting in certain characteristic ways in society, and associating with one's fellow adherents for all the above activities. Typically they also incorporate a variety of propositional attitudes: hoping that certain events will take place, trusting that certain events will take place, regretting that certain events did take place, believing that certain things are true about God, about the cosmos, about the natural world, about human beings—their misery and glory, their history, their institutions. Wittgenstein's phrase “form of life” is appropriate: adherence to and participation in a religion is a form of life.
Paul K. Moser
This article examines the philosophical validity of religious skepticism. The findings indicate that there is easily generalizable support for religious skepticism about the reality of God and that even if an individual were to lack adequate evidence for God's reality, this individual would have no ready way to generalize the truth of religious skepticism for people in general. It discusses volitional knowledge of God and argues that salient evidence of God's reality possessed by nonskeptics is not challenged at all by the fact that there is an individual (or even a group) lacking such evidence.
Sarah E. Fredericks
The academic study of religion uses multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, and transdisciplinary methods because of the nature of religion and the interaction between religious practice and religious studies. Prior to modernity, the study and practice of religion were integrated and separate disciplines were often assumed to study a unified subject. Thus, the terms “multidisciplinary,” “interdisciplinary,” and “transdisciplinary,” which presume strictly separated disciplines do not apply to this period. In modernity, faith-based claims in the guise of objectivity often characterized the academic study of religion, a position increasingly critiqued by academics in the late twentieth century. Yet, new modes of transdisciplinary work demonstrate how scholarship and religious practice may mutually inform each other. Ecumenical and interfaith initiatives share features with multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, and transdisciplinary research methods and may yield helpful insights for these academic endeavors even though their commitment to an overarching worldview and life in communities set them apart.