1/17/2007

Reformed Epistemology


Tonight I was working on "Without Evidence or Argument: A Defense of Reformed Epistemology" by Kelly James Clark and I must say what from what I've read I like. I was first introduced to Reformed Epistemology about 2 months ago when I started doing a research project for the Problem of Evil. In doing my research I was introduced to some interesting academics like Alvin Plantinga, Peter van Inwagen and Richard Swinburne. Until this point I had never heard any of their names and then digging into the material I came to find out that I love what these people had to say about the problem of evil. But as I dug even further into them, reading their other material and stalking them on the Internet, I came to find out that Alvin Plantinga had an even more interesting contribution to the academic community. He was a leader not only in a modern Christian Philosophic movement he was also the founder of a belief system called Reformed Epistemology.

Now let me explain what Reformed Epistemology is, Epistemology is a study of knowledge, specifically dealing with things like: "How do we know other people are real?" "What can we know?" things of that nature. Essentially Plantinga's point was that "God and other minds are in the same epistemological boat, hence if one is rational so is the other. Obviously the later is so therefore the former is." In saying this Plantinga established that as believers in God we really do not need to use "proof" to prove that God exists. The simple art of knowing him (in the same way that you know a person exists) is enough. The proof for the existence of God is your personal experience with him, and this validates your belief just as personal experience and trust validates your belief in your wife, or your son. Your son could really be a robot, there is nothing to say that he couldn't, there is no verifiable way to prove that your son is not a highly complex robotic boy. But the personal experience that you have with him, your trust in your senses and your personal experience validates his existence, likewise with God.

This was monumental to me. I had never thought that I would not have to prove the existence of God to myself. This leads me into this paper by Kelly James Clark, I had quietly been converting to Reformed Epistemology and then I read this paper. I must say that with elegance this paper has truly given me assurance that I am not irrational in the manner of my belief in God. The author then mentions what he calls "non-coercive" evidences. These arguments (Cosmological Argument, Teleological Argument...etc) are then just reinforcers in your belief that there is a God. This was one of the greatest things I could take from this belief, these arguments compliment and validate my belief but they do not prove it. Then with this post, I am officially declaring that I am a believer in Reformed Epistemology.

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