'What Kind of Justification of Religious Belief is Worth Having?' is topic of lecture Nov. 8

'What Kind of Justification of Religious Belief is Worth Having?' is topic of lecture Nov. 8

Richard Swinburne, a distinguished philosopher of religion, will deliver a lecture addressing the question, "What Kind of Justification of Religious Belief is Worth Having?"

This event will be held at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 8, in the auditorium, O'Shaughnessy Educational Center. Sponsored by the Aquinas Chair in Philosophy and Theology, Department of Philosophy, this event is free and open to the public.

Swinburne, renowned for his defense of rational arguments for the existence of God, has published a wide range of works from technical academic philosophy to the highly accessible Is There A God?  His other recent works include: The Evolution of the Soul (a defense of mind-body dualism); Epistemic Justification (a study of epistemology and probabilistic reasoning); and The Existence of God. Swinburne recently retired as Nolloth Professor of the Philosophy of the Christian Religion at the University of Oxford.
"There are two very different accounts of epistemic justification currently discussed – internalist and externalist," says Swinburne. "A belief is epistemically justified insofar as it is probably true.
"For an internalist, a belief is justified if either it is properly basic (one which we are justified in believing just because we have it), or is rendered probable by properly basic beliefs. For an externalist, a belief is justified if it is produced by the right kind of process, and that is normally spelled out as produced by a reliable process. A process such as vision would be reliable if most beliefs produced by vision are true. 

"I argue that no externalist account can possibly capture anything like our understanding of what it is for a belief to be probably true, and that the internalist account of this is basically correct. I use this result to reject two much-discussed externalist accounts of the justification of religious belief – Alston's reliabilist account of the justification of religious experience, and Plantinga's "proper function" account of the warrant of religious belief generally.

"I conclude that to have a justified religious belief, we need an internally justified religious belief, and for most of us that means a belief having some support from the arguments of natural theology (from such phenomena as the existence and orderliness of the world, and from it being fine-tuned to produce conscious embodied rational agents)."

For more information contact Ann Hale in the Philosophy Department, (651) 962-5350.