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The Rationality of Belief in God

  • Michael R. DePaul (a1)

In the introduction to his account of the debate concerning religion between Cleanthes, Philo and Demea, Pamphilus remarks that ‘reasonable men may be allowed to differ where no one can reasonably be positive’. Pamphilus goes on to suggest that natural theology is an area that abounds with issues about which ‘no one can reasonably be positive’. Assuming that the beliefs of reasonable men are themselves reasonable, Pamphilus can be interpreted as holding that

(P) If no one is reasonably positive that the proposition p is true or that it is false, a man might reasonably believe that p or might reasonably believe that not p.

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page 343 note 1 Hume, David, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1976).

page 343 note 2 The Nature of Necessity (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1974), pp. 196221.

page 343 note 3 The Cosmological Argument (Princeton: University- Press, 1975).

page 344 note 1 Ontological Arguments’, Nous, XI (1977), 375–95.

page 344 note 2 Ibid. p.377.

page 344 note 3 Ibid. p. 378.

page 345 note 1 Ibid. p.380.

page 345 note 2 Ibid.

page 346 note 1 Plantinga, , op. cit. p. 214.

page 346 note 2 Ibid.

page 346 note 3 Ibid. p. 215.

page 346 note 4 Ibid. pp. 219 20.

page 346 note 5 Ibid. p. 220.

page 346 note 6 Ibid. p. 221.

page 349 note 1 Inwagen, Van, op. cit. p. 389.

page 349 note 2 This point was brought to my attention by Peter Van Inwagen in correspondence.

page 349 note 3 Op. cit. p. 391.

page 352 note 1 Rowe, , op. cit. p. 113.

page 353 note 1 This example was proposed in correspondence by Peter van Inwagen. The example as presented here contains only minor deviations from his statement of it.

page 355 note 1 I am indebted to Ernest Sosa for discussions of this response to the counter-example.

page 355 note 2 ‘The Will to Believe’ in Essay in Pragmatism (New York: Halfner, 1948), pp. 88109.

page 356 note 1 In addition to the debts previously mentioned, I have benefited from the comments on an earlier version of this paper by Peter van Inwagen, Ernest Sosa and George Pappas and especially from a number of discussions of this topic with Philip Quinn.

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Religious Studies
  • ISSN: 0034-4125
  • EISSN: 1469-901X
  • URL: /core/journals/religious-studies
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