Friday, January 02, 2009

Michael Martin's critique of Craig on religious experience


Gordon Knight said...

I have to agree with Martin. Craig's view entails that atheism is always a matter of self-deception, which in my experience is absurd on its face.

A better approach would be that of C.D. Broad who drew an analogy with musical apptitude--some people are tone deaf, some people are gifted, most are inbetween. Likewise, it looks to me, empirically, that some people are very much inclinded to have a religious experience (e.g. st. theresa), some people are totally indifferent, others are in between.

It also seems that some people sincerely believe that God's existence has been shown unlikely by argument, be they important,serious arguments, such as the one based on evil, and other scientistic arguments (I think the latter arguments are pretty bad, but it seems many people sincerely accept them.

Anonymous said...

I don't find Martin's critique at all compelling.

I think Martin and Drange etc., have paid too much attention to pop evangelicals the way they commit Criag etc., to "strong doxastic voluntarism". I mean look at James 2:19 - "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder." This suggests that whether or not you claim to believe in God is really a rather tertiary issue. I think a professed disbelief in God's existence is just symptomatic of deeper underlying problems.

For my part, I'm inclined to think that our awareness of God is preconceptual, or at least in some sense prereflective, and that we aren't supposed to decide to believe in God (I can't think of an occasion when I've decided to believe something. That's weird. Beliefs are things which just come to you), it's more an act of "inner submission" to a presence you can't help but (pre-reflectively) acknowledge. I guess this makes it non-rational in the sense that our "rational faculties" are always inessential to the process.

The fact is that, given theism, it is very likely that we possess something like a sensus divinatus, and I can't believe that there are some people for whom it never works for.

Anonymous said...

Very weak response from Michael Martin, I would have thought he could have offered something more substantial and to be honest, I find it surprising.

normajean said...

and to think, people make fun of good ol Craig, bah!

Joe said...

Martin says the following: (the numbers are mine)

"In what follows I will show that 1) Craig fails to make clear what an experience of the Holy Spirit is and does not justify his thesis that this experience is universal, veridical, and unmistakable. 2) In addition, in order to make his case he must assume that all beliefs are actions."

With respect to 1)
A) I don't think Craig needs to show that the experience is universal. Some people are blind deaf and… have other obstacles to using their senses, but that doesn't mean *others* can't find out truths of reality by using their senses.

B) Craig’s inability to explain how the sense works doesn't mean it’s not a valid way to know the world. In 3000 BC people may not have understood how sight and hearing worked. But they still knew some things of reality based on sight and hearing.

With respect to 2):

Craig does not need to maintain "strong doxastic voluntarism" Martin defines it as the position that "belief is always a matter of choice." Craig can very easily say belief isn't *always* a matter of choice but in this case it is. Martin gives no reason Craig must defend the extreme "strong doxastic voluntarism" he describes. Indeed Craig does not need to defend that position at all. Craig can be a moderate in this regard and still make the point he does.

The argument is so bad it seems queer that it would exist in a philosophers mind. :)