Reason and Religious Belief. An introduction to The Philosophy of Religion’ by M. Peterson


Some experiences have less appeal to sensory data; however, they provide focus to human life. Religious experiences are events that an individual is live through and requires individuals to believe that they have an encounter with some transcendent reality. It is necessary to understand the concept of God, since some events in the daily experiences may trigger some insight into man’s spiritual conditions or how God relates to the world without believing that we have experienced God. Experience provides an understanding of the nature of God. Man claims to experience God or Ultimate Reality in a number of ways (Michael 28). Experiences can occur through an unusual, public, and sensory object such as figures seen in a cloud formation. Some individuals may experience unusual things that other people in the same situation might not consider to be common, or through private sensations that can be described in normal sensory language.


The existence of God can only be understood through reason. Some experiences emphasize so much on the cognitive aspect, while some traditional views contend on the non-cognitive aspect. There is a belief that the experience of God has the same structure as perception. Religious experience can also be explained based on religious beliefs. If a religious experience is a perceptual experience then, the same conditions must be true, because what is perceived must exist. Thus, a religious experience is an experience that is interpreted as religious and has a religious content.

According to some theists, the religious experience can be used to justify religious belief but depends on how religious experience is characterized. However, some claim that religious experience has conceptual contents hence cannot be used to ground religious beliefs. There are some non-realist views stating that religious experience is meaningful if it has a place in a religious belief system or worldwide view, having a belief in some supernatural being. Some explanations of religious experience provide emphasis on the existence of God as a supernatural cause provides evidence of His existence Omniscience provides the best explanation of God’s existence. One of the attributes of God’s perfect knowledge of the world is complete, whereas human knowledge is partial and fragmented. The other attribute is God’s moral perfection that is higher than human morality. The process theodicy rejects the classical concept of divine omnipotence. However, there is a common assumption that God does not allow evil unless it is necessary to a greater good according to horrendous evils the assessment of theism. Are God’s experiences classified as perceptual experiences?

The authors discuss whether there is evidence of God’s existence. The ontological argument is the most intriguing theistic argument. The contemporary versions of the ontological arguments follow that if the existence of God were contingent, then God could exist by chance hence would not be the greatest being. Modern Anselmians claim that the adequate conception of God requires logical necessity. Since necessary existence is a great-making property, then God cannot exist since a maximally perfect being is impossible. The cosmological arguments invoke an empirical fact about the world. On the other hand, the Kalam cosmological argument claims that all things begin with a cause in order to exist. For instance, the universe began to exist, and that the universe has a cause for existence.

God must be omniscient, omnipotent, and perfectly benevolent. The big bang argument states that the earliest state of the universe had hostile conditions and the event was inherently unpredictable and lawless. Therefore, God could not create the earliest state; hence, God does not exist. The atemporal cosmological argument does not provide evidence of the existence of the first cause in time. It states that a contingent being exists and has a cause for his existence with maybe something rather than the contingent being itself. Therefore, what explains the existence of the contingent being justified the existence of a necessary being. The most popular argument of God’s existence is the analogical teleological argument, regarded as a causal argument. It emphasizes the means-ends structure or order found in the universe. The teleological argument states that the universe has certain features other than those best explained by evolutionary principles. The intelligent design teleological argument is the most recent formulation of the teleological argument. It provides a theoretical and practical argument of God’s existence. Some believe that a good cumulative case can be constructed from atheism; the cumulative case provides a ground supporting the rationality in the belief in God. Therefore, did God create the early state of the universe with the worst conditions?

Also the authors discuss the problems of evil and the case against God’s existence. Evil is cited as the main reason why the majority of people has difficulty in believing in the existence of God, (Michael 145). Evil affects everybody; hence, some people believe that no one has the intellectual right to believe in God unless an individual can square the belief with the existence of evil. Evil can be classified as moral and natural evil. The category of oral evil contains wrongful and harmful acts and amoral character traits among human beings. Natural evil encompasses physical pain and suffering resulting from personal forces or human actions. Evil has an evidential problem; however, there is an assumption among the theists and the non-theists that the supernatural deity can eliminate the existence of evil. Many theories are embraced by many theists describing what greater goods are connected to what sorts of evils. There are cases of intense suffering, which an omniscient or omnipotent being can prevent or eliminate. This can lead to loss of the greater good or permitting some evil that is equally corrupt or worse. Evil has both evidential and logical problems. According to arguments on defense and theodicy, we can understand the existence of evil. Theodicy offers an account of the reason why God allowed suffering and evil. Some themes in theodicy state that evil is punishment for wrongdoing. Other themes include the ultimate harmony solution and moral perfection. The no all’s-well-that-ends-well strategy claims that every evil is related to ant greater goods. All evils result in greater goods either in temporal and afterlife. However, a final judgment must consider how well the overall theistic position fares when compared to other worldviews. Thus, is the existence of God compatible with and any amount of moral evil?


The authors discuss knowing God with arguments. It seeks to understand if theism requires a base. If the existence of evil were a strong argument against theism, then it would be rational to reject the belief in God. This issue can be solved by evidentialism, the natural way of viewing a subject. Evidentialists suggest that most people are far from being rational in the way they decide on religious beliefs. However, they maintain that there is a possibility for religious beliefs to be entirely rational and fully justified with no sufficient evidence supporting religious beliefs. Evidentialism has been criticized because there are beliefs that hold because they receive evidential support. On the other hand, there are beliefs that are accepted without being supported. It is possible to accept certain beliefs without other beliefs as evidence. An individual is rational by accepting a religious belief only if that belief is self-evident, or incorrigible, or derived from self-evident or incorrigible beliefs using acceptable methods of logical inference. If strong foundationalism is true, then we are wrong in most of the things we think we know. (Michael 8). According to Plantinga, proper basic beliefs must be part of the foundation. Thus in the same way Plantinga suggested that most believers should find a belief that holding because it is justified inferentially from other beliefs. Consequently, it might be true that God exists, which is a properly basic belief. Plantinga emphasizes that God exists, and other beliefs about God are reasonably held in a basic way by individuals who experience God’s presence and activities. Alston’s perception of God is that He is too great and mysterious, too far beyond, and has decreed that human beings should be aware of His presence and unmistaken fashion under certain conditions. Therefore, what makes some beliefs be properly basic than others?


Michael, P., William, H., Bruce, R., and Basinger, D., (2008), Reason and Religious Belief. An introduction to The Philosophy of Religion. USA: Oxford University Press Inc.

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