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In Defense of Natural Theology 11: David Hume, Experiential Evidence and Belief in God

09/05/2011

The gist of this chapter is that Hume is inconsistent when he rejects belief in God as not having evidence, but says it’s okay for people to believe other things without evidence. Much is discussed about Hume’s evidentialism/restricted skepticism.

Do people hold the same views today, or are the modern views able to avoid these things? Is experience of a divine agent good evidence for God?

If people really do have these divine sensations, they seem to be unable to be confirmed. Our 5 main senses can be confirmed by each other. I see a tree. I can look again and see it again. I can experience with other senses like touch. I can make predictions, based on my sensory data, of what I will see under specific circumstances. If my senses were unreliable, there would be no reason for those predictions to come true. Is the same the case for divine experiences? I don’t think so, but maybe someone could give a case.

Moreover, there is an ability to confirm my sensory data in other people as well. They can also see, feel, touch what I do, and we can share our predictions. The likelihood that my senses are unreliable, but that others have the same ones and can make the same predictions with them, is very low. We can’t say the same about the divine.

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