verification principle- Swinburne

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  • Are Religious Experiences Veridical?
    • can we actually demonstrate that the religious experiences of people are what they seem to be- are they truthful?
    • Richard Swinburne (The Existence of God):
      • Principle of Credulity: we have good reason to believe what a person tells us is correct- experience is normally reliable- balance of probability says that experience can be trusted- more likely to be true than not.
      • Principle of Testimony: people usually tell the truth- go with the balance of probability. when we are told something we should accept someone's account. no reason to automatically reject what they have claimed to have experienced
      • should not reject the possibility of having a R/E just because not everyone experiences them
        • could be that religious people are more likely to have them; atheist is unlikely to interpret sensory perceptions in a religious way- R/E is unlikely to happen whether or not God is there
          • people may have to be receptive to the possibility of god before religious experiences can happen
          • appears that his argument only works if people are willing to ccept god's existence
    • J.L Mackie (The Miracle of Theism): people could be deliberately deceiving others/ could be mistaken
      • wrong interpretation- assuming it was god. Mistake is more likely than supernatural explanation
    • Richard Gale: R/E are not the same as other types of experiences
      • Swinburne is in favour of basing beliefs on reasonable justification BUT belief is not a matter of reasoned choice- we cannot choose what we believe in/make ourselves believe in something if we simply don't
    • Michael Martin (Atheism: a Philosophical Justification): principle of credulity/ testimony can also lead to the conclusion that there is no God
      • experience the world as 'godless'- strong sense of the absence of god= experience suggests there is no god.
        • however: people are not receptive to high frequency sounds but their experience of their absence does not mean they do not exist
    • Caroline Franks Davis: take reports of experiences at face value unless there is some special importance: the question of god existence is one of ultimate importance and therefore needs investigating further
    • Bertrand Russell: recorded cases of people who believed they heard Satan speaking to them in their hearts - mystics believed god spoke to them in the same way= any argument for god must equally be an argument for Satan
      • principle of credulity can be applies to the nagtive
  • principle of credulity can be applies to the nagtive


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