Unit 4

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Inner conviction

  • Why argue God's existence inductively if you just know he's real?
  • We must take religious experiences which lead to knowledge of God from inner conviction seriously
  • Inner conviction may lead people to 'just know' many things, but it is not always reliable
  • We often use inner conviction in everday matters, but can we use such intuition in matters of religion?
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Knowledge from intuition

  • God may be known indirectly + intuitively through experiences in the world
  • Intuitive knowledge we have of other people offers a parrallel intuitive knowledge of God
  • This intuition has a 'mediated immediacy' - it isn't reasoned knowledge, although the intellect supports the intuition
  • Owen sees all genuine religious experiences as offering intuitive knowledge of God, whether derived from nature, scripture or worship
  • Biblical teaching reveals God as intuitively known through a range of media
  • Intuitive knowledge of God is characteristic of faith: an intuitive way of knowing which enables a relationship with God
  • Such knowledge of God requires "no further argument or support"
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Feeling certain and being right

  • Some people highlight the problem of relying on intuition as a way of knowing God. The issue is one of certainty
  • We can feel certain without being right, although we are so familiar with our intuition that we mistake it as a reliable indication of being right
  • So how can we test when out intuition is right? We can't rely on intuition to test itself. Although we sometimes have reliable intuitions, this is due to the situation not the intuition itself
  • Knowledge from intuition appears to be more reliable in some cases than in others. Self-deception and the wide range of intuitions held by many different people means we should be cautious
  • Supporters of intuition as a way of knowing God have built their arguments on much more evidence than that offered by intuition alone
  • The person who claims intuitive knowledge of God isn't speaking nonsense
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Knowledge about and experience of

  • Martin Buber argues that experience of God leads to an I-You relationship with him - God seeks personal relationships with people
  • Belief in God is seen to be better than belief about God. The I-You relationship is beyond analysis
  • However there are serious challenges to assumptions of the I-You relationship, such as the sense of the encounter may be mistaken
  • We must have 'knowledge about' God to have 'experience of' him
  • For the philosopher, 'knowledge about' is more valuable than 'experience of', although the believer rates the latter more highly
  • An I-You relationship presupposes an I-It relationship, otherwise the believer must say they're experiencing a person they don't know
  • First-hand experience doesn't always count as knowledge if second-hand knowledge is sufficient, however first-hand experience provides more impressions not avaliable from second-hand knowledge
  • We're in a position to gain extra knowledge from first-hand experience
  • First-hand encounters with Gos aren't necessarily just for gaining further knowledge - they're sought for the sake of love and worship
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The sense of knowing God

  • The inner convication of God's reality is vital for religious belief and generates a sense of knowing God, and philosophical difficulties should not detract from it
  • However the sense of knowing God isn't a sufficient form of knowledge, but that shouldn't lead us to take no interest in the knowledge of God communicated through religious experience
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