An orthodox Christian seminary student recently told me that he would not debate me regarding the validity of the claims of the Bible because I have no understanding of philosophy. I found this assertion ridiculous, but as I am always open to learning, I accepted his challenge to study some of the basic concepts of Philosophy.
In my current reading of Philosophy I at times find it fascinating and at other times silly. Some of these guys (philosophers) obviously had too much time on their hands. If they had been poor, out working the fields, I doubt they would have sat around wondering if reality exists only in the mind and other such issues.
Here are a couple of things I have learned so far:
I am an “evidentialist”. I require objective evidence to believe in the Christian God and the supernatural claims of the Bible. However, some people are not evidentialist when it comes to belief or non-belief in God. Some people are “non-evidentialists”. This category of people can be further subdivided into:
“fideists”: belief in God can only be justified in virtue of having faith in God.
“prudentialists”: the belief in God is best justified on prudential grounds.
“subjectivists”: the belief in God can be justified by subjective evidence (often personal religious experience).
I would place orthodox/confessional Lutherans into the “fideist” category and evangelicals into the “subjectivist” category.
Conclusion: I don’t believe that I have ever claimed that it is wrong for conservative Christians, whether they be fideists or subjectivists, to believe in the Christian god. My position is that conservative Christians have no “objective evidence” for their beliefs, and therefore based on my criteria for believing a supernatural claim, such as the claim of the Resurrection of Jesus, I am not willing to accept your claims, I am not willing to accept as evidence your feelings/intuition that you have faith, Mr. orthodox Lutheran, nor am I willing to accept as evidence your subjective feelings and experiences of the presence of Jesus within you, Ms. evangelical Christian. I want objective evidence. And so far, the only objective evidence I have found is Papias, a notoriously unreliable source, and Paul of Tarsus, a man known for visions and hallucinations.
Not good enough for me.
But let’s see what else I learn from my study of Philosophy.