Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The simple religious perception argument against naturalism

  1. Every natural perceptual faculty we have sometimes functions veridically.
  2. We have a natural faculty of religious perception.
  3. Religious perception is always perception as of something supernatural.
  4. If a perception is as of an F, and the perception is veridical, then there is an F.
  5. Therefore, there is something supernatural.

One can always also try a probabilistic version of the argument: it is very unlikely that a faculty should never function veridically, so probably there is something supernatural.

11 comments:

Greg said...
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Greg Gandenberger said...

I find proposition 2 alarming.

Alexander R Pruss said...

Religious experience seems really widespread in human beings, across cultures, and we don't usually consider people who have religious experiences to be somehow abnormal. Certainly, the evolutionary debunking folks don't. :-)

Mikhail Lastrilla said...

It seems a faculty must have some causal connection to its objects - the faculty of sight is causally connected to visual objects, for example. But it is far from clear how a faculty of religious perception is causally connected to its objects. Perhaps the question to ask here though is: what do you mean by faculty?

Alexander R Pruss said...

Everything is causally connected to the creator, if there is a creator.

Mikhail Lastrilla said...

Good point. Though in that case, the argument only works for the supernatural in case the supernatural is the creator.

Mikhail Lastrilla said...

A problem regarding (1) - how do we know it's true? Perhaps there are natural perceptual faculties we have that have not been "activated", as it were. In that case, this inactive faculty has not had the chance to function veridically. If we revise (1) to mention only activated faculties, we'll need to revise (2); but then, this revised (2) becomes question-begging. This comment seems to apply to the probabilistic version of the argument too.

Alexander R Pruss said...

It's an odd hypothesis that there are natural non-active faculties. (Black hole vicinity detectors? Neutrino detectors?) But one can accommodate this by restricting to faculties that are not uncommonly in use.

Ryan said...

Concerning premise 3, how does this fit in with the fact that atheists have what they call religious experiences relating to nature?

Bert Morrien said...

Who are ''we''?
Please speak for yourself.
I have curious feelings where many other people seem to have religious feelings. Curiosity provokes sorting things out, possibly finding answers. Religious feelings only seem to provoke beliefs.

Alexander R Pruss said...

we = human beings.

That we humans have a natural faculty of religious perception does not mean that everyone has religious perceptions.