The Epistemology of Religion

Analysis 74 (1):135-147 (2014)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

The epistemology of religion is the branch of epistemology concerned with the rationality, the justificatory status and the knowledge status of religious beliefs – most often the belief in the existence of an omnipotent, omniscient and loving God as conceived by the major monotheistic religions. While other sorts of religious beliefs – such as belief in an afterlife or in disembodied spirits or in the occurrence of miracles – have also been the focus of considerable attention from epistemologists, I shall concentrate here on belief in God. There were a number of significant works in the epistemology of religion written during the early and mid Twentieth Century. The late Twentieth Century, however, saw a surge of interest in this area, fuelled by the work of philosophers such as William Alston, Alvin Plantinga and Linda Zagzebski amongst others. Alston, Plantinga and Zagzebski succeeded in importing, into the epistemology of religion, various new ideas from mainstream epistemology – in particular, externalist approaches to justification, such as reliabilism, and virtue theoretic approaches to knowledge (see, for instance, Alston, 1986, 1991, Plantinga, 1988, 2000, Zagzebski, 1993a, 1993b). This laid fertile ground for new research – questions about the justificatory and knowledge status of belief in God begin to look very different when viewed through the lens of theories such as these. I will begin by surveying some of this groundbreaking work in the present article, before moving on to work from the last five years – a period in which the epistemology of religion has again received impetus from a number of ideas from mainstream epistemology; ideas such as pragmatic encroachment, phenomenal conservatism and externalist theories of evidence.

Author's Profile

Martin Smith
University of Edinburgh

Analytics

Added to PP
2013-10-17

Downloads
2,382 (#3,367)

6 months
242 (#9,963)

Historical graph of downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.
How can I increase my downloads?