Why Religious Experience Cannot Justify Religious Belief

A new publication has just been released online by GCRR's bi-annual academic journal, Socio-Historical Examination of Religion and Ministry (SHERM)! You can read the article for free here.


"Why Religious Experience Cannot Justify Religious Belief"


Theists often claim that neither the diversity of religious experience nor natural explanations for religious experience can threaten the ability of religious experience to justify religious belief. Contrarily, this paper argues that not only do they pose such a threat, but the diversity of religious experiences and natural explanations for them completely undermine their epistemic justificatory power. To establish this, the author first defines the supposed role of religious experience in justifying religious belief. Then the author shows how the diversity of religious experience raises an inductive problem that negates religious experience’s ability to justify religious belief. The author then shows that available natural explanations for religious experience do the same by simply providing better explanations of religious experiences (i.e., explanations that are more adequate than religious explanations of those experiences).

About the Author

Dr. David Kyle Johnson is professor of philosophy at King’s College (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania) who also produces lecture series for The Teaching Company’s The Great Courses. His specializations include metaphysics, logic, philosophy of science, and philosophy of religion. His “Great Courses” include Sci-Phi: Science Fiction as Philosophy, The Big Questions of Philosophy, and Exploring Metaphysics. Kyle has published in journals such as Sophia, Religious Studies, Think, Philo, and Science, Religion and Culture. He has also written numerous book chapters, including eleven entries in Bad Arguments: 100 of The Most Important Logical Fallacies in Western Philosophy (Wiley-Blackwell, 2018). He is also the editor-in-chief of The Palgrave Handbook of Popular Culture as Philosophy (Palgrave, forthcoming), and the editor of Black Mirror and Philosophy: Dark Reflections (Wiley-Blackwell, 2019). He maintains two blogs for Psychology Today (Plato on Pop and A Logical Take), and most of his academic work is available for free download on academia.edu.

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If you have an academic or ministry-related article that you'd like to publish, submit your manuscript to SHERM journal today! Start by clicking this link here and then following the instructions laid out in the Author Guidelines document on the SHERM website.

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