On-line version ISSN 2304-8557
Print version ISSN 0023-270X
CLOUSER, Roy. Can we know God is real?. Koers (Online) [online]. 2014, vol.79, n.1. ISSN 2304-8557.
This article examines the question as to what ground we have for believing that God is the only true Divinity. A re-evaluation of the misconception of faith as 'blind trust' or belief without reason is provided. From this it is seen that faith, as used in the Bible, may refer to the whole of Christianity as 'the faith', to trust based on expectation (not 'blind trust'), or to faith as genuine knowledge derived from experience. Based on the idea of faith as knowledge derived from experience, this article investigates religious experiences and the self-evident beliefs often arising from these experiences as possibly forming a valid part of our knowledge of God. The traditional restrictions on self-evident truths (that a truth must be recognised by all who understand it, that it must be a necessary truth and that it must be an infallible truth) are shown to be unsupported and contradicted by experience. The definition of 'self-evidence' defended is that such beliefs are simply produced in the mind by experience instead of being inferred from other beliefs, that they are experienced as prima facie true, and that they are irresistible or impossible to disbelieve for the person who had the experience. If we accept this definition of self-evident truths, which corresponds to the way they are actually experienced rather than the version that includes arbitrary restrictions imposed by a few philosophers, not only will beliefs such as that other people have minds, or that our names are what they are, be allowed as self-evident. The experience of the gospel as the truth about God will also be a genuine self-evident truth to those who experience it as such.