Belief in God Is Not Properly Basic
Goetz (Stewart)
Source: Religious Studies, Vol. 19, No. 4 (Dec. 1983), pp. 475-484
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Introduction1

  1. In this article I shall concern myself with the question 'Is some type of justification required in order for belief in God to be rational?'
  2. Many philosophers and theologians in the past would have responded affirmatively to this question. However, in our own day, there are those who maintain that natural theology in any form is not necessary. This is because of the rise of a different understanding of the nature of religious belief. Unlike what most people in the past thought, religious belief is not in any sense arrived at or inferred on the basis of other known propositions. On the contrary, belief in God is taken to be as basic as a person's belief in the existence of himself, of the chair in which he is sitting, or the past. The old view that there must be a justification of religious belief, whether known or unknown, is held to be mistaken.
  3. One of the most outspoken advocates of this view is Alvin Plantinga. According to Plantinga the mature theist ought not to accept belief in God as a conclusion from other things he believes. Rather, he should accept it as basic, as a part of the bedrock of his noetic structure. 'The mature theist commits himself to belief in God; this means that he accepts belief in God as basic.'
  4. In what follows I would like to examine and question the arguments Plantinga uses to support the view that religious belief ought to be basic in a person's epistemological structure. I will argue that belief in God ought not to be considered as basic because it cannot be. Belief in God is not basic because it is inferred, and thus based on a more basic proposition held to be true by the person doing the believing. In short, I shall maintain that an inference is needed if belief in God is to be considered rational.

In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1:

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