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Warrant and the Freud-and-Marx Complaint

The genius of a man capable of explaining religion seems to me to be of a higher order than that of a founder of religion. And that is the glory to which I aspire.

Charles DuPuis

What we have seen so far is what the de jure question and criticism are not: it is not the complaint that the believer is not within her intellectual rights in believing as she does; it is not the complaint that she has no good argument from propositions that are self-evident, about her own mental states, or evident to the senses for her; it is not the complaint that she has no good argument of some other sort; it is not the complaint that her Christian belief lacks Alstonian justification, or means-end rationality; and it is not the complaint that it isn’t practically rational to decide to continue to form belief on the basis of experience. None of these criticisms has much of a leg to stand on.

So the de jure criticism has proven elusive. In the last chapter, however, we did finally catch a glimpse of our quarry—no more than a glimpse, though—and in this chapter I want to look further into the nature of this style of criticism, in part by trying to come to an understanding of the rejection of religious belief associated with Freud and Marx. Then I will point out the connection between the de jure question, properly understood, and warrant, the subject of the two preceding books in this series. In the next few chapters, I will consider more explicitly the question whether Christian belief can have warrant even if it doesn’t receive it by way of argument or propositional evidence. This is really the question (as I might have put it in 136“Reason and Belief in God”150150   In Faith and Rationality, ed. Alvin Plantinga and Nicholas Wolterstorff (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1983).) whether belief in God and Christian belief more generally can be properly basic—properly basic with respect to warrant. (It is also the question I was raising [rather inchoately] in God and Other Minds.151151   Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1967.) Perhaps another way to put this question is to ask whether Christian belief can get warrant, not by argument but by virtue of (broadly construed) religious experience.

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