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Experience of God and the Rationality of Theistic Belief (Cornell Studies in the Philosophy of Religion) [Hardcover]

By Jerome I. Gellman (Author)
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Item Specifications...

Pages   211
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.27" Width: 6.16" Height: 0.77"
Weight:   1.18 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Apr 30, 1996
Publisher   Cornell University Press
ISBN  0801433207  
EAN  9780801433207  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Jerome I. Gellman observes that the mystic experience of God's presence, a sense of having direct contact with the divine, often compels belief in God's existence. On the basis of widely accepted principles connecting appearance with reality, Gellman contends, the claims people make of having experienced God show that belief in God is strongly rational, meaning that such claims are sufficient in number and variety to support a line of reasoning making it rational to believe that God exists and irrational to deny God's existence. Gellman considers challenges to his thinking based on epistemological grounds and challenges growing out of the diversity of religious experiences across the range of world religions. He thoroughly evaluates reductionist explanations of apparent experiences of God and finds them incapable of invalidating his view. Finally, he directs his attention to the two most compelling arguments against the existence of God: the charge that the idea of a perfect being is logically incoherent, and the threat to theism based on the existence of evil, in both its logical and probabilistic forms. Until and unless stronger objections come along, he concludes, personal experiences of God constitute sufficient evidence of God's existence.

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Original and Insightful  Feb 8, 2006
In this book, Gellman presents an argument from religious experience to the existence of God and the rationality of belief in the existence of God. He also responds to arguments against the existence of God and the rationality of belief in God.
Across different cultures and times many people have seemed to experience God. Gellman argues that the best explanation for this is that people have experienced God, and thus that God exists. His argument is influenced by the work of Swinburne and Alston, though there are interesting divergences. For example, his argument depends on a principle of rationality that is slightly different from the principle that Swinburne's argument depends on, and he argues for a stronger kind of rationality for belief in the existence of God than does Alston.
Gellman responds to objections from Martin and Rowe, and from the diversity of putative experiences of God, and alternative explanations of religious experiences. He discusses at great length the popular objections from the claims that putative experiences of God have incompatible content and pathological explanations. Gellman often provides numerous responses to a single objection. His treatment of objections is the most extensive that I have seen, and I think that it is often very original.
Gellman finally treats arguments against the existence of God and the rationality of belief in God. He focuses on the claim that the concept of God is incoherent as well as the logical and probabilistic arguments from evil. His response to these arguments is very insightful, drawing from the work of Rowe and Wykstra on the problem of evil.
Gellman's book will be of great interest to professional analytic philosophers and students of the philosophy of religion. Those who have no previous exposure to philosophy may find a few sections, such as the sections on naming and the problem of evil, very difficult to follow. Nevertheless, I think that they could still get the main point of the book.
Gellman's coverage of the argument from religious experience is comprehensive and compelling. The book is rich in argument and generally well organised. He has written one of the best books about one of the most influential arguments in one of the most interesting areas in philosophy. I highly recommend it.

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