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There has been debate over the existence and or the non-existence ofGod for an extremely long time. According to evidentialists, thebelief that there is God must be backed by prudential evidence (Cowanet al. 96). In other words, Evidentialism is all about the existenceof substantial evidence to back any form of belief. Nonevidentialismon the other hand allows people to have beliefs without prudentialevidence, but only on the basis of personal evidence (Pojman et al.56). This mainly in the field of religion where numerous beliefs haveno prudential evidence to back them. However, such beliefs arebelieved and argued to be rational. One these beliefs that does nothave prudential evidence, but which is considered rational is thebelief of the existence of God.
Clifford in his The Ethics of Belief argued that every beliefmust have prudential and sufficient evidence. He cements this throughthe story of a ship owner who sent it to the sea knowing too wellthat the ship was in bad form and that it needed repair (Conee andRichard 112). Although the ship owner had some doubts about theworthiness of the ship in the deep sea, he went ahead to send theship into the sea. In this scenario, Clifford argues that the shipowner had little evidence about the sea-worthiness of the ship butwent ahead with his personal belief that the ship would make itsafely (Conee and Richard 63). When the ship sank in the middle seawith all the people on board, the owner was charged with murder.According to Clifford, the ship owner sent the ship to the seawithout sufficient evidence about his belief in its worthiness. It isclear from this argument that Clifford and other evidentialists thatevery belief must be backed with sufficient and prudential evidence.In other words, people must be in a position to argue their beliefssince such beliefs must have inference (Cowan et al. 80). This is thesame approach that the evidentialists view the existence of God. Theyassert that the belief in the existence of God must be backed withevidence and if such evidence is unavailable, then there is not sucha belief as the existence of God.
The above argument is in contrast with the view of people such asMichael Bergmann who support reformedepistemology. This is a new field in epistemology which argues thatit is not all beliefs that require inference or prudential evidence.Such beliefs include religious beliefs such as the existence of God.These are beliefs that are based on faith and emanate from the heart(Pojman et al. 103). As such, the belief that God exists does notrequire any evidence. Michael and other proponents of the reformedepistemology argue that religious beliefs do not need any evidenceand opposing them would skeptical. People believe in the existence ofGod through their hearts. Reformed epistemology asserts that thereasoning of the heart is totally different from the normal reasoning(Cowan et al. 78). Denying people their religious belief about theexistence of God is denying them the good things that such faith andbelief would bring along. People have a sense of divinity that cannotbe understood through normal and rational reasoning that allows themto believe in the existence of God without argument or evidence.
My position with regard to the existence of God is that it isperfectly rational to believe in God’s existence without any formof evidence. Whereas Clifford’s argument regarding the existence ofevidence is in itself rational and reasonable, it is clear that whenit comes to matters of faith, rationality and reasoning do not havesignificant influence. The sense of divinity which in people’shearts is what counts in this belief of the existence of God. Mybelief in the existence of God emanates from my deep passion and Ibelieve that such belief does not need any hard evidence. The beliefin the existence of God is a calling from God and is in itselfpersonal. Religious beliefs are personal and in such they only appealto the person who believes in such faith. The belief in the existenceof God is formed on the basis of a personal relationship between meand God and therefore such belief cannot backed by any empiricalevidence.
Believing in God is a calling from God and this may appearmysterious to evidentialists. It is useful to note that the belief ispersonal and one belief in religion may be different from anotherperson’s. The most useful thing is that in religious beliefs, thereis no single person who is forced to believe in what anotherreligious person believes in. Clifford argued that person evidencewould cause harm to either the person or to other people. This is aposition that I totally disagree with. Religious beliefs are personaland do not have any influence on other people or cannot cause anyharm to the believer. In this regard, it is paramount to state thatthe Nonevidentialism appeals to my system of belief that it is notnecessarily a must to have sufficient and prudential evidence inorder to believe in something or have faith.
Pojman, Louis P, and Michael C. Rea. Philosophy of Religion:An Anthology. Boston, MA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning, 2012.Print.
Cowan, Steven B, and Terry L. Wilder. In Defense of theBible: A Comprehensive Apologetic for the Authority ofScripture. , 2013. Print.
Conee, Earl B, and Richard Feldman. Evidentialism: Essays inEpistemology. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2004. Print.