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Evidence and Transcendence

Religious Epistemology and the God-World Relationship

Anne E. Inman

Publication Year: 2008

In Evidence and Transcendence, Anne Inman critiques modern attempts to explain the knowability of God and points the way toward a religious epistemology that avoids their pitfalls. Christian apologetics faces two major challenges: the classic Enlightenment insistence on the need to provide evidence for anything that is put forward for belief; and the argument that all human knowledge is mediated by finite reality and thus no “knowledge” of a being interpreted as completely other than finite reality is possible. Modern Christian apologists have tended to understand their task primarily, if not exclusively, in terms of one of these challenges. As examples of contemporary rationalist and postliberal approaches, Inman analyzes in depth the religious epistemologies of philosopher Richard Swinburne and theologians George Lindbeck and Ronald Theimann. She concludes that none of their positions is satisfactory, because none can uphold the notion of God’s transcendence while at the same time preserving a sound account of our claims to freedom and knowledge. The root cause of such failures, Inman argues, is an inadequate philosophy of God and of the relation of God and the finite world. Her exploration of the theologies of Karl Rahner and Friedrich Schleiermacher provides the material for the constructive work in this book. Against rationalist and postliberal epistemologies, Inman calls for an austere grounding of Christian faith in the claim that God is known in human conscious activity as such, as the “other” that grounds the finite.

Published by: University of Notre Dame Press

Contents

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pp. vii-

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Introduction: Current Challenges

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pp. 1-2

Over the last four centuries difficult questions have arisen in the area of religious epistemology. Christian apologetics faces two major challenges: the classic Enlightenment insistence on the need to provide evidence for anything that is put forward for belief; and the argument that all human knowledge is mediated by finite reality and thus “knowledge” of a being interpreted as completely other than finite reality is impossible or meaningless. Christian apologists...

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Swinburne and Rationalism

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pp. 3-33

The philosopher Richard Swinburne is acutely conscious of the threat to religious belief, in particular Christian belief, posed by the argument that any truth claim must be justified or grounded in evidence. Dismissing the appeal to faith alone, he accepts the need to provide justification for Christian beliefs. Accordingly, he attempts to reassert the role of the metaphysical in religious epistemology by what he considers rational, even “scientific,” argument. The three elements of Swinburne’s defense of Christian faith are laid out in his trilogy: in The Coherence of Theism1 he asserts the meaningfulness...

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Postliberalism and Lindbeck

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pp. 35-48

Of the two, intimately connected epistemological challenges to Christian faith that are the topic of this study, the first stems from the view that it should be possible, through reasoned argument based on evidence of some sort, to justify belief in any truth that is professed. As indicated in chapter 1, Christian truths were raditionally grounded or justified in one of two ways. Certain truths, such as the doctrine of the Trinity, were accepted on authority, as having been revealed...

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The Anti-foundationalism of Thiemann

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pp. 49-85

The first challenge to Christian faith with which this book is concerned arose from the Enlightenment and is, in that sense, a modern challenge. The second challenge, which forces the Christian apologist to recognize the mediation of all knowledge, is of more recent origin. It is part of the postmodern enterprise, which maintains a critical stance toward the thinking of the modern...

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Schleiermacher and Absolute Dependence

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pp. 87-115

Michael J. Buckley in At the Origins of Modern Atheism has argued convincingly that a gradual separation of natural theology from metaphysics occurred beginning in the seventeenth century, with the rise of modern science and defenders of theism such as Lessing, Mersenne, and Descartes. For many ancient and medieval philosophers, there were questions about why anything whatsoever existed, questions about the “why” of being itself, which pointed to a completely “other” and transcendent cause...

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Rahner’s “God”

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pp. 117-138

In portraying the consciousness of God as the permanent background to human conscious experience, Schleiermacher has provided a way of thinking about knowledge of God without compromising the notion that knowledge of God is radically distinct from knowledge of finite objects. It recognizes the infinite difference between the transcendent and the transcended, and yet allows for the claim that knowledge of God is mediated by the finite. The aim in this...

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An Alternative Approach

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pp. 139-156

We now arrive at the question of how Rahner and Schleiermacher understand the relationship between God and the world. It is already evident that neither treats the world and God as parallel realities. Each in his different way has described the consciousness of God as the permanent background to human conscious experience. Rahner has explicitly stated that transcendental experience...

Notes

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pp. 157-172

Select Bibliography

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pp. 173-177

INDEX

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pp. 179-188


E-ISBN-13: 9780268082642
E-ISBN-10: 0268082642
Print-ISBN-13: 9780268031770
Print-ISBN-10: 0268031770

Page Count: 200
Publication Year: 2008

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Subject Headings

  • Knowledge, Theory of (Religion).
  • Apologetics.
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