Book Plunge: Religious Epistemology

What do I think of Tyler McNabb’s book published by Cambridge University Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Epistemology, the study of knowledge, is an interesting field, but it will seem contradictory to many internet atheists out there to have such a thing as religious epistemology. You can have knowledge of religious truths? How can we know anything at all if all religion is nonsense?

McNabb’s main focus on this book is to explain what is known as Reformed Epistemology. This involves someone being justified in knowing that God exists even if they don’t necessarily have the best arguments for it. He is not opposed to arguments for God’s existence and it does not mean that God necessarily exists, but it does mean that if one holds to the existence of God, they can be justified even if they don’t have arguments.

I’m not sold entirely on Reformed Epistemology yet, but it is a serious field defended by even philosophical titans like Alvin Plantinga. William Lane Craig is also a fan of this kind of argumentation. If it’s true, it would also be of great benefit to the layman in the pew who will likely never seriously have to engage with internet atheists, but will just want to know if they are really correct in holding that God exists.

Something amusing about reading these kinds of books is all the illustrations that are used to make a point. In philosophy, one can have a powerful imagination and it works to one’s benefit. Where else are you going to read accounts about swamp men rising up to clone someone or about boys being kidnapped and taken to other planets all to make some justification for a point?

All of this leads to the other point of Reformed Epistemology. If theism is true, and Christian theism is included, then our brains are in essence designed in such a way to find out that God exists. We can contrast this to a position whereby if naturalism is true, our brains are the result of a cosmic accident. This could get us into Plantinga’s Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism. Note that none of this requires arguing against evolution. It only requires that you argue against naturalism.

Yet this does not mean that natural theology is of no benefit. There is a way you can get from Reformed Epistemology to natural theology. After all, even if you can be justified in believing that God exists without explicit argument, that doesn’t mean you don’t want to reach the other people out there who don’t share that belief in the existence of God. This is another great reason to have good arguments so you can be better prepared to reach those who need to know the reality of God.

One final benefit. This book is short. As far as content goes minus endnotes and references and such, it’s less than 50 pages. You can get a good and quick guide from a well-respected publisher and know something about the issue in a single evening. Check it out.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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