How Should Theists Respond to Debunking Arguments? A Critique of Hans Van Eyghen’s Arguing from Cognitive Science of Religion

In: Philosophia Reformata
Lari LaunonenDepartment of Systematic Theology, Faculty of Theology, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland,

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Cognitive science of religion has inspired several debunking arguments against theistic belief. Hans Van Eyghen’s book Arguing from Cognitive Science of Religion is the first monograph devoted to answering such arguments. This article focuses on Van Eyghen’s responses to two widely discussed debunking arguments, one by Matthew Braddock and another by John Wilkins and Paul Griffiths. Both responses have potential but also face problems. Even if Van Eyghen manages to show that these authors have not fully excluded the possibility of noninferential theistic belief being underpinned by reliable belief-forming processes, he fails to offer convincing reasons to think the processes are in fact reliable. A positive argument for their reliability might ultimately have to be based on evidence for God’s existence, namely, theistic arguments. The question of the rationality of religious belief (de jure) thus cannot be isolated from the question of God’s existence (de facto).

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