Non-Evidentialist Positive Apologetics
Abstract: Within Evangelical theology there appears to be a considerable range of opinion about the place and propriety of positive apologetics. Some maintain that a basis in reason is required for Christian belief to be warranted. Others claim that rational arguments could never contribute to warrant for Christian belief. Alvin Plantinga, in response to a suggestion from Stephen Wykstra, seems to adopt a middle position. Whilst the arguments in favour of Christian belief (at least those that have been developed thus far) are of themselves insufficient for warranted belief, they may nevertheless make a contribution to warrant. In this paper, I take up Plantinga’s suggestion that belief might arise from multiple sources of warrant. I suggest, with illustration, that there are roughly two ways this might go. Either warrant for the belief actually derives from an inference made on the basis of beliefs that issue from multiple independent faculties; or, inference assists either external rationality in its formation of phenomenal experience, or internal rationality in its forming of appropriate belief in response to that phenomenology. The second of these takes an affirming view of the importance of positive apologetics without conceding an independent warrant contributing role. In other words, inferences made from rational arguments serve as catalysts to or extensions of the deliverances of faith. On this non-evidentialist view, God creates and sustains his own possibility of being known, making use of arguments from reason as the harmonic cognitive reverberations of faith, creating a crescendo of warrant sufficient for knowledge.