Lydia McGrew on What Evidentialism is Not

Here is Lydia McGrew clearing up the misunderstandings about Evidentialism:

By Lydia McGrew

I often identify myself as an evidentialist in the realm of religious knowledge. I find, however, that there are some misconceptions floating about as to what evidentialism is or entails. Herewith, some hopefully useful clarifications.

1) Evidentialism is not the position that emotions are only for people who are stupid.

Evidentialism should not be confused with a Spock-like philosophy that feelings and emotions are to be scorned and avoided. Rather, our personal relationship with Jesus Christ should be based on facts and evidence. We can trust Jesus because we have reason to do so. This gives us the freedom to commit ourselves emotionally and psychologically to God.

The problem arises when one bases one’s beliefs upon one’s emotions. That ordering leaves one vulnerable to emotional and other arational appeals from other religions. It also leaves one vulnerable to losing one’s faith when the emotions are no longer there. Get it in the right order, and then connect the prose and the passion. That’s what Christianity is all about.

An analogy from marriage may help: We can rightly be vulnerable with our spouses because we have good reason to trust our spouses. Vulnerability and emotion are very important in a good marriage. It would, on the other hand, be extremely foolish to “gin up” trust in a spouse or prospective spouse by making oneself vulnerable and thereby prompting emotions of total commitment that have no rational basis.

2) Evidentialism is not the position that only extremely intelligent people can have good reasons for believing Christianity to be true.

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One thought on “Lydia McGrew on What Evidentialism is Not

  1. Wintery Knight November 19, 2014 / 2:42 am

    “Evidentialism should not be confused with a Spock-like philosophy that feelings and emotions are to be scorned and avoided.”

    That’s crazy talk!

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