The Instigator
Pro (for)
3 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

The Argument from Religious Experience

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/23/2015 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 5,488 times Debate No: 70581
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (48)
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Thanks to Envisage for agreeing to debate this important - and relatively under discussed - subject with me. (In all likelihood some form of religious experience probably is what most theists take to justify their religious beliefs.) I will be arguing that the argument from religious experience can give significant epistemic justification for believing in the existence of God. Envisage will be attempting to undermine my argument and show that the argument form religious experience does not give significant epistemic justification for believing in the the existence of God.


Religious experience - Religious experiences can be characterized generally as experiences that seem to the person having them to be of some objective reality and to have some religious import. That reality can be an individual, a state of affairs, a fact, or even an absence, depending on the religious tradition the experience is a part of. [1]

A religious experience is veridical if what the subject took to be the object of their experience actually existed, was present, and caused them to have their experience in the appropriate way. [2]

Obviously, in this debate, will be considering if the religious experience the subjects have are veridical.

God - the supremely powerful, all-loving, personal ground of being. [3]

Epistemic justification - S is justified in believing that p if and only if S believes that p on a basis that properly probabilifies S's belief that p. [4]


Round 1 - For setting down ground rules and getting clear on definitions or concepts.
Rounds 2 - 4 - For points and counterpoints; the nitty gritty. I have no reason to think my esteemed opponent will resort to this tactic but for posterities' sake I will ask that semantics in this debate not be use.


[3] ibid


I... Accept!

I would like to add one more definition, which will probably be relevant to me case.

Metaphysical Naturalism:- The hypothesis that everything within the universe (including mind & subjects) obeys natural laws exclusively, and these natural laws are descriptive within a mathematical framework/equation(s). The hypothesis that supernatural entities do not intervene/interact within the universe.
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you, again, for Envisage agreeing to debate me on this; I look forward to the no doubt enlightening exchange. Now, on to the argument!

I will now put forward an argument from religious experience to the reasonableness of believing in God. My expose will rely heavily on Kai-Man Kwan's presentation of the argument in The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology.

The Argument from Religious Experience

(A) Type PCT is correct.
(B) TE is a well-established type of experience.
(C) It seems (epistemically) to S that God exists on the basis of a TE, E.
(D) The TE, E, is not defeated.
Therefore, (E) S is justified to believe that God exists. [1]

The controversial premises will be (A), (B), and (D). In this round I will only defend premises (A)and (B). (D) can come under fire in many ways but basically it would mean any sort of reason that undermines theistic experience (which is a subset of religious experience, hence "TE" from now on) - ranging from psychological explanations to reasons to doubt the epistemological force of TE such as religious diversity - can be brought forward. It would not be productive to try to anticipate what sort way my opponent will try to undermine (D), so I will respond accordingly. (C) should be utterly uncontroversial: it just states the simple empirical fact that people (millions and possibly billions, including yours truly) often believe that God exists on the basis of TE. (E) is merely the conclusion of the argument that one should accept if they accept (A) - (D).

(A) Type PCT is correct.

Type PCT - If it seems (epistemically) to S that p on the basis of a noetic experience E, and E belongs to a well-established type of experience, then S has PFJ for belief that p, which is sufficient for justified belief that p simpliciter in the absence of defeaters. [2]

A noetic experience is an experience of which - on the basis of that experience - I spontaneously and am strongly inclined to believe the content of that experience. For example, if I am looking at TV, I am inclined to believed that I am actually watching TV based on that experience. That's an epistemic seeming about the external world. If I remember something from when I was 21 or I introspect about my current emotional/psychological state then those are epistemic seemings as well. All these types of experiences have in common is that the beliefs derived from them are typically called basic beliefs - they are non inferential beliefs and they depends on no other beliefs for their justification. [3] Noetic experience refers to these types of experiences (sense experience, introspection and memory) with a basic source of justification (BSJ). All BSJ have PFJ.

PFJ is prima facie justification which is merely the notion that if an experience has PFJ they are considered innocent until proven guilty. Meaning we have reason to think that experience is veridical/probably true unless given good reasons to think it isn't probably true. Much like my experience that I am typing this debate right now has PFJ, the simple fact that I am experiencing me looking at the screen and the feeling of the keys under my finger gives me good reason to think that I am indeed typing this round; I should think it's very probably true that I am typing this round. Now, if I later found out that I was dreaming typing this or that someone had slipped me LSD then that would give me good reason to doubt that my experience of typing this round is good reason to believe that I am indeed doing so. So PFJ is defeasible - it can be defeated by other considerations.

It should be no stretch of the imagination that most religious experience (and thus theistic experiences) would indeed fall into this category and thus it would be under the jurisdiction of the Type PCT.

In the next section I will explain a little more about what a "well-established type of experience" is, so I will skip that for now.

If you think about it Type PCT seems to cohere with our every day process of reasoning. I maintain that it is eminently plausible to treat this every day process of reasoning as innocent until proven guilty. Take sense experience: we do treat sense experience as innocent until proven guilty. If I have the experience of eating cereal in the morning before I go to work that experience itself gives me PFJ for beliefs that I am indeed eating cereal in the morning before I go to work. If I later woke up from a dream about me eating cereal in the morning before work then that gives me good reason to believe that I did not eat cereal in he morning before going to work. But absent me finding out I was dreaming or any other special reason the simple fact that I am having the experience of eating cereal in the morning before going to work renders me entirely rational in believing that is the case. Now, don't we all treat our sense experiences that way? Unless there is special reason to doubt the content of, say, sense experience then we treat it as veridical and probably true and give it the benefit of the doubt. That really is the only way to reasonably go about our lives if you think about it. Imagine if for sense experience we had to treat it as guilty until proven innocent - we could never reasonably believe anything on the basis of sense experience until it had been corroborated. But how do you corroborate sense experience? Obviously by comparing it to other sense experiences. But by doing this, in order to compare them, you have to assume that on the basis of those experiences alone that they are representing the world as it probably is. Hence they have to rely on something like the Type PCT in order to check a sense experience against another. It seems inescapable. The same applies to memory and introspection. This is why these type of (noetic) experiences are considered BSJ with PFJ. But, notice, that often people believe in God on the basis of experiences like these. So it seems natural that Type PCT should apply to these sort of experiences as well.

The Impartiality Argument for Type PCT

(T1) Impartiality Thesis
If we adopt a certain epistemological attitude toward a certain type of noetic experience, we should adopt the same attitude toward other types of noetic experience when we can find no epistemologically
relevant distinction.
(T2) Applicability Thesis
The Type PCT should be applied as a fundamental principle to at least some types of our noetic experience.
(T3) Seamless Web Thesis
We can find no clear-cut distinctions within the whole web of our noetic experience which are epistemologically relevant with respect to the applicability of the Type PCT.
Therefore, (T4) The Type PCT should be applied as a fundamental principle to all types of noetic experience. [4]

(T1) is plausible because it goes by the general principle that we should treat similar cases similarly until the relevant differences are shown. If this principle is abandoned we can treat similar cases differently for no other reason than simply because we feel like it. This would devastating for many areas of human endeavor (like science for instance).
(T2) is plausible because, as I laid out above, there is non non-circular way of justifying noetic experiences. Thus they should be accorded PFJ as BSJ.
(T3) is plausible because, again, all these of noetic experiences are similar in that one is inclined to believe the content of the experience simply on the basis of that experience alone.
(T4) Follows from (T1) - (T3).

(B) TE is a well-established type of experience.

I take this as an obvious fact. Millions, if not billions, of people all over the world have had TE. That TE occurs to countless individuals is blindingly obvious. That alone should be enough to show that TE is a well-established type of experience.

An experience is well established if:

(a) Shared experiences: This experience is not altogether idiosyncratic. Similar experience occurs repeatedly and is shared by a substantial amount of people, preferably across cultures and eras.
(b) Common ontology: The tokens of the type have to largely cohere with one another before they can be grouped into a kind. Namely, the group of tokens does not have massive internal contradictions. They also need to share a common ontology such that different tokens can be mapped onto that ontology, exhibiting different sorts of epistemic relation among themselves (e.g. mutual support, explanatory dependence).
(c) Conceptual coherence: To enable mutual communication of the experiences, which is the prerequisite of our identification of a type of non solipsistic experience, the experiences have to be, to some extent, describable. It also requires a conceptual framework which is not obviously incoherent. [5]

(a) Should be obvious. As I stated, countless people across countless different cultures have had TE ranging from the beginning of recorded history to the present.

(b) A variety of TE are had - from experiencing God through nature, to feeling "small" and "contingent" (i.e. feeling that the physical world is not ultimate and that it depends on something else), to feelings of talking to a personal being, to feeling an all-encompassing love, to too numerous to count. That there is a God would explain that we have all these different sort of experiences quite nicely. (Remember, there is absolutely no reason that a transcendent God would only have one or a few ways of communicating with humans; we would have reason to expect unity in diversity)

(c) Given that so many have the experience of God, I think we should at least grant, at first glance, the God-experiences are coherent concepts. That is, it should be given the benefit of the doubt that it is a coherent concept until positive reasons for thinking it is not are adduced.


[1] The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology - William Lane Craig and J.P. Moreland (Kindle Locations 13372-13373).
[2] TBCNT (13351 - 13353)
[4] TBCNT (13745-13751).
[5] TBCNT (13354-13360).



Framework: The argument from religious experience seeks to establish the existence of God from our observations of people who have religious experiences, at the very least it should demonstrate that God’s existence is more probable than not based this. Pro has not argued for this however, which I will address later. There are a few ways in which the strong resolution (“given religious experiences, God most likely exists) can be affirmed but for the purposes of this debate, I will largely be addressing what I believe to be the most potent route, the inference to best explanation.

I will be affirming that metaphysical naturalism (as defined) offers a much more powerful and substantive explanation for religious experience than the “God hypothesis”. Thus, my positive case will address the ontological question of God’s existence and as an explanation of the facts as we have them for the question:

“What is the best explanation for religious experiences/my religious experience”

Which is clearly the question raised by these experiences, including Pro’s own anecdote. For the purposes of this debate I see no reason to deny that people genuinely have religious experiences, much like I have no reason to deny people’s claim to have sensations of text appearing on their computer screen, or their experience of flying during the nightime. These are incorrigible mental states/experiences, and I am pretty sure that at least this much will be agreed upon. I will be affirming that an explanation that is born from metaphysical naturalism, in the sense that they are best explicable from our existing natural laws and physics, and not from an intervening supernatural entity (which is what the resolution demands).

Inference to Best Explanation
When appealing to an explanation in any field via. abductive reasoning, the following criteria are generally ubiquitous, regardless of what philosophy or field of study (including science) that is undertaken:[1,2]

1. Has good explanatory power
2. Proposition is simple (Law of Parsimony)
3. Invokes minimal ad hoc explanations
4. Is in line with background knowledge
5. Makes testable statements

On every single level, an explanation that is derivative from metaphysical naturalism is superior than a theistic one except #1, which I argue is at worst a tie for naturalism.

#2. The naturalistic explanation, which proposes that theistic experiences are purely internal to one’s mind, and are not externally derived is inevitably an explanation that obeys the Law of Parsimony as opposed to theism, which entails a specific (assumption) non-physical entity (assumption), interacts with the mind (assumption). Both explanations posit the involvement of the mind, but only the theistic explanation invokes entities external to the mind, moreover, the theistic explanation invokes entities that are not known otherwise, and as such their nature is assumed.

#3. Both explanations need to account for the enormous diversity in types of religious experiences, while the naturalistic explanation is straightforward, we have millions of different minds, who have lived different lives, subject to different physical, socio and economical conditions which inevitably will yield non-uniform religious experiences. The theistic explanation on the other hand does not have this luxury, since have one objective entity, and as such we would expect the experience of this entity to be both precise (with little variation between them) and uniform, but this is clearly not what we observe (more on this later). While the theistic explanation can in principle render an explanation for these (significant) variations, it does not take away the fact that it seriously weakens it as an explanation.

#4. Clearly, metaphysical naturalism has significant basis on pre-existing knowledge, since the existence of some form of naturalism is not in question, the natural world obviously exists and the universe at least in large part (if not entirely) obeys natural laws. Thus, any explanation based on these well-attested principles is going to be initially superior to any explanation that posits non-naturalistic (which we do not have pre-existing knowledge on) explanations, since we are starting from a questionable premise (the existence of the metaphysical possibility[9] of such an explanation).

#5. Metaphysical naturalism holds that existing physical laws are responsible for everything that happens within the mind, including religious experience. Consequently, affecting the physical body will in principle affect the mind. Studies with psilocybin have under rigorous conditions been shown to induce psychosis and religious experiences in the minds of patients[3-5] While must less rigorous, canibinoids, peyote, ayahuaska and others have been reported to induce experiences of their own flavour.[6] Moreover, because these experiences are entirely naturalistic, then no brute knowledge gain, or learning will be performed, and that these experiences will be largely affected by demography and existing culture. Which is seen to be the case (more on this later).

#1. Neither naturalism, nor theism themselves entail such experiences, since in theism God has free will, and thus is never obliged to induce religious experiences, and thus cannot be said to be an expectation of God. Similarly in naturalism, we don’t necessarily expect experiences, although in naturalism it would be especially unsurprising since:

1. Transcending experiences exist for other things anyway (c.f. ghosts, deceased loved ones, alien abductions,[7] etc.), thus such experiences for God would be natural to expect
2. First person internal experiences already exist anyway (c.f. dreams, thoughts, etc.)

Thus, based on existing non-theistic knowledge (regardless of whether or not metaphysical naturalism is true), religious experiences are not a spectacular phenomena which poses serious ontological questions. No more than other comparable experiences do.

Pro’s arguments addresses the prima facie belief that one is justified in believing in God due to the attributed experience of “God”. However, this resolution is about ontology, not epistemology. Thus, an argument for belief is insufficient to address the ontological nature of the experiences and to address the metaphysical question of whether or not God exists based on it. I could concede everything Pro asserts here, yet it would not demonstrate the conclusion that this debate is centred (that God exists/most likely exists). Pro is attempting to turn a screw with a saw, it’s completely the wrong tool for the job.

Type PCT
on the basis of that experience - I spontaneously and am strongly inclined to believe the content of that experience.”

Based on the purely intuitive nature of the attribution of belief to experience by the subject, we already have sufficient grounds to reject this premise out of hand. Human’s construct models of reality, and our model of reality develops over the course of interacting with reality. This is probably our best prima facie justification of beliefs regarding reality. Pro by arguing for the Type PCT thesis completely ignores the process by which we subconsciously develop beliefs, and buries the major point that it’s people that attribute beliefs to the experiences, and not the other way around.[11]

While it is a basic belief that you are having a specific set of sensations (e.g. the sensations of looking at this computer screen), your synthetic belief of the nature of that set of sensations is a separate attribution. One only needs to look as far as a few well-known optical illusions to realise that prima facie justification is fatally deficient:

TE is a well-established type of experience
In order for Pro’s argument to remain valid, it must be with respect to a God of the ontology of supremely powerful, all-loving, personal ground of being”, however he provides no evidence that theistic experiences as a generalised set are of this ontology, or anything like it. While will concede quickly that some people genuinely have had experiences of this ontology, I have no reason to believe it’s the norm rather than the exception.

Moreover, we already have serious reason to doubt these religious experiences, which is the fact that they are personal, subjective, and hence not shared amongst other peers. When one wants to make claims about what is external to the mind as opposed to what is internal to the mind, one needs to have a general principle for separating the two. Clearly we have experiences and sensations that do not reflect what is external, e.g. our dreams, our internal dialogue, and other first-person experiences. Thus, one of the most obvious tests is to see if others sharing the same objective experience. Your dreams of you flying last night are not going to be shared with your peers, and thus by itself counts as good initial reason to doubt that your experience reflects anything that is external to the mnd

By comparison, religious experiences are not shared amongst their peers, and while one can cite that others have also had religious experiences, one can also cite others who have had dreams of flying, simply having some people sharing similar types of experiences is not sufficient to overcome the implausibility granted by the experience being necessarily subjective

Furthermore, while controlled studies on religious experiences are hard to come by, Hindu, Buddhist, Christian and Islamic mythisms have been documented, all mutually exclusive, and much more indicative of socio-cultural factors having causal influence on the content/interpretation of these experiences rather than the other way around.[9,10]


Debate Round No. 2


As I suspected most of Con's attack seems to be on premise (D) with a little bit of (A) and (B) thrown in. I will be arguing that Con's arguments do not undermine the ARE.

Inference to the Best Explanation

Following Con's numbering.

#1 Con is mistaken here in that theism does not entail that there would not be religious experiences. Given that there are beings such as us - If we think that God is an all-good, personal being (as I defined him in the beginning of the debate) we might think that there are very good reasons think God would want to get in contact with his creations. As an all good being God has reason to value good states of affairs and want to actualize those state of affairs. Besides the value of having creatures who can display and actualize various good state of affairs (virtues like courage, sympathy, forgiving, compassion, etc), being in a state of affairs - a relationship - with those beings would be a great good in and of itself. The way persons (as God is personal) enter into relationships with other persons are multitudinous but obviously they would need to experience each other as a prerequisite for entering into that relationship. That would seem to entail that if God and finite persons like us exist there is great value in having personal relationships between God and finite persons and so God would want to actualize that state of affairs.

#2 Here is where the analogy and similarities between sense experience (SE) and religious experience (RE, of which TE is a subset) - which Con did not challenge, I might add - are useful. Con argues that naturalism is simpler because it does not have to suppose that TE is of anything external; it's all internal. But that is like saying that solipsism is simpler than the hypothesis that there exists an external world of mind independent matter because SE would all be internal; it's not external. If Con would not say that the simplicity of solipsism in this sense is reason to prefer it over naturalism then we have seen no reason to prefer naturalism over theism in this respect. And Con seems to simply beg the question here in saying that theism invokes non physical entities not know otherwise; of course if something like interactive dualism is correct than we have abundant evidence for non-physical entities interacting with brains.

#3 I will get to this later on and address it more fully as Con brings up this topic of religious diversity again. Again the analogy with SE comes into play here; why should we expect that just because there is one object that experience be more or less uniform? If we set a few people in different places in the world who had no knowledge of the earth as a unified whole, they might indeed say that all these regions of earth (the desert, the mountain, the ocean, the forest, etc) were not spatiotemporally connected. In short the earth is too big to be perceived by just one perceive. The same with God - she might be too big to just be perceived by one perceiver.

(a) Since God is the transcendent and holy creator, numinous experience and experience of contingency are to be expected.
(b) If man is created in the image of God and their selves are ultimately grounded in God’s sustaining activity, then God can also be approached from within (theistic mysticism). (
c) Since God is Himself the Absolute Good, it is no surprise to have experiences of His unconditional imperative as well as love and succor, and also mediated TEs through conscience and morality.
(d) Since God is personal, we can have experiences of personal encounter, divine speech, emotional healing, and so on. (e) God’s wisdom and power over nature makes it possible for Him to reveal His purposes through providential and miraculous acts (mediated and interpretive TE).
(f) God as the source of personality and community nicely explains the personalizing character of TEs and the occurrence of corporate TEs.
(g) God as Redeemer is correlated with our experiences of grace and conversion. (h) God can act directly on the mind, and hence intuitive apprehension is possible. [1]

#4 Con argues that naturalism has significant basis on pre existing knowledge; this would be true had there not been the "exclusive" clause here:

"The hypothesis that everything within the universe (including mind & subjects) obeys natural laws exclusively,..."

There is no possible way one could know that. The theist and naturalist can agree there are natural processes; no argument there. But Con goes beyond the evidence and posits that nothing above or beyond these natural processes interacts with the universe. That is exactly the question at hand, so it should be an open question or Con would be guilty of assuming his conclusion in his premise.

#5 Again, given that there are physical finite beings on theism, then I don't see how this provides any advantage to naturalism here as we would also expect that physical laws will in principle effect the mind.


Con is mistaken here; if there is good reason to think (believe) that religious experiences are veridical, then it follows that the object of the veridical experience exists. That's just what veridicality means. I am having an experience of you, and it is a veridical experience, that entails that you exist.

Type PCT

Con says that human construct models of reality and these models develop over the course of interacting with reality and this offers PFJ for beliefs about reality but when we think about it it we see that Con actually can't accept this model of the PFJ of beliefs about reality without implicitly relying on something like the Type PCT. Since we have to start somewhere in constructing our models of that also means that we have to start with an experience - or set of experiences - that we initially give PFJ - that is that we initially trust. And these base set of experiences have to be taken as innocent until proven guilty otherwise they would not serve as a base for the models that need developing. But that means that we have to accept that how that experiences appears to us is how that aspect of reality it represents actually is. But we can only do that that if we accept the Type PCT. So far from undermining the Type PCT, Con actually gives support for it.

Type PCT deals with non-inferential beliefs - beliefs not inferred from anything else. Much like with SE - when I see something red I form the belief that it is red based on that experience. What I don't do is infer from something appearing "red-ly" to the belief that that thing is indeed red. The same with Con's computer screen example. There doesn't seem to be any separate attribution with your synthetic belief about that set of sensations.

Con's examples don't affect the PFJ accorded to basic experiences by the Type PCT one bit, as the Type PCT admits that the PFJ is defeasible. Meaning, if I see a stick in water that appears bent then I have PFJ for believing that that stick is indeed bent. But supposing I learn later on that due to the properties of water and light that the stick would appear bent even if it was not, I no longer should believe that stick is bent on the basis of my seeing the stick bent in the water.

TE is a well-established type of experience

While religious experience often does not appear uniform many who have studied the literature on RE concluded, that a common core to these religious experiences can be identified:

(i) the mundane world of physical bodies, physical processes, and narrow centres of consciousness is not the whole or ultimate reality.
(ii) . . . there is a far deeper ‘true self ’ which in some way depends on and participates in the ultimate reality.
(iii) Whatever the ultimate reality is holy, eternal, and of supreme value; it can appear to be more truly real than all else, since everything else depends on it.
(iv) This holy power can be experienced as an awesome, loving, pardoning, guiding (etc.) presence with whom individuals can have a personal relationship . . .
(v) . . . at least some mystical experiences are experiences of a very intimate union with the holy power . . .
(vi) Some kind of union or harmonious relation with the ultimate reality is the human being’s summum bonum, his final liberation or salvation, and the means by which he discovers his ‘true self ’ or ‘true home’. [2]

And just as when we have conflicting claims about regular objects of sense experience we usually try to sift through them in order to identify a common core. For example: Babylonian astronomers said there were holes moving through the firmament, Greek astronomers said there were physical objects moving through the heavens. Just because these claims conflicted doesn't mean they weren't referring to the same objects in space.

Con seems mistaken here. With sense experience, we do not directly experience other peoples' experiences - we can only experience our own. What we do is take the testimony of other people who claim to have the same general type of sense experience as you and compare them. This is the same as what we do with religious experience. So if Con's argument about RE being subjective, personal, and not shareable works against RE it also works against SE, in any case.

And, again, SE doesn't escape from the objection that is largely dependent on socio-cultural factors. It is widely accepted in philosophy that all perception is theory laden. [3] Furthermore, psychologists have argued that humans are not tabula rasa - blank slate. We come with inbuilt interpretation mechanisms that help us readily make sense of experiences. That is, we couldn't even understand we are experiencing without these factors. Much could be the same with religious experiences; religious interpretive structures could aid in helping on interpret an experience of God.


[1] TBCNT - (Kindle Locations 13497-13505).
[2] TBCNT - (Kindle Locations 13933-13940).


Inference to Best Explanation
1. This completely begs the question of moral cognitivism, and makes claims about what “good” and the nature of God is without any justification whatsoever. Assuming God is good, and thus the ultimate standard of good, there is no reason to believe that it has anything to do with our normative societal conception of “good”. Moreover even assuming this, Pro’s argument is complete speculation.

2. Yes, solipsism is preferred by the law of parsimony, thus is conceded by Pro which hurts Pro’s case. Metaphysical naturalism is always going to be more parsimonious than theism since metaphysical naturalism depicts the natural world. Theism entails the natural world *plus* something else (be it separate entity in classical theism, or separate attributes, such as in pantheism etc.). All things equal, the simpler explanation is preferable. It doesn’t beg the question since God is by definition personal, mandating something extraneous to the natural universe.

3. The same with God - she might be too big to just be perceived by one perceiver” - this is the very definition of an ad hoc justification, lol. Naturalism very elegantly explains the diversity in religious experiences while theism needs to introduce extraneous explanations to account for the (massive) observed differences and flatly contradictory observations. One person observing water, and another ice isn’t inherently contradictory due to the contradiction needing to be in the same spacio-temoral location. However, observing Thor as the greatest being and observing Jesus as the greatest being is inherently contradictory. Different moral natures is inherently contradictory, etc. Witnessing Allah by definition the only God is going to contradict another witnessing Vishnu, etc.

4. Our pre-existing knowledge is that the world behaves naturalistically, we can predict what stuff will do with existing physics. Thus, an ontology based on this pre-existing knowledge is preferable to one that directly contradicts it. Thus, Pro completely misses the point, since I am contrasting metaphysical naturalism with theism based on our pre-existing knowledge on the virtue of being a better explanation.

5. Only if one proposes a specific form of theism, thus its ad hoc, theism doesn’t necessarily entail such, but naturalism does.

Argument From Religious Experience
Having “good” reason to think religious experiences are verdical =/= that object exists. That’s the fundamental divide between epistemology and ontology which Pro has completely ignored. The argument does not, and cannot in principle establish the likelihood of an experience being verdical, that’s the entire problem.

Moreover, having PFJ for belief that God exists doesn’t entail that one has sufficient justification for belief that God exists. For sufficient justification that God exists it needs to be established that at least epistemologically it is more likely that God exists than he doesn’t. PFJ may well raise the likelihood of God existing than without PFJ, but justification would require knowledge of prior probabilities, and other factors regarding religious experience, which even Richard Swinburne implicitly concedes.[12]

Prima Facie Justification
Just how on earth does PFJ justification gives one “good” reason to belief the religious experience is verdical. Given that prima facie justification is primarily intuitive, which is usually incorrect outside of our everyday experience. Methodologies such as inference to best explanation, inductive or deductive reasoning are much more potent than PFJ since PFJ itself has no justification in that it relates at all to reality. PFJ itself is thus unjustified, it automatically begs the question.

Logical Structure & Rephrasing
Rewriting Pro’s argument without changing the content yields the following:

1.If it seems (epistemically) to S that p on the basis of a noetic experience E, and E belongs to a well-established type of
experience, then S has PFJ for belief that p
2. TE belongs to a well-established type of experience.
3. It seems (epistemically) to S that God exists (p) on the basis of a noetic experience E (TE).
4. If S has PFJ for belief that p and there are no defeaters, then S has justified belief that p
5. There are no defeaters for PFJ for belief that p
6. Therefore, (E) S is justified to believe that God exists.

I have separated Pro’s premise (A) into two portions, the portion that argued for PFJ (P1), and the portion that argued for justified belief (P4). This is logically possible because of the law of simplification.[13] Thus, my attack on “[A] Type-PCT is correct” will be on each premise (1 & 4). Note the argument is logically invalid unless “there are no defeaters” operator is substituted for “The TE, E, is not defeater” in premise D, thus this has been corrected.

Premise 4
Pro is ambiguous by what he means by which is sufficient for justified belief that p simpliciter in the absence of defeaters” I can only assume it refers to the experience itself from the context. IF it is the latter, then there is no reason to accept this premise since it assumes the following premise:

"If the experience is not verdical, then there will exist defeater(s)"

However, we simply have no reason to believe this will be the case in principle, let alone in practice. If somebody had a vivid experience of flying, which he recalled later in life, and the experience felt real, then there would be virtually no defeaters for an experience that is obviously not verdicial. To make things worse, the production of false-memories, of which people clearly believed to be genuinely the case (problematic in court-trials & eye-witness testimony use) are not increasingly well documented and accepted.[14]

Premise 1
Note that Pro doesn’t affirm that we actually assume Type-PCT to make PFJ beliefs about reality in our everyday experience, thus most of Pro’s arguments in favour of accepting Type-PCT’s validity are flat out false. While I can agree that we do have to start somewhere in constructing our models of reality, Type-PCT is quite frankly an absurd place to start.

Logically, the most obvious place to start is via. cogito ergo sum, where we can affirm our own existence, the subject, based off the perception of our incorrigible mental state. Note this doesn’t say anything to begin with about the external, but it is a starting point. Pro makes this massive error since basic beliefs refer to the experience itself. E.g. the content of the experience experience of having colour sensations of a TV is basic, but what those sensations ontologically represent is not basic.

Pro simply asserts we assume Type-PCT in our everyday experience, but ignores my evidence that this is false even on a pragmatic level, our beliefs are formed from continued interaction with reality, with beliefs tested and challenged over and over again, with beliefs shaped by new experiences. Thus Pro’s “innocent until proven guilty” analogy is irrelevant since the defendant is not unindicted.

Premise 2
I would like to actually see Pro’s references on this, no studies/surveys/reviews were cited by Pro, only an inaccessible book reference.

Does Pro have research on the types of TE that occur in:

1.Different sociocultural environments
2.That take into account prior beliefs/experiences

Since if TE was naturalistic, then we would expect them to be shaped mostly by sociocultural factors. Thus the commonalities are rather insignificant, IF strong commonalities were found that were both uniform across sociocultural environments and in fact violated what we would expect naturalistically form these environments, then Pro would have a strong case that there is a real shared experience. This is not what is observed however, and Pro concedes this “While religious experience often does not appear uniform”, thus we have good reason to reject TE being a well-established type of experience.

Remember, Pro is attempting to draw an analogy here from noetic experiences in everyday life to TE, however when we have people confer on the experience they have of “seeing a television” or “experiencing a statue”, we simply do not get anywhere near this level of disagreement. People looking at the same statue are virtually all going to agree on its colour, shape, gender, location, details, etc. (even via. testimony, as Pro puts) Given religious experiences are attributed to virtually all major religions, then we have a massive diverse range of these experiences, more in line with what we would expect if naturalistic mechanisms were explanatory.

Moreover, the very term “religious experience” is necessarily going to entail certain elements being the same (since religious automatically entails divinity), thus attributes generally associated with theism experience in religious experiences are going to be automatically favoured by the sharpshooter’s fallacy – since we have already selected a set of experiences we label as “religious”, thus the experiences are going to be biased automatically by that selection (e.g. surveying a selection of toddlers is automatically going to introduce a bias that the subjects are going to exhibit infantile behaviour).[15]

Premise 5
Pro’s objection to the fact that religious experiences being subjective, personal and not shared is a tu quoque fallacy, and doesn’t address the argument at hand, thus we can conclude that religious experience being personal, subjective and not (epistemlogically) shared indeed refutes premise 5.

Also, Pro’s objection only works if one accepts epistemological solipsism, question begging - unless you are going to believe people are lying/in your imagination when they say “they see a black television with the football playing on it” which matches your sensory experience of it, then it’s a very reasonable defeater, much like it is in the case of dreams, abductions, etc.


Debate Round No. 3


Inference to the Best Explanation.

1. This complaint comes late for Con. Moral cognitivism is implicitly assumed in the definition of God I presented in the first round - by saying go is "all-good" one is is implicitly saying that term has a truth value (moral cognitivism). And moral cognitivists also believe that we can have at least ssome understanding of moral terms (like say, goodness). And with at least partial understanding of goodness we can say that having a relationship with "The Good" itself (God) is a very good thing. A personal relation with that being would necessarily be mediated through religious experience(s). That's just a very probable scenario on the hypothesis of theism. It's the same when someone challenges, say, evolutionary theory with an anomaly that evolutionary theory can not (allegedly) accommodation. Supposing that there is not a satisfactory evolutionary theory yet theorists will nonetheless render a conciliatory story that renders the anomaly not improbable given evolutionary theory and something that we would expect on that hypothesis.

2. I didn't concede that solipsism is preferred on the basis of simplicity; I don't believe that at all. What I said is that on the basis of Con's criteria of simplicity he'd have to concede that solipsism is more simple than naturalism and thus to be preferred. And Con is also mistaken on his claim that naturalism will always be more parsimonious than theism. On some analysis of simplicity - like content - theism will be much more simple than naturalism. For example, theism only posits one brute fact - a person with zero limitations (because limitation require an explanation in a way infinity does not)- and in conjunction with necessary truth about values everything flows from that. All contingent truth is explained by this person. On the other hand naturalism posits countless numbers of brute facts of contingent states of affairs: embodied beings like humans and animals, the existence of physical laws, what sets the laws etc. Going by content, theism is much simpler. Con doesn't give us reason to believe his way of assessing simplicity is any better than my way. And the simpler explanation is only to be preferred if they both equally account for the phenomena. But, of course, Con has not established that naturalism equally accounts for the phenomena.

3. It is not ad hoc on theism. If a being is transcendent, almost by definition perception could be nothing more than partial, thus rendering different perceptions of the same being expected. And Con overplays the difference between religious experiences in his examples here and falls nicely into what I said last round about many of the differences being merely on the surface. For instance, if one as a religious experience of Allah as a transcendent, holy, being telling them to be good to others and another has much the same experience of Vishnu doing the same then it's reasonable to think it's the same thing under different descriptions. (The sense/referent distinction made famous by Frege.)

4. Con simply misses the point, because, unless I'm very much mistaken, Con has not shown that theistic ontology contradicts our pre-existing knowledge. It'd be just as expected on theism that the world behaves "naturalistically" - or I will say in a law-like way most of the time.

5. I proposed the specific form of theism in the first round that naturalism is being contrasted with . There's no reason on that form of theism why laws wouldn't describe the processes going on in the mind/brain.

Argument from Religious Experience


No, that is not the entire problem. It is established that if an experience is veridical then that means that the content of that experience is true - or if that experience is of an object O - that entails that O exists. If one has had veridical religious experience E then that entails that the object of E exists. If I have good reason for thinking E is veridical, then that is merely saying that E exists. The same with any experience. Con tries to separate the two, but the problem is that the way I framed the debate, it was always the proper justification for belief that God exists on the basis of E.

Having PFJ for belief that God exists is sufficient if one does not have defeaters for the belief. Con is attempting to furnish those defeaters, but I argue that they all fail. If they do all fail, then PFJ becomes ultima facie justification for beliefs in God's existence.

Prima Facie Justification

PFJ gives one good reason to believe religious experience is veridical in the same way it does for sense experience. The experience is appears to me to be a certain way and I should think that it is that certain way unless I have good reason to think it isn't. Con says PFJ is "primarily" intuitive which is usually incorrect outside of our everyday experience. One, no, what I have argued is that we have to accord PFJ to noetic experiences as matter of necessity and rationality; and, two, for countless of humans religious experience is an everyday experience. And just because some "intuitive" notions are "usually" incorrect about things outside of everyday experience it doesn't follow that this intuitive notion is. For I have argue that is indispensable. Contrasting PFJ to methodologies such as inference to best explanation and inductive/deductive reasoning as if they are are opposed is simply confused. They aren't. Suppose you have some data you observe and you sifting through the data in order to find what best explains that set of data. At some level you have to trust your most basic observations as guilty until proven innocent unless you want to be stuck in an infinite loop of justification. Those basic observations will be noetic experiences. Those are the observations that have PFJ and from there you go on to use the methodologies mentioned by Pro.


Premise 4

Con says we have no reason to believe this but I think we do. All it says is that it is rational for some to accept their experiences has justified unless that they have good reason to doubt it. For example, if someone had that vivid experience but they also knew that people do no normally fly to the normal operation of physical laws then they have a defeater for that belief. If a primitive person who has no idea about physical laws and doesn't think that they were dreaming ( and has no defeaters) had an experience of flying then it is rational for them to believe they flew. (That doesn't entail that is rational for us people with our background knowledge to believe that however.)

Premise 1

Con says, logically the most obvious place to start with our own mental content. I can agree to that with some qualifications. But the problem is that Con simply is ignoring human psychology. The way noetic experiences work psychologically speaking is that they are immediate.

"The first feature, which we can call immediacy, concerns the way we access consciousness from the firs person perspective. Conscious states are accessed in a seemingly unmediated way. It appears that nothing comes between us and our conscious states. We seem to access them simply by having them—we do not infer their presence by way of any evidence or argument. This immediacy creates the impression that there is no way we could be wrong about the content of our conscious states" [1]

We don't infer from our basic experiences like Con describes. The object in the experience - what it "ontologically represents" - is presented immediately in a basic way.

I have not merely asserted that the Type-PCT is assumed in everyday life - I have show how we must accord our noetic experiences PFJ (Type-PCT) in order for our reasoning from experience to even get off the ground. Con has not undermined this argument.

Premise 2

The study is actually in The Evidential Force of Religious Experience by Caroline Franks Davis on pg. 191. In that Davis points out the following common elements to religious experience. And if that that is true than there is a significant core of common to these religious experiences that warrant it being a well-established experience.

Con's point about sense experience being generally uniform and having nowhere near this level of disagreement is actually false. For example for was a famous study by the the psychologist Colin Turnbull. He he was a native person and the person, never having seen a buffalo, from further than 30 meters away, when seeing a buffalo on the plains asked what sort of insect it was. Colin perceived and insect but Turnbull perceived a buffalo. It shows how much an effect culture has on even normal, everyday, sense experience. And yet - this still doesn't count against sense experience. So it should not count against religious experience.

Premise 5

No, it's not a tu quoque fallacy. It's saying just as the subjective, personal, and non shareable nature of sense experience doesn't count against sense experience simpliciter (and it shouldn't) then it also should not count against religious experience simplicter because sense experience suffers from the same "problems" that Con brings up for religious experience. If one accepts that it is not damning for sense experience in general then one should not accept it's damning for religious experience in general.

And my objection doesn't rely on epistemological solipsism either - in the case of testimony you accept that things are probably as other people report them unless you have special reason to doubt their claims (which is exactly what the Type PCT endorses). So con's argument actually plays into my hands as that is just another reason to accept the Type PCT. One has to accept that other peoples testimony of their experiences are probably true (absent defeaters) otherwise this eliminates vast swathes of knowledge (including scientific knowledge - when is the last time YOU personally measured the distance form the earth to the sun?).




Inference to the Best Explanation

1.There are three issues:

i. Cognitivism of Morality
ii. Knowing the truth content of what is “good”
iii. Given the truth content of “good”, we can make inferences about God’s actions

Pro is claiming all three of these issues are resolved, which I argue is patently absurd and I fail to see how cognitivism is implicitly assumed. Moreover, moral cognitivism doesn’t entail knowing the content of what “good” is, it only entails that there is a coherent concept which we label “good”. Even cognitivists implicitly agree due to the acknowledgement of moral disagreements e.g. with relativists, or different realism theories. It simply does not follow that God’s morality has *anything* to do with human morality. What is “good” according to God inherently has nothing to do with what we would regard as “good” via our ethical systems. It’s a blatent equivocation.

It is clearly question begging, since God would need to exist before we would know what his nature and thus what “good” is.

2. Pro attempts to forward the notion of theism’s simplicity…. by adding complexity. The natural world evidently exists, thus positing the countless natural laws etc. is not an assumption, it’s a verified fact, and thus does not factor into the law of parsimony. Pro ignores that theism posits an additional multiplicative entity onto the already existing natural world. We know the natural world exists, which is all that naturalism proposes, we do not know that something on top of the natural world, let alone a very specific something exists – that is the extra complexity/assumption that naturalism simply doesn’t make.

Pro attempts to appeal to brute facts, but why couldn’t the naturalist posit the natural world as a singular brute fact. It doesn’t get Pro anywhere to assert things since they can be equally be asserted for naturalism and naturalism will always wind up being the simpler explanation due to never needing to make that extra assumption of an additional entity/attribute. Moreover Pro ignores that there are a whole host of supernatural possibilities that are not theistic that themselves could ground the world in one brute fact. The fact that Pro is arguing specifically for an
intelligent and good God. Assumptions after assumptions.

By this criteria solipsism is superior to both naturalism and supernaturalism, yes, it doesn’t pass the other criterea however.

3. Pro drops my argument that naturalism explains this diversity very naturally and elegantly. Moreover it does it in a testable manner. Pro has to resort to piling on more assumptions (thus violating the second criteria yet again) regarding God to explain the perceived diversity. Moreover if Pro can make truth claims about God’s motives (as he did in response to criterea #1), then surely a “good” god would not yield ambiguous and contradictory experiences of her. Pro cannot have his cake and eat it.

In any case, Pro’s defence is speculative, multiplicative and ad hoc. Exactly the point I made from the start.

4. We have pre-existing knowledge of naturalism, we have no pre-existing knowledge of a God existing. It’s that simple. I can reference science journals with information of naturalistic pathways to hallucinations etc. Pro does not have that same luxury of citing papers of “Divine interventions of the mind”. We have background knowledge of naturalism, we have no background knowledge of supernaturalism. Pro completely skips over this point which I made in R2. Virtually all the posited elements of metaphysical naturalism (the observed natural world) are within our background knowledge. The posited elements of theistic supernaturalism, clearly is not. It’s not a matter of contradicting or not.

5. Pro defends against this criteria by violating the 2nd criteria...

Pro drops virtually all my points in favour of naturalism via. abduction. Pro is at best hoping for a tie in this argument, but metaphysical naturalism clearly champions in every single criterion.

Argument from Religious Experience
Pro drops all my points regarding the epistemological/ontological divide. He flagrantly skips over this distinction over and over again, and thus already throws his argument on dubious ground.

“If I have good reason for thinking E is veridical, then that is merely saying that E exists.”

Right here is where Pro’s entire case collapses, and the clearest jump from epistemological (“good reason”) and ontological (“saying that E exists”). Pro needs to show that “good reason” means logically “more likely than not”, which just pushed back the epistemic/ontological divide back one stage further, and buries it into another term/premise.


“Having PFJ for belief that God exists is sufficient if one does not have defeaters for the belief.”

Pro grossly equivocates between having PFJ with having sufficient justification (addressed in P5), it’s patently false. Prima facie justification says nothing about ontology, so it cannot in principle be a candidate for sufficient justification. Moreover sufficient justification is only correct if and only if it entails ontologically that God is more likely to exist than not. Having bad justification does give one more justification than they previously had, but that’s not the same as saying that having this bad justification is sufficient to make claims about ontology.

We may find random smudges that people attribute to UFO’s from aliens, clearly that are PFJ evidence in favour of aliens existing, and clearly not all UFO pictures have absolute defeaters in practice – but that doesn’t mean one is sufficiently justified in believing aliens exist based on one photograph of something round hovering in the air. A sufficient standard of justification needs to be reached first.

Pro drops my points that sense experience is evidently not based on Type-PCT and PFJ like Pro ssumes, and the experience of reality compared to religious experience are not the same, one is reliable, the other is not. I didn’t just argue that some intuitive notions are incorrect outside of everyday middle-world experience, I argued that virtually all of them are. Quantum mechanics, special relativity, neuroscience, the physical sciences etc. are entirely empirical based endeavours (for good reason), and very much counter-intuitive (especially GR and QM, the most fundamental physics of our universe). And this is just within the natural world! Let alone when we apply them to the putative supernatural. The chances of our intuitions being relevant to these situations is virtually nil. Intuitions are indeed very much guilty until proven innocent outside of the everyday context.

Premise 4
Already addressed largely in the previous section. Pro completely fails to uphold the premise:

If S has PFJ for belief that p and there are no defeaters, then S has justified belief that p

He merely asserts it and falls back on his defeater qualifier, which completely misses the point. It simply does not follow that PFJ with no defeaters entails sufficient justification, ignoring this critical point is pretty compelling against Pro’s case. We don’t have background knowledge of the supernatural, thus we are ignorant of it even if it did exist. Making claims in ignorance is patently unsound, and Pro concedes that outside of background knowledge we simply will not be correct. He ignores the implicit premise and fails to sustain it:

"If the experience is not verdical, then there will exist defeater(s)"

Premise 1
Pro drops my arguments that we interact and model the world in our minds differently to Type-PCT, thus Pro’s rebuttal to this is completely moot. We form models of reality which we shape with continued experience with the world, which forms our background knowledge. When beliefs are falsified, our models change. This is our best model of PFJ we have, Pro simply argues by assertion to the contrary.

Pro fails to appreciate that this is a result of the internal/external divide, basic beliefs say nothing about the external, or what is daesin. Con’s model of how we come to believe things is far too oversimplistic (necessarily so in order to draw a halfway decent analogy which religious experiences can reside in).

Premise 2
Pro drops my point regarding the sharpshooter fallacy, that common elements of what we define as “religious” would of course be expected from purely the selection process. Pro needs to establish serious common features, like one would when making claims about the existence of something in reality. Pro again tries to have his cake and eat it by arguing that we both would and would not expect strongly common features. I could do what Pro has done this debate and appeal to intuition, but I will not.

Pro’s argument regarding the Buffalo only regards how one forms preconceived ideas and categorisations about something, it says nothing about is empirically observed about the concrete object in question. We are contrasting features what people observe (e.g. seeing Jesus, Vishnu, etc.). Moreover Pro drops my arguments that alien abductions, flying experiences, etc would also qualify as “well established experiences”

Premise 5
Pro’s argument here ignores my previous arguments about how we make models of reality. Thus, I can freely concede that a sense experience that is entirely personal, subjective, and not shared does indeed count against your belief in its validity. If I am seeing something others do not see via. sense experience, then I have serious reason to doubt it is valid e.g. hallucinations.

Furthermore, Pro simply contradicts himself when we refer to the content of other people’s experiences. If we assume solipsism is false, then we trust what other people say is what they are perceiving, but this is completely different to Type-PCT, since we are looking for empirical confirmation (i.e. my perceiving the statue predicts that my colleague will also see it) – Type-PCT makes no such predictive statement.

Final Word
I leave voters with one clean fact to mull over… The dress is blue!

Debate Round No. 4
48 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by popculturepooka 3 years ago
Thanks for the votes guys.
Posted by WillYouMarryMe 3 years ago
The pleasure is all mine!

There's nothing better than being able to vote up my personally favored side without putting any work whatsoever into my RFD!
Posted by Envisage 3 years ago
@ESocial, I have no idea...
Posted by Envisage 3 years ago
Yes, I like the biconditional formulation. I was left scratching my head for a while trying to figure out of the argument was logically valid, it's of the form:

1. If R&P then Q
2. R
3. P
4. R&P (2+3)
C. Q (1 + 4)

P5 was phrased differently in Kwan's presentation, which to be honest seemed sneaky once I realised it "The TE, E, is not defeated" vs. "There are no defeaters for PFJ for belief that p" as it subtly argues for lack of defeaters in practice when the valid premise requires no defeaters in principle. Very naughty.
Posted by Envisage 3 years ago
Thanks for the vote bomb WYMM =D
Posted by WillYouMarryMe 3 years ago

I'll start off by stating that I am heavily biased towards the Pro side of this debate, as my own religious experiences form the primary basis for my theistic beliefs. This debate was a fascinating one, so I find it quite surprising that it hasn't gotten more attention; it was so close that I had to re-read it a few times and at one point even diagram out the arguments to finally come to my conclusion, so great job to the both of you. For the sake of my comprehension of the debate, I simplified Pro's argument into the following:

P1) Type-PCT is valid:
if a noetic, veridical experience...
a. belongs to a well-established type of experience, and
b. has no 'defeaters'
then we should accept the implications of that experience as being true

P2) A theistic experience belongs to a well-established type of experience

P3) A theistic experience has no defeaters

C1) Therefore, we should accept the implications of a theistic experience-- that God exists.


Ultimately, I believe Con wins by negating P1.

I dropped the whole part about epistemology from my reformation of the syllogism because, frankly, it just served to complicate the debate; like Pro said, epistemology is all about *justified* belief, so we *can* make the jump from "there is sufficient reason to believe that Y is more likely to exist than not" to "Y exists". So Con's criticisms of the syllogism's logical validity from that angle don't really hold up; however he does show that Type-PCT *doesn't* provide sufficient reason, which is where he wins the debate.
Posted by WillYouMarryMe 3 years ago
P1) Type-PCT

It came somewhat late in the debate, but Con does finally show that Type-PCT is not a sound way of justifying the authenticity of experiences; he gives several examples of scenarios involving false experiences which nonetheless have prima-facie justification and lack defeaters. Pro only responds to one of these (the flying one). And with these flaws in Type-PCT established, Con's earlier reasoning makes far more sense: "we interact and model the world in our minds differently to Type-PCT, thus Pro"s rebuttal to this is completely moot. We form models of reality which we shape with continued experience with the world,"

I'm also buying into Con's analysis that PFJ is generally unreliable, so we should be skeptical of "noetic" theistic experiences regardless of whether or not defeaters are present. So by the end of the debate, I am fully buying Con's advocacy-- that Type-PCT fails to provide sufficient justification for belief in the authenticity of any given experience. The implication of this in context of the larger syllogism is that just because theistic experiences are well-established and don't have an obvious naturalistic explanation (i.e. defeater) doesn't mean we should automatically accept them as actually showing that God exists.

The rest of the debate is centered around whether or not the conditions of Type-PCT apply to theistic experiences, which is obviously irrelevant since Type-PCT isn't valid in the first place.... so I'm just going to end my RFD here and vote Con...

But I'll still give my thoughts on how the rest of the debate played out.
Posted by WillYouMarryMe 3 years ago
P2) Well-Established

I never really see Con make a focused effort at contesting this. Meanwhile, Pro does an excellent job of showing that most theistic experiences share some central characteristics and that the surface-level differences between them have sound theological justifications. I will definitely be keeping the information presented here by Pro in mind.

P3) Defeaters

To me this was the most interesting part of the debate, and also the most impossible part of the debate to judge-- I even tried diagramming this part of the debate to determine the winner but I *still* kept flipping sides. So I'd call it a tie. I can agree with some of what Con is saying: naturalism is a lot simpler, and theism requires us to engage in more rationalizing to keep it consistent with reality. But on other points I sympathize with Pro: at times Con almost seems to be assuming naturalism in order to prove naturalism's superiority. I tend to think that the standard Con is using itself is somewhat flawed because it almost seems designed to favor naturalism by only leaving room for naturalistic explanations with its over-emphasis on simplicity and consistency with background knowledge... but that could just be my theistic bias stepping in. Ultimately, this part of the debate is very subject to the reader's personal bias towards either theism or naturalism.
Posted by WillYouMarryMe 3 years ago
As far as feedback goes...

@Pro : I'm not really seeing any way to continue defending Type-PCT... cuz it really isn't all that defensible. Rather, I would have liked to see you show that theistic experiences are validated even through Con's theory about "forming models of reality which we shape with continued experience with the world," I know that's how it has been for me and for many theists I know-- it is never just one experience but *many* such experiences occurring over a life time, with further confirmation being gleaned from hearing about similar experiences from each other. Also, you could have questioned the 5 criterion Con used for P3. As far as I can see, they weren't specifically listed in his sources, so it could have been done... but both of those suggestions would have been sort of hard to implement given the rigid syllogistic structure of the debate, so idk.

Additionally, you both need to cool it on the esoteric philosophical jargon -_-
I still don't even know what the hell "Type-PCT" even stands for....

But anyways, this was a thoroughly enlightening debate, and it just goes to demonstrate the enviable levels of intellectual prowess that both of you have!

Posted by Envisage 3 years ago
Thanks for the vote Philocat! Seems like the more decent a debate is, the fewer votes it gets. I think I need to stick to reprehensible topics to get more public opinion...
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by WillYouMarryMe 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments.
Vote Placed by Philocat 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: I must say I did not expect such a high quality debate on this subject, but I was pleasantly surprised. Although it was close, Pro gets arguments because his initial argument was cogent and was not sufficiently refuted. Pro pointed out that Con's criteria for best explanation actually refutes Naturalism, as it makes more assumptions than solipsism and so, according to the criteria, we should accept solipsism and not naturalism. The ontological/epistemological divide is tenuous, as the very essence of epistemology is that it examines how we obtain ontological knowledge - Pro highlights that ontological veracity is entailed by the definition of 'veridical'. Finally, Con makes a good point about disparities between the accounts of religious experiences between different religions/cultures, but Pro adequately responds by noting that God, as a transcendent being, is too large to be described univocally and free from cultural paradigms, unlike statues which are able to be easily experience