Tennant's Philosophical Theology

By Delton Scudder Lewis | Go to book overview

CONCLUSION THE VALIDATION OF THEISM

General Orientation: the Argument Thus Far

IT is the purpose of this chapter to set forth the interrelated grounds upon the basis of which our knowledge of God may be reasonably verified. The burden of Chapter II was to reveal the fact that Tennant's conception of the process by which religious belief may be validated is fallacious because his implied conception of the origin and nature of religious experience is false. To Tennant, the truth of religious belief can be established only by general philosophical argument from the sensorily perceived facts of common knowledge, and religion is the emotional and volitional response of the self to the theistic hypothesis or idea. According to this essay, religious experience is not merely a reaction of the self to a discursively reasoned hypothesis or worldexplanation. It may involve such hypothesis, but the experience is more direct, personal, and realistic than this. Tennant's argument was shown to be inadequate in its explicit statement, and thus its implicit character was taken as inadequate. The analogy of the inferential and analogical processes by which man first develops his idea of God to comparable processes by which he comes to know other selves was shown to be inadequate to the complexities of the situation. Upon the basis of analogical inference, it was argued that we can never come to a consciousness of other self in this fashion, and that, in like manner, we can never first come to awareness of God in this fashion. Noninferential, nonanalogical contact with God is first essential to an initial awareness of God. If this is present then a foundation is given for constructing thought-representations of what is there. Without this, the inferences are unsupported.

Furthermore, Tennant's explicit argument manifests certain other weaknesses. The whole teleological argument according to Tennant implies that God is Creator. He admits that man has no empirical analogies for this conception, and his admission is fatal for a theory which denies any direct religious experience

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