DonBradley Posted June 29, 2010 Share Posted June 29, 2010 Hey All,I just finished writing my own response an excellent question by Montgomery Price question in his thread "Does Mormonism Depend on Moroni's Promise" and related questions, that is sufficiently extensive that I don't want to take over his thread with it. So, I'm giving it it's own home right here. I've posted it in three somewhat logically divided sections.It would better be titled "Religion as a Domain of Truth" or "Religion among the Domains of Truth."Many times, the domain of religion overlaps with science. Each religion makes truth claims about the way the world operates, and many of these claims can be tested on established epistemological grounds such as science and philosophy.Yes, they overlap, and the places of overlap are probably the most interesting and difficult. But what do we do in more "pure" cases? Is history done using symbolic logic? Is moral judgment done by archival research? Are science and mathematics done using empathy--a vital tool of history, morality, and social cognition? More on the interesting mixed cases shortly. If you are suggesting an alternative epistemology for religious truths, on what basis do you establish it's veracity? What leads you to accept the claim that there is a "different" type of truth to begin with?Why would we not have a distinct epistemology, or distinctive primary epistemological tools, for religious claims--just as we have different epistemological tools for philosophy, history, science, morality, and mathematics, respectively? The sacred texts of religions have always prescribed primary modes of verification distinct from those of the above domains (though overlapping with those of morality), and religionists have always employed such. The "ancients" at the time most sacred texts were composed had these other disciplines, in at least incipient form. Yet those texts never (or I have yet to see an example of this--do you know any?) propose determining religious truth by an appeal to mathematics, incipient science (such as that which enabled the engineering and invention feats of the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Indians, and Chinese), digging into the dirt to locate remnants of the past, or the like. Religion certainly makes use of philosophical discourse, but primarily as it enters a post-revelatory theological phase, which is mostly the business of specialists rather than of the day-to-day faithful, who must verify the faith in other ways.The religious mode of inquiry, the means of verification proposed by religions, has always been by their moral and experiential fruits and by mystical, or eponymously, "religious" experience.Religious apologetics, which uses other, non-religiously distinctive modes of inquiry to make a case for faith claims to others appears to have begun on a philosophical level in Late Antiquity and a scientific-historical level during the Enlightenment. But these are latecomers to the table. Religion had been verifying itself to believers for thousands of years.So, to refuse, at the outset, a distinct religious epistemology for the domain of religion is simply to not take religion seriously on its own terms, rejecting it as a domain from the outsiet, like refusing to acknowledge a distinct domain of moral truth, or philosophical truth, or mathematical truth, etc., but insisting on using only tools and presumptions from the other domains. You can never get to the truths of the missing domain by such a route. You cannot derive an "ought" from an "is," cannot even derive the idea of moral obligation outside of the use of a distinct moral sense or moral intuition. Nor can you arrive at syllogisms or systematic thought about concepts, much less to "The Phaedo," "I think therefore I am," or "The Critique of Pure Reason" without admitting the use of philosophy's primary tool of deductive logic. And so on.One certainly can block out any of these domains of human experience and inquiry a priori. But it scarcely seems productive or wise to do so. Link to comment
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