Is Faith a Path to Knowledge?
Vol. 2, No. 1
Evan Fales, Religious Faith, Epistemology, Knowledge, Justified Belief, Testimony, Prophecy, Mysticism, Miracles, Cognitive Faculties
In this paper, I consider whether (religious) faith has any role to play in conferring positive epistemic status to (especially religious) beliefs. I outline several conceptions of faith that have been historically important within Western religious traditions. I then consider what role faith might be supposed to play, so understood, within the framework of internalist and externalist accounts of knowledge. My general conclusion is that, insofar as faith itself is a justified epistemic attitude, it requires justification and acquires that justification only through the regular faculties for contingent truths: sense perception and reason. I also argue, however, that the operations of our cognitive faculties in arriving at epistemic judgments on matters of substance are sufficiently complex, subtle, and often temporally prolonged, to make it exceptionally difficult to reconstruct the cognitive process and to judge whether it meets standards of rationality.