if it seems to me that I have a glimpse of Heaven, or a vision of God, that is grounds for me and others to suppose that I do. And, more generally, the occurrence of religious experiences is prima facie reason for all to believe in that of which the reported experience was purportedly an experience (Swinburne 2004, 310).Swinburne’s argument is a version of an argument for the existence of God known as the argument from religious experience. Swinburne’s version of the argument is based on a principle he calls the Principle of Credulity. According to the Principle of Credulity, "if it seems (epistemically) to S that x is present, that is good reason for S to believe that x is present" (Swinburne 2004, 310). Swinburne says that the Principle of Credulity is "a principle of rationality," that "what one seems to perceive is probably so" (Swinburne 2004, 303).
Using the Principle of Credulity, then, Swinburne argues roughly as follows:
- If it seems (epistemically) to me (Swinburne) that God is present, that is good reason for me to believe that God is present.
- It seems (epistemically) to me that God is present.
- Therefore, I (Swinburne) have good reason to believe that God is present.
I saw a white spot in the clouds absolutely close – all the clouds paused – then the white spot departed and stood all the time like a board in the sky. On the same board or the screen or stage now images as quick as a flash followed each other, about 10,000 in half an hour… God himself occurred, the witch, who created the world – in between worldly visions: images of war, continents, memorials, castles, beautiful castles, just the glory of the world – but all of this to see in supernal images. They were at least twenty meters big, clear to observe, almost without color like photographs… The images were epiphanies of the Last Judgment. Christ couldn't fulfill the salvation because he was crucified early... God revealed them to me to accomplish the salvation.Based on his experience, is it rational for Natterer to conclude that God is present?
|Hexenkopf (The Witch's Head), ca. 1915|
If Natterer's experience does not give him (and us) a good reason to believe that God is present, does that mean that the Principle of Credulity is false?