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Epistemology is concerned with the nature of knowledge, truth, and the justification of belief. Epistemology of religion considers these issues in relation to religious truth claims (e.g., whether or not it is reasonable to believe that God exists). Often, the epistemology of religion leads to inquiry into fundamental attitudes towards the criteria for justification. For example, a major strain of contemporary epistemology of religion has been characterized “as a debate over whether evidentialism applies to the belief component of faith, or whether we should instead adopt a more permissive epistemology.” Thus, whether or not evidentialism is the appropriate approach to epistemology comes into question. This question functions as the primary motivation for this paper. I will ultimately show some of the limitations of evidentialism and outline, why, on the basis of these limitations, it cannot be taken as a universal criteria for measuring the justification religious belief. That is, I will show that the evidentialist project fails insofar as it was an attempt to provide a universal criterion for justification that could be legitimately applied to any given religious belief in any circumstance. I will argue that evidentialism is limited like this because religious beliefs and their justification should not, indeed cannot, be legitimately separated from the worldview and presuppositions in which they are embedded. Rather, a more informed approach to epistemology of religion should take into account the important relationship that exists between worldviews and the justification of religious beliefs. Evidentialism fails because it does not provide a sufficiently flexible and nuanced criterion that can be legitimately applied across multiple worldviews. A corollary to this point is that it is appears to be impossible to find any such universal, trans-worldview criteria for measuring the justification of belief.



Thesis Comittee

Matthew Dasti (Thesis Mentor)

William J. Devlin

Catherine Womack

Aeon J. Skoble

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Original document was submitted as an Honors Program requirement. Copyright is held by the author.

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