New Facilities of Epistemological Externalism for Philosophy of Religion and Facing the Challenge of Diversity of Religions

Document Type : Research Paper


Professor, Department of Philosophy, Allameh Tabatabaie University, Tehran, Iran


In this paper, it is shown that as people often convert their beliefs into knowledge through many external means, knowledge cannot be considered exclusive in a justified belief where its justification has been achieved internally. If we do not consider these people’s beliefs as knowledge, we will face some problems; not only will we be caught up in pervasive skepticism but we would also be rejecting the reality of most human items of knowledge. Therefore, to acquire our knowledge, we do not need to use internalism as externalism provides us with new facilities. Philosophy of religion may achieve new solutions through this expansion in epistemology. In this paper, four currents in the philosophy of religion that have used epistemological externalism are mentioned. It is also shown that religious epistemology, based on the trusted hearings which follow Greco’s path, provides a reliable way to justify religious beliefs.
However, if we have a justification for religious beliefs through reassured hearings, all religions can claim that their followers believe in their own religious beliefs in this way; so they must be justified, and therefore, all religions must acquire true knowledge, and this is nothing but pluralism.
But it seems that to explain the diversity of religions, we do not need to resort to religious pluralism. It can be said that beliefs based on trusted hearings do not rely on their confidence only in the religious preachings, but their confidence in the religious preachings that have been transferred correctly and also that the religious preachings which are based on trusted hearings depend on another preaching and each has been assured through its previous preaching. If some kind of mistrust occurs in this chain then the ultimate believer in the reliability of the narrated in this chain or their collection (in Greco’s particular view) cannot turn his belief into knowledge with the necessary justification.
But the problem is what the end of the chain is based on. In some religions, a person can believe in the ability to understand many spiritualities and he has attempted to convey his findings to others. It is clear thatat the end of this chain, if it is the personal findings or readings of a person from spirituality, then the difference in spiritual reception among the early leaders can justify the diversity of religions. Therefore, this type of religious epistemology is dependent on the source of narrations.
But some religions speak of believing in an existential truth and one of the consequences of believing in his existence will also be to achieve spirituality. They also believe that their early leaders have based their teachings on their confident hearings of that existential truth.
In the meantime, Abrahamic religions believe in God as that existential truth. If a religion (such as Islam) can show the correctness of the chain of reassurance that leads to the prophet’s speech from God and also the prophet considers it not as his concept of spirituality but rather he has stated it because it is the same as the word sent by God, he can show the source of his teachings to be God.
What we should ultimately be sure about in this type of epistemology is that he has been able to establish a relationship with God and has conveyed God’s words. In this paper, four paths are mentioned to achieve this assurance.


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