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II. Initial Statement of the Extended Model

Now our question is whether these beliefs are justified, rational, or warranted. But justification and internal rationality are easily dealt with. First, justification taken deontologically, in terms of intellectual rights and obligations, is no more problematic here than in the case of theism. Clearly, a person (including a highly educated, wholly with-it, twenty-first-century person who has read all the latest objections to Christian belief) could be justified in accepting these and other Christian beliefs and would be so justified if (for example) after careful and nonculpable reflection and investigation into the alleged objections and defeaters, she still found those beliefs wholly compelling. She could hardly be blamed for believing what strongly seems, after extensive investigation, to be the truth of the matter. (She’s supposed to believe what seems false to her?)240240   It is open to someone to claim that the Christian believer enjoys only subjective justification, not objective justification; that is because (so the claim goes) the fact is there are objective epistemic duties such that one cannot accept Christian belief without violating them (above, pp. 98–99), and the believer escapes guilt only because she is not aware of them. (Thus ignorance is a protection from guilt.) Once more, however: what would those objective duties be? And is there even a suggestion of a reason for thinking there are any such duties? As for the various analogical extensions of justification in this original sense—being responsible, doing as well as could be expected with respect to your part in belief formation, and the like—again, it is obvious, I think, both that believers can meet these conditions and that many believers do meet them.

The same goes for internal rationality, which is a matter of the proper function of cognitive processes downstream from experience (see above, p. 110. for explanation of this metaphor). These beliefs, we are stipulating, seem to her to be clearly true. She finds them wholly convincing, just as she does her beliefs about other persons, say, and an external world; they remain thus convincing even after she has considered the objections she has encountered. She has a powerful inclination to believe these things and hence has strong 204doxastic evidence for them. But then there need be no cognitive malfunction, glitch, or other infelicity in her actually believing them; therefore, her belief is internally rational.

As we saw in the case of theistic belief, however, these observations won’t or shouldn’t quiet the critics. For even if Christian believers are justified and internally rational in their beliefs, they might still be externally irrational (see above, p. 112) and thus wholly without warrant. After all, even the beliefs of a madman or of a victim of a Cartesian evil demon can be both justified and internally rational. Well, then, what about external rationality and warrant? A belief is externally rational if it is produced by cognitive faculties that are functioning properly and successfully aimed at truth (i.e., aimed at the production of true belief)—as opposed, for example, to being the product of wish-fulfillment or cognitive malfunction. Now warrant, the property enough of which distinguishes knowledge from mere true belief, is a property or quantity had by a belief if and only if (so I say) that belief is produced by cognitive faculties functioning properly in a congenial epistemic environment according to a design plan successfully aimed at truth. Because rationality (in the sense of proper function of rational powers) is included in warrant, the real question, here, is whether Christian belief does or can have warrant.

According to the extended A/C model, Christian belief does indeed have warrant. In essence, the model goes like this. First, God has created us human beings in his own image: this centrally involves our resembling God in being persons—that is, beings with intellect and will. Like God, we are the sort of beings who have beliefs and understanding: we have intellect. There is also will, however: we also resemble God in having affections (loves and hates), in forming aims and intentions, and in being able to act to accomplish these aims and intentions.241241   Here I am thinking of will in such a way that it includes not only decision and choice (the executive function of will) but also loves and hates, desire and conation (the affective function of will). This is a bit broader than the usual contemporary understanding of the will, but in line with older ways of thinking about it (see, e.g., Aquinas, Summa Theologiae I, q. 82, a. 1 and 2 and Summa contra Gentiles Bk. III, ch. 26). Call this the broad image of God. But human beings as originally created also displayed a narrow image: they had extensive and intimate knowledge of God, and sound affections, including gratitude for God’s goodness.242242   Here I was helped by Derek Jeffreys. They loved and hated what was lovable and hateful; above all, they knew and loved God. Part of this image was the sensus divinitatis of chapter 6.

205

The extended model retains this feature and adds more. First, it adds that we human beings have fallen into sin, a calamitous condition from which we require salvation—a salvation we are unable to accomplish by our own efforts. This sin alienates us from God and makes us unfit for communion with him. Our fall into sin has had cataclysmic consequences, both affective and cognitive. As to affective consequences, our affections are skewed and our hearts now harbor deep and radical evil: we love ourselves above all, rather than God. There were also ruinous cognitive consequences. Our original knowledge of God and of his marvelous beauty, glory, and loveliness has been severely compromised; in this way the narrow image of God in us was destroyed and the broad image damaged, distorted.243243   As Calvin puts it, “The natural gifts in man were corrupted, but the supernatural were taken away” (II, ii, 4, p. 260). And according to Aquinas, “Man in the state of corrupted nature falls short even of what he can do by his nature, so that he is unable to fulfill all of it by his own natural power.” We therefore need “a gratuitous strength superadded to natural strength” not only “to do and will supernatural good,” but also, he says, to live up to our original nature as persons (Summa Theologiae I-II, q. 102, a. 2, respondeo). Here we should note an ambiguity in such terms as “our natural condition.” On the one hand, the term can refer to what we human beings were like in our original and sinless condition, fresh from the hand of God, and what we would still be like if it weren’t for sin; on the other, the term refers to our fallen condition, prior to regeneration and renewal. In particular, the sensus divinitatis has been damaged and deformed; because of the fall, we no longer know God in the same natural and un-problematic way in which we know each other and the world around us. Still further, sin induces in us a resistance to the deliverances of the sensus divinitatis, muted as they are by the first factor; we don’t want to pay attention to its deliverances. We are unable by our own efforts to extricate ourselves from this quagmire; God himself, however, has provided a remedy for sin and its ruinous effects, a means of salvation from sin and restoration to his favor and fellowship. This remedy is made available in the life, atoning suffering and death, and resurrection of his divine Son, Jesus Christ. Salvation involves among other things rebirth and regeneration, a process (beginning in the present life and reaching fruition in the next) that involves a restoration and repair of the image of God in us.

So far, what we have here is the mere Christianity of which C. S. Lewis spoke;244244   Mere Christianity (New York: Macmillan, 1958). we now come to a more specifically cognitive side of the model. God needed a way to inform human beings of many times and places of the scheme of salvation he has graciously made available. No doubt he could have done this in a thousand different ways; in fact he chose to do so in the following way. First, there is Scripture, the Bible, a collection of writings by human authors, but specially inspired by 206God in such a way that he can be said to be its principal author. Second, he has sent the Holy Spirit, promised by Christ before his death and resurrection.245245   See, e.g., John 14:26: “All this have I spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” A principal work of the Holy Spirit with respect to us human beings is the production in us of the gift of faith, that “firm and certain knowledge of God’s benevolence towards us, founded upon the truth of the freely given promise in Christ, both revealed to our minds and sealed upon our hearts through the Holy Spirit” of which Calvin speaks (below, p. 244). By virtue of the internal instigation of the Holy Spirit, we come to see the truth of the central Christian affirmations. Now faith is not just a cognitive affair: its being “sealed upon our hearts” is a matter of will and affect; it is a repair of the madness of the will that is at the heart of sin. Still, it is at least a cognitive matter. In giving us faith, the Holy Spirit enables us to see the truth of the main lines of the Christian gospel as set forth in Scripture. The internal invitation of the Holy Spirit is therefore a source of belief, a cognitive process246246   Those who raise their eyebrows at the application of this term to the work of the Holy Spirit are invited to note the explanation below, pp. 257–58. that produces in us belief in the main lines of the Christian story. Still further, according to the model, the beliefs thus produced in us meet the conditions necessary and sufficient for warrant; they are produced by cognitive processes functioning properly (in accord with their design plan) in an appropriate epistemic environment (both maxi and mini) according to a design plan successfully aimed at truth; if they are held with sufficient firmness, these beliefs qualify as knowledge, just as Calvin’s definition of faith has it.


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