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B. Internal Rationality

Internal rationality (see above, pp. 110ff.) has a dual aspect: on the one hand, it requires proper function in the part of the cognitive system that lies “downstream from experience”; on the other, it requires more generally that you have done your best or anyway well enough with respect to the formation of the belief in question.318318   This requirement of internal rationality may seem to overlap with justification. It does, if in fact there are intellectual duties prescribing the behavior required by rationality. Even if there are no such duties, however, internal rationality still requires the behavior in question. You have considered how it fits in with your other beliefs, engaged in the requisite seeking for defeaters, considered the objections that you have encountered, compared notes with the right people, and so on. Clearly, on the model (and even apart from the model), someone who accepts the Christian beliefs in question can easily meet these conditions. Suppose my experience is of the sort that goes with the testimony of the Holy Spirit (and in chapter 9 we’ll see more of what that experience involves), so that the great things of the gospel seem powerfully plausible and compelling to me: then (given that I have no undefeated defeaters for these propositions) there will be nothing dysfunctional or contrary to proper function in accepting the beliefs in question. Indeed, given those experiences, it would be dysfunctional not to form them. And suppose I carefully consider the objections people raise, consult with others, ask how the beliefs in question match the rest of my beliefs, and all the rest. Then clearly I will have done my part with respect to the formation of these beliefs. On the testimonial model, therefore, Christian belief enjoys both justification and internal rationality.319319   But aren’t there many different theories of (say) incarnation and atonement? Don’t Christians disagree about this? So which of the many views of Incarnation and Atonement are in fact rational? The question is misplaced. There are many different theories as to how it is that people are able to think; it is still plain to many of us that some people do (sometimes) think. There are many theories about what numbers are; it is still plain that 7 + 5 = 12. We can quite properly believe in the Atonement even if we don’t see exactly how it is supposed to go and don’t embrace any of the theories; it can also be that we are rational in believing in the Atonement but not in accepting some specific theory of it.


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