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Roy Clouser





Professor Emeritus of the College of New Jersey, NJ, USA

He is the author of two books The Myth of Religious Neutrality

and Knowing With the Heart

Roy Clouser is professor of philosophy and religion (Emeritus) at the College of New Jersey. He holds an BA from Gordon College, a B.D. from Reformed Episcopal Seminary, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. Along the way to the Ph.D. he studied with Paul Tillich at Harvard Graduate School and with Herman Dooyeweerd at the Free University of Amsterdam. In 1997 he won one of the Templeton Awards for his course in science and religion. He is the author of The Myth of Religious Neutrality (University of Notre Dame Press, revised 2005), Knowing with the Heart  (IVP, 1999), and numerous articles.

 

The Myth of Religious Neutrality: An Essay on the Hidden Role of Religious Beliefs (University of Notre Dame Press: Notre Dame, 1991; 2nd edn 2005)


         

The central claim of the book is that all theories of science and philosophy presuppose something as divine and are in that sense religiously regulated. The divinity belief presupposed internally regulates theories in that the interpretation of the nature of their postulated entities varies relative to the nature of the divinity presupposed. This sort of internal regulation is not just socio-cultural influence, but arises from the very activity of theory formation and so is universal and unavoidable. The influence of religious belief is thus deeper and more pervasive than the prevailing view that theories need only be externally harmonized with particular religious tenets. 

     To make clear exactly how such theory-regulation works, there are case studies of the most influential theories in mathematics, physics, and psychology. Principles are then developed to show how this same sort of regulation can be brought to theories when the controlling presupposition is belief in God.

     This idea of a uniquely Christian-theistic philosophy and science is derived from the work of the Dutch Calvinist philosopher Herman Dooyeweerd (1894-1977). On his view the most important way belief in God regulates theories is by requiring them to presuppose a radically nonreductionist ontology, and he constructed just such a theory. The book closes with an introduction to that ontology and to some of its consequences for the social sciences including political theory.

     The book was nominated for the American Academy of Religion’s Excellence Award and for the Grawemeyer Award in Religion. A second (revised) English edition appeared in the spring of ‘05, and Spanish and German translations of it will follow.    

 

Knowing with the Heart: Religious  Experience and Belief in God(Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press,  1999), 204 pp.

 

The subject is the epistemic status of belief in God, and I side with the non-evidentialists by holding that belief in God is both produced and justified by religious experience.

     The traditional classifications of religious experience are examined, critiqued, and their common core identified. The question is then raised as to whether any of them can justify, as well as generate, belief in God. This is tackled by first setting the question in a wider epistemological context and asking whether there are experiences of any kind that can justify the beliefs they produce. The prevailing answer in philosophy has been “yes”: normal sense perception and the experience of self-evidency have long been accepted as justificatory. I focus on self-evidency.

     A descriptive analysis of the experience of self-evidency shows that the traditional restrictions on it are incoherent, and that once these are eliminated self-evidency is indistinguishable from what was identified as the common element in all the types of genuine religious experience. I conclude that genuine religious experience is therefore a species of (the experience of) self-evidency, and carries the same epistemic warrant.

     This claim is then tested against a number of traditional objections to belief in God, and justification by self-evidency is defended as unavoidable (contrary to pragmatism), reliable though not infallible (contrary to rationalism). A number of important consequences are then drawn for apologetics and comparative religion.





© Roy A. Clouser 2005


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