The Epistemology of Religious Belief

Desmond M. Clarke

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy in Early Modern Europe

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199556137
Published online May 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

The Epistemology of Religious Belief

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  • History of Western Philosophy
  • Epistemology



This article examines the epistemological aspects of religious belief in early modern Europe. It suggests that the most prominent feature of Christian creeds during this period was their plurality and mutual inconsistency and that efforts to address this issue focused on the capacity of our natural cognitive faculties to limit the scope of faith and to establish the authenticity and meaning of documents that were said to have been inspired by God. It was widely accepted that the probability of any religious belief depends on the probability that it was revealed by God and that it has been correctly interpreted. Thus, the proliferation of inconsistent creeds by a wide range of churches provided many reasons to doubt both the source and the interpretation of doctrines that were presented as if they were indubitable.

Keywords: religious beliefs; Europe; Christian creeds; plurality; mutual inconsistency; God; interpretation of doctrines

Article.  11083 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; History of Western Philosophy ; Epistemology

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