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Title of Thesis

Mohammad Iqbal Afaqi
Institute/University/Department Details
Department of Philosophy/ University of the Punjab, Lahore
Number of Pages
Keywords (Extracted from title, table of contents and abstract of thesis)
knowledge, belief, faith, christian, islam, epistemologies, epistemic structure, epistemology, religion

This dissertation entitled ‚€˜Knowledge, Belief .and Faith: A Comparative Study of Christian and Islamic Epistemologies‚€™ is focused on an inquiry into the epistemic structure and cognitive validity of religious faith and belief. The aim of this dissertation is to compare and contrast Christian and Islamic pictures of the Divine and to investigate the conditions under which an understanding and knowledge of God occurs. The concerned questions are: How revelation, religious experience, and knowledge on testimony and trust are relevant to epistemology? How religious knowledge-claims are explained in terms of their relation to rational belief? Can traditional metaphysical proofs lead us to a well-justified conclusion about the existence of God? These questions are of great importance in the perspective of a continuous divide between religion and reason on the epistemic propriety of theistic beliefs. Reason lays emphasis on argument, evidence, objectivity and neutrality in its knowledge-claims. The agenda of rational epistemology includes the claim that the believer should meet the evidentialist challenge in order to prove that p is true. On the contrary, in religious epistemology, knowledge-claims are held on the basis of revelation, religious experience, credulity, trust, testimony of the inner self, commitment to the self- transcendence in the state of prayer and worship. Since God ex-hypothesi is ineffable and transcendent, faith in him can neither be held on the basis of reason, nor is established by argument. The Fideists reject the evidentialist challenge as a mistaken approach. Kierkegaard, for example, insists that reason should be rejected in favour of faith. To evade the evidentialist challenge Wittgensteinians have adopted a noncognitivist view of religious beliefs. However, the writer of this dissertation subscribes to soft: Perspectivist approach, which demands that religious beliefs should not be immune from critical evaluation and assessment. For achieving the goal of salvific knowledge the believer is required to stand on he firm ground of faith within the community of believers who respond to God in prayer and worship. Prayer and worship are natural human practices that are rooted in basic human attitudes of awe, reverence, gratitude and dependence. In this perspective, the dissertation takes full and reflective account of the parameters of Christian and Islamic epistemologies. Both Christianity and Islam are rooted in prophetic consciousness of the Divine as a moral and purposing will. The rejection of polytheism and idolatry is a natural corollary of this consciousness. The Hebrew prophets preached the notion of God as an omnipotent, perfectly good, immutable, eternal and a necessary being. The Christian and Islamic religions followed this description of God, however they emphasized universalism in their spiritual dispensation. They rejected the Jewish idea that God has revealed his saving message only to his chosen people. According to them, God has spoken to all nations of the world. Christianity and Islam both stand squarely in the Hebrew tradition of faith, which revolves around the Unitary concept of the ultimate Real and on the belief that revelation is the main source of the Divine knowledge. It is the human goal to acquire the salvific knowledge. Christianity and Islam are two competing religions embodying the response of different racial and cultural groups. In the Christian response the Trinitarian picture of Godhead is of paramount importance. Revelation, in this framework, is the self-disclosure of God in Jesus Christ. Knowledge of God cannot be acquired without accepting the doctrines of Incarnation, Atonement, and Resurrection. The perfected nature of Jesus is the bridging plank between temporal world and the eternity. The Islamic response, in contrast, is centered on the saving appeal of ‚€˜Taubid‚€™. The doctrine of ‚€˜Taubid‚€™ implies that Allah is One who has no second, no associate, no parents, no offspring, no peers. In Islam, hence, there is no substitute, no mediator, no atonement, and no bridging plank between man and God. The epistemic aspect of Taubid is that it saves the believer and leads him to the beatific vision of God in the hereafter. Against the Christian idea of personal revelation, Islam insists on the propositional account of revelation. The prophet Muhammad does not express God; he is a channel through whom God speaks. The source of sure and unerring knowledge of God (revelation) is the Holy Qur'an. Clearly, conflict on these doctrinal differences cannot be resolved as they are deep rooted in the basic structure of each of the two revelatory systems. Therefore, religious believers belonging to each tradition claim that since their religious beliefs are based on the veridical experiences, they hold the final truth whereas the others are mistaken. This dispute is irresolvable on the grounds that we do not have neutral criteria for adjudicating between them. However, since the belief in God is theoretically verifiable in the life hereafter, we are within our epistemic right to suspend our judgement on the question which religion contains the normative truth. In the present life, the reasonable attitude is to get rid of the arrogance of dogmatic exclusivism. To know God, one is required to obey God and wholeheartedly participate in the religious form of life by strictly following his commandments regarding his plan and purpose. All religions must compete in goodness in removing humans primordial ignorance and bringing peace, justice, harmony and bliss to this world. In theistic religions knowing is greatly a morality-dependent and socially fruitful activity.

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S. No. Chapter Title of the Chapters Page Size (KB)
1 0 Contents
61.83 KB
2 1 Epistemology, Religion And Religious Knowledge 13
595.49 KB
3 2 Religious Belief, Natural Reason And Perspectivism 68
609.04 KB
4 3 Faith And Knowledge Of The Unknowable 138
377.21 KB
5 4 Epistemology: Christian Tradition 179
897.75 KB
6 5 Epistemology: Islamic Tradition 276
1526.13 KB
7 6 Recapitulations-Some Concluding Remarks And Findings 399
978.01 KB
  6.1 Reference And Notes 446
  6.2 Bibliography 472