Sceptical Theism and Divine Deception
1. Sceptical Theism
If God exists, gratuitous evil does not exist.
Gratuitous evil exists.
Therefore, God does not exist
God is a being that is omnipotent, omniscient and supremely good. Gratuitous evil is evil there is no adequate reason for God, if he exists, to permit (the evil is not necessary to secure some compensating good or to prevent some equally bad or worse evil). Why suppose the second premise is true? A no so-called ‘noseeum’ inference has been offered in its support. It is suggested that if we cannot identify any God-justifying reason for much of the evil we observe, then it is reasonable to believe no such reason exists.
The sceptical theist challenges this noseeum inference. True, we are sometimes justified in inferring that there are no Fs given that there do not appear to be any Fs. I am justified in believing there are no elephants in my garage if there do not appear to be any elephants. But such noseeum inferences aren’t always sound. I am not justified in supposing there are no insects in my garage just because there do not appear to me, looking in from the street, to be any. Given my perceptual limitations, there could, for all I know, still be insects present. But then, given my cognitive limitations, there could, for all I know, be God-justifying reasons for the evils I observe despite the fact that I cannot identify any. Given my cognitive limitations, I can’t reasonably assign any probability to the thought that such reasons exist: neither high, nor low, nor middling. That probability is inscrutable. But then I must withhold judgement on whether the second premise is true.
We might think of those goods of which we are aware, those evils of which we are aware, and the entailment relations between them of which we are aware as the tip of an iceberg of reasons. According to the sceptical theist, we don’t know how much of this iceberg is accessible to us or how representative the tip is. But then the fact that the part of the iceberg to which we have cognitive access contains no reason for God, if he exists, to allow an evil does not justify us in concluding that there is, or probably is, no such reason in the remainder.
We might call the above attempt to block the noseeum inference the ‘anti-noseeum argument’. According to proponents of the anti-noseeum arument, the second premise of our evidential argument is not justified. Thus the argument fails.
As McBrayer and Swenson, two exponents of sceptical theism, point out, the sceptical theist’s anti-noseeum argument applies not just with respect to reasons to permit evils, but to reasons for any feature of the universe we might observe. If sceptical theism is true, then our inability to think of a God-justifying reason for God to bring about or permit such a feature fails to justify the belief that no such reason exists. What reasons God might have to create this or that feature is, for all we know, largely beyond our ken. Indeed, according to McBrayer and Swenson,
[w]hat a sceptical theist is committed to… is a general scepticism about our knowledge of what God would do in any particular situation. We don’t think that atheists or theists can say with any serious degree of confidence why God does what he does or why he would or wouldn't do a certain thing. ((2012), 145)
Thus McBrayer and Swenson are sceptical about Alvin Plantinga’s assumption that God would give us reliable belief-forming faculties (a key assumption of Plantinga’s Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism in Plantinga (2000)) (McBrayer and Swenson (2012).
2. Sceptical theism and knowledge of God’s goodness
As McBrayer and Swenson acknowledge, sceptical theism appears to threaten a number of arguments for the existence of the God of traditional monotheism. How are we to know that, not only is there an omnipotent and omniscient creator of the universe (a ‘g’ god, shall we say) but this creator is good (the ‘G’ God)? According to these authors, not by observing the universe and drawing conclusions about God’s moral character on that basis. Sceptical theism has the consequence that what we observe of the universe and what goes on in it provides little if any clue as to the moral character of our creator, if any.
Michael Bergmann, another defender of sceptical theism, concurs that arguments for God’s goodness based on identifying something as an all-considered good are undermined by sceptical theism. According to Bergmann, anyone who supposes the order we see in the natural world or the joy we witness in people’s lives give us reason to think that there is a benevolent God who is the cause of such things is failing to take into account the lessons of sceptical theism. ((2009), 617) If sceptical theism is true, the probability that God would, or would not, bring about such goods is as inscrutable as the probability that he would, or would not, bring about the evils we observe.
However, the fact that this particular route to justified belief in a good God is blocked by sceptical theism does not rule out our possessing such a justified belief by some other route. As Bergmann says: ‘We needn’t conclude … that the sceptical theist’s scepticism is inconsistent with every way of arguing for the existence of a good God’ ((2009), 25). Alternative ways by which we might come to hold such a reasonable belief might perhaps include divine revelation, and perhaps also some other form of inference invulnerable to sceptical theism.
Notice how the sceptical theist’s defence of belief in a good God against the evidential problem of evil can be applied in defence of belief in an evil god against the evidential problem of good. Suppose we attempt to justify our belief that there is no omnipotent, omniscient and supremely evil deity by pointing to the vast quantities of good that exist. We might argue:
If evil god exists, gratuitous good does not exist.
Gratuitous good exists.
Therefore, evil god does not exist
Gratuitous good is good there is no adequate reason for evil god, if he exists, to permit. In support of premise two, we might argue that the fact that we cannot think of any reason why an evil god would allow many such goods justifies us in believing there are no such reasons. But of course sceptical theism blocks this noseeum inference too. If sceptical theism is true, the probability that there exist evil-god-justifying reasons for the goods we observe is also inscrutable. If a sceptical theist can reasonably rule out the existence of such an evil deity, it will not by means of the evidential argument from good.
3. Wielenberg on Divine Lies
In his paper ‘Sceptical Theism and Divine Lies’ (2009), Erik Wielenberg points out what appears to be an interesting and, for many theists, worrying consequence of sceptical theism. If the fact that we can’t think of a God-justifying reason for a given evil fails to justify the belief that no such reason exists, then, similarly, the fact that we can’t think of a God-justifying reason for God to lie to us fails to justify the belief that no such reason exists. It appears that, if sceptical theism is true, then the probability that God has reason to lie to us is also inscrutable. But then, according to Wielenberg, sceptical theism has the consequence that, for all we know, God’s word constitutes not divine revelation but rather a justified, divine lie.
And this in turn implies that sceptical theism is at odds with any religious tradition according to which there are certain claims that we can know to be true solely in virtue of the fact that God has told us they are true. ((2009), 509)
Wielenberg suggests such claims include:
(L) All who believe in Christ will have eternal life.
Thus a Christian who, in response to the problem of evil, expresses scepticism about our ability to discern what reasons God might have to allow evil, but, in response to God’s utterances, fails to be similarly sceptical about our ability to discern what reasons God might have to lie to us, would appear to be employing their scepticism in an inconsistent and partisan way. Wielenberg would appear to have impaled the sceptical theist on the horns of a dilemma: either they give up their claim to know propositions such as (L) or else they give up their sceptical theism and again face the evidential problem of evil.
4. Historical arguments for the truth of Christianity
According to some Christians, the (as they see it) firmly established historical fact that God raised Jesus from the dead supplies Christians with a solid foundation for believing such Christian claims as that God revealed himself in the person of Jesus and that those who believe in Christ will be redeemed.
Sceptical theism would appear to block such an inference. Perhaps we are unable to think of any reason why God would raise Jesus from the dead other than to reveal the truth of Christianity, but of course, if sceptical theism is true, it seems we cannot reasonably conclude on that basis that there’s unlikely to be such a reason. If sceptical theism is true, it seems we can reasonably assign no higher probability to the belief that God’s reason for raising Jesus from the dead was reveal certain truths than to the belief that God’s reason for raising Jesus from the dead was to propagate certain falsehoods. It would seem that if sceptical theism is true, then, for all we know, the execution of God’s plan requires that he foster a false religion in this way.
5. How does the sceptical theist know God is good?
How does the sceptical theist know that God is good? As we saw above, not, it seems, by observing the universe and what happens in it and then drawing conclusions about God’s character on just that basis. Nor, if Wielenberg is correct, can the sceptical theist know that God is good on the basis of what God tells us about himself (through scripture, and so on). For all we know, God might be lying.
Indeed, how does the sceptical theist know that God is not evil? After all, for all we know, an evil god would have reason to create the many goods we observe, lie to us, and perhaps also perform certain actions such as create a puppet Jesus and raise him the dead?
As we saw above, sceptical theists allow that God’s goodness may be established other than on the basis of what we observe of the world and what goes on in it. Perhaps, for example, God’s goodness can be established by means of some sort of a moral argument from the existence of objective moral values. Or perhaps some version of the ontological argument might achieve that end. Many who believe in a good God are not optimistic about this sort of inference, however. As Peter Van Inwagen notes,
[w]hatever the individual merits or defects of [the arguments for the existence of God] none of them but the moral argument (and perhaps the ontological argument) purports to prove the existence of a morally perfect being. And neither the moral argument not the ontological argument have many defenders these days. ((1996), 154)
Alternatively, perhaps God’s goodness might be revealed to at least some of us directly and non-inferentially, possibly through the operation of some sort of God-sense, or perhaps through the internal activity of the Holy Spirit. According to Alvin Plantinga, individuals need not infer that God exists. In some cases God just directly makes himself known to us via a properly functioning sensus divinitatis. Indeed, according to Alvin Plantinga, it can be ‘perfectly sensible’ for someone who takes themselves to be the recipient of such an experience to believe in God:
[suppose] that I have a rich interior spiritual life… it seems to me that I am in communion with God, and that I see something of his marvelous glory and beauty, that I feel his love and his presence with me. Then (unless I’ve got some powerful defeater, and we need not hypothesize that I do) a response that involves believing that there is such a person is clearly perfectly sensible. ((1997) 387)
Plantinga offers a similar explanation for how Christians might come reasonably to believe the great truths of the Christian Gospels. On Plantinga’s extended A/C model of how belief in the great truths of the Gospels might be warranted (see Plantinga (2000)), Plantinga suggests that knowledge of and reasonable belief in those truths might be had through the internal instigation of the Holy Spirit (IIHS). On reading the Gospels, the Holy Spirit illuminates what is read and causes the Christian to recognise that it is true. Again, if this is very much how things seem to a subject, then, in the absence of any defeater, it is reasonable for them to take that appearance at face value.
Plantinga is here offering one version of what Dougherty (2008) has called a ‘common sense epistemology’. Common sense epistemologies (which Dougherty associates with G.E. Moore, Chisholm, Swinburne and others) allow that knowledge, justification and reasonable belief are all relatively easy to come by. At the core of such epistemologies is some more or less refined version of the principle of credence, such as:
(PC) If it seems to s as if p, then s thereby has at least prima facie justification for believing that p. [ii]
What all these views have in common is that experiences, inclinations to believe, appearance states and the like are sufficient to justify the beliefs they give rise to. (2008, 174)
Given that some version of common sense epistemology is correct, reasonable belief in God existence and goodness, and even in the great claims of the Gospels, would appear to be open to those who are unable to provide any evidence or otherwise construct a good argument in support of what they believe. As long as it seems to them that God exists, is good, etc., then (assuming certain conditions are not met, e.g. that the agent is not in possession of some powerful defeater for their beliefs) they can justifiably hold those beliefs.
The adoption of a combination of sceptical theism and common sense epistemology might seem to place many who believe in a good God on a fairly secure epistemic footing. As long as they are not presented with a defeater for their belief in a good God, it appears that they can reasonably believe God is good (and also in the great claims of Christianity) if that’s very much how things appear to them. Moreover, their sceptical theism allows such individuals to brush aside any potential defeater for that belief based on observation of the world and what goes on in it – including the evidential problem of evil.[iii]
I will now suggest that not only does sceptical theism appear to have (for the traditional theist) the scary consequence that, for all we know, God is lying to us, it also has the consequence that we ought to suspend judgement about the accuracy of what God and/or The Holy Spirit might seem to have reveal to us – including what they might seem to reveal about God’s goodness.
6. Divine assertion
Let’s begin with the suggestion that sceptical theism has the consequence that we cannot know or justifiably believe propositions having word of God justification only. It seems to me that Weilenberg’s argument, mentioned above, turns on a plausible-looking assumption concerning epistemic defeat. As we saw above, the common sense epistemologist signs up to a principle of credence – something like:
(PC) If it seems to s as if p, then s thereby has at least prima facie justification for believing that p.
There is of course a similar principle concerning e.g. testimony. For any testifier t, subject s and proposition p:
(PT): If t testifies to s that p, then s has at least prima facie justification for believing that p.
Now might not (PT), or something like it, offer the sceptical theist a way to deal with Wielenberg’s argument? A sceptical theist who signs up to (PT) might say: granted (PT), surely I can justifably believe propositions having word-of-God justification only. True, sceptical theism blocks a noseeum-based justification for trusting divine testimony – e.g. if we cannot think of a reason why God would lie to us on a given occasion, then that justifies us in concluding that there is unlikely to be such a reason. But why suppose the sceptical theist must rely on such a justification? Surely they might appeal to (PT) instead? And if that is how the sceptical theist justifies their belief in divine pronouncements, then surely their sceptical theism constitutes no threat to that belief?
Indeed, our sceptical theist might now push their argument further. They might say: Given that I do justifiably believe propositions having word-of-God justification only, but can do so only if I am justified in supposing the probability of God lying to me is low, I can now justifiably conclude that the probability that God is lying to me is not inscrutable, but low (I note that something along roughly these lines is suggested by Segal (2011, 92)).
This manoeuvre fails, it seems to me. For, notwithstanding the plausibility of (PT), sceptical theism appears nevertheless to provide its adherents with an undercutting defeater for such beliefs.
Consider an analogous case. Suppose Sally testifies to me that p. I have no other justification for believing that p. (PT) says that, given Sally’s testimony, I am now prima facie justified in believing that p.
But suppose I now go on to discover the truth of the following backstory to Sally’s testimony. Sally picked at random a ball from an urn containing 100 balls. If Sally’s ball was black, she lied to me. However, I am clueless concerning how many black balls are in the urn. They may all be black, or none may be black, 50% may be black, etc. I can assign no probability to any of these hypotheses. Thus the probability that Sally told me a lie is inscrutable to me.
On discovering this backstory to Sally’s testimony, can I still reasonably believe p? Surely not. If the only reason I have to believe that p is that Sally asserts that p, then the inscrutability of the probability that Sally lies provides me with an undercutting defeater for that belief. Notwithstanding the truth of (PT), given this further information, I can no longer justifiably believe that p. On learning the backstory I acquire a defeater for my belief that p.
Perhaps we are generally justified in believing what other people tell us, but obviously not on occasions when we know the probability the testifier lies is high. Under such circumstances, if we have no independent justification for the belief in question, we possess an undercutting defeater for that belief. But then it appears that our belief is also defeated - effectively, even if not quite so powerfully - if we know that the probability that the testifier lies is inscrutable.
Notice it won’t do for me to argue that, as (PT) allows me justifiably to believe that p given only Sally’s assertion, and given that I am justified in believing p only if I am justified in believing the probability that Sally lies is low, therefore I am justified in believing the probability that Sally lied is low. Clearly, such reasoning is muddled: it overlooks that fact that the probability that Sally lies is otherwise inscrutable provides me with a defeater for p, notwithstanding (PT).
But then it appears that, notwithstanding (PT), sceptical theism similarly supplies the sceptical theist with a defeater for any belief that p where p has word-of-God justification only. For, if sceptical theism is true, then, other than where we have independent reason to believe that what is asserted is true, the probability that God has reason to lie on any given occasion is inscrutable. But then the probability God lies on such occasions is inscrutable. But then, notwithstanding (PT), it appears we cannot reasonably believe what he asserts.[iv]
7. Act guaranteeing reasons
Before proceeding, let me deal with a fairly obvious objection. In the preceding paragraph, I moved from the inscrutability of the probability that God has reason to lie to the inscrutability of the probability that God lies. But, it may be objected, perhaps we can know that even when has reason to lie, he very rarely does so. But in that case sceptical theism fails to generate a defeater for beliefs having word-of-God justification only. We can still justifiably believe propositions having word-of-God justification only even while acknowledging that the probability that God has reason to lie on such occasions is inscrutable.
I believe this objection is easily sidestepped.[v] We might distinguish two kinds of reason God might have for acting: reasons that would justify God in acting, though he might still not act, and reasons such that God is guaranteed to act on them. Call the latter sort of reasons AG reasons (act guaranteeing reasons).
That there are reasons of the latter sort is often assumed in setting up the evidential problem of evil in the first place. That’s to say, it’s often assumed that the existence of gratuitous evil guarantees there is no God. Why so? Presumably because the gratuitousness of an evil gives God not just a reason to prevent it, but a reason he is guaranteed to act on: an AG reason.
Now if sceptical theism is true, then presumably not only are we not justified in concluding that God has no reason to act given only that we cannot think of such a reason, neither are we justified in concluding God has no AG reason to act given only that we cannot think of any. But then sceptical theism has the consequence that not only is the probability that God has reason to lie inscrutable, so too is the probability that he has AG reason to lie (other, of course, than when we have independent reason to suppose that what God asserts is in fact the case – for then we have reason to suppose he has not lied, and thus reason to suppose he lacks AG reason to lie). If the probability God has AG reason to lie to us is inscrutable in such circumstances, then so too is the probability that he is indeed lying to us. But then my point remains: the inscrutability of that probability does indeed appear to supply the sceptical theist with a defeater for any belief having word-of-God justification only.
In order to deal with the above objection, then, I would like, within this essay, any reference to God’s ‘reasons’ for acting to be understood as a reference to AG reasons to act.
8. Divine revelation
Let’s turn now from divine assertion to divine revelation. Can I justifiably believe that p where my only basis for believing that p is that what p asserts would appear to have been revealed to me via a religious experience?
Not, it seems, if I am wedded to sceptical theism. For I run into much the same problem as beset the above appeal to (PT) to explain why sceptical theists might still be justified in believing propositions having word-of-God justification only. Beliefs that are prima face justified given (PC) may be defeated, and it appears sceptical theism does indeed supply such a defeater for any belief grounded solely in religious experience, as I explain below.
Consider the following two hypothetical cases.
The dollar bill
Ted is gambling at a casino. A cashier hands what seems to Ted to be a genuine dollar bill. Given (PC), it seems Ted might justifiably believe the bill is genuine. However, suppose Ted now learns the following. The mob owns the casino and has produced a great many counterfeit dollar bills that a non-expert such as himself will be unable to distinguish from the genuine article. Ted has no clue what proportion of dollar bills handed out at the casino are counterfeit. For all he knows, the mob might want to ensure the bills cannot be traced back to them, and so will ensure no fake bills are handed out; on the other hand, for all Ted knows, the mob may have no such concerns given the local police are in their pocket and so all the bills are fakes. So Ted, let’s suppose, can’t reasonably assign any probability to the hypothesis that the bill he is holding is counterfeit: neither high, nor low, nor middling. The probability he is holding a fake bill is simply inscrutable to Ted. Now consider: under these circumstances, if Ted believes that the bill he is holding is genuine just because that is very much how it appears, is his belief justified? Does Ted know he holds a genuine bill?
Ted is looking at what appears to be a vase on the table before him. Ordinarily, given (PC), Ted would be justified in supposing there is a vase there. However, Ted now discovers the following backstory to this appearance. Sally has either placed a real vase, or else projected an entirely convincing-looking holographic image of a vase, on to the table before him. She has an urn of 100 balls from which she selected one ball at random. If the ball was black, Sally projected the hologram; otherwise she placed a real vase on the table. Ted is clueless as to what proportion of balls in Sally’s urn are black. The probability that Sally picked a black ball, and so projected a hologram, is inscrutable to Ted. Now consider: is Ted justified in believing that there is a vase on the table?
It strikes me as obvious that, notwithstanding (PC), in neither of the above cases can Ted reasonably take appearance at face value once he comes to believe the backstory. Ted can’t reasonably believe he holds a real dollar bill in his hand. Nor can he reasonably believe there is a vase on the table before him. Under other circumstances, (PC) might make it reasonable for Ted to believe these things. But if Ted comes to believe that the probability that he is being presented with a convincing fake is in each case inscrutable, then that belief in each case generates a defeater. Ted is no longer justified in believing he’s looking at a real vase/dollar bill.
So now suppose Ted has a religious experience of the sort Plantinga has in mind. It seems to Ted that not only is there a god, but that this god is a gloriously good (is God). This seems to Ted to have been revealed to him in a direct and immediate fashion by means of some sort of sensus divinitatis. Given (PC), perhaps Ted might now reasonably believe in God. However, suppose Ted comes to embrace sceptical theism. Sceptical theism would appear to have the consequence that, other than when we possess independent grounds for believing that what seems to have been be revealed is in fact the case, the probability that a good God (or god) has reason to produce a deceptive religious experience is inscrutable. But then how can Ted reasonably believe, or be said to know, that a God exists solely on the basis of his experience? For all Ted knows, the divinity responsible for his experience is rather less than gloriously good but nevertheless has reason to create such a misleading impression of himself. But then it appears that, notwithstanding the truth of common sense epistemology and (PC), if Ted has no other grounds for believing in God, his sceptical theism provides him with an undercutting defeater for that belief.
More generally, even granted the truth of common sense epistemology and (PC), it appears that sceptical theism supplies its adherents with a defeater for any belief of theirs rooted solely either in divine revelation and/or divine testimony.
If you suspect there is some relevant disanalogy between Ted’s trusting his religious experience and Ted’s trusting his experience in the dollar bill and vase examples, consider a still more closely analogous case:
The case of the mysterious alien
Suppose a mysterious alien[vi] being presents himself to us. We know very little about this being. We do know that his faculties, knowledge and abilities vastly exceed our own. In particular, we know that he possesses the ability to reveal his innermost character by psychic means (the alien can create a psychic connection between us and himself). However, we also know that the alien has, by such means, the ability to create a highly misleading impression of himself. So, for example, we know the alien has the ability psychically to appear wonderfully benevolent even if he is, in fact, horrifically malevolent.
Suppose we are also in possession of the following information. For all we know, this alien has excellent reason to create a highly misleading psychic impression of himself (e.g. to appear good when in reality he is evil, or vice verse, etc.). The probability that he has reason to create such a misleading impression of himself is inscrutable to us.
Now suppose you and I both have a psychic experience in which the alien does indeed appear to be marvellously good. Indeed, he appears, via the psychic connection has forged, to be profoundly loving and benevolent. However, setting aside this psychic experience, we possess no other clues to the alien’s character. For all we can otherwise tell, this alien might be wonderfully benevolent, horrifically malevolent, or anything in between.
Now ask yourself: given just this alien-induced psychic appearance, plus the inscrutability of the probability that alien has reason to deceive us, are we justified in believing the alien is good?
The intended analogy is clear enough. Rather than considering a God who has the ability to reveal his character to us through some sort of sensus divinitatis, we are considering an alien being who has the ability both to reveal his character to us through a psychic sense, but also to create a very misleading impression of himself. In each case, we are considering whether we are justified in believing that the being in question is good given no more than that that is how he thus appears. And in each case, we are supposing that the probability that this being has reason to deceive us about his character is inscrutable.
It seems clear enough to me – and, I suspect, most of us – that we would not be justified in believing this alien is good just because that is how he psychically appears. Even assuming some version of common-sense epistemology is correct, any suitably-refined principle of credence ought not to deliver the verdict that we are justified in believing the alien is good. Given we know both that the alien has complete control over his psychically-mediated appearance plus the inscrutability of the probability that he has AG reason to mislead us, we ought not to take his appearance at face value. We should, for the time being at least, suspend judgement on whether his psychically-induced appearance can be trusted.
But if that’s the correct verdict in the alien case, then surely, given sceptical theism, it’s the correct verdict in the God case too. That’s to say, we should similarly suspend judgement on the question of God’s goodness if we have no clue to his character other than how - via a sensus over which he has complete control - he appears to us.
So, given sceptical theism, it appears that not only can we not justifiably believe in divine goodness on the basis of some inference grounded in observation of the universe, neither can we justifiably believe in it on the basis of what God might (through scripture, etc.) tell us or indeed seem to have revealed to us via religious experience.
Perhaps a theist whose belief in divine goodness is grounded wholly in religious experience might justifiably believe in God. Perhaps that is what (PC) allows. However, if that same theist then goes on to embrace sceptical theism, it appears they thereby come to possess an undercutting defeater for their belief.
The following dilemma now looms for the theist. Without sceptical theism, the evidential problem of evil threatens to supply a rebutting defeater for belief in God. Once sceptical theism is embraced, however, it threatens to generate an undercutting defeater for belief in God (i.e. if the belief in divine goodness is grounded solely in any combination of (i) inference based on observation of the world and what goes on in it, (ii) divine testimony, (iii) religious experience).
It appears that a sceptical theist’s knowledge of divine goodness, if possessed at all, will have to be grounded in some other sort of argument: i.e. a moral or ontological argument. But, as Van Inwagen notes above, ‘neither the moral argument not the ontological argument have many defenders these days.’ ((1996)154)
For the Christian sceptical theist, a further problem looms: it appears that given sceptical theism, belief in such Christian doctrines as that God revealed himself in Jesus and that those who believe in Jesus will be redeemed etc. cannot justifiably be believed on the basis of (i) inference based on observation of the world and what goes on in it (e.g. Jesus being raised from the dead), (ii) divine testimony, (iii) religious experience. In each case sceptical theism appears to generate an undercutting defeater. But then how are such doctrines to be justifiably believed by the Christian sceptical theist? Their cupboard of justificatory resources appears to have been stripped bare.
9. Anticipating some replies