The epistemology of religion and its implications for interfaith dialogue and psychiatric diagnosis
The epistemology of religion plays a foundational role in arguments concerning the distinction between normal religious belief and delusion with religious content, as well as arguments regarding the commitments required for successful interfaith dialogue.
In the case of interfaith dialogue some of the central epistemological questions are: Is a belief that many religions contain important knowledge of the Divine a prerequisite to dialogue, and seeking to understand one another’s faiths? Is it rationally impossible to believe that someone else’s religious belief is false without treating them as epistemically lesser in some sense?
In the case of psychiatry, major epistemological questions include: Is there really no epistemic difference between some normal religious beliefs and delusion? If so, can the difference between them be found in their function, effect on self or others, or phenomenology?
The affirmative answers to these questions form the foundations of pluralist approaches to interfaith dialogue and discussions of non-evidential exemptions distinguishing religious belief and delusion.
My research project is to investigate these epistemological issues in the light of the ways that religious believers and communities provide support for the truth of religious beliefs, looking at general features of such justification and specific examples within Christianity and Buddhism, in the works of St Teresa of Avila and Dharmakirti.