ABSTRACT

The religious realism/antirealism debate concerns the questions of God’s independence from human beings, the nature of religious truth and our access to religious truths. Religious realists typically maintain that religious claims represent a mind-independent religious reality to which we have epistemic access (at least in part), and that religious truth should be robustly construed as a relationship between religious sentences and the reality that they describe. Religious realists also usually maintain that at least some religious claims are actually true. Religious antirealists variously reject different components of the realist’s theory: religious claims are primarily expressive rather than genuinely representational; religious truths are inaccessible to us; religious truth is a matter of the satisfaction of internal standards of religious language (or ‘language games’); religious claims are systematically false. It is this last issue that has played and continues to play a dominant role in philosophy of religion, usually in the form of arguments about either the existence of God or the coherence of claims made about God. 1 Our concern in this collection is with the other aspects of the debate. That is, we will primarily be interested in the meaning and accessibility of religious claims. Although they are less commonly discussed, it is these other aspects that in an important respect raise more fundamental issues. When one asks whether God exists or whether we have a coherent conception of omnipotence, one already assumes that talk of God is in the business of representing (or aiming to represent) a religious reality; when one asks whether religious beliefs can be reasonable and warranted, one assumes that their truth is accessible to us.