The Rational Basis of Theism

  • Errol E. Harris
Part of the Tulane Studies in Philosophy book series (TUSP, volume 26)


Throughout the foregoing discussion the assumption has been allowed that, if theism is to be accepted at all, it can be only upon faith, whether or not that faith may have some rational support. The first aim of the argument was to invalidate the claim of atheism to established knowledge. That we have accomplished and have been able besides to show that the arguments offered by atheists in support of their unbelief are hollow and self-defeating, that in fact they tend towards the opposite conclusion and require us in each case to affirm an inescapable self-transcendence of the finite. But the assumption that theism is purely a product of faith is dogmatic and arbitrary unless similar reasoning can dispose of all claim to conclusive rational demonstration, and no such reasoning has, as yet, been examined. We must inquire what rational arguments can be produced and whether they can be sustained.


Rational Support Universal Principle Metaphysical Concept True Philosophy Contingent Existence 
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    Contemporary logicians commonly deny that formal logic presupposes (tacitly or otherwise) any form of metaphysic—and my contention above implies that it does. In fact, I am convinced that an underlying metaphysic can always be revealed by careful examination of its doctrines, its rules and the way they are manipulated. An uninterpreted calculus can be applied only if its transformation rules are regarded as rules of inference and they can only be taken as such if they or some other feature of the calculus is assumed to correspond in some way to the nature of the things to which the calculus is being applied. Upon what the nature of things is taken to be will depend whether or not the calculus can be interpreted. And to decide that it cannot be interpreted is to affirm in effect that there is nothing in reality with reference to which its rules can function as laws of inference. In, what sense an uninterpretable calculus is logic at all may well be questioned, for of what could it be the logic?Google Scholar
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© Tulane University New Orleans 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Errol E. Harris

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