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Can a feeling that God exists count as a good reason for believing in God? Could it also count as good reason for public policy -- for funding churches and religious schools?

Hi, great question! I will focus on your first question, because I think your second question, about public policy, requires discussion of all sorts of things about the distribution of goods in a society, and the law (in the US, for example, we have to keep in mind that our constitution seems to forbid any such funding). Perhaps another panelist can take up those issues. I'll stick to the question whether the feelings that God exists can count as a good reason for believing in God. First I should point out that many philosophers have written on this, and have different views (shocking! I know). Some, writing in the Calvinist tradition (e.g. Alvin Palntinga and William Alston) think that some feelings that God exists are like perceptions, or sensations, of God, and they should count as evidence for God's existence just like a perception of, say, a table counts as evidence for a table. They both have arguments (different ones) to the effect that one can rationally regard one's feelings about God as...