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Portrait of John Calvin

John Calvin

Intuition 2:  Rational Intuition

Rather than thinking of intuition as a non-rational, it is possible to consider intuition as consisting of some sort of information which we just know:

Those who espouse rational intuition insist that human beings know certain propositions are immediately to be true, without resort to inference; in other words, that all men possess certain underived a priori truths without any process of inference whereby these truths are derived. Rational intuition must therefore be clearly distinguished from mystical intuition.

Carl F. H. Henry, God, Revelation, and Authority, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1999), 74. This a position which Christian thinkers have often advanced. For example, John Calvin argues that human beings have an intuitive sense of the divine:

There is within the human mind, and indeed by natural instinct, an awareness of divinity. This we take to be beyond controversy. To prevent anyone from taking refuge in the pretense of ignorance, God himself has implanted bin all men a certain understanding of his divine majesty. Ever renewing its memory, he repeatedly sheds fresh drops Since, therefore, men one and all perceive that there is a God and that he is their Maker, they are condemned by their own testimony because they have failed to honor him and to consecrate their lives to his will. If ignorance of God is to be looked for anywhere, surely one is most likely to find an example of it among the more backward folk and those more remote from civilization. Yet there is, as the eminent pagan says, no nation so barbarous, no people so savage, that they have not a deep-seated conviction that there is a God

John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion 1 & 2, ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, vol. 1, The Library of Christian Classics (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), 43–44. A similar position is advocated by Alvin Plantiga:

A major thrust of his early apologetic work was to show that Christian belief can be rational even if unsupported by traditional evidence, there being in his view no adequate, noncircular arguments to had for belief in God. Yet he has never regarded faith as a fideistic leap. Rather, it is a kind of knowledge that can be had immediately because of the way we are created and cthe action of the Holy Spirit, producting in us what Calvin called the sensus divinatatus – an intellectually grounded by noninferential awareness of the divine ….

Brian K. Morley, Mapping Apologetics (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2015), 119. (As for apologetics, this is a unique book. It explains the nature of the various apologetic schools, there relationships to one-another; together with critiques and praises. I don’t know of any book like it. I work with Dr. Morley (and he even gave me my copy of the book – full disclosure), but I could not more highly recommend the book. I used it with my graduate students.)