How Does Anyone Change Belief about Anything?
KeywordsEpistemology, Kuhn, Conversion, Presuppositionalism
The question of coming to faith, and leaving Christian faith, has become prominent in recent years, with much discussion of Christian “conversion” and “deconversion.” Some people seem to make sudden changes in their belief systems; are such changes fundamentally irrational, or can we understand them as the outcome of a rational (though perhaps tacit) thought process? In this paper, I present a model for how people change their minds about both minor and major beliefs, with elements from Thomas Kuhn’s model of “revolutions,” as well as input from the modern philosophy, psychology, and Christian theology. The main thesis of this paper is that people regularly go through revolutions of varying degrees of magnitude, which can be quite sudden, based on the buildup of tension due to lack of felt coherence in a previously-held view, compared to their perception of alternative views. Such a process is rational at its core.
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