: : : : Just as you can't prove the opposite; but you are basing your beliefs on something eternally unproveable, whereas he is basing his assertion on lack of evidence to the contrary.
: : : Wait a minute. The Bible is a basis for belief.
: : It is a basis for belief only if you assume that it is a basis for belief - which is circular reasoning.
: Piper: Come now that is hardly fair. It is a basis for belief because (inter alia) it is universally accepted by christians as containing the word of god.
Come on, matey, we've been across this stuff before.
Why is it accepted as containing the Word of God? - because it says it does; something that can equally well be said of any holy book in the world.
The question is whether the Bible can be used to provide 'reliable witness' for metaphysical phenomena; I don't think that the Bible can produce independent evidence to back up its version of events.
As you and I know, the Bible was written as a series of books; what we know of as 'the Bible' today is the sum total of various different (and occasionally conflicting) holy texts. In all cases, the writer was human; the only 'divine source' of the Bible is in the perceptions of the people who wrote it.
Alston's doxastic practice is flaky and unsound in my opinion (as I've pointed out at length elsewhere); he has not given any substantiable reason to believe that 'perception of God' is in any qualitative wise different from a wet dream; I remain unconvinced that the mortal can ever have any meaningful perception of 'God' in an infinite and unchanging form.
Ultimately, in the lack of any independent confirmation, people only believe that they can perceive the Christian God because the Bible says that they can; and the Bible is only holy if the Christian God exists.
: You might as well say that i can't believe in electrons because i assume that a scientist is competent to tell me of such things.
You can call electrons whatever you like; but you can experiment and design experiments to falsify; there is a statistical factor you can apply to experimentation to justify the belief in leptons like the electron and the muon.
If you do 100 experiments on leptons, and 98% of them work, you can say that it is 98% likely that your theory is accurate.
You cannot do this on God; either God exists, or God does not exist; the theory is not verifiable, falsifiable or refinable.
Furthermore, when dealing with electrons, it doesn't alter the experiment whether you believe in them or not; they do the same things regardless.
If you jump out of an aircraft with a parachute, it doesn't matter whether you believe in the parachute or not; it will save doubters as effectively as believers. You can demonstrate this to people watching. Repeatedly, if you wish.
A mystic in a trance cannot do any of the above; if he or she says they saw God in a trance, they have no external evidence to back up their claim; you cannot subject it to any meaningful scrutiny.
(And it's epistemologically rather dubious, as I've said before.)
If you don't believe in electrons, you are free to experiment yourself; you can test it as many times as you like. You don't have to take the word of somebody else on it.