The Sense of the Divine
Here, Plantinga makes an unusual move, and it will seem all the more suspect because we are skimming over his argument. Still, I will attempt to explain and keep my steps in full view.
He first proposes that we assume God exists. (Some would object, but this objection is juvenile. It is a hypothetical, not something which must be accepted after the argument is over).
He then draws on a classical understanding of God, which says that God is omniscient, all-powerful, and all the rest. This is really all one statement (“Assume God exists”), but I amplify it in order to make the next point clearer.
If God exists, then He could reasonably have put within us a cognitive faculty (like memory, like our senses) which delivers knowledge of the divine. That is, of Himself.
The point is easily made with an author and her story. An author – in the context of her story – is much like God, who knows everything that can be known and is powerful enough to do anything that can be done. She, almost by default, makes it so that her characters learn about the world through their senses and through their memories, and so on. She could easily put within them another cognitive faculty: The ability to recognize her, as she affects the story or decides to appear within it.
Now, this may or may not be good storytelling, but that doesn’t matter. It is plain to see that it can be done. Likewise for God, in our world.
This faculty Plantinga calls the sensus divinitatis, or the sense of the divine.
This is the all-too-brief, painfully truncated version of Plantinga’s argument: While we can offer arguments for God’s existence, they are not necessary. As it turns out, our minds can have direct knowledge of God, and of the truth of the Gospels, through our sense of the divine.
What, exactly, is our appeal to the soul?