On the Unimportance of Theistic Belief
Issue: Vol 25 No. 2 (2017)
Journal: Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism
Subject Areas: Philosophy
We first argue that there are cases of “blameless non-belief.” That is, some people—through no fault of their own—fail to enter into a conscious relationship with God. But if so, then it would be unjust of God to make certain particular goods (e.g., one’s salvation, the possibility of an ethical or a meaningful life, or entrance into heaven) depend upon one having a conscious relationship with God. So, given that God is just, then despite what some theists believe, a relationship with God (even assuming that God exists) cannot be a necessary condition for the attainment of these goods; there might, e.g., be atheists in heaven, even assuming that theism is true. This implies that religion is a far less important component of people’s lives than many might think.
Author: Jason L Megill, Daniel Linford
Barrett, J. and Keil, F. 1996. “Conceptualizing a Non-Natural Entity: Anthropomorphism in God Concepts.” Cognitive Psychology 31: 219–247. https://doi.org/10.1006/cogp.1996.0017
Caldwell-Harris, C., C. F. Murphy, T. Velazquez, and P. McNamara. 2011. “Religious belief systems of persons with high functioning autism.” Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society. Boston, MA: July 20–23.
Drange, T. 1998. Nonbelief and Evil: Two Arguments for the Nonexistence of God. Amherst, NY: Prometheus.
Draper, P. 2002. “Seeking But Not Believing: Confessions of a Practicing Agnostic.” Divine Hiddenness: New Essays, edited by Daniel Howard-Snyder and Paul Moser, 197–214. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
———. 1989. “Pain and Pleasure: An Evidential Problem for Theists.” Noûs 23: 331–350. https://doi.org/10.2307/2215486
Draper, P. 1989. “Pain and Pleasure: An Evidential Problem for Theists.” Noûs 23: 331–350. https://doi.org/10.2307/2215486
Drum, W. 1910. “The Incarnation.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton.
Gervais, W. 2013. “Perceiving Minds and Gods: How Mind Perception Enables, Constrains, and Is Triggered by Belief in Gods.” Perspectives on Psychological Science 8(4): 380–394. https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691613489836
Gould, S. 2002. Rocks of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life. New York: Ballantine.
Hasker, W. 2010. “All Too Skeptical Theism.” International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 68: 15–29. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11153-010-9252-7
Haught, J. 2006. Is Nature Enough?: Meaning and Truth in the Age of Science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511809279
Helm, P. 2015. “The Mystery of the Incarnation: ‘Great is the Mystery of Godliness.’” The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 19(1): 25–37.
Hitchens, C. 2009. God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. New York: Twelve.
Holy See. 2003. Catechism of the Catholic Church: Revised in Accordance with the Official Latin Text Promulgated by Pope John Paul II. Second Edition. New York: Doubleday.
Hudson, H. 2014. “The Father of Lies?” Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion, edited by Jonathan Kvanvig, 147–166. Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198704768.003.0006
Hume, D. 1932 [1727–1765]. The Letters of David Hume. Volume 1, edited by J. Y. T Greig. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
———. 1978 . A Treatise of Human Nature. 2nd edition, edited by P. H. Nidditch. Oxford: Clarendon.
———. 1996 . “On Miracles.” In Essays: Moral, Political, and Literary, 517–544. New York: Cosimo Classics.
———. 1854. “Natural History of Religion.” In The Philosophical Works of David Hume: Including all the Essays, and Exhibiting the More Important Alterations and Corrections in the Successive Editions Published by the Author. Volume 4, 419–493. Boston: Little Brown and Company.
———. 1779. Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. 2nd Edition. London.
James, W. 1983 . Will to Believe and Other Essays. Peter Smith.
Kahane, G. 2012. “The Value Question in Metaphysics.” Philosophy
and Phenomenological Research 85: 27–55. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1933-1592.2012.00589.x
Kraay, K. and Dragos, C. 2013. “On Preferring God’s Non-Existence.” Canadian Journal of Philosophy 43(2): 157–178. https://doi.org/10.1080/00455091.2013.816176
Lewis, C. S. 2001. Mere Christianity. New York: HarperCollins.
———. 1980. “Is Theology Poetry?” The Weight of Glory, 116–140. New York: HarperOne.
Mackie, J.L. 1955. “Evil and Omnipotence.” Mind 64: 200–212. https://doi.org/10.1093/mind/LXIV.254.200
Maitzen, Stephen. 2006. “Divine hiddenness and the demographics of theism”. Religious Studies 42: 177–191. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0034412506008274
Mawson, T. 2012. “On Determining How Important it is Whether or Not there is a God.” European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 4: 95–105. https://doi.org/10.24204/ejpr.v4i4.262
McCloskey, H.J. 1960. “God and Evil.” Philosophical Quarterly 10: 97–114. https://doi.org/10.2307/2960059
McCormick, M. 2010. “Atheism.” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. http://www.iep.utm.edu/atheism/
McGrath, A. 2011a. Surprised by Meaning: Science, Faith, and How We Make Sense of Things. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781444392524
———. 2011b. Darwinism and the Divine: Evolutionary Thought and Natural Theology. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.
Meister, C. 2012. “Philosophy of Religion.” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. http://www.iep.utm.edu/religion/
Rowe, W. L. 1996. “The Evidential Argument from Evil: A Second Look.” The Evidential Argument from Evil, edited by D. Howard-Snyder, 262–285. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
———. 1988. “Evil and Theodicy.” Philosophical Topics 16: 119–132. https://doi.org/10.5840/philtopics198816216
———. 1979. “The Problem of Evil and Some Varieties of Atheism.” American Philosophical Quarterly 16: 335–341.
———. 1978. Philosophy of Religion: An Introduction. Encino, CA: Dickenson.
Schellenberg, J. 2010. “Divine Hiddenness.” A Companion to Philosophy of Religion, 2nd edition, edited by Paul Draper and Charles Talliaferro, 509–518. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781444320152.ch60
Schellenberg, J. 1996. Divine Hiddenness and Human Reason. New York: Cornell University Press.
Sehon, S. 2010. “The Problem of Evil: Skeptical Theism Leads to Moral Paralysis.” International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 67: 67–80.
Tillich, P. 1951. Systematic Theology. Volume 1. London: University of Chicago Press.
———. 1952. The Courage To Be. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Werther, D. “Incarnation.” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. http://www.iep.utm.edu/incarnat/
Wielenberg, E. 2010. “Skeptical Theism and Divine Lies.” Religious Studies 46(4): 509–523. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0034412510000247
———. 2008. God and the Reach of Reason: C.S. Lewis, David Hume, and Bertrand Russell. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Wilks, I. 2013. “The Global Skepticism Objection to Skeptical Theism.” In The Blackwell Companion to the Problem of Evil, edited J. P. McBrayer and D. Howard-Snyder, 458–467. Oxford: John Wiley and Sons. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118608005.ch31