We've been a bit quiet here at NewAPPS this week, as presumably we are all sort of busy (speaking for myself anyway), and well, Eric is on a vacation... But (following a very sensible suggestion by Juliette Kennedy), here's a small token of support to Pussy Riot, the punk band on trial today basically for having been too critical of Russian establishment. Here is an overview Guardian article, and below the fold two videos: their 'concert' inside Russia's official church (which was the proverbial 'last drop' for their arrest), and a video with an earlier performance. (By the way, apparently one of them is a philosophy student, as earlier reported by Leiter.)
Free Pussy Riot! (The are so cool on so many levels...)
This is one of those cases where google autofill can surprise you. I was googling "Michael Sudduth", the name of a well-known philosopher of religion, to find a particular paper of his, when google autofill provided me with "Michael Sudduth apostasy" and "Michael Sudduth hinduism". Intrigued, I followed these links and found out that Dr. Sudduth has converted to hinduism in late 2011 - early 2012. I know Sudduth's work quite well, especially his 2009 monograph The Reformed objection to natural theology(published by Ashgate) that aims to combine Reformed epistemology with natural theology.
According to Sudduth himself, his conversion to hinduism has two components. While teaching a world religions module, he found himself more and more interested in classical hindu texts, such as the Bhagavad Gita. This was followed by powerful religious experiences (of Krishna) and a near-fatal car accident. He explains the process in a Facebook open letter to his friends. Since this letter is widely circulated on the internet, I will post parts of it here as well, at the end of this blogpost.
What I'm interested here now is not so much Sudduth's conversion, but the reactions this got on Christian blogs. Unsurprisingly, most of these were negative, see e.g., here. Looking for causes of his conversion they appealed to the following factors
Tomorrow [correction, in a few days] I will be giving a keynote lecture at a philosophy of religion conference in Poland (see here). My lecture will be on whether or not theological reasoning, like more folk religious beliefs can be "natural". I think it can be, and that theology has important continuities with everyday reasoning.
Robert McCauley, who will also be giving a keynote at this conference, does not believe so. In his 2011 book "Why religion is natural and science is not", he argues that theology is as "unnatural" as science. He uses the term natural in a fairly restrictive sense, namely as "maturationally natural", by which he means, early developed, spontaneously emerging, easy to process and cross-culturally ubiquitous: "Like scientists, theologians occupy themselves with forms of reflection that are difficult to learn and difficult to master and that occasionally even issue in representations that are just as cognitively unnatural [as science] Theology is one of the few academic undertakings that can result in formulations that are very nearly as distant from and as obscure to humans' common understandings of the world as the most esoteric theoretical proposals of science are (McCauley, 2011, 212).
Theologians of the past seem to agree with this view. Thomas Aquinas, for instance, started from the observation that most people lack the time, patience, motivation, opportunity and intelligence to do theology to argue that faith does not require natural theological reasoning. McCauley (2011) cites the near-absence of theology in non-western, non-literate cultures.
More generally, in the cognitive science of religion there is a consensus that theology is a practice for the select few, working in highly institutionalized environments. If this were the case, we should expect theology to only appear in cultures with a high degree of literacy and social stratification, which would allow for a cognitive division of labor that is necessary for such an unnatural and arcane practice. Hence, we should only expect theology in the western traditions of Islam, Judaism and Christianity, and in Asian literature cultures, such as South and South-East Asia (e.g., Hindu and Buddhist theology). To offer just a few counterexample, I would like to discuss two highly sophisticated theologies from non-literate cultures.
[X-posted at Prosblogion] A few months ago, I met a grad student who has a prominent philosopher of religion (X) in his department. The graduate student was a theist when he started grad school, but soon realized that this is a minority position in philosophy. Disparaging remarks about theists (and specifically Christians) fueled his insecurity. Although there are no longitudinal surveys on this, it seems that atheism increases as people climb the academic ladder. For example according to the PhilPapers survey, in philosophy, only 14.6% of philosophy faculty believe in God. When postdocs are included, this percentage rises to 16.3%. Graduate students have the highest percentage of theists, 20.8%. So it seems plausible to me that at least some graduate students lose their faith as a result of the majority opinion in academia.
As the graduate student and I discussed X and what a brilliant scholar she is, the graduate student said that one important reason he is still a theist is the fact that X is a theist. He said "X is one of the smartest academics I know. The fact that X is a theist, even though she considered counterevidence carefully (like the problem of evil), constitutes strong evidence for theism for me, and for me it's a good enough reason to remain a theist". Is the graduate student rational?
I've just met Robert Audi in Oxford. With a small group of philosophers of religion, we looked at his excellent new book Rationality and religious commitment (Oxford, 2012). One of the claims of this book (in particular chapter 3) is that faith has been often conflated with belief, but that both are distinct attitudes. Faith (and not just religious faith) in something entails a (usually global) positive attitude towards this person/proposition; is compatible with doubt, and is - unlike belief - at least in part under voluntary control.
A particularly interesting element Audi brought up is the fluidity of faith: faith typically wavers, exhibiting peaks and valleys. Beliefs can waver too, but not characteristically so. For instance, an untenured person can have faith in her own capacities as a researcher, but this faith can be frequently shaken (e.g., by unsuccessful job applications) or occasionally boosted (e.g., by successful publication). Similarly, religious faith has this fluid, wavering, pattern with peaks (e.g., through religious experience or reading a particularly strong paper in philosophy of religion) and valleys (e.g., by being confronted by gratuitous evil or strong naturalistic arguments). Audi claims that the rationality of faith and religious commitment cannot be purely gauged by standards usually employed for rationality for beliefs. Rather, faith has its own standards of rationality.
[X posted from prosblogion] I've just returned from a wonderful 2-day philosophy of religion workshop at Glasgow organized by Victoria Harrison, who put together a diverse and high-quality program. One of these exciting papers was by Joshua Rollins' (U of Oklahoma) on the common consent argument.
Roughly speaking, in its crudest form, the Common Consent argument (CCA) goes as follows:
Most people believe in God
Therefore, God exists
This argument, traditionally widely endorsed, has fallen on hard times. Not only does it seem problematic to infer the truth of a belief from its mere popularity, declining religiosity in the western world have challenged premise (1). However, the recent shift in epistemology to social epistemology has rekindled an interest in the CCA. As Joshua indicated, social epistemologists have convincingly demonstrated that we do (and ought) take other people's opinion into account as evidence. We do this in the case of testimony - where we acquire a vast amount of knowledge through other people - and in the case of peer disagreement, where disagreement with others is a fact we need to take into consideration in many cases. In what follows, I'll reflect on some ideas offered by Thomas Kelly, who wrote a recent paper on CCA, and implications of cognitive science of religion for CCA.
[In honor of Ryan Hanley, the author of a very fine book on Adam Smith, and my host this week, I do a post on Smith's philosophy of religion--ES]
Discussions of Adam Smith's views on religion are bedeviled by two obsessively posed questions: (i) does the so-called 'invisible hand' instantiate or rely on a providential order?; (ii) is Smith a Humean skeptic about the existence of God? In what follows I ignore these. Consider, first, the following passage:
In the Decalogue we are commanded to honour our fathers and mothers. No mention is made of the love of our children. Nature had sufficiently prepared us for the performance of this latter duty. Men are seldom accused of affecting to be fonder of their children than they really are. They have sometimes been suspected of displaying their piety to their parents with too much ostentation. The ostentatious sorrow of widows has, for a like reason, been suspected of insincerity. (The Theory of Moral Sentiments (TMS), III.3.13)
Here Smith treats the Ten Commandments sociologically. The Decalogue offers insight into which of our moral duties are innate (i.e., they don't need to be mentioned in the them) and which duties require sanctions (the ones listed). Given that at least for this item on the list he treats it as a reliable authority, he understands Moses or Moses' source as a wise-lawgiver (on this matter). This has affinity with chapter three of Spinoza's Theological Political Treatise. (I return to this below) As an non-trivial aside, if we are allowed to treat the whole list in such sociological terms then it appears that Smith thinks that the very idea of a mono-theistic God is not natural (nor innate) to us but requires social reinforcement mechanisms. (This echoes the first chapter of Hume's Natural History of Religion.)
A few days ago, I had the privilege of attending a lecture by Paul Draper, probably one of the most prominent atheist philosophers of religion today. His lecture had a wealth of ideas (including a proposed solution to Hume's problem!), but I'd like to focus on one tiny piece of the lecture, viz. his argument that the burden of proof is on the theist, and not on the atheist.
Here goes the argument, which Paul was kind enough to discuss with me, prior to posting it. I apologize if there are any remnant misrepresentations.
Let's assume that there are a number of epistemically possible world views: some are naturalistic, some are supernaturalistic, let's even grant there are others (non-supernatural, non-natural, but some third, unknown view). Then we can see that the following diagram exhausts all epistemic possibilities: N (naturalism), S (supernaturalism) and not-N and not-S.
Recently, I've been reading a lot on divine hiddenness as a challenge to theism, and I find it a particularly interesting and forceful argument in favor of atheism. The idea is, roughly speaking, that non-culpable unbelief is incompatible with the concept of a loving, all-powerful and good God who would want a relationship with his creatures. I was particularly struck by reading about Mother Teresa's persistent doubts about the existence of God, and her inability to feel his presence in the eucharist or his responding to her prayer. Although she had mystical experience early in life, when she went to live with the destitute in Calcutta, her mystical experiences ceased and she was troubled by her continued inability to experience or relate to God.
For decades, she passed through what has been dubbed a "dark night of the soul". On a recent conference organized by the CFI, Dennett talked about Mother Teresa's unbelief, and said that 'dark night of the soul' is, "let's face it, just a fancy term for atheism, a way of theists to explain away persistent unbelief in a person who is such an exemplar for Catholics and christians more generally '. He wrote elsewhere: "wouldn’t it be wonderful if the outing of Mother Teresa inspired a few thousand of them to come out of the closet and acknowledge their atheism! Then it might start being obvious not only that faith in God is not a requirement for morality". In response to this, theists have argued that Dennett et al do not get "dark night of the soul" at all... For instance, Anne Barbeau Gardiner argued that "The dark night of the soul that saints experience is the highest rung of the contemplative ascent in the Catholic faith. It is a state reserved for a very few whom God prepares for perfect union with Him. In this mysterious dark night, the saints experience a painful abandonment of mind and soul, as if God were absent, when in fact He is more truly present, though deeply hidden, than before."
It seems to me that both sides of the debate get it wrong. I think there is a qualitative difference between DNS and atheism - for one thing, it seems far-fetched on the part of Dennett to argue that "Perhaps it was her [Mother Teresa's] guilt at being unable to convert herself that drove her to work so hard to convert others to take her place among the believers." But at the same time, DNS hardly seems a boon, reserved for the very few mystics - there is some connection to atheism, since Mother Teresa did express her doubts that God exists in several of her letters.
Perhaps we can distinguish between atheism and DNS as follows: DNS is an alief (to borrow Tamar Gendler's distinction), a non-reflective belief ("God isn't present, he doesn't respond etc"), but this alief does not translate itself into a reflective, atheistic belief (i.e., "God doesn't exist"). By contrast, an atheist may have an alief that God exists and an explicit, reflective belief that he doesn't exist. Indeed, another possibility are those atheists who admit to having theistic aliefs but disavow theistic beliefs. For instance, Jesse Bering, an atheist cognitive scientist, admits to sensing God's presence, but explains this by arguing (in detail in his recent book The God instinct) that this alief is a cognitive adaptation to facilitate cooperation - a view similar to Ruse's error theory about moral objectivism. If that's true, there is a distinction between DNS and unbelief. An unreflective unbelief is not sufficient for atheism.
[X posted on Prosblogion] Earlier on this blog, I have reported results of a survey on natural theological arguments , see here and here. To briefly recall, the survey asked philosophers to rate the strength of natural theological arguments, grouped into 8 arguments that seek to support belief in the existence of God, and 8 arguments that seek to support belief in metaphysical naturalism. My initial analysis indicated that religious belief (theism, atheism or agnosticism) is a strong predictor of the extent to which participants evaluate these arguments. However, in my analysis I examined only the effects of religious belief on the total overall assessments, not the arguments individually. In this post, I will report some fine-grained analyses on how philosophers evaluate individual arguments, as a function of their religious belief, gender and whether or not they specialize in philosophy of religion. Since the statistics are quite detailed, I will make this a two-part post, starting out by the positive arguments. The analyses have been conducted by Robert O'Brien, a statistician at the University of Miami.
Man it's so nice to have Gary Gutting's gentle meditations in the Stone.
Gutting's piece on the Sermon on the Mount today is HERE (reset your cookies by hitting "Clear Recent History" if the paywall blocks you). Gutting concludes:
Read alone, the Sermon on the Mount will either confuse us or merely reinforce the moral prejudices we bring to it. To profit from its wisdom we need to understand it through traditions of thought and practice within or informed by Christianity. This does not require membership in any particular church, but it does require immersion in the culture and history of the Christian world. In this sense, to forget the church is to forget Jesus.
While I agree with Gutting, not just with respect to the Sermon on the Mount (about which he has many interesting particular things to say) but to approaching scripture as a whole, as a liberal Protestant I do feel the need to protest just a little bit. For us, Matthew 25 is absolutely canonical.
[Note: I posted the following last Easter and thought I'd repost it today. It holds up pretty well; if I'd better followed the advice myself I'd have had a much better year. My only regret in rereading it is that there is far too much griping about Christian organizations that (paradoxically and disastrously) bar people who don't self-identify as Christians.
Not that I disagree with anything I wrote, but Easter is joyous and the missive should have been balanced by a celebration of the wonderful people in such groups who do great things. My explanation for the negativity is that I was (and remain) distraught by the inhumanity shown by many Christians leaders of such groups towards gay, lesbian, and transgendered people as well as continuing organized attacks on basic science education by such people. But today is Easter, a time for hope!
And inany case, the advise and criticism still do seem sound to me. This Easter my prayer is that I do better this coming year in following it myself (in addition to the rest of the log becoming unlodged). What follows is simply cut and pasted from last year's letter.]
People who read this will discern an obvious pragmatic self-reflexive contradiction; it is a consequence of the advice I am about to give that I should not be in the business of giving people advice.
This blog post is prompted by discussion on my recent entry on Prosblogion on miracles and testimony, and on my reading of Stephen Law's thought-provoking paper in Faith and Philosophy, entitled "Evidence, Miracles and The Existence of Jesus". Unfortunately, almost all my F&P issues are still in my house in Belgium, so I cannot quote from the text verbatim (and I do not have electronic access to F&P).
In the paper, Law offers the following thought experiments: Suppose you have a couple of friends, whom you know have been reliable witnesses in the past (it might be interesting to imagine real friends for this purpose, try to think of normal people not prone to delusions, flights of fancy, and who do not enjoy playing pranks). One day they tell you that they were visited by a man called Ted who came to drink tea. You accept this testimony at face value. Now suppose that they next tell you Ted started flying around in the room (you can add some more miracles, such as that he died there and became alive again, that he made things appear out of thin air, etc.). According to Law, in keeping with Hume, it would not only be unreasonable to believe this testimony, it would actually be reasonable for you to doubt the existence of Ted.
"Fleischacker argues that religion provides something that secularism fails to offer successfully -- what he calls "ethics," a telos for the moral life, that which makes living the moral life and life itself meaningful and worthwhile. Fleischacker presents an extended set of convincing arguments for the very legitimacy of seeking a life-telos and "meaning" in life. Then he charges secularism with an inability to provide a persuasive resolution of that seeking. He rejects as an adequate telos for life knowledge, pleasure, self-flourishing, projectivism (that we ourselves bestow value on our life), and Kantian accounts of worth. In any case, he argues, secular views about the meaningfulness of life have no more justification than do religious views (religious views, though, have the advantage of acknowledging that they are held in faith.)"--The passage is from this review.
Leaving aside the merits of the arguments against secularism, the parenthesis suggests that defenders of revelation have made a remarkable journey from Hume's deliciously ironic closing lines "Of Miracles" with stops at Kierkegaard's leap and Nietzschean assertion of faith (in truth, revelation, etc) as (resentful) will to power. Now we learn not just that the life of faith has more integrity than the secular one (which -- echoing Nietzsche -- is disclosed as ultimately relying on faith), but it is also ultimately (in a non-trivial sense) more philosophical (because it has better self-understanding) and the only one that is capable of sustain meaning.
Those of us that dance the Pyrrhica Saltatio smile.
A propos the discussion prompted by Helen de Cruz's wonderful post: let me grant that analytic philosophers of religion (APoR) have a special expertise (despite the fact that I tend to think they are dominated by apologetics for parochial views of god). APoR expertise is best summarized by a competence in evaluating arguments about the existence of god and offering distinctions that can make these arguments more fine-grained and illuminating. This is not nothing. However, I deny that APoR training and practices create any expertise in establishing God's existence (unless by 'God' something merely conceptual is meant, but that is generally not the God thought worth having). Despite the prominence of discussion of fine-tuning and various neo-Bayesian arguments in APoR, I see no evidence that competence in evaluating evidential practices of how to establish the existence of non-mid-sized objects is widespread in APoR (or anywhere else in philosophy--even much epistemology or philosophy of science is far removed from such expertise). And without competence in such evidential practices (which outstrip mere argument), I have no idea why APoR views on the existence of God have any privileged status over the views of, say, theologians, sociologists of religion, cosmologists, and other smart people with a reasonably thought-out belief.
One of the striking results from my survey on natural theological arguments is that most philosophers of religion are theists. Even if I restrict my count to a subsample consisting only of those people who are philosophers, who have listed philosophy of religion as one of their areas of specialization, and who are faculty or non-faculty with PhDs, the sample is overwhelmingly theist. Of this select subsample (N = 118), 70.3 % are theists, 16.9% atheists and 12.7% agnostics (the rounding explains why we are not at exactly 100 %). As you may recall, the percentage of theists slightly higher (around 73%) in my general sample philosophers of religion, which also includes graduate students, undergraduates and those outside of academia. Given that the PhilPaper survey gave a similar result, we can be highly confident that about 7 in 10 philosophers of religion are theists. One of the discussions of my preliminary results on Prosblogion is whether we should accord any evidential weight to this (i.e., should we defer to the expertise of those who are studying the existence of God), or whether this should lead us to an increased skepticism about philosophy of religion as a discipline.
[this is cross-posted in Prosblogion] I would like to thank everyone who has completed my survey on natural theological arguments. This survey's aim was to get a rough idea on how philosophers today evaluate various natural theological arguments in terms of their strength/plausibility. My study was motivated by the observation that philosophers frequently voice intuitions about the general plausibility of natural theological arguments, e.g., "since Darwin, the argument from design has lost its appeal", or "the hiddenness argument is a strong contender to the problem of evil as an argument against the existence of God." However, actual data on philosophers' assessments of these arguments was, to my knowledge, unavailable. I'm very pleased with the large sample (802 respondents!). The data will be used in a monograph I am currently writing on the cognitive basis of natural theology. The main results are published here:
Vulgar, not to mention warmongering, Straussians have given a bad name to the very idea of esotericism by associating it with a nihilistic/atheistic interpretation of Nietzschean will to power. But, of course, one can use esoteric means to hide many kinds of messages. Below I explore the works of two very famous Victorians, Maxwell and Hertz, who practice a form of esotericism when presenting physics inspired arguments for the existence of god. In Maxwell's case it's pretty clear what he is up to, while in the Hertz case I am genuinely uncertain about how he wants us to read his text.
The Society for Christian Philosophers is open to "anyone interested in philosophy who considers himself or herself a Christian". This always seemed to me to make sense, but I recently got thinking about this as a result of the presentation of data by the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (UK) Religious and Social Attitudes of UK Christians in 2011. This survey, based on 1,136 respondents who said they were Christians showed surprising results: only 32 % of respondents said to believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus (a further 39 % believed in a spiritual resurrection; 44% believed that Jesus is the Son of God. 49 % did not attend religious services, except weddings, funerals and baptisms. Only 35 % knew that Matthew is the first book of the New Testament. Richard Dawkins thinks these data strongly question the place of Christian practices in British societies such as faith schools and bishops in the house of lords, because a large majority of the respondents "are not really Christian at all", but merely "tick the Christian box".
So does not having the orthodox beliefs and relevant practices mean that people are not Christians? Or is religion such that if one self-identifies as x, one is x, even if one (to take a limiting case) does not observe *any* of the practices or fails to uphold *any* doctrines?
It will take only about three minutes of your time. The survey is part of my current project on cognitive science and natural theology. The aim is to get a better idea of how philosophers today evaluate natural theological arguments for or against the existence of God. Note that you do not need to be a philosopher of religion or a faculty member to complete this survey. I will post a digest of the results in a few weeks.
I am at the Society for Christian Philosopher's regional meeting in Westmont College, Santa Barbara. Out of a total of 20 speakers, there are 4 women (20 % of speakers are women, which seems roughly in line with the percentage of women in our profession). One of the four keynote speakers is female (Eleonore Stump, arguably one of the top authors in philosophy of religion). It is not difficult to come up with names of prominent women philosophers in philosophy of religion (e.g., Eleonore Stump, Lynne Rudder Baker, Nancey Murphy, Linda Zagzebski, Christina Van Dyke, Celia Deane-Drummond.)
"Authoritarianism is the ideal environment for the pairing of irony and paranoia...in the "Epistle to Augustus"...Ovid constructs himself and the Emperor as mirror-images of each other, a relationship in which irony and paranoia become ungovernable."--TLS, Dennis Feeney (September 16, 2011: p. 26). Our novelists prefer the seeming safety of irony. Arnon Grunberg admits as much: "I would argue that what Schliesser calls “self-marginalization” is nothing but realism. And I’m not sure if marginalization for a novelist is by definition a curse." [My comments had been a response to Grunberg's observations on the studied indifference to modern novels; his was, in turn, a response to my hint that art may be marginalizing itself by not giving Satan airtime.]
These musings have been prompted by an intriguing discussion on feminist philosophers on what to do when you are handed a religious tract. Participants in this discussion asked, amongst other things, if it is the case that religious believers face prejudice from the overwhelmingly secular philosophical community [Note: I'm restricting my discussion to Christian religious beliefs because I'm not sufficiently familiar with attitudes on other religious beliefs in philosophy].
The PhilPaper survey indicates that the majority of philosophers are either atheists (72.8%) or agnostic/undecided (12.5%). It is a particularly interesting result, because on most other philosophical topics there is less agreement (the exceptions are that philosophers seem to be overwhelmingly non-skeptical realists and scientific realists). There is also discussion on whether philosophy of religion, especially from a theistic perspective would be worthy of academic attention. However, at the same time, Plantinga remarked in a recent interview with the New York times "There are vastly more Christian philosophers and vastly more visible or assertive Christian philosophy now than when I left graduate school". In the most recent issue of Faith & Philosophy he even cautions young Christian philosophers that "a danger we now face, perhaps, is triumphalism...it is now possible for Christian philosophers to work together and publish on topics that would have been beyond the pale forty years ago; there are an increasing number of Christian philosophers at American universities" (p. 268).
Arguments from evil, divine hiddenness, "undesign", and so forth rely on something like the following general form:
The God of traditional theism has the omni-properties (i.e., omniscience, omnipotence, moral perfectionà commonly associated to Him
If the God of traditional theism exists, we expect that God would not allow for/bring about X (where X stands for hiddenness, evil, imperfection, animal suffering, a wasteful evolutionary process, ...)
But X occurs
Therefore, God doesn't have the omniproperties commonly associated to Him
Therefore, the God of traditional theism doesn't exist.
(Note that this argument as it stands is invalid. In order to be valid, (2) should be replaced with 2*. If the God of traditional theism exists, God would not allow for/bring about X, but this stronger version is more difficult to defend, since it would require some logical incompatibility between the omni-properties and things like evil and hiddenness.).
Alvin Plantinga is well known for his argument against naturalism, for instance, in his Warrant and Proper Function (1993). Briefly summarized, Plantinga argues that naturalism is incoherent, because we have no reason to suppose (from a naturalistic, evolutionary perspective) that our cognitive capacities would be truth-tracking. Now, I seem to remember that Plantinga credits C.S. Lewis for this idea (I don't have a copy of Warrant and Proper Function handy), but I only came across Lewis' version very recently, in his book Miracles (1947). [I have recently read a lot of his nonfiction as well as his fiction. My daughter and I have just finished all the Narnia Chronicles, I'm now reading some of his fantasy for adults, as well as Mere Christianity, Surprised by Joy and Miracles). It is interesting to see the argument against naturalism in Lewis' words, so I would like to share it here (see below).
I think C.S. Lewis' work in philosophy of religion very interesting and worthy of more attention (I'm also thinking of his version of the moral argument in Mere Christianity, amongst other things). What I find particularly striking is that already in Lewis' formulation, we have all the elements of the argument against naturalism that have figured so prominently in recent debates. These include the claim that natural selection is not concerned with tracking truth, that naturalism is self-defeating, and that only a supernaturalist ontology can provide warrant. In a famous debate with Elizabeth Anscombe, Lewis felt forced to revise the argument in subsequent editions in Miracles. All quotes are from chapter 3 of Miracles:
As promised, I will regularly blog on some philosophy of religion topic, in keeping with the broad range of interests on NewApps. This one is on divine hiddenness, and is motivated by a nice reading group we are having at Oxford, led by Aku Visala, who does research on philosophy of religion and cognitive science. I am wondering here whether one of the crucial (in many formulations hidden) premises of the argument from hiddennesss is correct, namely whether having a relationship with God requires belief.
About a year ago, Daniel Dennett and Linda LaScola published a much-discussed paper on atheist clergymen. Their paper, which is available in open access here provides a fascinating qualitative study on atheist clergymen from various denominations, all of whom were anonymousmy interviewed about their doubts and loss of religious belief. If found out they risked losing their job at the very least, and being expelled from the religious community that had been their home for so long. Yet, many of them expressed moral qualms about not coming out: was their silence a form of hypocricy, or was it all for the best? "I’m where I am because I need the job still. If I had an alternative, a comfortable paying job, something I was interested in doing, and a move that wouldn’t destroy my family, that’s where I’d go. Because I do feel kind of hypocritical." (Dennett & Lascola 2010, p. 137)
In Christianity, endorsing the central creeds is very important. This is what Dennett and LaScola term "belief in belief".