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PDF Fideism- a Critical Evaluation - Ernet


Academic year: 2023

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I study how to understand the idea of ​​faith and reason in believing in the deity. She says that fideism is an idea where faith and reason are not compatible.

Objectives of the Proposed Research

But whatever you are asked to believe, ask yourself whether, according to your experience, it is true, whether it is in accordance with reason and good principles, and whether it leads to the highest good and welfare of all beings, and only if it passes this test, if you accept it and act according to it (Kalama Sutta, Anguttara Nikaya).

Research Methodology

Layouts of the Chapters


Fideism and Rationalism

Fideism and Evidentialism

In doing so, I show that the challenges to fideism come not only from natural theologians, but also from anti-religionists and atheists. Here I argue that counter-evidential fideism has a better chance of defending its position than natural theologians, while defending their position against atheists and other non-believers or evidentialists.

Fideism: Individual Sphere Vs. Collective Sphere

Fideism and Pragmatism


Chapter- II

Fideism and Rationalism

  • Philosophical Arguments
  • Rationalist Perspective
  • Critical Points Against Fideism
  • Conclusion

He claims that faith would be unnecessary if we could prove God's existence with reason, evidence, or data (What is Fideism, n.d.). Traditionally, two arguments for the existence of God are accepted by theists: apriori arguments and aposteriori arguments.

Chapter- III

Fideism and Evidentialism

Challenges to Fideism from the Scientific Claims

The New Atheists seem to follow the evidentiary trend of seeking evidence in religious matters. While trying to justify religious beliefs without reason, fideists face critical challenges from the New Atheists.

The New Atheists’ Position

However, among the criticisms of the New Atheists, I make the distinction of excluding the moral, social, and cultural dimensions of faith from theistic beliefs. I am concerned about the New Atheists' rigidity in sticking to their point of view regarding their understanding of theism.

The Argument from Religious Scriptures

But even fideists are of different types, and all do not subscribe to faith without any reference to reason. While some fideists argue about faith without reason (Quinn & Taliaferro, 2000), other fideists emphasize faith in matters beyond reason (Carroll, 2008).

The Advent and Advancement of Natural theology

But the New Atheists conveniently set aside this entire group of natural theologians and their efforts to prove the existence of God. In a sense, natural theology attempts to 'prove' the existence of God through natural reason.

The Interpretation of the Critics of Atheism is Wrong

Dawkins claims that the creation of the universe by an intelligent designer is a self-defeating hypothesis. Dennett also asserts, "the concept of God is insufficiently defined for it to be possible to know what proposition is at issue in the debate over the existence of God" (Taylor J. E., n.d).

Tea Pot Argument

I argue along the lines of Garvey that the existence of the teapot and the existence of God cannot be discussed from the same framework. The new atheists believe that the existence of God does not need to be accepted, since it cannot be proven.


Wittgenstein refers to religious belief as an autonomous system that does not require any scientific, historical or philosophical system to justify its truth (Wittgenstein, 1980). He affirms, "he (the believer) risks things for their sake, as long as he does so with sincerity, they change not only his understanding of life, but also the value judgments he forms, the decisions he makes and the deeds he does" . (Hudson, 1975, p. 191). It opens up the space for the interpretation of religious believers to have a fundamentalist stance, which is also taken by New Atheists to claim that religion and religious believers are dogmatic and rigid (Dawkins R., 2006) (Dennett D., 2006) (Hitchens, 2007) (Harris, 2005).

They distinguish a religious form of life from a non-religious form of life. But for the fideists, a believer and an unbeliever are in two different forms of life.

Chapter- IV

Fideism: Individual Sphere Vs. Collective Sphere


Fideists, who prefer faith over reason in the matter of believing in God, have come up with many arguments. Again, Dictionary.com defines faith as "belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion" and "belief not based on evidence" (Dictionary.com). In connection with fideism, when the fideists emphasize faith, one has to see the nature and scope of faith.

Much of the debate about fideism takes place in the context of institutionalized religion - be it Christianity, Islam, etc. It means the faith of an individual or a group in the biblical texts through which God's presence is revealed.

A Socio-Religious Practice- Sati

Hitchens specifically talks about the social and cultural aspects of the effects of religion to argue that these are not only amoral but even immoral. In one of the chapters of his book "God is not great" he talks about the existence of a form of Hindu suttee that recommends the "suicide" of widows. For example, it is also true that Hindu scriptures explicitly mention the practice of the caste system.

Using the example of Hinduism, I have shown that some of Hitchens' opinions are only partially true. The New Atheists' understanding of religion and religious practices is a result of their narrow understanding of religion.

Quasi-Religious Practices- Faith Healing and Miracles

Faith-based healing can usually be considered superstition because it is not based on reasonable grounds. Magic thus involves predicting the future as well as transforming nature and enchanting man (Thorndike, 1915, p. 109). But Aquinas also notes: “It is not true, then, that the magical arts are sciences, but rather that they are certain misconceptions of the demons.”

John says that magicians are so called because of their account of the extent of evil deeds. Miracles and magical beliefs are similar notions in that they incorporate ontological judgments about the impossible object of belief.

Both are scriptural

Magical thinking operates with concepts of impossible objects without making an ontological judgment about the objects, whereas magical belief involves an ontological judgment about the impossible objects of belief, namely that these objects exist or (in the case of disbelief) do not exist in the real world. As a result, magical thinking takes place only in the individual's imagination, perception or thinking; in contrast, belief in magic implies that magic can have effects in the real world. In this regard, any person who watches a movie with magical effects or has a dream in which magical things happen is engaging in magical thinking without necessarily having explicit magical beliefs (Subbotsky, 2014, p. 2).

If theologians want to distinguish miracles from magic, they can distinguish miracles from magical thinking. He did much that was wrong in the sight of the LORD, provoking Him to anger" (Chronicles 33:6) (New American Standard Bible).

Both violate some laws

  • A Religious Practice
  • Conclusion

In the article: “Sleepwalking Toward Armageddon,” Harris describes the essential message of the Quran as “hatred of unbelievers” (Jennek, 2017, p. 23). A death cult is forming in the Muslim world – for reasons that are perfectly explainable in terms of the Islamic doctrines of martyrdom and jihad. When the Quran mentions violence, passages related to peace are also mentioned in the Quran.

There are thinkers and theologians among the followers who do not endorse violence as it is given in the Koran. Unfortunately, this kind of misrecognition is created and perpetuated by these new atheists in the context of Islam.

Chapter- V

Fideism and Pragmatism

Pragmatic Way Forward

Jamesian and Rortyan Versions of Pragmatism

According to Locke, “since unity of religious belief is an unrealistic expectation, we should extend tolerance and civility to those whose religious views differ from our own” (Axtell, 2017, p. 11). According to Rorty, a religious belief is not irrational if it is merely pursued in private projects and lacks propositional content (even if religious belief has no evidence to support it). Both Rorty and James differ on the position on the 'evidence'. Rorty states, “it is never an objection to religious belief that there is no evidence for it.

Like other theists, Rorty believes that religious belief requires no evidence or justification. The point is that it is very difficult to imagine that religious belief has no influence on a person's public life.

Capability Approach: in the Light of Novoa, Martha Nussbaum, and Amartya Sen

So, my final investigation is to see if the capability approach might be the way forward. In the above Novoa's argument, I already talked about that list of the capabilities approach. The broad interpretation of the capability approach includes within its boundary both opportunity and process freedom.

Within a narrow version of the capability approach, a specific functioning (such as smoking or eating junk food or drug use) will be evaluated in public reasoning. Sugden tries to refine his critical version of the capability approach by examining Martha Nussbaum's capability approach.

Supra-Evidential and Counter-Evidential Fideism

Despite many critical points, I still believe that pragmatic rationality and a human capabilities approach can bring hope for religious beliefs in the public sphere if properly revised. In a socio-cultural context, the supra-evidential position appears to be preferable to the counter-evidential position. Even the New Atheist position creates this kind of false recognition in the context of Islam.

I have discussed James's pragmatic stance in the context of religion and its comparison with Rorty's notion of pragmatic rationality. Despite many critical points, I still think that the pragmatic rationality and human capabilities approach can bring hope to religious beliefs in the public sphere if properly revised.


Books and Book Sections

Journal Articles

What we desire, what we have reason to desire, whatever we desire: Mill and Sen on the value of opportunity. Believing by Faith: An Essay in the Epistemology and Ethics of Religious Belief - John Bishop.

Journal in Periodical


2020, from HindustanTimes: https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/hindu-seers-group-releases-names-of-14-fake-godmen-ram-rahim-asaram-in-list/story-. Six HIV patients die after the church told them to stop taking medication because they were healed by God: report.

Other E Sources

Retrieved November 4, 2020, from Atheist Republic blogs: https://www.atheistrepublic.com/blog/c-barnes/attacks-new-atheists Benedict-XVI. Retrieved December 1, 2018, from the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: http://www.iep.utm.edu/theo-nat/. Retrieved December 10, 2018, from Reasonable Faith: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/definition-of-atheism. Retrieved December 17, 2020, from Pew Research Center: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank christians-remain-worlds-largest-religious-group-but-they-are-declining-in-europe/.

Retrieved August 27, 2019, from the Council on Foreign Relations: https://www.cfr.org/expert-brief/al-qaedas-resurrection Holst, K. Retrieved December 30, 2020, from Daily O: https://www . dailyo.in/politics/sabrimala-triple-talaq- why-religions-in-india-discriminate-against-women/story/1/27052.html.


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