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Knowledge, Action, Pluralism

Contemporary Perspectives in Philosophy of Religion

Edited By Sebastian Kolodziejczyk and Janusz Salamon

In this book, an international team of scholars from leading American, British and Continental European universities, led by Richard Swinburne, Eleonore Stump, William Wainwright and Linda Zagzebski, presents original ideas about three currently discussed topics in the philosophy of religion: religious epistemology, the philosophy of God’s action in the world, including the problem of evil and Divine Providence, and the philosophical challenge of religious diversity. The book contains echoes of all four main strands of the late 20th century philosophy of religion: Richard Swinburne’s philosophical theology, Alvin Plantinga’s reformed epistemology, John Hick’s theory of religious pluralism, and the philosophy of religion inspired by the work of the later Wittgenstein. One of the distinguishing features of this volume is that it mirrors a new trend towards philosophical cooperation across the so-called continental/analytic divide.
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Theological Fictionalism: A Postmodern Heresy

Extract



Roger Pouivet

Introduction1

Theological fictionalism maintains that religious monotheistic commitment does not necessitate the truth of theism. According to this position, God could have the same ontological status as a fictional character in a novel or a movie. Such a character does not exist. We know that the character does not exist, but we think about this character and experience emotions (or quasi-emotions) that concern it and what it does. Like the experience of fiction, religious experience could consist in a game of make-believe. Robin Le Poidevin defends such a theological fictionalism (without using this label) in chapter 8 (‘Is God a Fiction?’) of his book, Arguing for Atheism,2 partly inspired by Kendall Walton’s theory of make-believe.3 In the first section of this paper, I will review Le Poidevin’s version of theological fictionalism.

But theological fictionalism is not simply a theory held by philosophers. It also appears to be widespread in postmodern cultures. The assumption is that we do not have to accept full-blooded theological realism – that God exists, that He revealed himself, that Christ was resurrected, and so on – in order to be religious persons. Such realism, it is thought, has been definitively disproven in the post-Enlightenment period, thanks to the human and social sciences. My second point will consist in inspecting this postmodernist flowering of theological fictionalism.

Fictionalism was already recognized in the Dogmatic Constitution of the Catholic Faith, in the text known under the name...

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