Philosophical theism

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Not to be confused with Classical theism, sometimes also called "philosophical theism".
Plato was by some reckonings an early proponent of philosophical theism.
Kurt Gödel, the eminent mathematical logician, composed a formal argument for God's existence.
Bust of Socrates in the Vatican Museum.

Philosophical theism is the belief that deities exist (or must exist) independent of the teaching or revelation of any particular religion.[1] It represents belief in a personal God entirely without doctrine. Some philosophical theists are persuaded of a god's existence by philosophical arguments, while others consider themselves to have a religious faith that need not be, or could not be, supported by rational argument.

Philosophical theism has parallels with the 18th century philosophical view called Deism.

Relationship to organized religion[edit]

Philosophical theism conceives of nature as the result of purposive activity and so as an intelligible system open to human understanding, although possibly never completely understandable. It implies the belief that nature is ordered according to some sort of consistent plan and manifests a single purpose or intention, however incomprehensible or inexplicable. However, philosophical theists do not endorse or adhere to the theology or doctrines of any organized religion or church. They may accept arguments or observations about the existence of a god advanced by theologians working in some religious tradition, but reject the tradition itself. (For example, a philosophical theist might believe certain Christian arguments about God while nevertheless rejecting Christianity.)

Notable philosophical theists[edit]


  1. ^ Swinburne, Richard (2001), Entry, "Philosophical Theism" in Phillips, D.Z. and T.Tessin (eds.), Philosophy of Religion in The 21st Century, Palgrave.
  2. ^ Xenophon, Memorabilia I.4.6; Franklin, James (2001). The Science of Conjecture: Evidence and Probability Before Pascal. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 229. ISBN 978-0-8018-6569-5. 
  3. ^ Aristotle's Physics (VIII, 4–6) and Metaphysics (XII, 1–6)
  4. ^ Leibniz, G. W. (1697) On the ultimate origination of the universe.
  5. ^ To JOHN ADAMS vii 281 1823 Jefferson Cyclopedia, Foley 1900
  6. ^ When I was alive by Alfred Russel Wallace, THE LINNEAN 1995 VOLUME 11(2), pp. 9
  7. ^ Peirce (1908), "A Neglected Argument for the Reality of God", published in large part, Hibbert Journal v. 7, 90–112. Reprinted with an unpublished part, CP 6.452–85, Selected Writings pp. 358–79, EP 2:434–50, Peirce on Signs 260–78.
  8. ^ Wang 1996, pp. 104–105.
  9. ^ According to Gardner: "I am a philosophical theist. I believe in a personal god, and I believe in an afterlife, and I believe in prayer, but I don’t believe in any established religion. This is called philosophical theism.... Philosophical theism is entirely emotional. As Kant said, he destroyed pure reason to make room for faith." Carpenter, Alexander (2008), "Martin Gardner on Philosophical Theism, Adventists and Price" Interview, 17 October 2008, Spectrum.
  10. ^ My Pilgrimage from Atheism to Theism: an exclusive interview with former British atheist Professor Antony Flew by Gary Habermas, Philosophia Christi, Winter 2005.

See also[edit]