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PhilosophyPart of Humanities

God and Evil - Fideism

It sounds like you’re a committed Baylean fideist! Fideism is the view that belief in God is grounded in faith.


It may not be as theoretically satisfying as knowledge; however, it might be practically satisfying: by having faith in God, we might find that we’re able to cope better with the evils of life, and through this ultimate kind of faith we might even become better at having faith in the others we love, like friends and family.

Other fideists include the French writer and philosopher Voltaire (1694-1778), who name-checks Bayle in his poem about the Lisbon earthquake disaster in 1755:

Plato and Epicurus I reject,

And turn more hopefully to learned Bayle.

With even poised scale Bayle bids me doubt.

He, wise and great enough to need no creed,

Has slain all systems—combats even himself:

Like that blind conqueror of Philistines,

He sinks beneath the ruin he has wrought.

What is the verdict of the vastest mind?

Silence: the book of fate is closed to us.

Against fideism, we might worry that it remains hard to see how mere faith could justify us in believing in God.


To learn more about this topic, you might like to read Susan Neiman’s Evil in Modern Thought: An Alternative History of Philosophy, or the online Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy entry on ‘The Problem of Evil’. 
At Southampton, you can learn about the problem of evil as well as the nature of God, faith and belief as part of the first-year module Faith and Reason. You can also learn more about famous philosophers interested in question of evil, suffering, and religion on modules such as Existentialism and its Origins, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Kierkegaard. Southampton lecturers with expertise in these topics include Dr. Genia Schönbaumsfeld, Prof. Chris Janaway, Prof. Aaron Ridley, Dr. Alex Gregory, and Dr. David Woods.
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