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On behalf of Pascal: A Reply to Le Poidevin

Sebastian Gäb

Abstract

When we were on the subway back from his lecture, I said to Robin: “I’m not sure there actually are any religious fictionalists.” We keep talking about them in papers and lectures, acting as if fictionalism in religion is a real possibility, but to be honest, I haven’t been able to spot one in the wild so far. The only potential candidate who comes to mind is Don Cupitt, who wrote things like: “I still pray and love God, even though I fully acknowledge that no God actually exists.”[1] Perhaps this is as fictionalist as it gets. But then again, Cupitt never explicitly declared himself a fictionalist (at least to my knowledge). Moreover, on other occasions he sounds more like an expressivist than a fictionalist, e.g. when he says: “The Christian doctrine of God just is Christian spirituality in coded form.”[2] So, if there are any actual fictionalists out there, please step forward.


[1] Don Cupitt, After God: The Future of Religion (Basic Books, 1997), 85.

[2] Don Cupitt, Taking leave of God (SCM Press, 1980), 14.

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References

Cupitt, Don. 1980. Taking leave of God. London: SCM Press.

—. 1997. After God: The Future of Religion. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Dworkin, Ronald. 2013. Religion without God. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

Le Poidevin, Robin. 2020. “Fiction and the Agnostic”. European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 12, no. 3. doi:10.24204/ejpr.v12i3.3416.

Pascal, Blaise. 1995. Pensées and Other Writings. Translated by Honor Levi. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

Puett, Michael, and Christine Gross-Loh. 2016. The Path: What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us About the Good Life. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

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