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Faith as a Process: On Reconciling Faith and Doubt

John Paul Y Del Rosario, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


There seems to be a growing consensus among philosophers of religion that Christian faith is compatible with doubt. In this dissertation, I posit some ways to conceive of such reconciliation. My general proposal is to construe faith as a kind of process—i.e., faith is something that grows in the person who has it. This process model applies to the cognitive dimension of faith too. In the first paper, I draw inspiration from the literatures on epistemic virtues. I maintain that faith, as an intellectual virtue, is congenial to the aim of securing firm belief—a cognitive state that seems to be endorsed as an ideal, if not a norm in the Christian tradition. Under this view, doubt can be compatible with faith if it is seen as a stage in the process of securing belief. From this suggestion, I then attempt to reconcile the conflicting claims of those who say that faith entails belief and those who argue otherwise. In the second paper, I focus on the cases of serious doubt - the kind of doubt that seems to be commensurate with disbelief. Considering the standards of substantive and structural theories of rationality, I argue that one is not being irrational for maintaining faith despite experiencing serious doubts. However, I also posit that, diachronically, it would be ideally rational for her to aspire for doxastic faith given the latter’s normative status. In the third paper, I consider the place of suspending judgment towards p (which is also doubt) in faith. I argue that such kind of doubt is not “sinful” if it were taken as a process whereby one is considering carefully and responding properly to the incommensurability of reasons involved.

Subject Area

Philosophy|Philosophy of religion|Epistemology

Recommended Citation

Del Rosario, John Paul Y, "Faith as a Process: On Reconciling Faith and Doubt" (2023). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI30426992.