In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Conceptions of Faith

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • John Bishop’s Faith as Doxastic Venture
  • Faith and Evidentialism

Philosophy Conceptions of Faith
Kirk Lougheed, Perry Hendricks
  • LAST REVIEWED: 25 August 2021
  • LAST MODIFIED: 25 August 2021
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396577-0421


This entry focuses on the recent resurgence of discussion of faith in contemporary analytic philosophy of religion. One prominent position that perhaps runs contrary to the popular-level view of the matter is that faith does not require belief. This—whether faith requires belief—is one of the most discussed issues in the literature, with some arguing that a different, weaker attitude than belief, such as acceptance or hope, is sufficient for faith. Other alternatives to the belief model of faith include imaginative faith in ultimism, faith as doxastic venture, and faith as trust. Additional topics in this entry include whether faith is consistent with evidentialism or whether it inherently requires a type of irrationality, and finally the degree to which skepticism is consistent with faith. In order to keep this entry a manageable size we will not address historical accounts of faith or those found within the Continental tradition. Additionally, we will not discuss non-Western conceptions of faith; the literature we examine focuses on propositional faith as found in the Judeo-Christian tradition (which is the focus of much contemporary philosophy of religion). Finally, given space constraints we focus on work produced after 2000, with the exception of particularly influential pieces.

General Overviews

There is a surprising dearth of general overviews on offer regarding the contemporary literature on faith. There are only two general overviews, Bishop 2016 and Rettler 2018, which mark the best entry points into the contemporary literature. The anthology O’Connor and Goins 2014 contains chapters on the nature of faith, along with its relationship to things like evidentialism and trust. As such it is also a good starting resource because there are a number of different topics on faith covered in one place.

  • Bishop, John. “Faith.” In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Edited by Edward N. Zalta. Stanford, CA: Stanford University, 2016.

    Offers the only major overview of the contemporary discussion of faith.

  • O’Connor, Timothy, and Laura Goins, eds. Religious Faith and Intellectual Virtue. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.

    Anthology containing perspectives on the nature of faith, faith’s relation to evidentialism, and faith’s relation to trust.

  • Rettler, Bradley. “Analysis of Faith.” Philosophy Compass 13.9 (2018): e12517.

    DOI: 10.1111/phc3.12517

    Distinguishes between religious faith, non-religious, interpersonal faith, and propositional faith.

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