Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

Helen De Cruz at Prosblogion has just returned from a philosophy of religion workshop (where arguments for and against theism are erected and tested for structural integrity, presumably) at which the Common Consent Argument for the existence of God was revived. In its simplest form:

1. Most people believe in God

2. Therefore, God exists.

Cruz reports that the argument has fallen on hard times among philosophers recently. One wonders how it ever enjoyed good times:

The proposition that the mere popularity of a belief might constitute evidence for its truth may strike us as odd. Mill, for instance, argued that common opinion might be OK for the common folk who are unable or don’t feel entitled to form their own opinion, but to us, thinkers “the argument from other people’s opinions has little weight. It is but second-hand evidence; and merely admonishes us to look out for and weigh the reasons on which this conviction of mankind or of wise men was founded.”

Most would (and should) smirk at the crude formulation of the Common Consent Argument above, particularly those interested in proving its conclusion false. But the comparison between the reasoning of the argument and that of society’s moral culture is eerily accurate. Replace “exists” with “is morally neutral,” and “God” with anything that’s fashionable.

Read more here

Dear Reader,

Your charitable support for First Things is urgently needed before July 1.

First Things is a proudly reader-supported enterprise. The gifts of readers like you— often of $50, $100, or $250—make articles like the one you just read possible.

This Spring Campaign—one of our two annual reader giving drives—comes at a pivotal season for America and the church. With your support, many more people will turn to First Things for thoughtful religious perspectives on pressing issues of politics, culture, and public life.

All thanks to you. Will you answer the call?

Make My Gift

Comments are visible to subscribers only. Log in or subscribe to join the conversation.



Filter First Thoughts Posts

Related Articles