A Quantum of Solace and Heap of Doubt

Carl Reinhold Bråkenhielm


The article examines two lines of reasoning for consolation on the basis of a religious belief about life after death. The first line departs from the presumed consoling power of such a belief (summarized in the »factory-girl« argument of John Henry Newman). According to Richard Dawkins and John Stuart Mill, this pragmatic line of reasoning is wholly irrelevant when it comes to the question whether it is rational or not to entertain such a belief. The second line of reasoning has to do with epistemic arguments for beliefs in a life after death. John Stuart Mill has certain arguments for the claim that it is rational to entertain such a belief. One of them is based on his specific form of theism. But is it possible to believe that the theistic Creator desires our good? I argue that it is possible even in the face of horrendous evil providing that a certain comprehensive fundamental pattern is chosen. I call this pattern »a theology of waiting«. God is revealed in the world

but only in an unpredictable and ambiguous way. Such a theo- logy of waiting is beyond the objective canons of science and logic. In sum, religious belief provides consolation conjoined with an ineradicable quantum of doubt.

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