Is the fact that the majority of philosophers DO NOT believe in God problematic for our faith?

Basically what the question is asking.

I remember Fr. Barron talking about a study that came out that stated the majority of philosophers are atheists.

I know popular opinion is not the best measure of what is true, but if the majority of doctors believe a certain illness is caused/not caused by something we take their word for it.

I’m just wanting to know how this would be possible that God exists and can be easily understood to exist, yet the majority of philosophers don’t believe there is a God?

I’m with Karl Popper on this one, and I would say that having or not having faith is generally arbitrary. Since we can’t empirically test God regularly, then the whole notion of a god is confined solely to the realm of metaphysics unless of course you have a personal experience. But that experience cannot be communicated.

1Corinthians13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

I would also check out:
Matthew 11:25
Luke 10:21
Don’t sweat it. In the end, it will all be known, and we will laugh at the simplicity of the Truth.
It is our responsibility to be the heart and soul of this world, wherever it may go, and pray that all may find Him.

There is no reason to believe philosophers are wiser than specialists in other subjects. If anything they are more likely to be prone to intellectual pride which makes them more dogmatic and less realistic…

It depends on who you count as a “philosopher”. They probably are counting only those persons who are current professors of this subject in universities. Did they count all the professors of philosophy who have lived over the last few centuries? Probably not. Did they count all those people who are formally, or informally educated, in philosophy, but are not teaching it currently? Probably not. Keep in mind priests, many ministers, and many others involved in practice or teaching of theology, math, natural or social sciences, and other subjects have extensive background in philosophy. Were they counted? No.

Academia today is heavily secular controlled. A scholar who believes in God is less likely to get hired, or get tenure, than someone else. Those who do get tenure, especially if promoted, tend to push for like minded persons to get hired. Thus, the very skewed population sample you refer to. It shows the impact of politics.

Who cares what philosophers say? IMNAAHO.

Both Plato and Nietzsche were philosophers and came up with diametrically opposed positions.

It is only a faith crisis if you accept a priori that philosophy is the measure of all things.

Faith is a grace; our LORD and His companions never went to philosophy school.


Fr. Barron said that most philosophers are atheist- but he also said that there are different categories of philosophy (many of which have nothing to do with religion). The large majority of “philosophers of religion” are theists.

Philosophy is a broad discipline with specializations in diverse areas.

When the statistics on atheism/theism are focused on those disciplines which specialize on the expertise required to treat the question of the existence of God - philosophy of religion or metaphysics - the results are reversed.

PhilPapers recently conducted a survey of opinion among academic philosophers, the results of which have been posted here. Here’s how all respondents from the survey’s “target faculty” answered when asked where they stand on the question of God’s existence:


Accept or lean toward atheism 72.8%
Accept or lean toward theism 14.6%
Other 12.5%

And here’s how the results came out for respondents in two key subdisciplines:


Accept or lean toward theism 72.3%
Accept or lean toward atheism 19.1%
Other 8.5%


Accept or lean toward atheism 41.1%
Accept or lean toward theism 29.4%
Other 29.4%

But of course there is an… obvious way to interpret the results in question – as clear evidence that those philosophers who have actually studied the arguments for theism in depth, and thus understand them the best – as philosophers of religion and medieval specialists naturally would – are far more likely to conclude that theism is true, or at least to be less certain that atheism is true, than other philosophers are. And if that’s what the experts on the subject think, then what the “all respondents” data shows is that most academic philosophers have a degree of confidence in atheism that is rationally unwarranted.

The truth remains the truth even if nobody believes it.

Thank you Peter Plato for posting the stats that I was too lazy to find!

I guess I could play cynical and say that if the majority of philosophers lean towards atheism, it is more likely that G-d exists. Grin.


Saint Pope John Paul was a world class philosopher and he didn’t have a problem believing.

Diseases are much easier to diagnose because you can look at a problem under a microscope. You want to be careful about comparing apples with oranges. Ideas are some what more subjective.


Right. Part of the problem is the fact that most philosophers, in today’s day and age, are heavily influenced by Nietzsche, who believed that God was primarily a human construct that the modern world no longer paid attention to (hence his “God is dead” meme).

Unfortunately, Nietzsche’s keen observation (the modern world acts as if God did not exist) led to his unfortunate (and wrong) conclusion that God is a human construct that had outlived its usefulness. This unfortunate conclusion is the beginning of the basis for Marxism and much other modern philosophy.

I am always curious why anyone takes any philosopher seriously. They are as human as you or me…and their opinions every bit as valid. For myself, I arrived at my conclusions after reading many of them and seeing…IMO…their flaws.


  1. The truth doesn’t depend on what **anyone **believes but on what corresponds to reality.

  2. Nor does the truth necessarily correspond to what anyone claims to believe but on how they live.

  3. If we live with love for others it demonstrates that we believe in love as our first priority.

The survey you referenced refers to who is an employed academic, not who is a philosopher. It does not reflect “expertise required to treat the question”. It reflects which ideology dominates most universities. A few decades ago, most philosophers in the Soviet Union would have been Marxists. Most philosophers in 1940 Germany would have been Nazis. Most philosophers in 2015 US and similar Western countries reflect secular humanism. None of this proves anything about the nature of Philosophy, or the things Philosophy tends to look at.

I agree with your post.

Generally, philosophy is a formalized way of assessing the truth value of propositions. It depends upon premises (which are merely “accepted” assumptions or presumptions, sometimes euphemistically called ‘self-evident.’)

Your larger point that philosophy can be a legitimate means to truth is not lost on me.

One philosopher I greatly respect (Bill Vallicella) calls himself the “Maverick Philosopher.” He resigned from academia a number of years ago precisely because of the direction things were going there.

He is currently on another self-imposed hiatus of sorts.

His blog demonstrates a commitment to discipline and detail.

Belief is needed to help us to continue our journeys and we find about the truth when we can justify it through experience otherwise our journey is a failure. This include believers, scientists, philosophers, etc.

Can’t argue with any one of those.


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