Choosing a Worldview


  • Mikael Stenmark Uppsala University



religious, secular, epistemic conservatism, pragmatism, fallibilism, worldviews


If we accept that many, perhaps most, people have a religious or secular worldview of one kind or another, an interesting philosophical question is how we – all of us – should think about and act when it comes to choosing (if, indeed, we can choose) a worldview and what attitude we should adopt towards people who have a different worldview. I aim to shed some light on the intellectual and existential conditions for choosing or maintaining a worldview in a situation of significant worldview diversity. I will argue that when we become aware that we have a worldview and start to reflect on its content and its rivals, we should be guided by certain intellectual norms. These are the principle of epistemic conservatism, the fallibilistic principle of belief regulation, the principle of deep concern, the cautious principle of belief revision, and the principle of weak pragmatism. In this article, I will specify, more exactly, the content of these epistemic norms, give concrete examples of how they could and should regulate our religious or secular worldview formation, and give some reasons why we, in the first place, should accept them.


Audi, R. (2011). Rationality and Religious Commitment. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Berger, P. (2014). The Many Alters of Modernity. Berlin: De Gruyter.

Buchak, L. (2017). Faith and Steadfastness in the Face of Counter-evidence. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, 81(1–2), pp. 113–133.

Craig, W. L. (2008). Reasonable Faith. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway.

Dawkins, R. (2006). The God Delusion. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company.

De Caro, M. & D. MacArthur (Eds.). (2004). Naturalism in Question. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Dennett, D. C. (2011). Truth that misses their Mark: Naturalism Unscathed. In D. C. Dennett & A. Plantinga. Science and Religion: Are They Compatible? Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 25–37.

Dumsday, T. (2016). Evidentially Compelling Religious Experiences and the Moral Status of Naturalism. European Journal for Philosophy of Religion, 8(3), pp. 123–144.

Faulkner, P. (2019). The Nature and Rationality of Conversion. European Journal of Philosophy, 27(4), pp. 821–836.

Flew, A. (2007). There is a God. New York: HarperOne

Hägglund, M. (2019). This Life: Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom. New York: Anchor Books.

Hick, J. (1999). The Fifth Dimension. London: OneWorld.

Inglehart, R. (2021). Religion’s Sudden Decline: What’s Causing It, and What Comes Next? Oxford: Oxford University Press.

James, W. (1897). The Will to Believe and Other Essays in Popular Philosophy. New York: Longmans.

Jordan, J. (2018). Pragmatic Arguments and Belief in God. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2018 Edition), Ed. Edward N. Zalta,

Kim, B. (2017). Pragmatic encroachment in epistemology. Philosophy Compass, 12(5),

Kitcher, P. (2007). Living with Darwin. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Kitcher, P. (2011). Challenges for Secularism. In G. Levine (Ed.), The Joy of Secularism. Princeton: Princeton University Press, pp. 24–56.

Kuhn, T. (1970). The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (2nd edition). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Kvanvig, J.K. (2016). The Idea of Faith as Trust: Lessons in NonCognitivist Approaches to Faith. In M. Bergmann & J. Brower (Eds.), Reason and Faith: Themes from Richard Swinburne, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 4–26

Lewis Hall, M.E. & P. Hill. (2019). Meaning-making, Suffering, and Religion: A Worldview Conception. Mental Health, Religion & Culture, 22(5), pp. 467–479.

McCain, K. (2008). The Virtues of Epistemic Conservatism. Synthese, 164(2), pp. 185–200.

McKim, R. (2019). Religious Diversity and Religious Progress. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Nagel, T. (1997). The Last Word. New York: Oxford University Press.

Nagel, T. (2010). Secular Philosophy and the Religious Temperament. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Nagel, T. (2012). Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False. New York: Oxford University Press.

Oppy, G. (2011). ‘New Atheism’ versus ‘Christian Nationalism.’ In P. D. Bubbio & P. A. Quadrio (Eds.), The Relationship of Philosophy to Religion Today. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publisher, pp. 118–153.

Palmqvist, C.J. (2022). Desiderata for Rational, Non-doxastic Faith. Sophia, 61, pp. 499–519.

Peels, R. (2017). Responsible Belief: A Theory in Ethics and Epistemology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Peterson, M.L. & D.R. Venema. (2021). Biology, Religion, and Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Plantinga, A. (1985). Alvin Plantinga – A Self-Profile.” In J. E. Tomberlin & P. van Inwagen (Eds.), Alvin Plantinga. Dordrecht: D. Reidel Publishing Company, pp. 3–93.

Plantinga, A. (2000). Warranted Christian Belief. New York: Oxford University Press.

Rosenberg, A. (2011). The Atheist’s Guide to Reality. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

Rowe, W. (1979). The Problem of Evil and Some Varieties of Atheism. American Philosophical Quarterly, 16(4), pp. 335–341.

Rowe, W. (2010). Friendly Atheism Revisited. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, 68(1/3), pp. 7–13.

Schellenberg, J. L. (2015). The Hiddenness Argument. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Smart, N. (1995). Choosing a Faith. New York Boyars/Bowerdean.

Soskice, J. (2009). Love and Reason. In J. Cornwell & M. McGhee (Eds.), Philosophers and God. New York: Continuum, pp. 77–89.

Stenmark, M. (1995). Rationality in Science, Religion, and Everyday Life. Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame.

Stenmark, M. (2004). How to Relate Science and Religion. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans.

Stenmark, M. (2022a). Worldview Studies. Religious Studies, 58, pp. 564–582.

Stenmark, M. (2022b). Att välja livsåskådning. Filosofisk Tidskrift, 4, pp. 3–18.

Swinburne, R. (2010). Is There a God? Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Tännsjö, T. (2006). “Återinför statskyrkan!” Humanisten, 1, pp. 4–11.

Taves, A. (2020). From Religious Studies to Worldview Studies. Religion, 50, pp. 137–147.

Vahid, H. (2004). Varieties of Epistemic Conservatism. Synthese, 141(1), pp. 97–122

Wainwright, W. J. (1999). Philosophy of Religion. Belmont: Wadsworth.




How to Cite

Stenmark, M. (2024). Choosing a Worldview. AGATHEOS – European Journal for Philosophy of Religion, 1(1), 42–62.