American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 77, Issue 3, Summer 2003

Brendan Sweetman
Pages 417-436

Commitment, Justification, and the Rejection of Natural Theology

This paper considers two related claims in the work of D. Z. Phillips: that commitment to God precludes a distinction between the commitment and the grounds for the commitment, and that belief and understanding are the same in religion. Both these claims motivate Phillips’s rejection of natural theology. I examine these claims by analyzing the notion of commitment, discussing what is involved in making a commitment to a worldview, why commitment is necessary at all in religion, levels of commitment, and commitment and justification. I show that Phillips fails to distinguish between adopting a hypothesis, where justification would be germane, and committing to the hypothesis after one has adopted it, where justification is not so pressing. This failure fatally undermines his rejection of natural theology.