Unicorn Atheism

Roy Sorensen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Kripshe treats `god’ as an empty natural kind term such as `unicorn’. She applies Saul Kripke's fresh views about empty natural kinds to `god’. Metaphysically, says Kripshe, there are no possible worlds in which there are gods. Gods could not have existed, given that they do not actually exist and never did. Epistemologically, godlessness is an a posteriori discovery. Kripshe dismisses the gods in the same breath that she dismisses mermaids. Semantically, the perspective Kripshe finds most perspicacious, no counterfactual situation is properly describable as one in which there are gods. Perhaps it is not quite a necessary truth that there are no gods. According to Saul Kripke, failed natural kind terms are ill-defined. Incorporating ill-defined terms into declarative sentences yields only mock propositions. Just as the meteorologist has no professional interest in mock thunder, the logician has no professional interest in mock propositions. Kripshe disagrees with agnostics who assign a low probability to `There is at least one god’. The bearers of probabilities must be propositions. Despite this deference to science, Kripshe agrees with the a priori atheist that, necessarily, no future experience could constitute an encounter with a god. Divine revelation is impossible. Kripshe's a posteriori necessary atheism compares favorably to familiar forms of atheism and to non-cognitivists. It reveals interesting challenges to a coherent formulation of atheism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)373-388
Number of pages16
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


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