Ultimism is a beliefless atheistic religion devised by J. L. Schellenberg (the divine hiddenness guy). I’ll state my understanding of the religion and then my objections.
Ultimism as I understand it amounts to a disposition to imagine possible ways ultimate reality could be. Ultimate reality is metaphysically, causally, and morally ultimate – everything depends on it, originated from it, and relies on it for its moral value. Ultimists cultivate a knowledge of different religious traditions, without actually believing that any of them are true.
The point of this practice is to anticipate the one true religion. There may never actually be a true religion, but given that science, religion, and philosophy have only been developing for a couple of thousand years, Schellenberg thinks humanity has so much time ahead of it that any conclusion about ultimate reality is premature. And the search provides meaning.
He does think there can’t be a personal God like in the Abrahamic religions, and gives a battery of deductive arguments to show that. Divine hiddenness is one of these. He also has to argue that naturalism hasn’t been proven for Ultimism to be sensible.
Theists object to this by saying: “If you don’t know what the true religion will be, you can’t rule out Abrahamic religion.” That’s a pretty clever response!
I have a more pragmatic objection, which is that I don’t think it is a great use of time to be an Ultimist. For 99% of people, “imagining ultimate reality” is not a prudent use of time. Doesn’t this dude have bills to pay? He doesn’t believe there’s a God, but for some reason he spends his time studying different religions and imagining them? I don’t get it.
Nevertheless, Schellenberg is an interesting thinker. I’d suggest his work if you want to read an offbeat approach to philosophy of religion.
> Doesn’t this dude have bills to pay? He doesn’t believe there’s a God, but for some reason he spends his time studying different religions and imagining them? I don’t get it.
Why can’t you pay your bills *and* study religion? I find your objection extremely confusing.
The guy is one mild trip away from theosophy.
There really isn’t much value in Ultimism, it’s just a dallying between what can be philosophically inferred from science, and which religions are less ridiculous, or at least more adaptive, than others.
I agree with your assessment, I think he just doesn’t have a lot else to do and making a philosophical religion interests him. The problem is that all religions start from some type of philosophy at some early point, and the problems arise when you attempt to structure rules around something outside of objective reality.
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