J.L. Schellenberg | Closer to Truth


J.L. (John) Schellenberg is a Canadian philosopher known both for his atheism and for his defense of a broader skepticism compatible with atheism -- a form of skepticism which, as it happens, opens a path to a new evolutionary brand of religion.

Schellenberg earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree at Oxford. Currently he is a Professor of Philosophy at Mount Saint Vincent University and Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Graduate Studies at Dalhousie University.

His first book, Divine Hiddenness and Human Reason, introduced a new argument for atheism now known as the hiddenness argument. That argument has enjoyed a good deal of attention. As a result, 'the problem of divine hiddenness' is now commonly discussed alongside ‘the problem of evil’ in philosophy classrooms and texts. In 2015 Oxford University Press published a shorter, less technical book by Schellenberg about this debate called The Hiddenness Argument: Philosophy's New Challenge to Belief in God.  

Schellenberg’s research subsequently went beyond the theism/atheism debate and into more fundamental investigations in philosophy of religion. The result was three books that make a trilogy: Prolegomena to a Philosophy of Religion, The Wisdom to Doubt: A Justification of Religious Skepticism, and The Will to Imagine: A Justification of Skeptical Religion. His latest book, Evolutionary Religion, aims to make the ideas of the trilogy easily accessible for a general audience, placing them into an evolutionary framework.

The emphasis here is on completing the shift from human to scientific timescales, and coming thereby to see how we exist at a very early stage in the development of intelligence on our planet, with many millions of years of future development – whether experienced by our species or others – lying ahead of us. Seeing this, we will also see that the central question about faith and reason is whether there is a form of religion appropriate to our place in time. What the trilogy calls ‘skeptical religion,’ an imaginative rather than believing species of faith, invites our attention (in part) because it appears to be thus appropriate.