The Shattered Spiritual Self: A Philosophical Exploration of Religious Trauma

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

July 2018

Publication Title

Res Philosophica


In this paper I consider what a person who finds herself religiously incapacitated ought to do. More specifically, I address people who have come to God asking for bread, but who seem to have received stones and serpents in its place. This is a manifestation of the phenomenon that I call religious trauma. My goals in this paper are twofold. First, I aim to demonstrate that, because religious trauma can be genuinely religiously incapacitating, (1) it can result in non-culpable failure to worship God, and (2), if ought implies can, a religious trauma survivor may find themself in a position where they ought to deconvert, whether or not the individual’s religion is true. My second goal in this paper is to illustrate that religious trauma deserves serious consideration from philosophers and theologians.