[T]he philosophy of religion is not “dead,” but it is in serious condition, if not on life support. This can be shown by counting the number of philosophy departments at secular colleges and universities which have faculty lines for philosophy of religion. (They are very rare.) Why is this? I think that one contributing factor to this state of affairs is the blatant partisanship which is very much the norm in the philosophy of religion. Many philosophers of religion, including both atheists and theists, function as natural theologians (if theists) or natural atheologians (if atheists). In other words, they act as if their job description says, “If you’re a theist, defend theism; if you’re an atheist, defend atheism.” It’s rare for philosophers of religion to engage in genuine inquiry and to spend equal amounts of time defending theism and defending atheism. But, if a philosopher of religion is going to act like a philosopher, not an apologist, they should be engaging in inquiry. LINK.Below is my response, which I guarantee will be worth a click of your time. ;-)
First off, I'm thankful Jeff understands that the philosophy of religion is on life-support. I think it's dead as I declared here. While there is still some disagreement between us, this admission of his bridges the gap so we can reach each other and shake hands.
Philosophers of religion should "spend equal amounts of time defending theism and defending atheism" by engaging in the process of "inquiry" Jeff says, following what seems to be his favorite philosopher of religion, Paul Draper.
Now I've argued against this before and I'll have to do so again. First of all there is no such thing as a generic theism, or Christian theism, or mere Christianity. See also this post. So far I don't think Jeff has ever responded to these posts of mine. Maybe he will now.
Furthermore, what side should be presented to students in philosophy of religion classes as opposed to skepticism and non-belief? Hinduism? Pantheism? Panentheism? Polytheism? Deism? [In some ways I like Deism since at its very core is the notion that all beliefs should pass the test of reason]. Isn't the choice of which theism to present in class an arbitrary one, which gives a higher degree of merit to one particular theism over others? And who makes that choice? The professor? On what grounds? Surely certain kinds of theisms in the western world should not be privileged just because they are located in the western world. In the Occident we have been saturated by the presence of the gospel due to an accident of history, that is, when Constantine won the battle of the Milvian Bridge and then sought to force all Christianities to accept a common creed. What reasons should an accident of history dictate which theism professors should present in their classes as an alternative to skepticism and non-belief?
Now let's contrast Peter Boghossian's approach as I wrote about here and challenged Keith Parsons to consider it (links included) after saying he could no longer take the philosophy of religion seriously enough to teach it. It's an interesting contrast, am I right or am I right? I side with Boghossian, hands down no ifs ands or buts about it. Faith is not a virtue. Philosophers of religion worthy of the name should teach their students to question the virtue of faith itself. It is their moral responsibility. The problem is that if they do this then they will undermine the very discipline itself, since there simply isn't enough evidence to think one religious theism is true over the others, especially if my book, The Outsider Test for Faith: How to Know Which Religion Is True, is used in more of these classes.
What is there about the nature of faith that deserves inquiry? Isn't the case closed on faith? What other side must be presented to the students as opposed to skepticism and non-belief? That's what I want to know, and so do inquiring minds.
Nothing personal Jeff, Cheers.