Keith Parsons On The Amalekites and Options for Apologists

Even though I have master's degrees in the Philosophy of Religion (PoR), I have argued this discipline doesn't deserve a place in secular universities. I've said why in that link (in reverse chronological order). Let me stress a major criticism of the discipline. It usually doesn't deal in concrete biblical examples, and when it does, it takes for granted what no reasonable person should. I prefer to deal in terms of concrete biblical examples by far, so I cannot grant for the sake of argument most of the things philosophers of religion do. PoR departments are dominated by Christians in America, and most of them are evangelical leaning professors. Most of the published work in this discipline is likewise written by Christians. It's the last bastion for evangelicals who cannot defend what they believe because of the evidence coming from evolution, neurology, archaeology, comparative religion analysis, and biblical criticism. Being a philosopher of religion specializing in the analysis of ancient religions and a biblical scholar to boot, Dr. Jaco Gericke has said, "The trouble with William Lane Craig and and Alvin Plantinga is that their philosophy of religion conveniently ignores the problems posed for their views by the history of Israelite religion. They might as well try to prove Zeus exists. People sometimes forget 'God' used to be Yahweh and it is possible to prove from textual evidence that 'there ain't no such animal.'" Evangelical PoR is simply a Fundamentalism on Stilts. In fact, all Christian PoR is special pleading by degrees. It is pseudo-philosophy just as much as creationism is pseudo-science.

In their PoR classes they'll assume their particular God exists, and then make a case that believing in that God is rational, and that he probably exists, without examining the so-called biblical evidence itself. In their PoR classes they'll assume miracles have taken place in the Bible, and then make a philosophical case that miracles are possible and even probable, without examining the so-called biblical evidence itself. They'll assume there is a trinitarian God and a guy in the first century who was 100% man and 100% God without losing any essential divine nor human qualities, and try to make rational sense of it all, without examining the so-called biblical evidence. The same things go for discussions of prayer and the problem of evil. They'll assume, for the sake of their PoR classes, that petitionary prayer works and try to make rational sense of it, without looking at the scientific studies showing prayer works no better than chance. They'll assume their God is supremely good, without looking at the biblical evidence describing a barbaric and uncaring God. They are doing philosophy they'll say. Those other issues are for biblical scholars. But it's all special pleading since they take for granted what no reasonable person should, that science does not undercut their faith, and that the Bible is considered evidence for the God they believe in. Wait just a minute?, you'll hear me ask. Why bother talking about the properties and supposed activities of Zeus unless there is evidence to think he exists, and that he's acted in the world? Until these philosophers pony up, so to speak, we're wasting our time. And until they deal in terms of concrete biblical examples they are special pleading their case.

In a recent essay for the Secular Outpost, atheist philosopher Keith Parsons shows us how to do the PoR correctly, by using a concrete example, the case of the genocidal biblical texts concerning the Amalekites. The options are not good for Christian apologists, to say the least. Philosophy of religion, if it's to be done right, should do so by examining the source of these religious beliefs. When done correctly there is no good reason to elevate the PoR as a separate discipline in the secular universities.