Quote of the Day On the Philosophy of Religion, By David Madison

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Recently on Twitter Dr. David Madison said, "Everybody insists their own god exists and argues accordingly. Theism deserves the same respect as astrology, alchemy, and belief in a flat earth." Then he linked to my book Unapologetic: Why Philosophy of Religion Must End. What's significant about this is that he's a biblical scholar, having earned his PhD in Biblical Studies from Boston University School of Theology. He kindly blogs here at DC and is the author of Ten Tough Problems in Christian Thought and Belief: A Minister-Turned Atheist Shows Why You Should Ditch the Faith, of which I was honored to write a Forward to it.

I've said repeatedly that I might be wrong, but no one can say I'm ignorant. After all, I have nearly the equivalent educational background of Dr. Paul Copan, the former President of the Evangelical Society. David Madison can say the same thing by the tenfold, especially seen in his fantastic book, online writings, podcasts and exhaustive reading list of atheist books in The Cure-For-Christianity Library. In his esteemed judgment, after years of studying it out, the evidence conclusively shows the Bible and any religion or theology or philosophy based on it, "deserves the same respect as astrology, alchemy, and belief in a flat earth." His most succinct case is made in a chapter for my recent anthology, The Case against Miracles.

Just consider this. At the very end of Alvin Plantinga's huge book, Warranted Christian Belief, Plantinga acknowledges he still has not shown Christian belief to be true. This “really important question” of truth, he says, must “pass beyond the competence of philosophy, whose main competence, in this area, is to clear away certain objections, impedances, and obstacles to Christian belief.” [p. 499.] Christian philosopher of religion Richard Swinburne said this makes Plantinga's work out to be “of little use.” For as Swinburne explains,

Plantinga works up to the conclusion that "if Christian belief is true, it very likely does have warrant." But this conditional is of little use to anyone without some information about the truth of the antecedent (whether Christian belief is true); and on that, Plantinga explicitly acknowledges in his final paragraph, he cannot help us. For he writes there that on the really important question of "is Christian belief true" we pass beyond the competence of philosophy. [Richard Swinburne, Faith and Reason, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), pp. 74–75].
Even though neither Plantinga nor Swinburne would acknowledge this as an indictment on the ability of philosophy of religion itself to help discover the truth about theistic religions, I think it is, most definitely.

Still don't think so? Consider what Dr. Jaco Gericke has written, who has a PhD in both the Old Testament AND a PhD in the Philosophy of Religion. Gericke wrote a devastating critique of Plantinga's epistemology from a biblical perspective, as you can read here. David Madison did a wonderful write-up of Gericke's chapter in The End of Christianity, which highlights one of the particular problems with the concept of Yahweh in the Old Testament. So Biblical scholars can and do show the philosophy of religion must end. It's merely sophisticated obfuscationism in defense of ridiculous beliefs that no educated adult or thinking person should accept. Which in turn means that no matter how sophisticated the obfuscationism is, it's still nonsense. Supposed "international experts" like Tim McGrew (or Timothy McGrew if you prefer) have no expertise on this score.