Unapologetic: Why Philosophy of Religion Must End

I'm done writing and editing books, so I'm highlighting each one of them in thirteen separate posts.

Today let's consider my 2016 book, Unapologetic: Why Philosophy of Religion Must End. Just like my books The Outsider Test for Faith, and How To Defend the Christian Faith, this one was also forged in the heat of debate here at DC. I don't expect Christian philosophers to agree with it until after they abandon their faith. Secular philosophers have disagreed with it. But noteworthy ones agree. Actually, I think most all scientifically minded atheist philosophers should agree.

Table of Contents                              

Foreword by David Eller                           


Chapter 1: My Intellectual Journey

Chapter 2: Anselm and Philosophy of Religion

Chapter 3: Case Studies in Theistic Philosophy of Religion

Chapter 4: Case Studies in Atheistic Philosophy of Religion

Chapter 5: Why Philosophy of Religion Must End

Chapter 6: How to Effectively Deal With Faith-Based Claims

Chapter 7: Answering Objections and Other Practical Concerns

Chapter 8: It is Enough Just to Be Right!

Chapter 9: On Justifying Ridicule, Mockery and Satire


My Interview with Keith Parsons on Philosophy of Religion

Robert Price Vs William Lane Craig

There have been two major confusions about this book which I have addressed.

If there's one book of mine I might consider revising in the distant future, it would be this one. But that would require keeping up on the debates surrounding the value and need for the philosophy of religion, of which, I'm not interested in doing.
Free Inquiry magazine made philosopher
Dr. Daniel Dennett an honorary chair of a symposium on philosophy, which took place in three issues. My essay, "Why Philosophy of Religion Must End", was printed in Volume 38, No. 1. I began by saying "What I’m about to write is against everything I was taught in college and seminary, where I earned three master’s degrees and then pursued PhD studies for a year and a half in fields related to the philosophy of religion." You can read why I changed my mind, right here. My call to end the philosophy of religion is modeled after Dr. Hector Avalos's call to end biblical studies, which is found here. You can read an excerpt of my book, titled "Case Studies in Atheistic Philosophy of Religion".

Peter Boghossian's book, A Manual for Creating Atheists, was a game changer for me. I reviewed it here at DC. As I said in my Introduction to God and Horrendous Suffering:
For me, like Peter Boghossian, it all comes down to the question of epistemology—that is, how can we know what we claim to know? When it comes to epistemological questions Boghossian effectively argues that “Faith-based belief processes are unreliable.” After surveying several diverse and wildly improbable paranormal and religious beliefs held by believers around the globe, he said, “We are forced to conclude that a tremendous number of people are delusional. There is no other conclusion one can draw.” He goes on to say, “The most charitable thing we can say about faith is that it’s likely to be false.”

By contrast, reasonable people think exclusively in terms of the probabilities according to the strength of the objective evidence. The problem is faith, blind faith, the only kind of faith that exists on behalf of gods, goddesses, religions, miracles, and other paranormal claims. Believers claim faith is trust, but if so, there’s no reason to trust in faith. There’s no such thing as reasonable faith. To have religious faith is to have a misplaced trust in non-existent deities. Faith is the entrance ticket to the fantasy-land of religion. It keeps people childish in their thinking. Consequently, I’ve argued that a rite of passage into adulthood is to ask young people to examine their indoctrinated faith through the lens of an outsider, a non-believer, by demanding sufficient objective evidence for the first time in their lives.

In his book, A Manual for Creating Atheists, Boghossian suggests a solution to this malaise in the Socratic Method, by dialectically asking a series of leading questions to get believers to realize they are pretending to know what they don’t know, just as Socrates did with the Sophist pretenders of his own day. Pretending. That’s Boghossian’s stipulative definition of faith. Neither he nor I expect believers to agree, but just ask yourself what best describes what other believers are doing? Think of ultra-Orthodox Jews, militant Muslims, reincarnation/karma-believing Buddhists, Hindus, Mormons, snake handlers, witchdoctors, psychics, and so on. Believers are pretending when they claim to know with 100% certainty that what they believe is true, when they can’t be that certain of anything else. The antidote for this faith virus, as Boghossian calls it, is to give believers an intervention by showing them they don’t know what they’re pretending to know.
This perspective changed my mind about the value of the philosophy of religion, which I now view as a game rather than an attempt to honestly discuss the truth.
Boghossian's target is against faith itself, faith without sufficient evidence, blind faith, which is the only kind of faith that exists. If faith involves trust, there is no reason to trust in faith. I concluded that it's unreasonable to reason about religious doctrines that have no objective evidence for them. Can it be reasonable to believe a religion that requires objective evidence but does not have any objective evidence for it? No! Just consider the gospel claim that a virgin gave birth to the son of a god, and you'll easily see this point. I've written about faith on multiple occasions, especially agreeing with what philosopher George H. Smith and many others have said about it.

No wonder William Lane Craig doesn't want to debate me on my this issue: "There is sufficient objective evidence for the miracle assertions in the Bible." Is this claim of mine too boring, too uninteresting for agnostics and atheists to focus on? Why are they focusing on anything else? Curious truth-seekers want to know. What solidified it for me was how some atheist philosophers treated scientists like Richard Dawkins and Jerry Coyne with disdain. It also helped me see the need for, and value of ridicule. Ridicule works. There can be no reasonable doubt about it.

Dr. Taner Edis, a professor of physics at Truman State University, tells us that within Islam the philosophical problem of suffering hasn’t had much of an impact. In chapter 13 in my book, "God and Horrendous Suffering" he makes the insightful and provocative point that Islamic intellectual history “dampens confidence in the power of arguments from evil.” Echoing the theme of my book, Unapologetic, Edis says, “Nonbelievers rely too much on the problem of evil. They too often hope to win the games set by the philosophy of religion, rather than to play a different game.”

For the record, I think counter-arguments are somewhat in the eye of the beholder. It depends on what one knows. I think the problem of horrendous suffering is one of the biggest problems for religious faith, but then so is evolution, or the lack of evidence for miracles, and for some others the inconsistencies and falsehoods in the supposed revelation of the Bible.

Nonetheless Edis's alternative bears highlighting: "Critiques of god that don’t avail themselves of broadly science-based criticisms of supernaturalism risk degenerating into metaphysical gamesmanship (emphasis mine) Atheists who learn from Islam should, perhaps, no longer lean quite so much on the traditional philosophical arguments. They should demote the problem of evil from its central position." This is the same position of Richard Dawkins in "The God Delusion", Jerry Coyne in "Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible", and Victor Stenger in God and the Folly of Faith, for which I wrote a blurb. I'll take scientists over philosophers any day. They may lack some philosophical sophistication but the consensus of scientists on the evidence from the cosmos, evolution, archaeology, neurology and their implications for religion is a slam dunk! This is the same view of scientifically minded philosophers like Julian Baggini, as seen in his review of Michael Martin's book, "The Impossibility of God."

Blurbs on this issue are important since they show I'm not alone:

"Unapologetic offers the philosophy of religion the swift, ugly end it has long deserved. This single book will cause the death of a discipline." —Peter Boghossian, author, A Manual for Creating Atheists.

"I'm currently reading your book Unapologetic and thoroughly enjoying it. Suffice it to say that I am in wholehearted agreement with you. I actually find it very sad to see a discipline (the philosophy of religion) I have cherished for many years being debased and distorted by so-called Christian philosophers. Like you, I have now finally and happily found my place in the atheist community. I’m slowly making my way through your "Unapologetic book", it’s quite fascinating, loving the Nietzschean hammer style." —N.N. Trakakis, author of The End of Philosophy of Religion and co-editor (with Graham Oppy) of The History of Western Philosophy of Religion, 5 volumes.

“As an introduction to the ever-growing frustration with so-called Christian philosophy among many secular ex-Christian authors, Unapologetic is invaluable reading material for any reader interested in the wide variety of polemical issues it deals with.” —Jaco Gericke, Associate Research Professor, Depart of Theology and Philosophy, North-West University.

"Unapologetic is a wonderfully entertaining read. With masterful erudition, John Loftus presents a compelling case for why the philosophy of religion contains nothing but sophistry and illusion and should, therefore, be committed to the flames. It has no more right to exist than the philosophy of fairies, or the study of Superman. One might be skeptical of this claim-—as I was before starting the book—-but the arguments are so well-crafted and persuasive that I bet you’ll walk away nodding your head in agreement. Of Loftus’s many critiques of Christianity, this is the best yet. I highly recommend it to anyone with a fondness for great writing and the truth!" —Phil Torres, author, The End: What Science and Religion Tell Us about the Apocalypse.

"John Loftus is philosophy of religion’s—or what we would both probably prefer to call 'Christian philosophy’s'—worst nightmare. . . . This new book, in honor of the recent decision of British voters to secede from the European Union, we might dub his Apologexit. What parades as philosophy of religion today is a dismal and embarrassing abdication of intellectual discipline. No other scholarly field falls as short of its calling, and no one is more qualified than that turncoat Loftus to induce philosophers of religion to snap out of their dogmatic slumber or else shut the whole business down." —David Eller, author, Anthropology of Religion: Culture to the Ultimate.

"Unapologetic is probably my favorite monograph by John Loftus. It deserves a gold medal for undertaking the Olympian task of explaining in clear and accessible prose why the area known as Philosophy of Religion should be ejected from modern academia and our intellectual life. Pretending that we have good arguments for God is about as useless as pretending we have good arguments for Zeus." —Hector Avalos, Professor, Religious Studies, Iowa State University and author, The End of Biblical Studies.

“In Unapologetic, Loftus explains thoroughly and lucidly why it is time both atheists and secular philosophy departments step away from the discipline forever, exposing it for the religious evangelism it merely pretends not to be. Recommended for anyone who still believes in the value of the philosophy of religion, so that they can see their error.” —James A. Lindsay, author, Everybody Is Wrong About God.

“In this powerful book, former preacher and veteran scholar John Loftus demands to know why so much time and energy is still being wasted analyzing and debating fringe details of a thing no one has yet shown to be real. This passionate, hard-hitting, and important book will enlighten and inspire readers to think in new ways about an old battleground of thought. It’s clear that Loftus is running out of patience when it comes to the faithful but he certainly has not run out of steam.” —Guy Harrison, author, 50 Simple Questions for Every Christian.


John W. Loftus is a philosopher and counter-apologist credited with 13 critically acclaimed books, which are not very popular judging from the meager sales. At this season I'm retired with a fixed income and would appreciate a one-time solstice gift to help me get by. If my work has benefited you at all, it would encourage me to keep doing what I'm doing for as long as I can. My marriage has suffered because my wife often complains I spend way too much time online. But if I could make a little money doing what I do she probably wouldn't complain any more, and you would see me writing more.

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