Showing posts with label Ending Philosophy of Religion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ending Philosophy of Religion. Show all posts

Real Atheology Wonders if Philosophy, Not Science, Is the Very Paradigm of Rationality


First off, it seems more than a bit arrogant to claim to be the real deal in atheist philosophy (Real Atheology, RA), but then there's nothing that can be done about that adopted name now. Nonetheless, on Twitter RA Tweeted this excerpt and asked, "Don't know where this is from, but thoughts on this?" If it were me I'd like to know where it came from, and I certainly wouldn't put something like this out there unless I thought it had some merit. Turns out it was written by Catholic apologist Edward Feser denouncing the boogyman "scientism" which we've written about before. About scientism I merely say that when it comes to the nature of nature, its regularities, and its origins, science is the only way to gain the truth. What other alternative is there?

It's disheartening that some thoughtful atheists think what Feser said is worthy of consideration. But this isn't the only time RA puts science and objective evidence in the back. They also highly recommended an essay where they agree with Christian apologist Matthew Flannagan that atheist Graham Oppy "repudiates evidentialism." They're reading and listening to the WRONG PEOPLE! I doubt very much that Graham Oppy "repudiates evidentialism" even if he may repudiate the verfification principle(s) whereby only propositions that have evidence for them are meaningful. Ask him. He should weigh in on this issue. Evidence, objective evidence, is paramount. Otherwise we are building ivory castles in the sky where the ONLY thing that matters in consistency.

When it come to philosophy almost everyone gets it wrong. Let me explain...

What Would Debates About Christianity Look Like If We Cut to the Chase?

My call for ending the philosophy of religion mirrors the late great Dr. Hector Avalos's call to end biblical studies as we know them. It was greatly influenced by anthropology professor Dr. David Eller.
But my call was required by understanding Dr. Peter Boghossian. I first heard of him in a video where he argued "faith based belief processes are unreliable". His 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 irrational to reason about religious doctrines that have no objective evidence for them. Is it ever rational to believe a proposition that requires objective evidence but does not have any objective evidence for it? No! Is it ever rational 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 George H. Smith said about it.  
No wonder William Lane Craig doesn't want to debate me on this proposition: "There is sufficient objective evidence for the miracle assertions in the Bible." 
Is this claim too boring, too uninteresting for agnostics and atheists to focus on? Why are they focusing on anything else? Why? Curious truth-seekers want to know.
Here's an excerpt from chapter one of my book on horrendous suffering:

Evidence Abounds against the Importance of the Philosophy of Religion

The evidence against the importance of the Philosophy of Religion is found exactly where we would expect it to be found. Just consider what it would take to be convinced that Christianity is true. The overwhelming answer is not philosophy. It's the requirement for sufficient objective evidence. See for yourselves in four definitive answers given by four different atheist writers. LINK. Our answers revolve around the five most powerful reasons not to believe. Spread the word, and don't forget to mention my book Unapologetic: Why Philosophy of Religion Must End.

John Beversluis Required One Textbook in the Philosophy of Religion for 42 Years!

I'm posthumously posting a few chapters from the late John Beversluis (see Tag below). As I was re-reading his first chapter I found a gem from him on teaching philosophy of religion students. Which book had he recommended to them for 42 years? This one!
If you use Thomas Paines's The Age of Reason as a required textbook in a Philosophy of Religion course, as I have done for many years, your students will not eagerly devour its contents and shower you with tears of gratitude for providing them with this eye-opening experience of what is really in the book they revere as the inspired Word of God. Nor will they be shamed by the astonishingly detailed knowledge of both the Old and New Testaments that Paine and Jefferson possessed. On the contrary, when such students are required to read The Age of Reason and to discuss it in class, they become (by degrees) irritated, belligerent, and finally downright angry. Inter-Varsity and Campus Crusade for Christ types are the most vocal and the most argumentative. I welcome (and even solicit) their objections. Having heard them out, my response is always the same: “I didn’t write The Age of Reason; Thomas Paine did. Is he wrong? Did he misrepresent what the Bible says? I don’t think so. But don’t take my word for it. Go home and read your own Bibles. Check him out. If you can find a single passage that he has misquoted or manufactured or misinterpreted, write an essay in which you convincingly demonstrate his error(s) and I will give you a grade of “A” for the course and urge you to submit your essay for publication in a reputable philosophical or religious journal with my enthusiastic recommendation.” I have been teaching philosophy for 42 years and during that time no Paine-incensed student has ever submitted such an essay. The reason is clear: The Age of Reason is accurate and his documentation is irrefutable.

What Apologetics And Counter-Apologetics Books Do I Recommend?

I was asked for books I might recommend that would fall into the category of "best arguments for God/Christianity" and "best arguments against Christianity." I was asked because "I know you read and analyze these books fairly often, so I want to see the best both sides have to offer." My response follows. You may be surprised by it!

Dr. Jaco Gericke: "Christian philosophy of religion as nonsense on stilts"

In a previous post I responded to Thomas Nagel and Quentin Smith's claims that materialism isn't justified (Nagel), and/or A Vast Majority of Naturalists Hold To Naturalism Unreflectively (Smith). In it I mentioned Dr. Jaco Gericke's critique of Christian  philosophy of religion. I regard Gericke as having a singularly unique understanding of the relationship of biblical scholarship to the philosophy of religion, as he holds doctorates in both (see tag below). 
Of course, I'm honored Geicke recommended my book Unapologetic: Why Philosophy of Religion Must End, saying, “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.” My book is an extension of the same kind of arguments Dr. Hector Avalos used regarding Biblical studies in his masterful book, The End of Biblical Studies. Avalos also highly recommended my book Unapologetic.
I was similarly honored that both Gericke and Avalos wrote chapters in my aptly titled anthology, The End of Christianity. I've already posted an excerpt of Dr. Avalos' book, here. Since Dr. Gericke has recently posted his chapter online at, below is that same chapter as published in The End of Christianity. Enjoy.

Calls For Ending the Philosophy of Religion Are Doing Nothing More Than Advocating For the Secularization Of Our Secular Universities

Recently Jerry Coyne wrote about the Philosophy of Religion:
Insofar as "theology" includes courses that presuppose the existence of the divine, take seriously the existence of God or Jesus, or prepare people for the ministry or to promulgate religious beliefs, then those courses not only have no place in a University, but are exercises in delusion. Now I think the higher-class divinity schools, like Chicago's and Harvard's, have very few of those courses, but there are some. They should not be part of a secular university. Maybe I'm missing something here, but it seems to me that Hitchens's razor is correct: "What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence." That applies to any form of theology that takes gods or superstitions as real. Universities should not be in the business of taking seriously those myths that have no evidence behind them. They can, of course, teach myths, but at no point should they imply that there is evidence for their truth. LINK
I've written on this topic several times before, collected here. But I don't think I've articulated my viewpoint in any single post better than I do in this one. I'm not surprised there is still a lot of misunderstanding about what I'm talking about. So here's another attempt--a book may need to be written on it.

My position seems to be the same as Richard Dawkins, Jerry Coyne, Peter Boghossian and James Lindsay when it comes to ending the Philosophy of Religion (PoR) discipline in the secular universities. The classes covered could be taught under the umbrella of the Philosophy discipline itself (with no need for a subdivision of PoR) or in the Comparative Religion departments, and especially science classes. Just think of it this way. We don't have PoR classes on Zoroastrianism, Gnosticism, Mithraism, Norse theology, Haitian Voodoo, Paganism etc., in any secular university that I know about. We don't see this for good reasons. Now think real hard about why, okay? The main purpose of the PoR discipline is to examine the evidence and the arguments for religion. Evidence. Arguments. Its main purpose is not merely to get students to understand religion. Rather, it seeks to assess the claims of religion by looking at the evidence (if there is any) and the arguments (if there are any good ones based on the evidence). By contrast, the main purpose of classes in Comparative Religions departments is to understand religion.

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

Click here for more quotes from Loftus
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.

The Pure Sophistry and Obfuscationism of Philosophy of Religion and Why the Evidential Requirement Changes Everything

Earlier I had posted this link. I then reminded believers that had they been born differently due to the lottery of birth they would be raised to believe differently. Their religious rituals would be different too! On Facebook it was called the genetic fallacy. Nope. Look at what happens when the sophistry of philosophy of religion is used to obfuscate the impact of the lottery of birth, and why the requirement for evidence changes everything:

Dr. Graham Oppy On the Five Best Atheist Philosophy of Religion Books

The team at Five Books interviews experts on their five best book choices on anything from language, sport, and art, to science, philosophy and the environment. I love this site and encourage everyone to subscribe to its bi-weekly updates, where they "ask experts to recommend the five best books in their subject and explain their selection in an interview." The site has over a thousand interviews.

They decided to ask Dr. Oppy to suggest and talk about the five best atheist philosophy of religion books. Specifically he was asked to suggest and discuss the five books "that have been the most influential" to him in his work as an atheist philosopher of religion. I've previously said what five books changed my life right here, and none of them were philosophy of religion books, even though I basically majored in that area of study for three of my master's degrees. [I'll not begrudge Oppy for failing to suggest my book in his list, Why I Became an Atheist, even though at least one informed atheist ranked it as the best atheist book of the past decade over some other top philosophy of religion books. Hey, don't shoot me, as I'm just the messenger! ;-)

Here are Oppy's choices. There are some surprises to be had in them. I have five important questions to ask him. See below for them and a link to his interview:

Julian Baggini Concerning Philosophy of Religion "What the Hell Are You Doing?"

Julian Baggini's 2005 review of Michael Martin's anthology, The Impossibility of God, was needed and brilliant! It should be required reading for discussion by everyone interested in philosophy of religion. LINK. It might be subtitled, "What the hell are you doing?"

Baggini, as an atheist philosopher, starts off saying he "found the book faintly dispiriting, futile even. Rather than finding myself standing on the metaphorical touchline cheering my team as it chalked up point after point, it seemed to me that everyone on the pitch was engaged in a useless game that no-one was ever going to win. This was a bravura performance, but who was it for?" His main point is: "I just don't believe that detailed and sophisticated arguments make any significant difference to the beliefs of the religious or atheists."

The book is useless for the unintellectual, he says, who won't read it much less understand it. "The fight against unthinking religion must be fought in terms unthinking believers can relate to. Discovering Angelina Jolie is an atheist is much more likely to make the unintellectual doubt their belief than the arguments of Patrick Grim" (an author in the book). A current example is The Big Bang Theory sit-com. It's doing a fantastic job of influencing the young away from faith via example and ridicule. As many of us have argued, ridicule does indeed have an impact upon the masses. Baggini surprisingly also says Martin's book is useless for the intellectual, both the believer and the atheist, for "when we get to this level of detail and sophistication, the war has become phoney. Converts are won at the more general level." [My emphasis].

You Don't Need a PhD to Criticize Religion

Hemant Mehta nails this subject. It goes right along with what I'm writing in my book Unapologetic: Why Philosophy of Religion Must End. The full text of his talk can be found below.

The Philosophical Elitism of Keith Parsons

I'm going to try showing Keith Parsons that he stands a lot to gain by listening to me, that I know what I'm talking about, and that he's wrong about the New Atheism. While I probably won't convince him, keep in mind that an argument doesn't need to be convincing for it to be a good one. I'm going to argue his problem is philosophical elitism. I will do so respectably, although it's that same attitude that may keep him from responding. First, here's a quote from Eric MacDonald endorsing Parsons:
The problem is precisely that the New Atheists think it appropriate to dismiss theology and philosophy of religion without understanding the first thing about it. Some New Atheists say, "I know enough about it. I was brought up as a Catholic or an Anglican or ...." But that's not qualification enough. Arguing from this point of view, where you really do not know what your opponent is arguing, because you have made no attempt to find out, is a simple informal fallacy known as special pleading. And the New Atheism is full of it. That's where Keith Parsons is way ahead of the New Atheists. Be an unbeliever by all means. But don't say that you know that there is no God or that theology is all make believe until you have really tried to understand what theologians are saying. And when you have done so, you will, I think, qualify your dismissal. --Eric MacDonald
I think this criticism of the New Atheism fails to understand the very phenomena being criticized. Let's just re-purpose MacDonald's quote: "The problem is precisely that the New Atheists think it appropriate to dismiss Scientology, or Mormonism, or militant Islam, or Hindu theology, or Haitian Catholic voodoo without understanding the first thing about it..." Need I go on? If anyone is special pleading it is MacDonald, for it didn't enter his mind to consider the many other religious faiths out there he easily dismisses without knowing that much about them. So I think reasonable people don't have to know a lot about religious faiths to reject them. We can dismiss these and other faiths precisely because they are faiths. The evidence is not there and even runs contrary to them. The moralities of these faiths also count against them. Do we need to know something about them to dismiss them? Sure, we should know something about them. In fact, to reject one of them we should at least hear about it. But even a rudimentary level of knowledge is enough for that, since faith is the problem. As outsiders we don't need to look into the many varieties of faith to know the results of faith are not likely to be true. We can do this simply by generalizing from the many mutually inconsistent false faiths to the probability that any given particular faith is false, even before getting an in-depth knowledge about it.

My specialties are theology, philosophical theology and especially apologetics. I am an expert on these subjects even though it's very hard to have a good grasp of them all. Now it's one thing for theologically unsophisticated intellectuals like Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens and Stenger to argue against religion. It's quite another thing for a theologically sophisticated intellectual like myself to say the "New Atheists" were within their epistemic rights to denounce religion from their perspectives. And I do. I can admit they lack the sophistication to understand and respond point for point to sophisticated theology. But it doesn't matter. The reason is because all sophisticated theology is based in faith: faith in the Bible (or Koran) as the word of God, and/or faith in the Nicene creed (or other creeds), and/or faith in a church, synagogue or temple. No amount of sophistication changes this. Even an informed ten year old can come to the correct conclusions about faith without any sophistication at all.

Let's take a serious look at what Parsons said:
Do you need a Ph.D. in philosophy to be a legitimate and respectable participant in the theism/atheism debate or the science/religion debate? Of course not. But you do need to know what you are talking about. Those, however accomplished in other fields, who leap into the debate philosophically uninformed inevitably commit freshman mistakes that expose them to the scorn of sophisticated opponents. LINK.

The Philosophy of Religion Must End Because Faith-Based Reasoning Must End

Philosophy of religion must end. If the philosophy of religion is using reason to examine the the claims of religion, and if religion is based on faith, then philosophy of religion must end. For faith has no justification nor merit. A reasonable faith does not exist, nor can faith be a guide for reasoning to any objective conclusion.

Religion is indeed based on faith in supernatural forces and/or entities. Faith is indeed an unreliable way to gain objective knowledge about the world. And faith-based reasoning cannot justify any claim concerning matters of fact like the nature of nature and its workings. So philosophy of religion is reasoning about that which is unreasonable. It takes the utterly unwarranted conclusions of faith seriously. To reason about religion requires granting more than a philosopher worthy of the name should do, since the very first principle of religion is faith. There are some things philosophers should not take seriously and still remain as intellectuals. A faith-based claim is one of them. There are other ways to deal with those types of claims. The proper discipline to determine if a claim is faith-based or not is to be found in the sciences.

The Philosophy of Religion Must End Because Religions Self-Destruct

There isn't a tenet of any religion that isn't opposed with cogent arguments by adherents of different religions. Even within any given religion there are sects that oppose some important tenets of their mother religion. See here, and here for examples.

The Philosophy of Religion Must End Because Jesus Studies Have Ended Jesus

I've been told some people aren't taking me seriously. My bet is that they will when I'm done.

The philosophy of religion must end because Jesus Studies have ended Jesus. That's not the only reason but it's a good one nonetheless. Robert Conner:
Jesuitical (ˌjeZHo͞oˈitikəl) adjective, (1) of or concerning the Jesuits (2) dissembling or equivocating, in the manner associated with Jesuits.

Ancient immanentist philosophies such as panpsychism that might have sacralized the world and its life were largely extinguished by the advent of Christianity. A partial corrective is Hector Avalos' The End of Biblical Studies. Like professor Avalos, I have long advocated that we stop taking "Jesus Studies" nonsense seriously:
That Jesus Studies is rife with flawed scholarship, special pleading, fideism, rank speculation, manufactured relevance, careerism, homophobia and the misogyny that homophobia implies, sectarian allegiances, personal agendas, fraud and simple incompetence should come as no surprise to anyone conversant with the field. Indeed, whether Jesus Studies is even an academic discipline as usually understood is debatable, and that Jesus Studies has precious little to do with history is certain. [From Conner's essay Faking Jesus].

On Ending the Philosophy of Religion *Again* and *Again*

Let's do it this way. Consider the following five science related books (I could multiply them if needed). Now grant that what we find in them presents the required objective evidence to say religious faith is false and/or foolish. Okay? Grant it. Say it: "Religious faith is false and/or foolish." Good. Then there would be no reason for teaching philosophy of religion classes. None. Doing so would be unnecessary since science has already shown philosophical arguments for religious faiths to be false and/or foolish. Rather than teaching philosophy of religion classes, we should instead teach science related classes. For someone who says we cannot do science without also doing philosophy of some kind, that's not necessarily true.

My name is John W. Loftus. Thank you, thank you very much! ;-)

On Lowder's Stupid Atheist Meme #4: “Let’s Put an End to the Philosophy of Religion!”

Jeff Lowder again, with another so-called "Stupid Atheist Meme." One of the reasons I have publicly exposed Jeff Lowder's dishonesty and hypocrisy is because he has successfully convinced people into thinking he's a philosopher when he is not, which I consider his biggest con. He has a college degree in computer science and is well-read in the area of philosophy of religion, okay. But I have found him to be ignorant many times. His biggest ignorances have to do with taking positions against those I have taken, so it does matter that people see who he really is. For if he's considered a full credentialed philosopher with a Ph.D., then what he says is taken more seriously than what I say. His all white male philosophy student cheerleaders defend him because he has successfully conned them. They say there have been many philosophers in the past who didn't have Ph.D.'s, like Socrates, Aristotle, Descartes and Aquinas, which I know all too well. That is irrelevant. I'm arguing Lowder lacks the depth and breadth necessary to have earned a Ph.D. in philosophy.

What I'm writing is helpful. One person wrote:
I have been using the Internet Infidels for about 15 years now. The essays therein has helped me in my philosophical path from "angry antitheism" to a more moderate nontheism. And in all those time I have thought JJ Lowder is a philosopher. I don't know why I had that impression, but I did. Maybe subtle hints in his online writings made me believe that he is one. If you had not exposed his actual academic background, I would still think he is a PhD-toting analytic philosopher. LINK.

Another Example of Jeff Lowder's College Level Approach to the Philosophy of Religion

Jeff Lowder smuggled his way into being known and respected as a philosopher without any relevant credentials. I aim to "out" him about this. Don't shoot me I'm just the messenger. If you're looking for a more accurate analysis of philosophical arguments then I bid you turn elsewhere. I am banned from commenting at the Secular Outpost because I have publicly exposed Jeff Lowder's dishonesty and hypocrisy, so in order to comment on a post of his I must do so here. Okay.

I first want readers to notice how he dishonestly presents the impression that he is a philosopher. In a recent post on morality he writes as follows:
The concept of “objective morality” is notorious for its ambiguity. You might even say that people–or, at least, philosophers–have a moral obligation not to use that expression unless and until they first give a very nuanced definition of what it means! Because the concept is often misunderstood, I’m going to try to offer a “layman’s guide to moral objectivity” in this post.

Let’s start with “morality.” The average person who is not a philosopher probably thinks there is just the one ‘thing,’ morality, and that’s the end of it. In fact, the topic is a little bit more complicated than that. Non-philosophers might be surprised to learn that philosophers make a distinction between the good (values) and the right (duties). LINK.
If you don't see this for what it is, or object to his use of language then you should. In a post sometime back, Lowder talked about having written "a paper", which real philosophers know is a technical term for something one reads at a philosophical conference (just think of a "call for papers"), or it refers to something that will be published in a peer reviewed journal. What he wrote was neither of these things, just the dishonest use of language.

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.