My book & the Catholic Church (re: Leah Libresco)

Leah Libresco was kind enough to link my blog after I made the move to Patheos, and gave a shout out to my “beta testing a book” project:

I’ll confess, I’ve seen more of what he’s written at Less Wrong than chez lui, but I am intrigued by his attempt to beta test his new book.  He’s putting chapters online as he writes and inviting comment and critiques, so the eventual text will be more comprehensive.

I’ve added him to my RSS feed and I’ll try to write a response to the next chapter that goes up.  It’s my impression that the book is more contra evangelicals, but we’ll see.

This is really cool, but I want to comment on the issue of my book dealing with evangelicals vs. other Christians, particularly Catholics.

I guess I probably give that impression in part because of accidents of recent intellectual history. Catholic philosophers have had relatively little impact on philosophy of religion in the past half-century. In the United States, the revival of philosophy of religion was led by Alvin Plantinga, an Evangelical, and has been so dominated by protestants, to the point that even Notre Dame’s philosophy department was dominated by Protestants when I was there.

And the fact that I have an entire chapter devoted to William Lane Craig is just due to the fact is that he beats out the vast majority of other apologists in terms of mass appeal, especially among people who actually know something about science and Biblical scholarship. I don’t know of any Catholic apologists I can say that about.

Not to say that all the noteworthy philosophers of religion are Protestant. The most influential philosopher of religion in Britain for several decades now has been Richard Swinburne, who’s Eastern Orthodox. And Eleonore Stump is Catholic. But in spite of the recognition they’ve gotten, not many people go around talking about how one of them has supposedly solved the problem of evil, or “wins all their debates.”

When it comes to problems with religion, I have to say that the modern Catholic Church is more flexible on a lot of the issues where US fundegelicals have a screwy stance, in particular evolution, Biblical inerrancy, and  the question of who’s going to Hell (not that there aren’t things to criticize the Catholic Church for here.) Arguably the worst thing about the modern Catholic Church is not its doctrine, but its deep corruption as an institution, which I definitely will work into the book at some point, perhaps in a revised version of chapter 4.

Though continuing to push its anti-condom position in the face of the African AIDS epidemic is also pretty bad. I should probably remember to include that at some point too.

And that’s just the modern Catholic Church. I’ll have quite a bit of negative things to say about Augustine and Aquinas. Especially Augustine. After doing some research on him I’ve really come to wonder where the hell the idea of Augustine as a forerunner of modern liberal theology came from.

So there’s my sketch of what I’ll have to say about the Catholic Church specifically in the book, in addition to some fairly general criticisms of religion.

(FYI, if you check out the list of chapters, chapters 1, 4, 9, and 10 are basically complete, pending revisions. Other chapters still need work, which will happen as soon as I’m no longer working two jobs.)

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