I recently finished recording a debate on the topic “Is Belief in God Irrational?” with Randal Rauser. Hopefully it will be available for listening soon, though that’s out of my hands and in Justin Schieber’s. Until then, I’ll give you a little spoiler by mentioning the fact that one of the main issues in the debate ended up being Randal’s claims that he had a philosophical consensus on his side on various issues.
This was something I anticipated going in, and tried to preempt in my opening statement—to no avail. But I did expect it, because false claims of consensus in philosophy and especially philosophy of religion are depressingly common. In philosophy of religion, they tend to be a product of the fact that Alvin Plantinga has a clique of followers who spend too much time talking to each other, and therefore end up convincing themselves that their and Plantinga’s opinions are the consensus of philosophy.
At this point in my blogging career, I feel like I’ve said most of what I have to say about religion. But I realize now I could write a lot more about the Plantinga clique than I already have. I could even—not in the immediate future, but maybe a few months from now, when I have the time—embark on writing an extensive series of posts on the Plantinga clique, and why their opinions should not be mistaken for the consensus of philosophy, and aim to make it just as thorough as my takedowns of William Lane Craig. Is that something people would be interested in?
For now, I’ve already written quite a bit on why the claim that philosophers agree Plantinga refuted the logical problem of evil is false. I’ve written a detailed explanation I’ve written of why the claim that Mackie conceded Plantinga had refuted him is false. I’ve also written a detailed explanation of what’s actually wrong with Plantinga’s free will defense. I’ve commented on this issue further in my comments on the Craig/Rosenberg debate, including point out the problems with the term “logical problem of evil.” I’ve also devoted an entire chapter of my second book to the problem of evil.
Outside of this blog, my LessWrong post Trusting Expert Consensus contains a lengthy discussion of consensus in philosophy. Also, Ex-Apologist has written quite a bit about these issues, including a post with a nice set of links to more technical criticisms of Plantinga’s free will defense, which concludes, “Perhaps it’s time to stop calling his response to the logical problem of evil a clear success, folks.”
Update 11/16/2013: My post Plantinga’s incredibly weak arguments in Warranted Christian Belief is also highly relevant here. As is On the stupidity of asking, “but where’s the evidence we need evidence for things?” And while I’m at it, I may as well toss in a link to my paper on Plantinga and classical foundationalism, which I posted shortly after posting the original version of this post.