Philosophy (eye-roll)

I don’t expect analytic philosophy of religion to be able to settle much about a God, any more than I’d expect an analytic philosophy of botany to be able to tell me how to obtain a banana.

Whenever you think you might have a nice armchair argument for atheism, the cure is simple. Summon a few theistic philosophers and they’ll pick it apart. And vice versa.

You’d think that since it’s long been clear that all philosophy of religion is capable of doing is to cancel itself out, we’d have moved on to better things. But no, that’s not how the human species does things. We’ll bake the planet because we can’t conceive of anything other than business as usual. We’ll save the economy by pouring trillions into a parasitical financial sector. We’ll . . .

Oh, I give up. It’s galling that a species so incapable of consciously changing its ways considers itself rational. At least wasting time on the God of the Philosophers is fairly harmless.

About Taner Edis

Professor of physics at Truman State University

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00203311711885538229 Daniel A. Wang

    Most philosophers don't spend too much time on philosophy of religion, often thinking that the energy is best spent elsewhere.

    In a way, I can understand that attitude. But the issues surrounding the nature and existence (or non-existence) of God are still tremendously important, and the fact that a counterargument can always be produced is no indictment of philosophy. I want to be acquainted with the best possible case for a given position.

    Overthinking the issue is certainly harmless compared to the sheer folly that is apathy.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    It would be lovely if somebody produced a solid disproof of the existence of God (or a solid proof of the existence of God), and the issue could be settled once and for all.

    I am not aware of any such disproof or proof, so nearly 3 thousand years of philosophy of religion has failed to acheive this goal.

    But there are other goals or benefits to be had from philosophy of religion.

    Great thinkers have contributed insights and clarifications to our thinking about God and religion. This fact is partly obscured by the egocentric tendency to assume that ones own thinking is natural or just common sense, as opposed to being the product of centuries of human effort and development.

    Our thinking about God and religion has advanced beyond the thinking of the pre-socratic philosophers. Socrates and Plato added to the richness and clarity of our thinking about God and religion. So did Aristotle.

    Our thinking about God, revelation, and miracles was enriched and clarified by Anselm, Augustine, Aquinas, and other Medieval thinkers.

    Enlightenment thinkers such as Descartes, Locke, Hume, and Kant have increased our understanding about the ideas of God,revelation, and miracles.

    Marx taught us to view religion empirically as a cultural phenomenon that has an important role in the shaping of our thinking and in how the structure of power is maintained. Promises of "Pie in the sky" are now subject to the suspicion that this is a way to prevent poor and working class folks from demanding more pie on the table here and now.

    Existentialist thinkers have also contributed to our understanding of God and religion.

    In the twentieth century, Logical Positivist and Ordinary Language philosophers have added more insights and clarifications.

    There may not be a proof of God or a disproof of God, but to say that no progress has been made in development of a richer and clearer understanding of God and religion is absurd.

    Our thinking has benefited from centuries of intellectual efforts by philosophers who have investigated ideas such as "God" "revelation" "miracles" "faith" "souls" etc.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06394155516712665665 CyberKitten

    I think that the first mistake is asuming we're a rational species. It's pretty obvious that we are anything *but* rational!

    DAW said: But the issues surrounding the nature and existence (or non-existence) of God are still tremendously important…..

    I don't think they're *tremendously* important – or even all that important myself (well, the bit about God anyways…)…. But, as always, I'll be in the minority on that one [grin]

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17239457772830013242 tmdrange

    One of the main questions of philosophy is "What kinds of things exist?" A rather poor answer would be "Only physical objects and their properties, nothing else." Although the answer is poor, it is at least a philosophical answer. However, if the person giving that answer refuses to listen to any presentation of counter-examples to it, then he has moved from being a "low-grade" philosopher to being a non-philosopher. "Philosophy (eye-roll)" is akin to such refusal to listen.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10778996187937943820 Taner Edis

    One of these days I might get something other than a standard defense of the nobility of the philosophy of religion, but it's getting increasingly unlikely.

    One standard response goes along the lines of suggesting that philosophy of religion has, actually, made progress. You might cash this out in terms of increased conceptual clarity or whatever. (A slightly less dark shade of mud, I'm tempted to say.) Sorry, I'm not impressed. You know you have solid cognitive progress when you have achievements you can hit people on the head with. I see nothing that comes close, with perhaps one exception: that none of this works as advertised. Moving on to a more productive enterprise might be in order.

    Another standard reply is to the effect that anyone dissing philosophy must therefore be woefully ignorant of the deep virtues of the field. (Nothwithstanding that my complaint is not about philosophy per se, but a particular subfield which is a recognized intellectual backwater.) I'm sorry if I'm not impressed with this either. If I look for it, I can plenty of shit to the effect of "oh, you don't appreciate the deep insight provided by our discipline" from theologians. Frankly, they're better at it, and given the peculiar nature of their field, they at least have a ghost of plausibility in such appeals. Philosophers of religion just look ridiculous.

    Produce some non-navel-gazing achievement if you want respect.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00203311711885538229 Daniel A. Wang

    "anyone dissing philosophy must therefore be woefully ignorant of the deep virtues of the field."

    Since those who are not woefully ignorant of the deep virtues of the field don't diss philosophy, that would be quite a reasonable assumption.

    "intellectual backwater"

    That sounds like the sort of thing one might have said about a generation ago, based on nonsense like "'God' is a meaningless word". And of course, if this applies to the likes of Aquinas, Swinburne or Plantinga, one must conclude that it applies to the likes of Hume, Feuerbach, Freud, and Mackie as well as the whole attempt to explain religion on naturalistic terms.

    So, on what basis do we critique religion if we're not even interested in taking religious claims and the clarification thereof seriously?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10778996187937943820 Taner Edis

    "Since those who are not woefully ignorant of the deep virtues of the field don't diss philosophy, that would be quite a reasonable assumption."

    What is appalling about such remarks is that I suspect people who say such things are dead serious.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09925591703967774000 Dianelos Georgoudis

    Taner Edis said: “ You know you have solid cognitive progress when you have achievements you can hit people on the head with.

    I think this is a very superficial idea. After all, cognitive progress may produce a more coherent understanding of reality, or produce more happiness, or give one strength to be a better person. All of these are worthwhile achievements, but they are not of the kind one can hit people on the head with.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00203311711885538229 Daniel A. Wang

    "What is appalling about such remarks is that I suspect people who say such things are dead serious."

    One man's modus ponens is another man's modus tollens. You can take it as seriously as you like.

    But very seriously, I find people who "diss" philosophy not simply to be unable to appreciate deep virtues; they are monstrously ignorant about philosophy. They haven't even a basic grasp. Most of them are fanatical adherents of scientism (and thus no better than, say, creationists).

    There's only so much time and energy to waste on that kind of crap.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16731690779682393927 Philip

    Taner Edis speaks of the need for philosophy of religion to “settle” the question about God’s existence, and to come up with “achievements you can hit people on the head with.” This is what happens in science, not in philosophy. The achievements are technologies which you can literally hit people on the head with. So this complaint about philosophy of religion is scientistic.

    But philosophy of religion is annoying for another reason. Most western philosophers of religion have been Christians and thus disingenuous. The God of the Philosophers has borne little resemblance to the God that most theists believe in, because these philosophers haven’t wanted to rock the boat (Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, and Sade are some exceptions). The task of philosophers of religion, as opposed to that of theologians, is to see how far reason alone can get in answering questions about God. God is supposed to be transcendent, as the mystic says, so there’s a cloud hanging over the project from the outset.

    Why should reason alone (or science, for that matter) be expected to judge theism, and why should rational arguments matter to most theists anyway, whose religious beliefs are faith-based? Not only does the presumed mystical nature of God and miracles cancel out the rational methods of western philosophy, as Edis suggests, but this philosophical endeavor is particularly irrelevant from a practical viewpoint. Philosophers have wanted to keep their questions separate from theological, explicitly religious ones, whereas most people are interested in specific theologies and religions, not in the abstract question of whether reason alone can show that a stripped-down God exists or not.

    Today, philosophy of religion in the US has been infiltrated by Christian theologians. So the battle now is clearly between philosophy itself and theology. But this has always been the real battle. Philosophers are the rational elitists, writing about what most people don’t have time for and aren’t interested in, while theologians cater to the masses. It’s the battle between the Socratic philosophers and the sophist businessmen (given Plato’s portrait of the sophists).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00203311711885538229 Daniel A. Wang

    "Most western philosophers of religion have been Christians and thus disingenuous."

    This, at least, strikes me as very true indeed. Philosophers of religion are by and large theists, and in the West, of the Christian variety. Generally speaking, however, philosophers are secular.

    As such, treating the issue in an objective way might not be a great personal concern for them. But whereas theology presupposes the existence of God from the very outset, and works within a particular tradition (once again usually the Christian one), the philosophy of religion does not. The atheist can contribute to the philosophy of religion in a way which would be very difficult in theology.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17239457772830013242 tmdrange

    It's all so very simple. There are a hundred different definitions of "God." For each definition, there are two sets. Set A consists of arguments intended to prove or at least support the existence of God, defined that way. Set B consists of arguments intended to prove or at least support the nonexistence of God, defined that way.
    What the theist should do is to look over the definitions and find the one(s) he likes, and then consider putting forth one or more of the relevant arguments in set A. What the atheist should do is wait until the theist has made his selections and then attack the given set-A arguments. He should also put forward one or more of the relevant set-B arguments for the theist's consideration, and then debate the merits of the various arguments with the theist.
    There are also some cognitively meaningless definitions of "God," which makes room for the theological noncognitivist to get into the discussion in case the theist picks one of THOSE definitions.
    All these guys (theist, atheist, noncognitivist) are philosophers, though not necessarily philosophers of religion. The whole issue could be cast as one of metaphysics ("What kinds of things exist?"), without bringing religion into it at all.
    I see no place for "eye-rolling" here.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16731690779682393927 Philip

    Daniel Wang,

    When you say that “treating the issue in an objective way might not be a great personal concern for them [Christian philosophers of religion,]” I think you understate the matter. Indeed, ancient and modern (but not medieval) western philosophy is a nontheistic enterprise. Revelation cut no ice in philosophy prior to Christianity, when ancient philosophers didn’t have to worry about Church authority, and after modern science showed that knowledge can be obtained outside of religious institutions.

    So what does it mean when modern Christians have engaged with the philosophical tradition not on explicit theological or religious questions, but on questions about the God of the Philosophers? Why didn’t these Christian philosophers openly defend their revelation against the Satanic naturalistic worldview that modern philosophers have been forced to endorse, because of the influence of science? In part, it’s because of the overconfidence of medieval Catholic theologians that reason just as well as faith should lead people to God, since God is sovereign.

    But I think it’s also an attempt to corrupt the nontheistic western philosophical tradition from within. Defending theology and religion, based on faith, would only give the game away, so these wily Christian philosophers have carved out a middle ground on which theists and nontheists can talk about God in an abstract, detached way, and theists can always retreat to their faith, ignoring any result from the philosophical debate.

    What annoys me about western philosophy of religion is that the philosophers, as such, have fallen for this red herring. Instead of analyzing the concept of God and clarifying it for the benefit of billions of theists (as tmdrange says philosophers do), philosophers of religion have substituted philosophical discussion of the First Cause, the Designer, the Absolute, necessary being, and the ground of being, for discussion of Yahweh, Jesus, and Allah. The philosophical concepts may be interesting in their own right, but they’re not the concepts of God that most theists care about. Western Philosophy of religion is a colossal compromise, and only the radical philosophers like Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, and Sade ignored the red herring and warned of what happens when reason confronts faith.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Of that which cannot be described, we must remain silent.

    If you want to say anything intelligent about "God", "faith", "revelation", "miracles", "souls", "life after death", then you should be prepared to explain and defend what you mean by those terms and to explain and defend what it is that you are asserting.

    Once you begin to explain and defend what you mean by those terms, you are doing philosophy of religion.

    Once you begin to explain and defend what you say about God, faith, miracles, etc, then you are doing philosophy of religion.

    So, the choice we all face is this:
    (a) do philosophy of religion well,
    (b) do philosophy of religion poorly, or
    (c) don't say anything about God, faith, miracles, life after death, souls, etc.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00203311711885538229 Daniel A. Wang

    "Indeed, ancient and modern (but not medieval) western philosophy is a nontheistic enterprise."

    Oh, please. Descartes not only was a theist, but his entire philosophical enterprise depended on theism.

    "philosophical discussion of the First Cause, the Designer, the Absolute, necessary being, and the ground of being"

    Well, what else? The merits of the Bible?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16731690779682393927 Philip

    Bradley Bowen

    You’ve left out theology. Theologians also explain theistic matters and defend theistic beliefs, but theology isn’t part of Socratic philosophy, because theologians aren’t interested in seeking knowledge wherever the search may take them. Their explanations and defenses invoke faith and revelation. Of course, you can define “philosophy” however you like, but the distinction between western philosophy, resting on ancient Greek writings, that is, on Platonic and Aristotelian ones, and Christian theology seems worth preserving to me. It helps explain why philosophy of religion and Christian theology have different subject matters.

    The theological subject matter might be a subset of the philosophical one, but I think instead there’s a divergence between them. It might be (1) that most theists are aware of philosophy of religion and they don’t care about it, because the philosophical discussion is irrelevant to their religion, or (2) that they’re unaware of this philosophy, but that were they to become aware of it they’d find it mostly irrelevant for the reason given in (1). I think (2) is most likely true.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16731690779682393927 Philip

    Daniel Wang,

    When I say that modern philosophy is nontheistic, obviously I don’t mean that all modern philosophers are nontheists. That would contradict my claim that modern philosophers of religion are often theologians disguised as philosophers. Indeed, Descartes is a prime example. Nevertheless, modern philosophy is *methodologically* nontheistic. That’s why Descartes had to use sophistry to defend theism from the new naturalistic worldview, instead of appealing to faith or to revelation. Modern philosophers are Socratic in their use of independent reason, but many modern philosophers of religion are Socratic in letter but not in spirit, because they’re also Christians who privately give credence to faith and to revelation.

    You ask what else philosophers of religion should be doing instead of talking about the Absolute, the ground of being, etc? How about subjecting specific religious claims to philosophical scrutiny? How about naming names instead of hiding behind abstractions? How about destroying theology? Centuries ago, the danger was that the Church would torch anyone for attempting to do this, but now there’s no such excuse, unless it’s the pragmatic one that society would collapse without some religion and thus theology. That’s more or less what Nietzsche and Sade imply happens when reason replaces faith.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09925591703967774000 Dianelos Georgoudis

    Ted Drange:

    I don’t think that comparing the arguments for and against a particular definition of God is the best way to do philosophy. I think that as a practical matter the best way is to take the two alternative metaphysical views that are dominant today, namely theism and naturalism, and compare them one to one under the same set of criteria. After all ontology is not about whether God exists or not, but rather about what exists. And comparing theories A and B about what exists is certainly a good way for deciding whether belief in A or in B is more reasonable.

    Now it’s true that different theists define God differently. Similarly there is little agreement about how a naturalistic reality is. Given this situation there are two strategies one can use: 1) Pick for comparison the theistic and naturalistic worldviews one deems to be especially coherent and powerful. 2) Compare bare-bones theism and naturalism, namely the premise that reality is based on personal subjects and governed by free will, against the premise that reality is based on impersonal objects and governed by mechanical causality. One way or the other, I find that comparative metaphysics is a much more useful enterprise than debating the merits and demerits of one particular metaphysical view.

    Comparative metaphysics would also help level the epistemological field. If it turns out that there are few arguments for and many against theism, but that there are even fewer arguments for and a great many arguments against naturalism – then clearly it will more reasonable to believe in theism despite the fact that there are few argument for it and many against it. Or take another example: Naturalists often argue that there is no “evidence” for theism. In comparative metaphysics this will immediately lead to the question of what evidence there is for naturalism. The probable answer that the success of the natural sciences is evidence for naturalism will lead to the question of whether the success of science is more probable on naturalism or on theism. If when studying this question one discovers that theism can readily explain the success of science whereas naturalism can’t, and that naturalism has even trouble describing a mechanistic reality compatible with some observational facts that science has discovered, then the theist will argue that contrary to the naturalist’s impression the success of the natural sciences is evidence for theism.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09925591703967774000 Dianelos Georgoudis

    Philip said: “ Modern philosophers are Socratic in their use of independent reason, but many modern philosophers of religion are Socratic in letter but not in spirit, because they’re also Christians who privately give credence to faith and to revelation.

    Even if this is the case, there is no contradiction. The Christian view is that there are several ways towards God, including reason, revelation, faith, and mystical experience. Religion is not so much or not only a belief system, but mainly a way of life, a personal stance. I suppose that for most Christians their religious life is based to some degree on several of the above.

    Incidentally “faith” is a much misunderstood word, perhaps because it carries various meanings. “Faith” as we find it the Gospels clearly means “trust”. In modern usage “faith” often means belief in God at the absence of sufficient evidence. Eric Reitan explains this very well in his latest book: The idea is that when one finds not sufficient evidence either for believing that reality is intrinsically good or else for believing that reality is just a big mechanism of blind indifference, then one has to make a cognitive choice one way or the other. People of faith choose to affirm that reality is not a mechanism of blind indifference, but rather that reality stands on the side of goodness, which entails the existence of God.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Philip said…

    Bradley Bowen

    You’ve left out theology. Theologians also explain theistic matters and defend theistic beliefs, but theology isn’t part of Socratic philosophy, because theologians aren’t interested in seeking knowledge wherever the search may take them. Their explanations and defenses invoke faith and revelation. Of course, you can define “philosophy” however you like, but…
    ========
    Traditionally the distinction here was between "Natural Theology" and "Revealed Theology". The distinction goes back to Augustine, and was clarified by Aquinas. (An example of one bit of progress in the philsophy of religion that has now been absorbed into the thinking of most educated Westerners, including non-philosophers).

    You are correct that one can explain and defend a claim about God (or faith or miracles or souls) on the basis of a religious text (e.g. the Bible) or the proclamations of some religious authority (e.g. the Pope). You are also correct to hesitate to consider this to be "doing philosophy of religion".

    However, if such a defense or explanation were given to me or to you, the first question we would ask would be "Why should I accept the Bible (or the Pope) to be an authority on this matter?"

    Human beings are prone to error, bias, and even to foolishness. The Bible was written by human beings, and the Pope is a human being, so we have good reason to be cautious and skeptical about the claims they make.

    Now the person who made the claim about God (or faith or whatever) can either respond by attempting to provide objective facts or reasons in support of the authority or trustworthiness of the Bible (or Pope) or not.

    Alternatively, he/she can attempt to provide objective facts or reasons directly in support of the original claim about God (or faith or whatever).

    If he/she does so respond, then he/she is doing philosophy of religion.

    If he/she instead screams out "Curse you! Get thee behind me Satan!" and runs away down the street, then he/she has stopped engaging in the explain-and-defend game, and has opted in favor of old-fashioned prejudice and irrationality.

    So, one can explain and defend claims about God (or faith or miracles or…) without doing philsophy of religion, but only if one carefully avoids ever talking to other people who have a different religious or theological viewpoint.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00203311711885538229 Daniel A. Wang

    "How about subjecting specific religious claims to philosophical scrutiny?"

    That's precisely what philosophers of religion do. They subject the claim that theism is true to rigorous examination (the concept is clear and very precisely defined, see for example Swinburne's defences of theism). It's difficult to see how one would otherwise do it.

    Most people, philosophers included, don't have anything that even approaches the expertise required to scrutinize, say, the historicity of the Gospels.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Daniel Wang said:

    "How about subjecting specific religious claims to philosophical scrutiny?"
    ==============

    Nice clarification. The point being that "religious claims" encompass more than just philosophical claims. Some "religious claims" might be basically historical in nature:

    (1) Jesus of Nazareth was crucified in Jerusalem about 30 C.E.

    Expaining and defending this claim would be primarily an exercise in historical reasoning.

    Other claims have a mix of philosophical and historical elements:

    (2)Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead in about 30 C.E., shortly after being crucified in Jerusalem.

    Other claims are strictly philosophical:

    (3) God exists.

    (4) Human beings have immortal souls.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Another distiction, one which I am guilty of trampling over, should be made between various normative issues here:

    1. Should we support and maintain research in the philosophy of religion (in colleges and universities)?

    2. Should we support and maintain the teaching of the philosophy of religion (in colleges and universities)?

    3. Should we support and promote doing philosophy of religion by people in general (not just by professional philosophers)?

    4. Should we support and promote critical thinking about religious concepts and claims?

    One might give very different answers to these different normative questions without being inconsistent or hypocritical (e.g. one might answer YES to 4 but NO to 1).

    My inclination would be to answer all qeustions above as YES. Question 4 being the most fundamental in my mind.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16731690779682393927 Philip

    Daniel Wang says that “Most people, philosophers included, don't have anything that even approaches the expertise required to scrutinize, say, the historicity of the Gospels.”

    I think this is an interesting claim. Philosophers of science are expected to know some science; at least, the best philosophers of science, whether it’s of physics, biology, mathematics, or whatever, have some background in science that lets them know what they’re talking about when they talk about science at a more abstract level. Likewise, analytic philosophers of mind today know some cognitive science.

    So I wonder why philosophy of religion is such an exception. Again, many western philosophers of religion today are Christians, so they know about their own religion, but one of their goals, I think, is to distract what I’m calling Socratic philosophers with the red herring of an abstract deity that no one cares about or believes in, sparing actual religions from philosophical scrutiny. So even though many philosophers of religion have a background in a specific religion, it’s politically incorrect to discuss specific religious claims in philosophical journals. Discussing theism in the abstract is fine, but not concrete, sectarian religious claims, not even by way of providing examples.

    (Perhaps the assumption is that actual religions are just special cases of theism, so that any philosophical argument about, say, the Absolute applies straightforwardly to Allah or to Yahweh. There may be some such connection, but then why not draw out the explicit implications for specific religions, in the philosophical journals?)

    When philosophers of science or mind avoid connecting their philosophical arguments with–at the very least–real-life scientific examples, they’re justly criticized. But when philosophers of religion steer well clear of offending religious people, by talking about the Absolute or the First Cause instead of Allah or Jesus Christ, they’re let off the hook. After all, who could expect a philosopher to know what he’s talking about? Who could expect a philosopher of science to be familiar with some science and to bring up actual science in his philosophical work? Who could expect a philosopher of religion to know anything about, say, the history of a specific religion and to discuss examples from a specific religious text?

    I find this a telling double standard that supports what I’ve been saying here. One reason philosophy of religion is so practically irrelevant in the US, and perhaps a reason why the US is so religious, is that this philosophy has been hijacked by Christian theology through what are effectively Christian double agents such as Descartes. These double agents use philosophical rather than theological methods to support their theological assumptions.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00203311711885538229 Daniel A. Wang

    "Philosophers of science are expected to know some science; at least, the best philosophers of science, whether it’s of physics, biology, mathematics, or whatever, have some background in science that lets them know what they’re talking about when they talk about science at a more abstract level. Likewise, analytic philosophers of mind today know some cognitive science.

    So I wonder why philosophy of religion is such an exception."

    Religion involves a variety of other fields besides philosophy. The philosopher is concerned with investigating the philosophical aspect (what else?), not historical claims and the like. He may have a thing or two to say about the coherence of theism or the plausbility of miracles and the afterlife, and he could draw upon insights in other fields. But then of course, he must actually be knowledgeable about those fields.

    "But when philosophers of religion steer well clear of offending religious people, by talking about the Absolute or the First Cause instead of Allah or Jesus Christ, they’re let off the hook."

    If they assert that the First Cause does not exist, they are in danger of offending theists, whether they are Christians, Jews or Muslims. And yet at least some philosophers of religion are atheologians (however unpopular). Moreover, statements about the nature of this First Cause could well prove offensive to them, which still doesn't prevent people from doing philosophy of religion (or for that matter theology).

    Philosophy of religion isn't at all a way of distancing oneself from one's actual beliefs. On the contrary, it's a way to confront them head on, without the prior presupposition of theism which is found in theology, and see if they can stand up to scrutiny.

    If the complaint boils down to religious people having an agenda of some sort, well of course. Just about everyone has an agenda, whether religious or not, and certainly philosophers. So what?


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X