Dr. Hector Avalos Calls For Ending Religionist Philosophy of Religion

I've been wondering what Hector thinks of my call for ending the Philosophy of Religion, since I'm basing it on his call to end biblical studies. So I asked him. He has not followed the discussion that much but enough to say this (per email):
My proposal is "to end biblical studies as we know it" (The End of Biblical Studies, p. 15),which means in its current religionist and apologetic orientation. So I am for ending the philosophy of religion if its only mission is to defend religion and theism. So, akin to my vision of the end of biblical studies, I would say that the only mission of the philosophy of religion is to end the philosophy of religion as we know it.
He also provided a progress report so far on his call to end biblical studies:
A. Five Inquisitive Minds podcasts, which are sympathetic to secularism, were devoted to The End of Biblical Studies by André Gagné, a biblical scholar at the secular Concordia University in Canada.

B. The Society of Biblical Literature approved the Metacriticism of Biblical Scholarship unit, which I helped to found based on ideas enunciated in The End of Biblical Studies. The SBL, the largest professional association of biblical scholars, has become more open to secular viewpoints.

C. I've been asked to be a speaker in a highlight panel on borders and immigration at the Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting in San Diego in November. This invitation came despite the fact that I had criticized the SBL heavily for its religionism.

D. Sheffield Phoenix Press, one of he most respected presses in biblical studies and one managed by some scholars sympathetic to secularism, published my last book, Slavery, Abolitionism, and the Ethics of Biblical Scholarship(2011) and plans to publish my next book, The Bad Jesus. Sheffield Phoenix also published Richard Carrier's On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt(2014).
This is all good news! It's an uphill battle, I know.

There is No Better Method Than Science


Philosophers Are Taking Seriously My Call to End the Philosophy of Religion

Link. On this site Michael Rea, J.L. Schellenberg and Paul Draper respond. This is very gratifying to me. Sometimes the best a person can hope for is to raise an important issue that scholars think is worth talking about, even if they disagree. A few of them even seem to be defending it!

On Ending the Philosophy of Religion Discipline

I intend to do a five part series of posts on my call to end the philosophy of religion (PoR) discipline in secular universities, by answering the following questions: 1) Why do I propose ending PoR as a subdiscipline of Philosophy proper in the secular universities? 2) What exactly is my proposal? 3) What is the best way to examine the claims of religion? 4) Why do secular philosophers of religion object to this proposal? 5) What are some practical steps to help facilitate this proposal? In this installment I intend to answer question #1.

I Recommend Dr. James Lindsay's Blog "God Doesn't; We Do"

Look on his front page right here, especially the post titled "William Lane Craig talking bizarro."

Can religion be destroyed?

This is something I have posted in one form or another before, but I thought it would be interesting to see what you think about it here at DC. Before I set out, this is not a post to be confused with "should religion be destroyed" as that is an entirely different question.

Dr. Paul Draper on "What is Philosophy of Religion?"

Earlier I linked to what philosophers of religion think of Philosophy of Religion (PoR). The essay Jeff Lowder has linked to is by Paul Draper, who offers four suggestions on how to best approach the discipline in hopes of reforming it. I want to examine these suggestions in a little detail here.

How A Doctorate in Bible or Christianity Can Stop Scholastic Objectivity

So you decided to go for the big one  . . . that earned doctorate in Christian studies; you know the one that is suppose to prove to the world you really know the real objective truth behind the Christian tradition.  You strongly believe that that a doctorate demands respect in the religion field, especially in Christianity.  Though you know that many churches have signs stating that the minister is Rev. Dr. Egghead, but your earned PhD will vindicate you as a master of objective truth. 

Philosophers of Religion On "What is Philosophy of Religion?"


My Thought on the Blood Atonement of Jesus

If Jesus had been slain (shed his blood) by King Herod as an infant, there would have been totally no need for the New Testament with all its theological Bull Shit; the Hebrew God’s need of blood sacrifice would have been eternally but quietly satisfied and all humanity could have forgotten this finished Judeo-Christian religion forever! The fact the crucifixion must be continually re-enacted and preached on really proves this whole theological story never happened and is condemned by its own core theology as a hypocritical lie.
When considering the continuing value of the Bible, it is best summed up a by Jesus himself: “It is finished!” 

Jerry Coyne: Let’s stop teaching philosophy of religion in secular colleges

I'm pleased he links to me. He's now expanded the debate by going after Divinity Schools in secular universities, which I also applaud. Let's have done with them too.
What we don’t need are entire Divinity Schools or Schools of Theology in secular universities. This privileges an entire discipline based on a human endeavor that itself rests on dubious and unsubstantiated claims. Further, they concentrate largely (but not exclusively) on active Abrahamic religions. There are few, if any, courses on atheism in divinity schools, but they should be at least as prominent as courses in religious apologetics. That is distasteful in a country that officially favors no religion in particular. If we are to have such schools, let us then have Ethical Schools, or Schools of Moral Thinking, or The School of Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy. But all of these can simply be subsumed in departments of philosophy or history. LINK.

Christopher Hitchens - Christianity is Immoral


I'm Very Pleased My Call To End the Philosophy of Religion Made The Richard Dawkins Foundation Site

LINK. In a similar vein Matt DeStefano, a Ph.D. student, weighs in on this issue over at the "Secular Outpost" with a fair and balanced review, which I responded to. And Keith Parsons offered a major statement in agreement with me, saying "If proclaiming the 'death of PoR' only means the death of a certain way of doing it, then I would certainly applaud this...I think that we have had enough of theistic apologetics. It's over." But then he advocates "a post-Christian POR." LINK. However, the death of Christian apologetics posing as the POR means the death of the POR itself as a discipline. For when faith and apologetics are removed from the secular universities the secular professors would be undermining the discipline by arguing against faith and apologetics, at least if Peter Boghossian and Hector Avalos's proposals are accepted, and I think they should be. There would eventually be no arguments to take seriously enough to have classes on them. Answer me this Keith, which Christian theistic arguments merit discussing in a secular university? That would be the question and secular professors would have to decide, but in deciding they would be saying these arguments are worth discussing, which legitimizes them somewhat, I think. You could no longer teach this discipline because you just couldn't stomach it. Which secular POR professors would continue to bother at that point is the question. Other classes in the university should take over at that point, or soon afterward.

In the end, with secular professors alone arguing against religionist POR they would undermine the discipline by arguing against it and convincing students of this. So eventually students wouldn't bother nor would secular professors. This program, if kept up long enough, would render the POR useless and irrelevant to people who are atheists living in an atheist society. The discipline would eventually run out of material and die. At least we're getting somewhere. Progress is still progress.

More On Ending the Philosophy of Religion Discipline in Secular Universities

Not all secular philosophers try to disabuse their students of faith. So if I can get more of them to do more of that, without losing their jobs in the process, they would do their students a service and be more in line with the rest of the disciplines in a secular university, where God explanations are not allowed to solve problems.

I agree we should try to understand religion, most emphatically. This isn't an either/or proposal. The questions up for debate are whether religion should be approached philosophically and whether or not other disciplines in the university would be better suited for studying religion. I think there are other disciplines, like comparative religion studies and biblical studies done the way Hector Avalos has proposed. If you want people to see that religious faith has no merit those disciplines are the best ones for this. Anthropology does this as well. Science destroys religion, especially evolutionary science. At that point there would be no need to philosophically examine the arguments for God or gods or religions, since they are seen for what they are, based on faith. In epistemology classes alone, secular philosophers worthy of their position should focus on disabusing students of faith as a virtue. Once that's done properly there's no need to examine the philosophical arguments of faith. When was the last time anyone examined the philosophical arguments for the Canaanite religion and child sacrifice in any class? That's the point. There would be no reason to do so. When secular philosophers of religion merely seek to help students understand the philosophical arguments, rather than critique them by arguing against faith, they are doing their students a disservice. They have to first choose which God or gods to do this for. And how do they choose? What's the criteria? Well, so far as I can tell these secular philosophers choose whatever God or gods are currently believed in their parochial districts. That privileges those particular gods just by taking them seriously.

Dr. Jaco Gericke Now Agrees With Me. Who's Next? Dr. Keith Parsons?

Previously I challenged Jaco Gericke to reconsider my call to end the Philosophy of Religion [POR] discipline in secular universities, based on Dr. Peter Boghossian's call to revolutionize our academic institutions and by using the same method Dr. Hector Avalos pioneered with regard to ending biblical studies, seen in his excellent book, The End of Biblical Studies.Well, I am happy to report that Gericke now agrees with me.

Sam Harris on "Why Don't I Criticize Israel?"

LINK. I wonder how many Christians will agree with what he says?

Edward Babinski On the Conversions of C.S. Lewis, Josh McDowell and Lee Strobel

I'm still getting email notifications of part 3 of Randal Rauser's nitpicky whining misguided and false review of my book Why I Became an Atheist, which I have not bothered with since about that time. So far Rauser doesn't show a High Schooler awareness of how to properly review a book, which as far as I'm concerned will destroy his own credibility. In any case, with that aside, I received a notification that Ed Babinski defended one of my claims, that very few Christians, if any, have converted after being intellectually committed atheists who fully accepted evolution and its implications, and none as far as I can tell, have converted to being card-carrying inerrantist evangelicals. I consider Ed to be the expert in conversion/deconversion testimonies, having written the final chapter in the online book edited by Jeff Lowder, The Jury Is In: The Ruling on McDowell's "Evidence", and having edited a book of deconversion stories titled, Leaving the Fold: Testimonies of Former Fundamentalists,which incidentally, includes a chapter written by DC's own Harry McCall. Anyway, here's what Ed wrote:

Responding to Dr. Jaco Gericke's Objections to Ending the Philosophy of Religion Discipline in Secular Universities

Yesterday I called for ending the Philosophy of Religion discipline in secular universities. On my Facebook page Dr. Gericke presented some objections to this. I'm glad he did for it gives me a chance to respond.

Gericke has the unique credentials of being both an Old Testament biblical scholar and a philosopher of religion. He has granted me permission to publish some of his excellent writings here at DC. He also wrote an excellent chapter for my anthology The End of Christianity titled, "Can God Exist if Yahweh Doesn't?" and the excellent book The Hebrew Bible and Philosophy of Religion.So I take his objections seriously because I greatly value what he has to say. He wrote:

Is This Christianity? A Bizarre Experience I Had Yesterday

Yesterday I was sitting on my gay friend's porch, drinking talking and laughing. Along comes a guy who asked if he could join us. We said okay and invited him to have a beer. He said he didn't drink. His shirt was a billboard for Christianity, you know the kind. So I asked him if he didn't drink because it was against his church teachings and he said yes. Okay, I said. When it got around to why he wanted to join us, he said he'd like to suck, er, have oral sex. When asked which one of us he would prefer he pointed to me. My friend was offended but laughed because he was off the hook. I merely told the guy I was not interested. Then I asked him if homosexuality was condemned by his church teachings and he said it was, but that he disagreed with them. Well, he left and we laughed. Nonetheless, is this Christianity? He agrees with his church when it comes to drinking but disagrees with it about homosexuality. And I'm equally sure his church would not approve of his wanton promiscuity. These are a few of the people who answer they believe in God and are Christians in those polls we've seen. This once again illustrates that Christianity is a pick and choose religion with a wide diversity among its adherents. Funny. We're still laughing.

I'm Calling For An End to the Philosophy of Religion As A Discipline In Secular Universities

Dr. Graham Oppy just published a book titled, Reinventing Philosophy of Religion. Below is an interview he did about it, where he both defended the philosophy of religion as a discipline and expressed a way to reinvent it.

Oppy rightly mentions that philosophy gave birth to the sciences. Philosophers discussed issues before there was any evidence for them, but once evidence was found then a new discipline was born. After all, the sciences we call physics, cosmology, and psychology were at one time considered the domain of philosophy. What Oppy doesn't talk about is whether this process can be reversed. What if philosophy spawned a discipline that, after a few centuries or decades, science has shown us it doesn't deserve to be a separate discipline? That's the argument of Richard Dawkins, Peter Boghossian, Jerry Coyne and myself. The discipline is so bad that Dr. Keith Parsons decided to quit teaching it because he could not take it seriously any longer. If he decided to quit teaching it then he agrees it should end as a discipline of learning (I look forward to him weighing in on this dispute).

Oppy tells us: "Philosophy of religion as a discipline, I would think, probably doesn't date much earlier than the second World War." This historical lesson is significant, I think, for we did without it for centuries and we can do without it again. Later Oppy offers his criticism, saying, "Most of the people who have done philosophy of religion have been theists." So it stands to reason "it has had an extremely narrow focus...It hasn't really been the philosophy of religion but rather Christianity with a very great emphasis on theism," and even apologetics/Christian theology. Okay then, as it stands today the philosophy of religion is dominated by Christian theists who discuss concepts and arguments germane to Christianity, and even defending it. Given what he said, the philosophy of religion needs reinvented if it is to survive. The unaddressed question is why we should have a discipline in any secular university where theism, or Christian theism, Christian theology or Christian apologetics is privileged and considered to the exclusion of all other religions or apologetics? It shouldn't. If this is the state of affairs then the only reasonable response is to call for the end of that discipline. NOW!

Oppy offers a solution to this malaise. He argues the discipline must be reinvented. I have a different solution based on the arguments of Dr. Hector Avalos, who has called for the end of biblical studies (see below). My position is that the philosophy of religion (and to be sure I have three master's degrees in that discipline) should end as a discipline in secular universities. This is not exactly a change from what I've stated before. This is based on further thought and reflection, for almost everyone does the philosophy of religion whenever we think about religion. Although, I find his criticism of Boghossian to be misguided, for Oppy says his rejection of the philosophy of religion "seems to be expressing views in the philosophy of religion." Boghossian's views are "just a position in the philosophy of religion," he said. The reason this criticism of Oppy's is misguided is because by the same token someone who rejects legitimate science by doing pseudoscience is doing science, or someone who does science badly is doing science, and so forth. It reminds me of the criticism thrown at atheists that we believe even though we don't, or that we're religious because we take a position on religion. Not!

Children Exposed to Religion Have Difficulty Distinguishing Fact From Fiction

Researchers took 66 children between the ages of five and six and asked them questions about stories — some of which were drawn from fairy tales, others from the Old Testament — in order to determine whether the children believed the characters in them were real or fictional.

“Children with exposure to religion — via church attendance, parochial schooling, or both — judged [characters in religious stories] to be real,” the authors wrote. “By contrast, children with no such exposure judged them to be pretend,” just as they had the characters in fairy tales. But children with exposure to religion judged many characters in fantastical, but not explicitly religious stories, to also be real — the equivalent of being incapable of differentiating between Mark Twain’s character Tom Sawyer and an account of George Washington’s life. LINK.

Quote of the Day, By ORAXX

"A god that needs to be worshiped isn't much of a god."

More Liars for Jesus, This Time About Church Attendance

Two in five Americans say they regularly attend religious services. Upward of 90 percent of all Americans believe in God, pollsters report, and more than 70 percent have absolutely no doubt that God exists. There is only one conclusion to draw from these numbers: Americans are significantly more religious than the citizens of other industrialized nations.

Except they are not.

Beyond the polls, social scientists have conducted more rigorous analyses of religious behavior. Rather than ask people how often they attend church, the better studies measure what people actually do. The results are surprising. Americans are hardly more religious than people living in other industrialized countries. Yet they consistently—and more or less uniquely—want others to believe they are more religious than they really are.

Even as pundits theorized about why Americans were so much more religious than Europeans, quiet voices on the ground asked how, if so many Americans were attending services, the pews of so many churches could be deserted. LINK.
The fact is that Americans are leaving religion behind.

An Ad For My Book in the Free Inquiry Magazine

I was told that a full page advertisement for my book Why I Became an Atheist appeared in the current issue of the Free Inquiry magazine. It's pretty cool, see what you think:

Steven Pinker - The Better Angels of Our Nature: A History of Violence and Humanity


The History of Satan the Devil


So As An Atheist I'm Not Crazy After All? Cool! My 5 Star Review of Randal Rauser's Book, "You're Not As Crazy As I Think: Dialogue in a World of Loud Voices and Hardened Opinions"

Since Randal Rauser is reviewing my book, Why I Became an Atheist,I thought readers should see how I reviewed one of his books on Amazon three and a half years ago. It's a fair, generous review, don't you think? This is the case even though I stand in opposition to his faith and even though it's very brief. So once again, as a reminder to him and anyone else who wants a place at the adult table, if you want to properly review an argumentative book, this is how to do it. Cheers.

"9 Sinister Things the Christian Right Does in the Name of God," by Valerie Tarico

Here's the money quote for my readers:
I realize that many Christians are not Bible believers, but rather people who glean through the Christian tradition to claim what seems timeless and wise. I also realize that most Bible believers aren’t trying to do harm—in fact the opposite. I know because I’ve been there. But, when you treat the words of our Iron Age ancestors as if they flowed straight from the mouth of God, you end up putting your life energy, whether you see it that way or not, into bringing back the Iron Age.

The Iron Age was a time of incredible brutality—tribalism, warfare, destitution, disease, murder, misogyny, sexual slavery and superstition of biblical proportions. Most of us would rather not go back, thank you very much. Christians who want a better future are welcome to join in the inquiry and teamwork it will take to get there, and many do. For the rest of you: please forgive the fact that your Iron Age fantasies trigger some of us to experience wry Iron Age fantasies of our own. LINK.

How To Properly Review a Book: A Guide for Bloggers

[First published on 4/27/2010] Let me offer some advice on how to properly review an argumentative type book on your blogs and/or on Amazon. It's annoying that so many people don't know how to do it right.

I have read several reviews of my book now. Most all of them aren't written very well at all. Two of them proceeded to argue with it chapter by chapter. A couple others went hodgepodge through it, pointing out things they liked and didn't like. Several others nitpick at it without dealing with the over-all thrust of the cumulative case I present in it. But good reviews will first summarize the book, tell what the author is attempting to do, tell who would benefit the most from reading the book, compare it with other books on the same topic, and offer a generalized statement about how effective the book is in attaining those stated goals. Are there any comparable books? If so, was this one better or worse than the others? As a reviewer you might even want to mention why you read the book in the first place. Then at that point you can write about some specifics in the book as examples that support your generalized statement. This is High School stuff here.

Who Are Atheist Fundamentalists?

If I am an atheist fundamentalist because I criticize Christian fundamentalists, then are liberal Christians fundamentalists when they do the same thing?

Instantly Turn Any Object into God with a Simple Formula

Now you can choose your own God.  Simply pick any ancient object; then substitute this object everywhere in the Bible you find either the words Lord or God.  Next, support your substitution apologetically and, voila!   You’ll have a deified God Object no atheist can debunk.  Try it . . . it works!  Here’s the formula  you’ll need to create your own personal God Object:

The Impossible Voyage of Noah's Ark


Skeptic Ink Network's New Book, "13 Reasons to Doubt"

This is a very good book, edited by Edward Clint, Jonathan Pearce and Beth Ann Erickson, 13 Reasons To Doubt: Essays from the Writers of Skeptic Ink.My chapter is called "Science is Predicated on the Non-Magical Natural World Order."