Dr. Keith Parsons Calls It Quits Regarding the Philosophy of Religion

He wrote:
Over the past ten years I have published, in one venue or another, about twenty things on the philosophy of religion. I have a book on the subject, God and Burden of Proof, and another criticizing Christian apologetics, Why I am not a Christian. During my academic career I have debated William Lane Craig twice and creationists twice. I have written one master’s thesis and one doctoral dissertation in the philosophy of religion, and I have taught courses on the subject numerous times. But no more. I’ve had it.

I now regard “the case for theism” as a fraud and I can no longer take it seriously enough to present it to a class as a respectable philosophical position—no more than I could present intelligent design as a legitimate biological theory. BTW, in saying that I now consider the case for theism to be a fraud, I do not mean to charge that the people making that case are frauds who aim to fool us with claims they know to be empty. No, theistic philosophers and apologists are almost painfully earnest and honest; I don’t think there is a Bernie Madoff in the bunch. I just cannot take their arguments seriously any more, and if you cannot take something seriously, you should not try to devote serious academic attention to it. I’ve turned the philosophy of religion courses over to a colleague. Link

13 comments:

shane said...

Understandable decision. I think anyone who has devoted alot of time and energy into debating, arguing, trying to offer logical reasonable sentiments to religious believers, will eventually get to the point of giving up!

People are going to believe what they want to believe despite the evidence to the contrary.
For some people like most of us, these arguments and evidences have struck a rational and intellectual nerve in us which caused our deconversion.
But some people are not willing to let go of their cherished hopes (or to afraid to let go), and so they either ignore the rationale of it all or they engage in illogical and contradictory apologetics!

It is my sincere belief that there is nothing...absolutely nothing involved in religion that has any foundation in true understanding and study of the natural universe.
All religion is based on the
superstitious assumptions of ancient people.

Sure God may be an adequate explaination to unanswered questions, but an adequate answer does not mean its the right answer, especially an adequate answer that has failed time and again in the past!

Harry H. McCall, CET said...

A good metaphor for the proof of theism would be to claim:

I have one-billion dollars in a bank and then point to my new suit and shoes as proof that the funds do indeed exist.

Next, I put the burden of proof on any non-believer in my billion dollars to logically prove I don’t have it. They must do this without any further evidence, nor without even knowing which bank I use!

Finally, I claim all non-believers in my billion dollars have proven NOTHING as I again point to my new suit and shoes and I walk away.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Took him long enough. What a waste of great talent so many people devoting all this energy to such silliness. I'm so grateful to be a scientist when I read such things.

word verification: existo!

kiwi said...

You only need to read this quote from one of the alleged top "philosopher" of religion, Richard Swinburne, to run away as far as possible from 'philosophy of religion':

"Suppose that one less person had been burnt by the Hiroshima atomic bomb. Then there would have been less opportunity for courage and sympathy; one less piece of information about the effects of atomic radiation, less people (relatives of the person burnt) who would have had a strong desire to campaign for nuclear disarmament and against imperialist expansion. Ando so on. Of course, removal of one bad state or the possibility of one bad state will not remove much good, any more than the removal of one grain of sand will make much difference to the fact that you still have a heap of sand. But the removal of one grain of sand will make a bit of a difference, and so will the removal of one bad state."

Or Craig's famous defense of God ordering genocide.

Or ...

O'Brien said...

Don't let the doorknob hit you on the way out Professor Parsons.

O'Brien said...

"Took him long enough. What a waste of great talent so many people devoting all this energy to such silliness. I'm so grateful to be a scientist when I read such things."

I'm in science as well but I find philosophy of religion fascinating.

pink_monkey said...

i'm pleased to say that i agree w/ BDK 100%.

cheers

Papalinton said...

O'Brien says, ..."I'm in science as well but I find philosophy of religion fascinating."

Papalinton
Fascinating yes but of no substantive contributive value at all to society apart from the personal interest/hobby perspective. Philosophy of religion is indistinguishable from theology, in my view, each attempting to put a spin on the conflated significance of its relevance in a modern society.

I'm sorry for Dr Parsons to have taken so long to realize the truth of his decision.

Cheers

Eric said...

"I now regard “the case for theism” as a fraud and I can no longer take it seriously enough to present it to a class as a respectable philosophical position"

Hmm, my first thought on reading this is, will he also refuse to teach Plato, Berkeley, Descartes, Kant, Ayer, Leibniz, Mill etc., since doing so would undoubtedly require him to attempt to "take seriously" philosophical positions he almost certainly judges to be as obviously false as theism is? I mean, I respect his decision vis-a-vis philosophy of religion, but I sincerely doubt he'll be consistent about his reasons for "calling it quits."

GearHedEd said...

Eric,

I would agree IF philosophy in general were exclusively a religious pursuit.

But it is more than that, as you're well aware.

Eric said...

Ed, that's not at all relevant. If your primary reason for refusing to teach something is that you judge the case supporting it to be so bad you can't take it seriously, then you should apply that standard consistently. A bad case is a bad case, whatever the conclusion it's used to support.

GearHedEd said...

You know, we all pick and choose which arguments we adhere to, and sometimes our reasons aren't as well-supported as others would seem to demand. In the end, I have to live with myself, Dr. Parsons has to live with himself, and you have to live with yourself, too, Eric.

I doubt Dr. Parsons gives half a crap whether you think his reasons are "consistent".

Blue Devil Knight said...

Minor in philosophy if you must. Major in a real discipline.