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:
I agree most philosophy of religion has been Christian apologetics. But to call an end for it is like calling for an end to science because many Christians use it to propagate their ideas. It does not follow and there are many non-Christian non-religious types of philosophy of religion which are either atheist or more purely descriptive. Moreover, like Hector's living depends on biblical studies so do yours on philosophy of religion. Is not a lot of your own writing concerned with the issues of that discipline in particular? Think of arguments against the existence of God, arguments against revelation and religious experience, the relation between religion and morality and between religion and science, the problem of evil, etc. Without a basic knowledge of these secular students will be much the poorer in terms of an understanding of why Christianity is not true or how to defend themselves against Christian philosophers/apologists. Besides biblical studies philosophy of religion helped me to see what was wrong with Christian apologetics. Moreover, a lot of philosophy of religion is not concerned with the justification of Christian religious truth claims, but instead aimed at a better understanding of religion from a philosophical perspective, e.g. phenomenology of religion, critical theory, etc.
My response:
Hi Jaco, as you know, I value your opinion greatly. Here's my short answer. If a philosophy of religion department is Christian, Muslim or Jewish then the university administrators should just abolish it. The only people who should be teaching this discipline in secular colleges are secular philosophers. And they should do as Hector Avalos has proposed that secular biblical scholars should do.
This answer seemed to satisfy him because he liked my comment.

Keep in mind I'm not calling for the end of the philosophy of religion itself. Everyone who thinks about religion is doing the philosophy of religion in some sense. Consider Dr. Keith Parsons for example. He could not take this discipline seriously so he quit teaching in that field. But he has not stopped writing about it. He wrote an excellent chapter for the book, Debating Christian Theism.Where can students learn about this discipline in order to combat bad philosophy of religion? They can do so by reading many of the excellent secular books out there. They can learn of it wherever there are secular philosophers who teach that discipline correctly, something Peter Boghossian is challenging them to do.

Since I don't see the philosophy of religion departments around the globe packing it in, and since these departments are dominated by parochial religious interests, bad philosophy of religion will continue. So also must good teaching (and writing) in this area, at least for the time being. Eventually what should happen is that when Christian philosophers try to exonerate their God-concept from the massive amount of ubiquitous suffering in the world, all someone would have to do is simply ask for evidence that this God exists. Evidence. This is the debate stopper to the philosophy of religion discipline. Christian philosophers take their parochial God-concept for granted, the one developed especially by Anselm in the western world, and then with nothing more than special pleading and sleight of hand, they try to harmonize this parochial God-concept with the massive amount of ubiquitous suffering in the world. "Wait just a minute," a child will say, reminiscent of the child in Hans Christian Andersen's, The Emperor's New Clothes: "But he isn't wearing anything at all!" There will be no point in discussing the beauty of the Emperor's clothes if he isn't wearing any. Likewise there would be no point in dealing with Christian obfuscations and special pleadings when they have not put up the goods with evidence that such a God exists in the first place. Thus ends the philosophy of religion as a discipline. It has already begun.


After discussing this Jaco Gericke now agrees with me, so I issued a challenge to Dr. Keith Parsons to join him.