This will probably be the last book I’ll write on the topic of religion. I think I’ve said all I need to say. I’ve kicked this dead rodent of the Christian faith into a lifeless blob so many times there is nothing left of it. Mine has been a publishing career that stretches back ten years and ends with this, my tenth book.
This final book reflects a huge change in my approach in two ways. First there is a change of tone. If there is any other person beside myself who has read all of my books, beginning with the first edition of Why I Became an Atheist, there is something noticeable in the trajectory in my tone. Over the years I have been jaded by pseudo-theologians and pseudo-philosophers who don’t bat an eye when the light of convincing evidence-based logic has shown their faith is delusional. Like a deer caught in the headlights they are unmoved. They don’t care about objective evidence. They are indoctrinated, deluded, and brainwashed to believe. Nothing can cause them to walk away from their faith. Since they were never reasoned to believe they cannot be reasoned out of what they believe either. They are closed-minded to objective evidence, preferring instead subjective states of the mind that we know are misleading about the nature of nature and its workings. They resemble a person who shuts his eyes, plugs his ears and shouts out loud so as not to hear what is being said. They turn a deaf ear to us by pretending they’re listening, nodding their heads as we speak, but they’re not. They’re really thinking of what to say before we’re even finished. So at this point I’m not all that interested in trying to convince them wrong. Others can do that from now on, or they can read my earlier books that have a more respectful tone to them.
I don’t really care to convince them anymore, since these pseudo-intellectual apologists have a vested interest in defending their faith. I think I have a right to say this after nearly a decade of trying. But then I haven’t cared for some time. I haven’t cared to convince the Christian pseudo-scholars, for the same reason I wouldn’t care to convince Scientologist pseudo-scholars or Mormon pseudo-scholars or Hindu pseudo-scholars or Muslim pseudo-scholars or any other religionist pseudo-scholars—and they’re all pseudo-scholars. Talking to them is like talking to a wall, all of them. Don’t get me wrong. Talking to a wall, or out loud isn’t an entirely a bad thing, since hearing the sound of our own voice helps as a sounding board. I’m not saying we don’t learn from these discussions either. I have. It’s just that nothing seems to change their deluded minds.
Second there is a change in my target audience. In this book it’s largely reflected in a change of subject matter. Up until now I’ve targeted the educated person in the pew and the university student. I’ve done so in hopes what I say might convince those rare intellectually honest believers out there who were merely misinformed and looking for answers about their faith. And I have found success. I did so by critically examining their beliefs in ways that could be understood by them. It was my focus. I’ll still try to communicate to this audience here. But the subject matter is now focused on the non-believing intellectuals and the believing pseudo-intellectuals who teach, or who want to teach philosophy of religion in secular universities. They will be the ones more likely to be interested in what I say, although others will certainly be interested as well.
I'm sure this will be my most controversial book. Who dares to call for the end of the philosophy of religion, anyway? Me. Believing philosophers will rip it to shreds. Deistic and agnostic philosophers will do likewise. Atheist philosophers like Keith Parsons, Graham Oppy, J.L. Schellenberg or Paul Draper may do likewise. Wannabes and students currently in philosophy of religion programs from both sides will join in the slug-fest. In other words, the best and the brightest philosophers, experts, thinkers and teachers will object to what I have to say, especially since for many of them this is about their livelihood. I expect this although I don’t look forward to it. But I do expect it.
Among committed atheists this book shouldn’t really be all that controversial though. It’s saying little that’s different than what Frederick Nietzsche said in the year 1882 before me, when he proclaimed the death of God: “Where is God gone? I mean to tell you! We have killed Him—you and I! God is dead! God remains dead! And we have killed Him! [The Gay Science, 125] He elaborated on this same theme later: “God is dead: but given the way people are, there may still for millennia be caves in which they show his shadow. – And we – we must still defeat his shadow as well! [The Gay Science, Book III Aph. 108 Cambridge, ed Bernard Williams, 2001]. This book is about beating back God’s ever receding shadow over us and escaping from Plato’s cave of superstition into the light of reason and science.
This book is a call on atheistic philosophers of religion to end their own discipline by being brutally honest about it. That about sums it all up in a nutshell. I think all they would have to do is ask themselves how they would treat a deity if he was believed to be Baal, Ishtar, Hathor, Zeus, Odin, or any number of other dead gods and goddesses. How seriously would they consider them? Would they push for a sub-discipline of philosophy classes to discuss their attributes or arguments for their existence? What if the history of the philosophy of religion was little more than a history of discussing the rationality, existence, attributes and actions of fairies? What if it was little more than a history of discussing how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? What if one day you as a philosopher awoke from your own dogmatic slumbers and realized this is what you have been teaching for decades in your classes? Well then, this book is a call for you to wake up. For the truth is that the history of philosophy of religion is little more than a history of discussing the rationality, existence, attributes and actions of fairies. Fairies don’t exist. Neither does Baal, Ishtar, Hathor, Zeus, or Odin. Neither does Yahweh, the supposed Father-god of the Bible.
Just consider what the philosophy of religion would be like if no “revealed” religion ever existed. No written revelation was compiled either. No scriptures were ever written down. There never was a Bible, nor Koran, nor Bhagavad Gita, nor Mormon, Book of. The only god worthy of being discussed in philosophy of religion classes would be a philosopher’s god—one that was uninformed by the content of any ancient pre-scientific “sacred” text. What would there be to discuss? What would a class on the history of philosophy of religion look like if that was the only god to discuss? In our scientific era what could justify having a whole sub-discipline on such a god or goddess when there are other disciplines we could look to for answers? Well then, here too, this book is a call to wake up from your dogmatic slumbers. There really are no sacred scriptures. They do not exist. No deity inspired anything because no deity exists. All so-called “revealed” religions are false.
So upon the reasonable overwhelmingly probable evidence-based atheist supposition that the philosophy of religion has been little more than a history of discussing the rationality, existence, attributes and actions of fairies, and that there never was, is, or will be any sacred scriptures or revealed religions, what should atheist philosophers of religion think about their own discipline? What are they doing in their classes? In a syllabus for any college class the professor must state his or her objectives, or aims. What should be the objectives or aims of a professor teaching classes about the rationality, existence, attributes and actions of fairies? That is the question I am raising. If like me this is your conclusion then I think you should agree with me that the philosophy of religion must end.
Philosophy of religion must end because there is no truth to religion. Religion must end because it stifles curiosity. Religion must end because it isn’t based on evidence. Religion must end because it hinders an honest investigation of the universe and everything in it. Religion must end because it is based on faith. Faith must end because it is the antithesis of an intellectual virtue. Faith has no objective method and solves no problems. Faith-based belief processes are unreliable. They allow people with faith to remain in their own mutually exclusive false certainties. If faith is trust then there is no reason to trust faith.
Applying this line of argument to Judeo-Christianity, the philosophy of religion must end because biblical studies must end. Biblical studies must end because the evidence is decisive the bible god, his wife, sons and daughters, angels, demons, and other superhuman entities, originated in the ancient pre-scientific superstitious past by myth makers who were clueless about reality.
The precise nature of my call is to end the philosophy of religion (PoR) discipline in the secular universities. It basically follows the same strategy Dr. Hector Avalos advocates in his book length treatment, titled The End of Biblical Studies. Avalos argues that religion professors and those teaching in biblical studies departments should tell their students the truth about the Bible even though it’s considered sacred to many of them. Essentially his call is to debunk the Bible for the good of any future society we might have. So in the case of the PoR professors should do likewise with the arguments to the existence of God, essentially trying to put themselves out of a job by arguing against faith, even though the philosophy of religion discipline may not go away anytime soon.
I’m advocating the elimination of the PoR sub-discipline in the secular universities. In its place Philosophy proper can take over the relevant discussions, as can science related fields such as evolution, neurology and cognitive bias studies. Only Religion sub-disciplines that treat all religious faith-based claims equally should continue, such as Comparative Religion, Anthropology of Religion and Psychology of Religion.
If subjects such as biology, chemistry, physics, and geology are taught without relying on faith-based superhuman forces as explanations, then using these faith-based explanations isn’t legitimate in the secular university in any other discipline either. Just as creationism is not a legitimate sub-discipline of biology then neither should the PoR be a legitimate sub-discipline of philosophy. Philosophy of religion is pseudo-philosophy since it isn’t dealing with any objective evidence.
Since God is dead so also the philosophy of religion is dead. She has had an exceedingly long life in the limelight and outlived all reasonable expectations of her life expectancy. Now she’s dead. It’s time for the coroner to sign her death certificate and for the undertaker to bury her deep in the ground. Let’s move on. Good riddance. Sayonara.
She died not contributing anything of real significance to the world, or to our future. We must keep in mind that she cannot exist when there is no religion. They are inextricably entangled. One can have religion without her, but for her to be alive religion must first exist. So the world would be a much better place if she had never been born at all. For little over-all good came from her life when compared to what could have been done without her. Now that the requisite evidence exists it’s time we laid her to rest along with the philosophical refutations. Philosophical refutations are no longer needed when the overwhelming evidence is against religious castles built in the sky. Refuting them is a waste of time, a waste of talent, and a financial drain on resources. She is dead. She is irrelevant to the needs of the world. The amount of time wasted on thinking and writing and debating her down through the millennia, could have been better used to solve poverty, improve the lives of all living things on earth, and bring peace to the people on earth.
Usually when someone dies then a loved one who knows the deceased will offer the eulogy. The word eulogy means “to speak well of” coming from eu “well” + -logia “speaking.” Even though I knew her well, and used to loved her, I cannot speak well of her now. Yet, as one of her closest of kin I should say something now that she’s dead. So I’ll offer a dyslogy instead. By adding the prefix dys or “bad” to -logia “speaking” we get the following definition of dyslogy from the online Urban Dictionary—and I chose this definition on purpose—as “an unfavorable speech wherein one publicly talks shit about another.” ;-)
Unfortunately, there are many people who want to prop her corpse up in a rocking chair like Norman Bates did to his dead mother in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 thriller Psycho. And like Bates they continue talking to her as if she’s alive, asking her questions and believing she’s providing answers too. These people are deluded in a similar way as Bates was. What he needed is an intervention, as do all other deluded people. They need a good strong dosage of smelling salts placed so close to their noses they cannot avoid waking up to reality. Some of them cannot be awakened out of their delusions, especially the most sophisticated pseudo-intellectuals among them, who are so smart they could defend almost anything if they felt the need. So I know my dyslogy will be scoffed at by them. They’ll do this because they still love the illusion of her greatness and their importance.
Regardless, I’ll offer her dyslogy in this book because of all that I know, and I know more than I can tell. I do so in hopes I can help others recognize she’s dead, since there’s no reason to pretend she’s still alive and still talking to people.