Skip to main content

Keith Parsons No Longer Doing Philosophy of Religion

... on the grounds that he no longer finds theism sufficiently credible to warrant devoting further time to research in that field. You all knew that (if not, go here and here), but now Brian Leiter has started a discussion on the topic at his blog. Here is the link.

For the record, my own sentiments about the value of philosophy of religion, and the current state of the field, are captured perfectly by J.L. Schellenberg's comment in the thread at Prosblogion.

UPDATE: Parsons has since left the following comment in the thread of his original announcement at The Secular Outpost:

Thanks again for the many kind and generous comments. I do certainly agree that those who have the stomach for it should continue to subject theistic apologetics to stringent critique. I would especially like for somebody to debunk stuff like that by Robin Collins and John Leslie in the last issue of Philo.

When I helped found Philo, I expressed my chagrin that there were so very few replies to the theistic philosophy that had proliferated. Since that time the publication of books like Graham Oppy's Arguing About Gods, Jordan Howard Sobel's Logic and Theism and Nicholas Everitt's The Non-Existence of God have supplied the logically rigorous and sophisticated critiques that were sorely needed. To really effectively critique the theistic arguments, you need to know as much modal logic as Plantinga, as much Bayesian confirmation theory as Swinburne, and as much physical cosmology as Craig. I am glad to see that critics who have those qualifications are having their say.

Again, I admire and encourage those who continue the battle against theistic obscurantism, but I have such a sense of ennui and disgust that I am going to be hors de combat. I saw a quote attributed to Nietzsche one time that said "I cannot spend my time swatting flies." Swatting flies is what it feels like I've been doing for some time.


Popular posts from this blog

Epicurean Cosmological Arguments for Matter's Necessity

One can find, through the writings of Lucretius, a powerful yet simple Epicurean argument for matter's (factual or metaphysical) necessity. In simplest terms, the argument is that since matter exists, and since nothing can come from nothing, matter is eternal and uncreated, and is therefore at least a factually necessary being. 
A stronger version of Epicurus' core argument can be developed by adding an appeal to something in the neighborhood of origin essentialism. The basic line of reasoning here is that being uncreated is an essential property of matter, and thus that the matter at the actual world is essentially uncreated.
Yet stronger versions of the argument could go on from there by appealing to the principle of sufficient reason to argue that whatever plays the role of being eternal and essentially uncreated does not vary from world to world, and thus that matter is a metaphysically necessary being.
It seems to me that this broadly Epicurean line of reasoning is a co…

Notes on Mackie's "Evil and Omnipotence"

0. Introduction
0.1 Mackie argues that the problem of evil proves that either no god exists, or at least that the god of Orthodox Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, does not exist. His argument is roughly the same version of the problem of evil that we’ve been considering.
0.2 Mackie thinks that one can avoid the conclusion that God does not exist only if one admits that either God is not omnipotent (i.e., not all-powerful), or that God is not perfectly good. 0.3 However, he thinks that hardly anyone will be willing to take this route. For doing so leaves one with a conception of a god that isn’t worthy of worship, and therefore not religiously significant.
0.4 After his brief discussion of his version of the problem of evil, he considers most of the main responses to the problem of evil, and concludes that none of them work.

1. First Response and Mackie's Reply
1.1 Response: Good can’t exist without evil; evil is a necessary counterpart to good.
1.2 Mackie’s reply:
1.2.1 this see…

Notes on Swinburne, "On Why God Allows Evil"

Notes on Swinburne’s “Why God Allows Evil”

1. The kinds of goods a theistic god would provide: deeper goods than just “thrills of pleasure and times of contentment” (p. 90). For example:
1.1 Significant freedom and responsibility
1.1.1 for ourselves
1.1.2 for others
1.1.3 for the world in which they live
1.2 Valuable lives
1.2.1 being of significant use to ourselves
1.2.2 being of significant use to each other

2. Kinds of evil
2.1 Moral evil: all the evil caused or permitted by human beings, whether intentionally or through negligence (e.g., murder, theft, etc.)
2.2 Natural evil: all the rest: evil not caused or permitted by human beings (e.g., suffering caused by hurricanes, forest fires, diseases, animal suffering, etc.)

3. The gist of Swinburne’s answer to the problem of evil: God cannot – logically cannot -- give us the goods of significant freedom, responsibility and usefulness without thereby allowing for the possibility of lots of moral and natural evil. This is why he has al…