Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Will Matt be Mad?

Philosophy of Religion? What's that?

Whatever it is, it's associated with Alvin Plantinga and William Lane Craig. It's also a hobby horse much ridden, whip flailing, on the MandM blog, New Zealand's most widely read biblioblog - number 6 on the latest Top 50 ranking - co-authored by Matthew and Madeleine Flannagan.

With names like Plantinga (see my earlier rant) and Craig associated with the discipline you'd have to be a tad leery of what the field was offering anyway. No surprise then that there are those who note "a general tension over the legitimacy of philosophy of religion in philosophy as a whole." The line that divides it from apologetics, for example, seem to range from hazy to non-existent. Now a challenge arises from within the bosom of the beast, so to speak. Keith Parsons has blown the whistle.

Keeping an eye on the truth was also a matter of practical importance for Parsons, who was alarmed by the support for Intelligent Design creationism among philosophy of religion’s most influential names. These include Alvin Plantinga and Peter van Inwagen, who led the subfield’s resurgence in the 1970s and ’80s, and William Lane Craig, an Evangelical who popularizes the subfield’s arguments for God in widely-attended public debates. “One of the things the really active conservative Christians covet enormously, more than anything else, is intellectual respectability. And they think they have found it in some of the arguments from these philosophers of religion,” Parsons said.

Whether or not you agree with Parsons' rejection of theism, he makes a good deal of sense on specific issues. If we're going to talk meaningfully about Christianity, it can't help to have a non-discipline loudly interjecting implausible pretensions into the discourse.

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