Sunday, August 20, 2006

Blessed Assurance

Most Christians wrestle with doubt at some point in their lives, but not Joe Carter. Joe struggles, if that's the right word for it, with certainty. Perhaps, after having read his delightful post on the subject, we might say a prayer that God will send a doubt or two his way so that he can be more like the rest of us mortals.

The Twilight of Philosophical Naturalism

If ever you or someone you know is tempted to think that theism is not intellectually respectable you might, on your own or with your friend, reflect on these passages from atheistic philosopher Quentin Smith's Metaphilosophy of Naturalism:

But in philosophy, it became, almost overnight, "academically respectable" to argue for theism, making philosophy a favored field of entry for the most intelligent and talented theists entering academia today. A count would show that in Oxford University Press' 2000-2001 catalogue, there are 96 recently published books on the philosophy of religion (94 advancing theism and 2 presenting "both sides"). By contrast, there are 28 books in this catalogue on the philosophy of language, 23 on epistemology (including religious epistemology, such as Plantinga's Warranted Christian Belief), 14 on metaphysics, 61 books on the philosophy of mind, and 51 books on the philosophy of science.

God is not "dead" in academia; he returned to life in the late 1960s and is now alive and well in his last academic stronghold, philosophy departments.

If each naturalist who does not specialize in the philosophy of religion (i.e., over ninety-nine percent of naturalists) were locked in a room with theists who do specialize in the philosophy of religion, and if the ensuing debates were refereed by a naturalist who had a specialization in the philosophy of religion, the naturalist referee could at most hope the outcome would be that "no definite conclusion can be drawn regarding the rationality of faith," although I expect the most probable outcome is that the naturalist, wanting to be a fair and objective referee, would have to conclude that the theists definitely had the upper hand in every single argument or debate.

...the vast majority of naturalist philosophers have come to hold (since the late 1960s) an unjustified belief in naturalism. Their justifications have been defeated by arguments developed by theistic philosophers, and now naturalist philosophers, for the most part, live in darkness about the justification for naturalism. They may have a true belief in naturalism, but they have no knowledge that naturalism is true since they do not have an undefeated justification for their belief. If naturalism is true, then their belief in naturalism is accidentally true.

Of course Smith, being an atheist, believes that the theists' arguments are ultimately unpersuasive, but the point is that he also is highly impressed with the quality of thinking that theistic philosophers, primarily Christians, are turning out and laments that his fellow naturalists have not met the challenge very convincingly. It may be that the reason they haven't is simply because there really is no convincing response available to them.