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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A friend writes with this stop-the-presses news:

Philosopher Keith Parsons, from the University of Houston, has given up doing philosophy of religion.

According to Julia Galef, writing at Religious Dispatches, Parsons found the case for God to be insupportable.  As Parsons wrote on the website The Secular Outpost:
"I have to confess that I now regard “the case for theism” as a fraud and I can no longer take it seriously enough to present it to a class as a respectable philosophical position—no more than I could present intelligent design as a legitimate biological theory. BTW, in saying that I now consider the case for theism to be a fraud, I do not mean to charge that the people making that case are frauds who aim to fool us with claims they know to be empty. No, theistic philosophers and apologists are almost painfully earnest and honest… I just cannot take their arguments seriously any more, and if you cannot take something seriously, you should not try to devote serious academic attention to it"
If a guy does not know the difference between fraud and self-deception, I am glad he is no longer in the philosophy of anything.

I wonder if he is giving up his salary as ill-gotten gains. Oh well, in such cases one makes no such serious requirement.

Another friend offers this interpretation:
I find the choice of the word "fraud" in respect to an argument most interesting. Notice Parson's doesn't say he considers that the arguments for theism have been soundly refuted. No...rather he just can't take them "seriously" anymore. So, by implication then, Parson's would consider, say, Plantinga's evolutionary argument against naturalism a fraud...even though it has never been refuted, despite many attempts. Parson's just couldn't take that "seriously" any more.

I wonder if what he really means is he's tired of trying to defend atheism against all these arguments and coming up empty, so he's just going to cling to his atheism and leave the game.

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