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Keith Parsons (Houston, TX), is professor of philosophy at the University of Houston, Clear Lake; the author of God and the Burden of Proof, among other books; and the editor of The Science Wars: Debating Scientific Knowledge and Technology.
Keith M. Parsons is on the faculty of The University of Houston--Clear Lake, where he is Associate Professor of Philosophy and the recent winner of the President's Distinguished Research Award. His previous publications include the books God and the Burden of Proof (Prometheus Books, 1989), Drawing Out Leviathan (Indiana University Press, 2001), and The Great Dinosaur Controversy (ABC Clio Press, 2003). He holds a doctorate from the Department of History and Philosophy of Science of The University of Pittsburgh and a doctorate in philosophy from Queen's University (Canada). Dr. Parsons was the founding editor of the philosophical journal Philo. He has often served as a lecturer, debater, and workshop leader in a number of venues.
It's not too often that you take a class and the required text is written by the instructor! This book is an interesting read outside of class. Think of it as learning a new way to think and solve a new kind of puzzle.
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Being published by Promethius, readers are immediately placed on alert that this book will likely be from the perspective of a militant atheist who thinks he has the rationality angle fully in his corner and that all lawyers, religious people, and advertisers are mere sophists, lacking any true substantive claim to supporting evidence. A lot of that is true, of course, but in my many years of study I have found there are many philosophers and hecklers full of their own sophistic axes to grind. And Parsons is no exception. He can't seem to help but pontificate from some lofty position of guarded insight about reality that he tries to use as touchpoints to disinterested postmodern students who see little value in studying logic formally. Ok, so I digress into ad hominen accusations, but I just cannot tolerate someone who tries to categorize all preachers or Christians, or even scientists who are highly qualified academically who actively debate against evolution, as being clear and present irrationalists.
Parsons adopts the perspective of W. A. Clifford, in that it is essentially wrong to accept anything as true or valid without rational basis. While logical analysis is the best starting point in evaluating propositions, it is limited to cases were the issues are clear. Most things in life, science, history, and religion are forensic or muddled with uncontainable detail, and thus far too complex to arrive at definitive proof through any formal system of logic. This ignores the fact that most knowledge is arrived at from ways outside of this approach. But then the skeptic, as Parsons obviously is, is left with little to say in such a subjective milleiu of infinite data, and that is where the postmodernist is right to disdain the reductionist, positivistic approach of the likes of Parsons.Read more ›