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Unapologetic: Why Philosophy of Religion Must End Paperback – November 15, 2016
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“Unapologetic: Why Philosophy of Religion Must End” is yet another excellent book from one of the best atheist authors of our time. In his latest rendition, John Loftus makes the persuasive plea that philosophy of religion must end as a discipline in all secular universities. This convincing 272-page book includes the following nine chapters: 1. My Intellectual Journey, 2. Anselm and Philosophy of Religion, 3. Case Studies in Theistic Philosophy of Religion, 4. Case Studies in Atheistic Philosophy of Religion, 5. Why Philosophy of Religion Must End, 6. How to Effectively Deal with Faith-Based Claims, 7. Answering Objections and Other Practical Concerns, 8. It’s Enough to Be Right!, and 9. On Justifying Ridicule, Mockery, and Satire.
1. Loftus never fails to produce a well-written, well-researched book.
2. Makes the persuasive case that the Philosophy of Religion (PoR) must end because there is no truth to religion.
3. Loftus writes with persuasive lucidity. As is always is the case in all his books, it’s very quotable.
4. As a true philosopher, Loftus asks the right provocative questions. He also takes glee in providing incisive answers.
5. As a bibliophile, I love that influential books are mentioned throughout the narrative.
6. The thinkers that have influenced Loftus. The influence of David Eller, “…all religions are cultural. Our inherited religion is just a different cultural expression of the same kinds of hopes and fears over the problems we face with life and death, morals, and society itself.” The influence of Peter Boghossian, “Faith is an utterly unreliable way to gain objective knowledge about matters of fact, like the nature, workings, and origins of the universe. It should be rejected if we want to gain any objective knowledge at all, including which religion is true, if there is one.”
7. A deep dive into the philosophy of Anselm of Canterbury. “Anselm argued instead that our sins are an insult to God and detract from his honor.” Bonus, “In fact, all theistic philosophy of religion is puzzle-solving based on special pleading.”
8. The five ways faith makes the brain stupid. “Faith is a cognitive bias that causes believers to overestimate any confirming evidence and underestimate any disconfirming evidence.”
9. The five apologetical methods for defending Christianity.
10. Loftus takes pride in going after the most prominent Christian apologists such as Alvin Plantinga and William Lane Craig. “Listen up, God spoke privately to Moses and privately to Paul, and likewise to Joseph Smith, and to Muhammad, and to many Pentecostals, and to David Koresh, and to many of the prophets we read about in the Old Testament. Why does God always speak to people privately?”
11. The roles our brains play in belief. “The believing brain desires to believe so badly it will self-deceive its very own host for the sake of believing.”
12. Provides case studies in atheistic philosophy of religion. “The primary goal of every academic should be to bring students’ beliefs into lawful alignment with reality.” Bonus, “Faith-based reasoning without sufficient evidence is the only indicator we need for rejecting a claim. Without sufficient evidence a high level of sophistication doesn’t change a thing. What it becomes is obfuscationist.”
13. Provides atheist philosophers how to approach religion correctly. “Philosophers of religion are dealing with religion in religious, creedal, and confessional ways, and this must end.” “Faith always stifles inquiry and keeps otherwise intelligent people ignorant of the facts.”
14. Provides ten reasons why the philosophy of religion must end. “1. Because the PoR discipline is being disconfirmed at every juncture by science.”
15. How to effectively deal with faith-based claims. “When teaching critical thinking and epistemology classes, we should place religious beliefs where they rightfully belong, as a subcategory of paranormal beliefs in general.”
16. Did I say this was a quote fest of cogent thinking? “Truth is not up for a vote. The truth must be discovered in the process of studying the issues out. One truth is that faith has no merit.”
17. I always learn something new. Here is some sound advice. “When doing these activities we should focus on faith as an utterly unreliable process, and not on the arguments from faith, nor the dogmatic content of faith.”
18. Offers a sound counterargument to Plantinga’s Reformed epistemology. “…people are within their epistemic rights not to believe in his particular god even without an argument and even without evidence.”
19. An interesting chapter on the justification behind ridicule and mockery. The top 10 satires against religious faith. I enjoyed this chapter and it shows another side of Loftus.
20. Provides useful appendices.
1. The book’s focus is very narrow.
2. It is a bit repetitive.
3. Though he mentions a lot of books throughout the narrative I still prefer a formal bibliography.
4. No visual material to supplement the excellent narrative. Charts, timelines, graphs to complement the written word.
In summary, albeit a narrow focus Loftus makes a convincing argument that philosophy of religion must end in all secular schools. He is one of my favorite authors and is a must read, I recommend it!
Further suggestions: “Why I Became An Atheist”, “How to Defend the Christian Faith” and “The Christian Delusion” by John Loftus, “The End of Biblical Studies” by Hector Avalos, “God: The Failed Hypothesis” by Victor Stenger, “Natural Atheism” and “Atheism Advanced” by David Eller, “Soul Fallacy” by Julien Musolino, “Free Will? By Jonathan M.S. Pearce, “A Manual for Creating Atheists” by Peter Boghosian, “God Is Not Great” by Christopher Hitchens, “The Believing Brain” by Michael Shermer, “Faith vs. Fact” and “Why Evolution Is True” by Jerry A. Coyne, “Nonbeliever Nation” by David Niose, “Trusting Doubt” by Valerie Tarico, “Nailed” by David Fitzgerald, “Think” by Guy P. Harrison, and “The Science of Miracles” by Joe Nickell.
‘Over the years I have been jaded by pseudo-theologians and pseudo-philosophers who don’t bat an eye when the light of convincing evidence-based logic has shown their faith is delusional. Like a deer caught in the headlights they are unmoved. They don’t care about the objective evidence. They are indoctrinated, deluded and brainwashed to believe. Since most were not reasoned into belief, most cannot be reasoned out of belief either.’
In that passage Loftus speaks for all atheists who have tried in vain to reason with believers. The reason for this is explained by Loftus:
‘The reason there is sophisticated theology in the first place is because Christians are responding to their critics by reinventing their faith every decade. We atheists are trying to hit a moving target, and each time we hit it, it morphs into something different’.
There has been a flowering of the subject ‘Philosophy of Religion’ in the past one or two decades. Loftus point is that such a subject makes no sense. Philosophy uses reason and seeks proof in order to find the truth. Religion is the opposite.
He disagrees with some atheists like Keith Parsons who believe that we need sophisticated philosophers to answer sophisticated theologians. Loftus makes a good point asking what should the unsophisticated atheist to do should he meet a sophisticated theologian. Should he ‘wait until a sophisticated atheist philosopher like Parsons himself [turns up]?’ He goes on to say that the ‘sophisticated Christian argumentation exists in the first place is because it takes sophistication to make the Christian faith palatable.’
In this book he deals with issues such as how to deal with faith-based claims in the university, answering objections and other practical concerns, and of course, why philosophy of religion must end. He points out that it is the evangelical Christians who are hijacking the subject to pass off their faith as philosophy in order to create a façade of intellectualism and win converts that way. The survey by David Chalmers of the Australian National University tells the full story. The survey was taken by 3,226 respondents including 1,803 philosophy faculty members and 829 philosophy graduates. 72.8% accept or lean toward atheism. 14.6% accept or lean toward theism. When it comes to the Philosophy of Religion, the statistics are reversed. Among the Philosophy of Religion specialists only 19.1% lean toward atheism and 72.3 accept or lean toward theism.
That is why Loftus believes that we must stop the new-age sophists pretending to be philosophers.