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Philosophy of Religion Professor Quits


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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.

 

Taken from here. Thoughts?

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I don't understand why he quits just because he doesn't agree with the philosophy. There are plenty of philosophy classes that professors teach that they don't personally believe in, and there are plenty of atheistic people study religion. I guess I don't see the difference in teaching a philosophy of religion class and not being religious, and teaching a course on post-modernism and not being a post-modernist. It's a field of study, he wasn't a pastor or anything.

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I don't understand why he quits just because he doesn't agree with the philosophy. There are plenty of philosophy classes that professors teach that they don't personally believe in, and there are plenty of atheistic people study religion. I guess I don't see the difference in teaching a philosophy of religion class and not being religious, and teaching a course on post-modernism and not being a post-modernist. It's a field of study, he wasn't a pastor or anything.

I suppose it's like a professor teaching Hannah Montana studies going "I can't take it any more! This is pointless!" and quitting. It's not that he disagrees with some of the teaching -- it's that he can't take it seriously.

 

Not to say that philosophy of religion is like studying Hannah Montana. I've taken an introductory course in it myself. Just making an illustrative analogy...

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I suppose it's like a professor teaching Hannah Montana studies going "I can't take it any more! This is pointless!" and quitting. It's not that he disagrees with some of the teaching -- it's that he can't take it seriously.

 

Not to say that philosophy of religion is like studying Hannah Montana. I've taken an introductory course in it myself. Just making an illustrative analogy...

 

I suppose that could be the case, but in my theology course it was not about whether it was true or not; it was about the meaning and implications that religion has upon society. This doesn't seem to me like it is not to be taken seriously. Why would you not take seriously the study of a philosophical stand just because you don't believe it.

 

As an example, I'm sure most everyone has had to take an ethics course. Some of the things studied in my ethics courses I thought was ridiculous that people believed it, such as absolute relativism. Although I'm sure there were things that most students, as well as the professor, thought were not to be taken seriously they were still important to be taught if only for their implications. Or think of Freud; he was a quack, but he had a large impact on how we think of the subconscious. Although his teaching shouldn't be taught as factual information, it is interesting to look at it in a historical light and how it changed how we thought about the mind.

 

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I suppose it's like a professor teaching Hannah Montana studies going "I can't take it any more! This is pointless!" and quitting. It's not that he disagrees with some of the teaching -- it's that he can't take it seriously.

 

Not to say that philosophy of religion is like studying Hannah Montana. I've taken an introductory course in it myself. Just making an illustrative analogy...

 

What did you learn on your introductory course to Hannah Montana?

 

Sorry...

 

Prof Parson's initial note last year is quite touching and Capn/Ydoaps are right that he can no longer take it seriously enough even to teach its rebuttal:

"I found the arguments so execrably awful and pointless that they bored and disgusted me"
. You can read his retirement post here at the Secular Outpost - its right at the bottom of the page.

 

He concludes (in more ways than one)

As for the rest of you who are fighting the good fight against supernaturalism, please do carry on. Somebody needs to oppose this stuff. It just isn't going to be me.
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Academics usually distinguish between faculties of divinity, which present religious doctrine as a form of adequacy under the presumption that it is true and thus seek to educate people for a religious career, and faculties of theology, which critically consider religion in terms of its philosophical foundation, its influence on society, its response to various forces in intellectual history, etc. If teaching divinity, it would be hard to continue if you were an atheist; though it would seem a less drastic step just to switch to teaching theology.

 

Faculties of theology usually have a reputation of being filled with atheists who are just interested in studying how an intellectually deceased system thrashes around in its death agonies in modern culture. They are interested in religion much as modern philosophers of law are interested in Nazism as an example of their discipline having gone off the rails.

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