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Monday, 13 July 2009

Living Philosophers of Religion

Over at Common Sense Atheism, Lukeprog has compiled an impressively comprehensive list of 100+ Living Philosophers of Religion and Their Best Work. Lukeprog identifies his list of philosophers of religion as those who have "published at least one influential work in the field" offering "analytic arguments over the truth of theism vs. atheism."

What I find interesting about this list are the following features.

The ratio of theists to atheists is significantly stacked in favour of theism. Now the numbers of people who believe something do not determine the truth or falsity of the thing but what it suggests is that those who specialise in the actual subject that studies whether or not belief in God is rational, defensible, etc. the majority believe that it is. This of course is extremely hard to reconcile with the common popular level atheist claims that the case for theism is so obviously ridiculous that no sane, thinking person would believe in it. It also tends to call into question the claim that there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever of any merit at all for the existence of God.

Equally interesting is who did not make the list. Noticeably absent are the popularly cited "authorities in the field," Sam Harris, John Loftus, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens. Also absent is Daniel Dennett who, despite being a very good philosopher of mind, is not a philosopher of religion.


  1. If intellectual atheism was represented by Harris, Dawkins, and Hitchens, we atheists would indeed be in a bad place!

  2. Very true! Now if someone would just go and tell all the New Zealand atheists who keep trotting them out as scholars in the field...

    I raised this on Open Parachute, a New Zealand atheist blog run by a scientist who frequently forays into philosophy of religion in his posts, and suggested some of the atheists on your list would be better candidates to hold up and most of his commenters, all atheists, had not heard of the authors much less read them - even the site owner confessed to not being very familiar with their work and defended his use of Dawkins, Hitchens, et al.

    Recent blog post: Published: Boonin's Defense of the Sentience Criteria - A Critique

  3. VERY interesting list (and site, btw)!

    I noted John Haught on the list. His "Is Nature Enough?" is brilliant.

    Recent blog post: blamentations

  4. Matt, I read the comment of the person who nominated you on the list, and I am so proud of you for helping to revive analytical philosophy in New Zealand! Congratulations on getting onto this list.

  5. Nice list, and I agree that Dennett should be left off of it. I don't even think many serious philosophers of mind take him seriously; he is a popularizer, not an innovator.

    Recent blog post: Marilyn McCord Adams on Philosophy Bites

  6. Richard Dawkins, and Daniel Dennett, are examples of the he-is-an-exert-in-one-area-so-his-opinion-must-be-valuable-in-all-areas fallacy.

    If Dawkins had not already been fmous in another field I am sure publishers would have laughed at his 'philosophy' book...

  7. Most philosophers of religion are theists, and the majority of philosophers generally are secular. Pretty much what one would expect, really. Theists are more likely to be interested in religious claims than those who reject them would be, especially with so many other fields to investigate. Hence the number of atheologians is relatively small (names that immediately come to mind are Mackie, Martin, Oppy, Sobel, LePoidevin, Gale, and Smith). The field is certainly more open to infidels than, say, theology would be.

    I'm not a theist myself, but it's a relief that one can no longer expect to get away with nonsense like "the word 'God' is meaningless". The philosophy of religion deserves to be taken very seriously indeed, simply by virtue of the questions it deals with.

  8. I made a similar comment myself. Along the lines that there is a risk of confusing correlation and causation with these sorts of statistics. But alas my comment was deleted!

  9. It was not deleted by us. We only delete spam and those that put us at risk legally.

    Recent blog post: Fisking Ian Hassall: The Arbitrary Ethical Reasoning on the Smacking Referendum

  10. Good to hear it! In that case you may have some problem with your sever as two messages I posted last night (and were on the webpage for about an hour) were gone this morning. I was not selling anything... and may have been annoying and ignorant.. but not illegal!

  11. Comments problems are why we are moving to Wordpress! (in progress)Anyway thanks for letting me know. Ken said something similar last week too.

    Are you able to check the comments feed and see if your missing ones are showing in it? If they are can you let me know which ones they are and I will see if they are stuck somewhere - maybe askimet did pick them up for some reason.

    I am querying JS-Kit to see what they can tell me in the mean time and I will continue to prepare the new Wordpress version of MandM as fast as I can!

    Recent blog post: See William Lane Craig and Christopher Hitchens debate: Does God Exist?


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