Theistic and Atheistic Conversation Killers
Both theists and atheists can make statements which are “conversation killers.” Here are two recent examples from the Blogosphere.
On the atheistic side, James Lindsay recently wrote this.
On that basis, and others like it, it is very difficult to see the matter of theism as something to treat seriously as a philosophical object. We shouldn’t. It is a theological object, and theology is only “pseudo-philosophical,” as Carrier puts it, and pseudo-academic, as I outlined above. No one is required to take such a thing seriously or engage its “best” arguments, as if it has any, as if the real contenders haven’t already been dealt with thoroughly and repeatedly, and as if any argument stands up to the simple and straightforward question that’s been waiting for them all along: “Where’s the evidence?”
But because the idea that we should engage any position’s best case is generally true in philosophy proper, and all academic debate, it is an easy value to turn into a false virtue. The principle simply doesn’t apply here because theology is pseudo-academic, though. Misapplying it as a false virtue, a moral value defining a particular kind of thinker, I think, is exactly what apologists for the philosophy of religion are doing, and I think it constitutes a confusing and unproductive avenue in the conversation that should not continue.
Victor Reppert characterizes Lindsay’s position as, “I’m right; you’re an idiot; so let’s shut the discussion down” (see here). Elsewhere, Reppert asks, “What can you say to someone who wants to shut discussion down?” In response, Lindsay clarifies that this is a close but not perfectly summary of his position: