Social Sciences

Is Western Philosophy Witnessing A Resurgence In Christianity?

The question might seem like a no-brainer, seeing how Atheism has been steadily gaining in popularity amongst the general public in recent years. And, after all, ideas popular among philosophers generally filter into popular culture over time. But there is a reason why I am taking this question seriously. This thread in the Nirmukta forums has provided food for thought.

William Lane Craig, the popular Christian apologist and philosopher,  makes the following assertion:

“A literal revolution in my discipline, philosophy, in the Anglo American world, which has brought about a renaissance of Christian philosophy, such that some of our finest philosophers at our most prestigious universities are now outspoken bible believing Christians.”

Craig contrasts this alleged “literal revolution” that has supposedly ushered in a “renaissance of Christian philosophy” with the fact that popular philosophers who preceded the contemporary generation, those like Wittgenstein, Russell and Marx, were outspoken Atheists who rejected religion altogether.

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Craig is very popular with the Christian crowd, most notably for his debates with popular Atheist philosophers. True to form, this popularity is built on a brand of slippery deception intended to avoid analyzing relevant questions. For example, Craig’s criticism of scientific naturalism is a carefully prepared strawman, all the more insidious given that he must know it! In the case in question, Craig attempts to convey the impression that Christianity is gaining strength amongst contemporary philosophers in the “Anglo American world”, but he adopts language that gives him leeway. Surely, “some” philosophers in some universities are Christians. Nobody can refute that. But are these philosophers relevant when comparing contemporary philosophy with vastly influential figures such as Bertrand Russell? It is relevant to note that Craig himself is not associated with any “prestigious” university, but serves as “research professor” at a conservative evangelical Christian seminary!

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Luke Muehlhauser over at Common Sense Atheism reported last year that the largest ever survey of philosophers (mostly focused on Alglophone analytical philosophers) found that 72.8% were Atheists.

Eric Schwitzgebel, professor of Philosophy at University of California at Riverside, carried out a study on the philosophers cited in the well-respected Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and listed the top 40 most influential contemporary philosophers. I dug a little further to find out the religious belief/non-belief stance of the top 10 most cited contemporary philosophers listed by Schwitzgebel. The results are as follows.

1. Lewis, David : Atheist

2. Quine, W.V.O. : Atheist

3. Rawls, John: Christian, but not Biblical literalist.

4. Davidson, Donald: Atheist

5. Putnam, Hilary: Jewish

6. Kripke, Saul: Jewish

7. Armstrong, David: Atheist, culturally Jewish/Christian

8. Nagel, Thomas Atheist

9. Fodor, Jerry: Atheist

10. Dennett, Daniel: Atheist

I think we can safely conclude that William Lane Craig is full of it. The greatest philosophical minds of our time are almost certain to discard the idea that the Bible is the inerrant word of god, and are very unlikely to identify as Christians. Non-belief is without doubt the norm when it comes to the question of god amongst the leading philosophers of today.

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Ajita Kamal


  • This is a laughable thread. Craig has carefully documented what is called the ‘desecularizatiom of philosophy’ — but it is not Craig who came up with this term, it was Quentin Smith, one of the most influential philosophers around and also an atheist, who himself laments over the unfortunate case of the death of secularist if philosophical ideology. So this is all a fact, and any claim otherwise simply exposes one hasn’t done the research, since even the atheist top philosopher Smith admits this.

    The person who posts this nonsense also accuses Craig’s argument of being a “Strawman”, which is blatant nonsense. To call Craig’s argument a ‘Strawman’ is just surreal at best. Craig is a world-renowned philosopher who has published multiple times to Oxford University Press and has published literally hundreds of academic papers, and also has a ton of citations on him himself. Today, about a third of philosophers are Christians, which is something Craig himself almost couldn’t believe. This is because, for example, about fifty years ago there literally was not a single Cheistian philosopher in any university department in all of Sweden. Of COOOUUUURSE there has been a Christian renaissance in academia. Craig has been pointing this out for decades (along with every other knowledgeable person in the field) and the only person I’ve ever seen deny this is… The author of a blog called Nirmukta. Golden. This page purports to cite the most cited philosophers, ignoring that this discussion is also mainly on the philosophy of religion, not philosophy in general. The most cited philosopher of religion today in the world is Alvin Plantinga, and if you know who he is, that pretty much ends the debate on whether or not there was a Christian Renaissance in philosophy. Craig is the 14th most cited in the world. Another huge name in the last generation of philosophy of religion is Richard Swinburne. I could go on, but that’s effectively a checkmate.

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