Illogic Primer Quotes Clippings Books and Bibliography Paper Trails Links Film

Paul Draper on Philosophers Eschewing Apologetics

What is Philosophy of Religion?” at (November 27, 2013).

My first recommendation is for philosophers of religion to distance themselves in every way possible from apologetics, whether theistic or atheistic. I’m not a demarcationist on most issues about the boundaries between philosophy and other disciplines, but apologetics is a special case. Apologists may make use of philosophy, but they serve a religious or secular community in a way that is antithetical to objective philosophical inquiry. Of course, there once was a time when philosophy was considered to be the handmaiden of theology. But that time is long since past, and it would be a mistake to try to turn the clocks back. Genuine philosophy today is superior to apologetics precisely because it does not face the “paradox of apologetics.” Briefly, this paradox arises because apologists, unlike philosophers engaged in genuine inquiry, seek to justify their religious beliefs (as opposed to seeking to have beliefs that are justified). This implies that their inquiry, if it can be called that, is inevitably biased, and biased inquiry cannot ground justification (unless of course conclusive evidence is discovered, but we know how often that happens in philosophy). Therefore, paradoxically, one cannot obtain justification for one’s religious beliefs by seeking it directly. To obtain justification, one must directly seek, not justification, but truth.