Religious Belief in the Age of Science
Prof. dr. Herman Philipse (Utrecht University)
Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud all thought that religious beliefs cannot be true. Hence, they proposed explanations of the fact that many people believe that God exists, such as class interests of the dominating classes (Marx), a will to power of the weak (Nietzsche), or wishful thinking of individual human beings (Freud). Logical Positivists such as Rudolf Carnap even argued that the Christian belief that God exists is meaningless, strictly speaking, so that the question as to whether it is true or false does not make sense. However, in recent analytic philosophy of religion, prominent experts such as Alvin Plantinga, Dewi Phillips, or Richard Swinburne have developed sophisticated intellectual strategies that legitimize religious belief. In the lecture, Philipse shall classify these strategies as a decision tree for the religious believer, and investigate to what extent they are successful. The core thesis of the lecture is the following: if you want to be an intellectually responsible atheist, you have to do more work than Marx, Nietzsche, or Freud ever imagined.
The lecture is based upon the following book, of which the paperback edition appeared in February 2014: Herman Philipse, God in the Age of Science. A Critique of Religious Reason. Oxford University Press, 2012, 2014.