I am now only months behind in answering emails. I have a string of excellent questions from readers that I will try to get to at weeks’ end.
From reader S: “I have a few questions if you don’t mind. I would greatly appreciate the help. The questions are intertwined and you should be able to answer them quickly. On the surface it appears that many current philosophers are atheists statistically. My questions are related to this.”
I haven’t made a survey, and I certainly can’t look into the soul of any man, but it’s a reasonable guess that professional, which is to say academic, philosophers are mostly atheists, sure. Or they have a non-classical view of theology.
Here, for example, is the list of philosophy dons at Cambridge. Lots of logic, metaphysics, epistemology, science and so forth. Nothing that cries out about theology, the Queen of Sciences, as Newman said. No classical religion either, but there are some feminist this or thats, priestesses of our modern religion.
Of course, metaphysics, and even to an extent epistemology, is where you’d find the philosophy of God, but there doesn’t appear to be a strong interest in that subject at Cambridge.
Surprisingly, religion is represented at Harvard. There’s even a guy who thinks about how people thought about God. But it’s not clear that he himself thinks about God. That could be because of standard academic risk aversion, of not wanting to go on record and be condemned as “intolerant.” I emphasize this gentleman may be orders of magnitude more faithful than Yours Truly, which, of course, is not saying much.
“1. Do most people enter philosophy already atheist and so there is a bias towards atheism?”
Those who enter it academically, yes, especially at the highest levels (grad school). It depends on the institution, there being a handful of genuine Christian academies, but elsewhere there is a definite bias against classical theism, which is outweighed, though, by the bias toward other matters, which all sort of assume atheism, even if they are not explicit about it.
“2. Do people enter philosophy and then lose their faith?”
No more than they do for entering other fields, such as any science.
I’ve said this a hundred times, but you can go to the “best” schools and earn a PhD in science and never even once have to do any reading in philosophy, which is why many scientists mistakenly believe science can do without a philosophy. But you can also earn a PhD in philosophy without having to do any reading in science or Christianity.
Of course, I mean serious reading and not the one or two obligatory courses they force people to take in disciplines not their own to keep up enrollments.
“3. How do you remain steadfast in your faith when so many of your contemporaries are atheists?”
I started, in school anyway, the same as they did, not believing in much of anything, even though I was raised Catholic. I got out of my unthinking atheism, such as it was, by reading philosophy. David Stove figured heavily in this, and he himself proclaimed himself to be an atheist, though I can’t, after reading him, see if really believed that. What was important about him, before I came to the more classical authors, was his willingness to laugh at the bullshit being produced in philosophy and in our declining culture.
So you see, it works both ways.
Staying this way is easy. I made the same mistakes most scientists did and do, and so now I can see them all clearly. I haven’t come across any new mistakes. Meaning I haven’t seen anything to challenge my beliefs. Not foundationally. I couldn’t now be convinced that the existence of God, for instance, is anything but necessary.
“4. Anything else you might want to say regarding this subject”
That academic philosophy is largely useless for most people is a clear problem, and it relates to university itself growing increasingly useless. It either imbues scientism or it indoctrinates worthy, while teaching less and less.
“I felt you would have some insight on this given your line of work