What you write ought... to provide a concise test for those who aspire to be professors of philosophy in this country's universities.If they read it and are unpersuaded then they are lacking in a key ability,to think clearly.At the moment Clark of Liverpool,Cottingham of Reading,Haldane of St Andrews,Trigg of Warwick are professors of philosophy at British universities who I think would call themselves Christian believers.There may well be others.Does the fact that they will all have dealt with the issues you raise in your essay and have come to an entirely different conclusion to you show that they are,unlike you,mentally deficient.
Does the fact that some eminent philosophers believe in God show that it is a reasonable, or not unreasonable, thing to believe? Don't they provide good grounds for thinking I'm wrong to suppose belief in God is downright unreasonable?
Well, let's remember that there are also many eminent philosophers (far more, I think) who side with me in this debate. And then there are a few who are agnostic. So it seems that some very eminent philosophers have got to be wrong. Which ones are wrong? Well, that's what we are trying to figure out, isn't it?
Some (like Mark Vernon) may argue that the fact that there is this diversity of opinion among philosophers shows that agnosticism is the only rational position for most of us to adopt. After all, if the world's leading scientists were deeply divided over some issue, it might well be wise to be cautious and not commit yourself one way or the other. Shouldn't you be equally cautious here?
I don't think so. Here's just one reason why. One explanation for diversity of opinion is when the evidence doesn't settle the matter decisively one way or the other.
But that is not the only explanation. Religion has an extraordinary power to make very smart people believe really stupid things (and even the power to make 'em think they're being really smart when they're actually being really stupid).
Just look at how religion has taken a belief shared by just a handful of religious crackpots some 60 years ago - the belief that the entire universe is six thousand years old - and in just those 60 short years convinced 100 million Americans that it is true. Not just that it is true, mind, but that it is consistent with the best scientific evidence.
Many of these people are college educated. You can be sure many are smarter than you or me. They think they are being reasonable. But of course the truth is they are just deluded.
Given we know religion has this gobsmacking power to blind people to the obvious, the fact that, yes, some smart people think the available evidence is consistent with belief in an all-powerful all-good God really wouldn't be particularly surprising, even if I'm right. So the fact that there are such people really doesn't provide much evidence that I'm wrong.