I did not argue from
(1)Many of the brightest philosophers believe in God
(2) Therefore, God exists,
or even to
(2*) Therefore, belief in God is reasonable.
What I suggested is this. The fact that many of the brightest philosophers believe in God should give us pause before we join atheist apologists (like Dawkins) in dismissing theism as delusional.
And in general, I would argue that if many extremely brilliant people have thought about p carefully, subjected p to rigorous logical analysis, and have come to believe that p, this should give us reason to refrain from lazily dismissing p as childish or delusional. A more thorough investigation would be called for.
So I have not committed a fallacious appeal to authority.
For evidence that many of the brightest philosophers reject naturalism and endorse theism, visit the following webpage:
In fact, when it comes to Christian philosophers in particular, Leiter made the following observation:
"...while Robert Adams and Alvin Plantinga and William Alston were something of anomalies in their generation, the large number of overtly Christian philosophers, who are fairly prominent philosophers as well, in the younger generation (e.g., those under 50 roughly) is quite large, and includes, among others, John Hawthorne (Oxford & Rutgers), Dean Zimmerman (Rutgers), Keith DeRose (Yale), Michael Rea and Fritz Warfield (Notre Dame), Robert Koons (Texas), Michael Bergmann (Purdue), and Mark Murphy (Georgetown)--and that's just off the top of my head. To be sure, religious philosophers are probably still a minority in academic philosophy in the U.S., but my sense is they are less of a minority than 25 years ago."
Stephen Law responds:
I inclined to agree with William that we ought not to dismiss Christian religious belief as childish or silly out of hand (though I imagine he himself probably rejects belief in the ancient Norse pantheon more or less out of hand, despite the fact that many smart Norse people believed in it).
Mind you, that doesn't mean we are not justified in dismissing religious belief as childish or silly after fairly careful thought. My view is that we are, in fact (though I won't attempt to justify that claim here).
Against this, some (not William, though) might argue - "But the fact that many leading philosophers believe immediately gives us good grounds for supposing it's not that childish or silly. If they believe, well, there must be something to it, surely?"
I don't accept this. There's something weird about religion - something that imbues it with the power to convince even very smart people to believe ridiculous things. The spectacular rise of young earth creationism over the last half century or so (which has spread from a tiny band of crackpots to 100 million Americans - many college educated) illustrates my point. Indeed, it illustrates how religion has the power to convince even contemporary PhD-qualified scientists that the theory that the entire universe is 6k years old is both rational and scientific.
Just what explains this extraordinary power is open to question. But that religion possesses it is surely not.
There doesn't appear to be any corresponding, equally strong, non-truth-sensitive power residing in other scientific belief systems, or indeed, in atheism (though you might want to argue otherwise).
I do realize of course that within science etc. there are non-truth-sensitive belief-forming factors in play - e.g. ego, research funding, etc. My point is there is nothing of remotely comparable scale: religion stands head-and-shoulders above these other factors in getting smart people to believe stupid things.
If that's true, then there's an important asymmetry here: the credibility lent by a leading philosopher or scientist who signs up to an atheistic or non-religious scientific theory is greater than the credibility they would thereby lend to a religious belief.
[I should stress, though, that I am not fond of arguments from authority in this context, and am not offering one here.]
William Hawthorne suggests that many leading philosophers etc. are religious, and that the percentage is going up. That's not my impression, nor that of Colin McGinn, who, in this interview, suggests that very few leading philosophers are religious, and that their numbers are declining.
Hard to know who's right here. McGinn suggests the claim that many leading philosophers are religious is just "good PR" by the religious. A half page list of names, some of which we recognise, might look impressive, until you remember just how many professional philosophers there are in the UK and US.