Society of Christian Philosophers shames invited speaker for expressing Biblical views

Anti-marriage gay activists vandalize church
Anti-marriage gay activists vandalize church

Something interesting happened at a recent meeting of the Society of Christian Philosophers, which is a group of left-leaning philosophers who are (apparently) neither Christian, nor Philosophers.

How so?

Rightly Considered blog explains what happened:

[A]t the latest Midwest meeting of the SCP, Richard Swinburne presented a paper in which he argued for the view that homosexual acts are immoral and that homosexuality is a disability that should be cured. The response from some quarters was predictably hysterical and unremarkable. What is remarkable is that the President of the SCP, Michael Rea, shamefully acquiesced to the leftist hysteria by issuing an ingratiating public apology, accusing Swinburne of causing pain and undermining the SCP’s mission of ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion:

I want to express my regret regarding the hurt caused by the recent Midwest meeting of the Society for Christian Philosophers. The views expressed in Professor Swinburne’s keynote are not those of the SCP itself. Though our membership is broadly united by way of religious faith, the views of our members are otherwise diverse. As President of the SCP, I am committed to promoting the intellectual life of our philosophical community. Consequently (among other reasons), I am committed to the values of diversity and inclusion. As an organization, we have fallen short of those ideals before, and surely we will again. Nonetheless, I will strive for them going forward. If you have thoughts or feedback you would like to share with me, I would welcome hearing from you via email or private message.

Ed Feser had an interesting point-by-point response to that the SCP did the Swinburne.

I thought this part was the most interesting:

[W]hat is this business about the “hurt” Swinburne’s views allegedly caused?  Philosophers discuss and defend all sorts of ideas that some people are bound to find offensive.  So what?  If, to take just one example, a philosopher defends the moral legitimacy of abortion, he may well offend those who regard abortion as a species of murder; whereas if he argues instead that abortion is a species of murder, he may well offend those who have had abortions.  Still, philosophers discuss and debate abortion all the time, and no one regards this as noteworthy or in need of some disclaimer.  So why are things different in the case of Swinburne’s chosen topic?

[…]If the arguments for the side you disagree with in the abortion debate are not good arguments, then that is what you should be trying to show.  Going on about hurt feelings doesn’t add anything at all to the philosophical critique.  On the other hand, if the arguments for the side you disagree with are good arguments, then you should stop disagreeing with them and stop being offended by them.  In either case, hurt feelings are neither here nor there.  And every philosopher knows this where other topics are concerned.  Why are things any different in Swinburne’s case?

Apparently, if you attach the word “Christian” to the name “Society of Christian Philosophers”, it seems to mean as much as attaching the word “Affordable” to the “Affordable Care Act”. Unlike the Evangelical Philosophical Society, the SCP has no requirement for a statement of faith, and boy, does it show.

More Feser:

Fifth, Rea speaks about the SCP having “fallen short” of the ideals of diversity and inclusion and of his resolve to “strive for them going forward.”  Well, what does that entail exactly?  Evidently he thinks that letting Swinburne say what he did amounts to having “fallen short.”  So is Rea saying that, “going forward,” he will work to make sure that views like Swinburne’s are no longer expressed at SCP meetings, or at least in SCP keynote addresses?  How would preventing views from being expressed amount to the furthering of “diversity and inclusion”?  And how would that square with the free and open debate that philosophy is supposed to be all about?

Philosophy USED to be about free and open debate, now it’s just a bunch of crybabies silencing those who don’t celebrate their views.


Civil and reasonable discussion about questions of sexual morality is increasingly difficult today, and it is precisely those who are most prone loudly to express their “hurt” feelings who make it so.  Even the most polite, reasoned, and carefully qualified objections to homosexual acts, transgenderism, etc. are routinely dismissed a priorias “bigotry,” fit only to be ridiculed and shouted down rather than rationally engaged.  In extreme cases those who express such views face cyberbullying, loss of employment, and the like.  As Justice Scalia pointed out in his dissenting opinion in United States v. Windsor, such views are now widely treated as “beyond the pale of reasoned disagreement” and their proponents shunned as if they were “enemies of the human race.”

To pretend (as some Christian philosophers I know do) that this sort of thing is essentially just a regrettable but understandable overreaction on the part of wounded souls who have had some bad experiences with obnoxious religious people is naiveté.  It is often rather a calculated political tactic aimed at making public dissent from liberal conventional wisdom on sexuality practically difficult or impossible.

Feser actually quotes several gay activists to prove that their goal is to shame opposition to their agenda at a non-rational level.

And that non-rational level seems to be the level that most left-wing philosophers are at. Rod Dreher quotes the response of one of the Yale philosophers to Swinburne’s views. It’s just name-calling and vulgarity. But maybe that’s all that philosophy is now. Sad to see that this is the case even with the Society of “Christian” Philosophers.

Philosophy, which used to be as rigorous as my own discipline of computer science because of its roots in symbolic logic, now appears to be as rigorous as any other far-left politically correct indoctrination on the modern university campus.

I’m a software engineer, I work for a living in the competitive private sector, where results matter. If I acted like philosophers do when confronted with opposing views, I’d be fired on the spot. But in the modern secular university, apparently sub-rational thuggery is a viable career alternative. I didn’t think that my opinion of philosophers and philosophy could go any lower, but it just did. No one should be paying money for a philosophy degree, and not one dime of taxpayer money should be funding these adult children.

13 thoughts on “Society of Christian Philosophers shames invited speaker for expressing Biblical views”

  1. I completely agree with you on this. A philosopher is supposed to lay out arguments on various positions. What on earth is this world coming to?

  2. As a dissertating PhD student in philosophy at a secular state institution and an evangelical, I think you are wrong about philosophy. Yes, the Left has invaded everywhere and left their mark on all their sacred cows. When I began my program several years ago we were all taken through what I call “liberal boot camp” (they called the Proseminar) where we were supposed to all be indoctrinated into the Left’s viewpoints by a feminist philosopher among others. We were told in so many words which topics we could write over and which ones we could not (i.e., don’t write over feminism unless defending it, don’t write over homosexual practices unless defending them, don’t write over race or gender unless deconstructing them, etc.) and we had it explained to us how discriminatory we all were (e.g., through implicit bias or stereotype threat, etc.) and how we needed to go to certain seminars put on by the LGBTQIA groups on campus to be reprogrammed. There were 7 new students in my incoming group and 5 of us were evangelicals–although none of us knew about the others for a good 6 months due to the effectiveness of threats made at the liberal boot camp. This sucked. It was scary (career or futurewise), oppressive, and made me question why I was in philosophy in the first place. These folks all seemed so ideologically motivated that they’d squeezed the truth-seeking right out of the-love-of-wisdom (philosophy).

    But after my first semester I realized it was a big bluff. These same professors who taught the prosem were often quite kind in class and even open to questions–especially if those questions were about topics other than those on their list of sacrosanct topics. They reasoned well, argued precisely, and would alter their position(s) based on argumentative evidence. Philosophy was alive, I discovered, just not active in certain areas due to political pressures. No, I still don’t feel free to either write about or otherwise express my views on feminism, homosexual practice, marriage, drug use, the ACA, race, “gender” (I prefer sticking to sex), etc. But given that I do all sorts of other stuff–phil religion, metaphysics, ethics, ancient phil–I have plenty to write about and get along quite well. Moreover, I like to think that many of my papers have had elements or arguments in them which, if true, are subversive to the Leftism with which I was pressured to bow to. And yet I’ve remained unscathed, have won a few profs over on a few points, and have done it all through hard work and argument.

    I write all this to say that while philosophy is most certainly being harmed by the imposition of default Leftism, it is still philosophy. In most other, non-politically contentious areas these folks are still open to reason. They believe, largely, in objective ethical truths even if they don’t believe in God, and in truth and it’s attainability in other areas not pertaining to the sciences. These two points alone separate philosophy from the rest of the humanities. Try to argue against ethical relativism in the English department or for real truth with the postmodernists in any other humanities department, history included. You won’t even be heard. Reason is still alive in philosophy, even if not evenly applied to all spheres of life or areas of study. But alive it is. Analytic philosophers are largely–exceptions exist–reasonable people and are, as such, potential converts in all senses of the word “covert”. Read Lewis on this (“The Great Divorce” chapter 5–“If the thirst for Reason is really dead…” p42 2001 ed). Crybabies they may be at times, but they are emphatically different than what we see elsewhere in the humanities. The light still shines forth in the darkness–and what great darkness it is. But shine it does.

      1. The “light” in my comment was a metaphor for reason–something I don’t think you can shame. You can shame people, however, especially those who don’t use reason properly, or apply it only sparingly. And no doubt, this occurs in philosophy. Certain subjects are as a matter of fact, off limits–which is silly. But you can’t castigate a whole discipline and all those in it for the errors of a few radicals who currently hold reigns of the power. Many of your brothers and sisters are in this discipline to fight the good fight.

  3. I have long followed EPS and this is shocking. Evangelicals are Christian but have many views. Left wing political correctness has crept in. We can argue the sides of these issues without this. Sexual behavior is pregnant with philosophical and ethical issues. Soon if you are a Christian you wont be able to be a Christian.

  4. Not often that I disagree with you Wintery Knight, but dissing philosophy is not the right answer. There is good philosophy, and there is bad philosophy. Then there is the left. They are poisonous for sure, but we, as evangelicals need to remember JP Moreland’s fine words, that we should not only strive to out-love and out-die our enemies, but also to out-think them.

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