Before today, my knowledge of Keith Parsons was somewhat limited. I knew he was a philosopher who had debated William Lane Craig… and got way too emotional in the process. Indeed, listening to that debate Parsons sounded more like an old hellfire and brimstone preacher than an analytic philosopher.
After that I next heard about Parsons a couple years ago with his self-important declaration that he would no longer be doing philosophy of religion. (Edward Feser’s critique of Parsons was delightful and devastating. See “Non-story of the year” and “The brutal facts about Keith Parsons.”)
Now I’ve had some engagement with the man himself. After reading his smarmy little article “Parsons is mean“, my first thought was: how many baseballs hit into his yard over the years is this old curmudgeon hoarding? This article irritated me because he defends the practice of ridiculing “fundamentalists”. And then he goes on to provide a definition of what he thinks a fundamentalist is. I commented on his article, pointing out how self-serving his definition is. (Indeed, he basically affirms Plantinga’s wry definition that a fundamentalist is a ‘stupid sumbitch whose theological opinions are considerably to the right of mine.’)
This irritated Mr. Parsons who sniffed:
“I’m curious. John Loftus is someone whose opinion I normally respect. Yet he says that he has found some intellectual stimulation in interacting with Mr. Rauser. Sorry, John, I don’t understand that at all. I do not detect a scintilla of wit or intelligence. John, care to explain?”
I face no similar conundrum for while I don’t detect a scintilla of wit or intelligence in Mr. Parsons, neither have I heard others say they derive intellectual stimulation from interacting with him.
Regardless, Loftus replied predictably:
“Keith, Rauser is impervious to reason. When I engage him it’s to expose him as the culturally indoctrinated person that he clearly is. It’s to show to thinking people how badly he reasons because faith is unreasonable. I don’t remember saying that, but if I did it’s merely because I’m trying to figure out how to expose him as the culturally indoctrinated person that he is, and he is.”
This reminded me of the old Chester and Spike Warner Brothers cartoon where Chester is John Loftus and Spike is whichever person he is attempting to ingratiate at the moment.