{I’ve added an update to the end of this post.}

There’s a nice write-up of the recent debate that Plantinga and Dennett had at the Central APA. While the whole write-up is worth reading, it’s the anonymous author’s preface that I think is the most interesting and disturbing part:

I prefer to remain anonymous for various reasons, in particular because I am inclined towards Plantinga’s position over Dennett’s and were this to become well-known it could damage or destroy my career in analytic philosophy. This is something I prefer not to put my family through. I almost didn’t publish these comments at all, but as far as I could tell, this would be the only public record of the discussion. 

Friends, if you can identify me, I request that you keep my identity secret. I am sharing my thoughts as a service to the philosophical community and all those who have an interest in such debates. But I prefer not to suffer at the hands of my ardently secular colleagues. This is not to say that all secular analytic philosophers are this way; they most certainly are not. But enough of them are that I cannot risk being known publicly.

This is a sign that something has gone deeply wrong in academic philosophy. Philosophers should not have to fear reprisal for believing in God. The atheism/theism debate is a core debate in the field of philosophy, and many of the most famous and well-respected philosophers throughout history have been theists. 

Now, perhaps the author is being overly cautious, but nevertheless, I at least see where the author is coming from, in a way that would make less sense if the author were an atheist fearing reprisal from theists. Of course, this latter situation could happen too, if for example one taught at a religiously oriented college. But for the most part, amongst academic philosophers, the bias I detect is an anti-theist bias. So I understand  why the anonymous author is concerned, and I just want to make clear that, as an atheist, I find this unacceptable. 

This brings me to a related point. I recently heard about a flagship public university with a solid philosophy department that did a survey of their undergraduates, and the biggest complaint the undergraduates had was that the faculty showed bias in the classroom against Christian and conservative perspectives. This sort of complaint should be taken seriously. For individual faculty, it might be hard for them not to show their biases (if, for example, they are well-known for arguing for atheism), but the solution is to have faculty representing other intellectual viewpoints who have countervailing biases. Currently in academic philosophy, there is more of a focus on achieving racial and ethnic diversity than on achieving intellectual diversity, and for the record I think that this is sorely misguided.

 

UPDATE: Keith DeRose has an interesting discussion of whether there is bias in academia against Christians here.

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