Sunday, July 18, 2021

John Beversluis, 1934-2021

 Admirers of C. S. Lewis were upset and very critical when John wrote "C. S. Lewis and the Search for Rational Religion." But while I strongly disagreed with his views on Lewis, he, like Socrates, asked the kinds of critical questions that people in Lewis studies were all too unwilling to raise before his book was written. His revised book on Lewis was a great improvement over the first edition.  Even those who think more highly of Lewis's apologetics than he did should recognize that the study of Lewis's work is richer, not poorer for his efforts. And his writings also point the way for those who don't accept Lewis's arguments to find a great deal to appreciate, as he did. 

 The book was first published in 1985 by Eerdmans, a Christian publisher who had published a couple of Lewis anthologies, and later revised in 2007 for Prometheus Books, an secularist publishing house. 

Thursday, July 15, 2021

On useful discussions

 Discussion with intellectual opponents is something I have valued over time. Sometimes people are convinced that you are right, but not usually. Sometimes you can convince them that not everyone on your side of the issue is ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked. That's a victory not to be sneezed at. But sometimes you really end up talking to a brick wall. John Loftus, for example, started out as someone that you could have a dialogue with, and then, under the influence of New Atheism, he ceased to be one. Sometimes coming up with a realization on both sides of the issue of exactly what your disagreement consists in is a major accomplishment, even if no one is persuaded. 

I am pretty much a free speech guy when it comes to these discussions, and ban people only with the greatest reluctance. Others are, to be sure, more selective. 

I remember one time reading a paper that someone had written about miracles for an undergrad philosophy journal. I wrote a detailed critique of it, and then forgot all about it. Years later I heard from the person, telling me how appreciative they were of my response and that they were no a Christian. 

I do think that if you cut everyone on the other side off from your discussion you lose the opportunity to be told when you are misrepresenting the other side. That's the downside. You are also out of the business of trying to show people on the other side that you are right and they are not. For me, the downsides of doing this outweigh any upsides I can think of. But that's just me.