In a clear and engaging manner Geoff Crocker presents a case for religion as myth. Crocker reflectively works through the history of the enlightenment to the modern church with the attempt to bring about some synthesis to religious thought and everything else. Philosophically, this is a big-picture book not one consumed with the minutia. Yet, along the way the author displays a facility with other disciplines and detail that serve to furnish some sort of foundation for his overarching theory of the world. Crocker is adept at working through the history of thought, philosophy of mind, pop-level science, and phenomenology. More specifically, his defense is of atheism and humanism con-joined - the belief that humans are ultimate and that there is no God except God as myth or as that which is mind-dependent. In fact God is an endogenous reality meaning that he is created from within the particular organism - that his the human organism. Let me make just three positive points about the book and offer some very brief criticism.
First, Geoff Crocker's writing is clear and smooth. His prose make the reading easy and light. Also, his writing gives the sense of unity throughout the book. This aspect of the book is much appreciated. He offers numerous examples and illustrations to carry the reader along. Second, I found the book to be very thoughtful and reflective. In contrast to other books that are out there written by the so-called New Atheists or those following in a similar vein Geoff Crocker's work is distinct in that he has a greater facility with other disciplines outside of the hard/empirical sciences. His is not only a criticism of Christianity or theism, but a constructive synthesis unlike much literature coming out of new atheism. Third, I thought it was very impressive how Crocker was able to utlize both analytic and continental philosophy in his constructive synthesis. This is unusual for a philosopher to draw from both philosophical traditions, but Crocker seems to be aware of the value in both traditions when considering a reality and an overall world and life view. In these ways, An Enlightened Philosophy is highly recommended, but there are some negatives worth mentioning. I will only mention two.
The first criticiam is that he merely assumes Darwinian evolution. This is problematic for several reasons. First, Crocker does not spell out what he means by this. If he means that there is 'continuity of species' or 'common ancestry' or even the absolute metaphysical groudning for all of reality is somehow physically explicable. Spelling out these differences seem to me to be very important. It seems that he does take a stronger view of Darwinian evolution and what might be termed metaphysical naturalism, but he does so without grounding and without verification. In other places he gives autonomy to the empirical/hard sciences as sure and true (pg. 13). This to me seems unjustified and unwarranted as an epistemic starting point and as an authority structure for knowledge. Yet, he does not provide much in the way of justification for this just assumption and assertion. It seems to me that for the empirical/hard sciences to be reliable requires that there be teleology in the world that is real and mind-independent - at least from human minds. This realistic teleology transcends, makes sense of, and metaphysically grounds the reliability of our empirical knowledge that allows 'scientists' to make predictions based upon empirical observation and their knowledge of past occurences. This teleology does not seem to allow for atheism, but provides fertile ground for theism and much more naturally coheres within a theistic framework of the world that transcends physical cause and effect (for this see Realism Regained by Robert C. Koons). The second criticism has to do with Crocker's philosophy of mind which can be seen on pages 52 and 76. Here he assumes that physicalism is the ground that gives rise to minds or mental properties kind of a non-reductive physicalism. The difficulty that he does not explain or develop is how physicality can give rise to these brand new novel properties. His view ends up implicitly affirming an epiphenomenal view of the mind and the illusion of qualia - something he puts a lot of weight on for developing religion as myth that points toward some sort of ideal society. This of course undermines and unjustifiably rejects a common-sense view of the self that latent in all human affairs. And is it not this that makes the world go round? It seems to me that it is. Why not accept common-sense and not seek to drive a wedge between science on the one hand and faith on the other with his foundational scientism assumptions - Crocker's own choice dualism. Is not reality much more richly endowed than this idealistic philosophy Crocker puts forth as an alternative to traditional theisms that offer that man has intrinsic value and all of reality has value extended by a Creator. While I did not agree with other aspects of his interpreation of church culture I will not deal with that here just to say that it seemed that he used broad brush strokes.
All in all, I would recommend that those interested in atheism and humanism considering reading this book. Also, those who are religious might consider reading this before reading other books in the new atheist movement. Although he will find the interepretations of religion and the synthesis to be strained.