I’ve heard from older, experienced professors that doing a dissertation on or specializing in philosophy of religion may hurt your chances of getting a philosophy job or getting tenure at a secular university. It’s better to focus on some other subject and then do philosophy of religion after you get tenure.
Is this true? If so, why? It doesn’t make sense to me; it seems that schools would want professors who could teach philosophy of religion.
Is it because most philosophers think that there’s nothing interesting philosophically going on in philosophy of religion? That’s blatantly false, and most readers of this blog will agree with me. (Of course, the readers of this blog will be a biased sample. Even still…)
Is it because most philosophers of religion are theists and theism is considered a crazy view by many secular philosophers? This, I think, is what Leftow suggests here. Let’s put aside that there are many atheists or agnostics interested in philosophy of religion. Why should it matter that theism is a crazy view, especially in philosophy? Many philosophers consider compositional nihilism (a view which entails that there are no tables or chairs) to be crazy, but I can’t see how that would affect one’s chances of being hired.
The difference might be that compositional nihilists have provided defenses for their views and theists have not. But theists have been defending their view, and the debate progresses. One does not need to look at the literature for long to see this. So I can’t see what the difference is. Leftow makes the comparison to voodoo, but what makes theists align with compositional nihilists and not voodists is that theists have provided arguments and defenses.
Could it just be plain ignorance, then, of what’s going on in philosophy of religion? This option is a bit more uncharitable, but it is also an option.