This question came up last week in one of my classes. In the context of discussing arguments for and against God's existence, a student claimed that after all of the arguments, objections, and rejoinders, no real progress has been made in determining whether or not God exists. This same response occurs when talking about morality (as discussed in a previous post on this blog about moral skepticism), human nature, the meaning of life, the nature of knowledge, and just about every major philosophical question. How should we deal with this?
It seems to me that we can point out the progress philosophers have made on these issues, even if it is slow and sometimes painful. In class last week I noted that the majority of philosophers agree that the logical problem of evil has been solved by Plantinga, which is a counterexample to the claim that philosophy makes no progress in providing answers to questions. Of course, I then pointed out that the discussion has shifted to the evidential problem of evil. I have some other ways of responding to this student's question, but I'd like to here what others think about this issue, and how they deal with it when it arises in both introductory and advanced courses.