Regular readers of this blog may have surmised that I'm somewhat inclined toward Russellian monism about the nature of consciousness. I'm also inclined to think that the mere epistemic possibility of such a version of liberal naturalism functions as an undercutting defeater for both substance dualism in particular and classical theism in general. David Chalmers is of course a leading philosopher of mind with similar sympathies about the nature of consciousness. Here's his latest exploration and defense of a view in this vicinity.
Howard-Snyder, Daniel. "Agnosticism, the Moral Skepticism Objection, and Commonsense Morality", In Justin McBrayer Trent Dougherty (ed.), Skeptical Theism: New Essays. Oxford University Press (forthcoming).
Smith, Martin. "The Epistemology of Religion", Analysis (Forthcoming). The paper looks to provide an overview of past and recent trends in the epistemology of religion that we've discussed on a number of occasions (e.g., here and here). Here's the abstract:
The epistemology of religion is the branch of epistemology concerned with the rationality, the justificatory status and the knowledge status of religious beliefs – most often the belief in the existence of an omnipotent, omniscient and loving God as conceived by the major monotheistic religions. While other sorts of religious beliefs – such as belief in an afterlife or in disembodied spirits or in the occurrence of miracles – have also been the focus of considerable attention from epistemologists, I shall concentrate here on belief in God. There were a number of significant works in the epistemology of religion written during the early and mid Twentieth Century. The late Twentieth Century, however, saw a surge of interest in this area, fuelled by the work of philosophers such as William Alston, Alvin Plantinga and Linda Zagzebski amongst others. Alston, Plantinga and Zagzebski succeeded in importing, into the epistemology of religion, various new ideas from mainstream epistemology – in particular, externalist approaches to justification, such as reliabilism, and virtue theoretic approaches to knowledge (see, for instance, Alston, 1986, 1991, Plantinga, 1988, 2000, Zagzebski, 1993a, 1993b). This laid fertile ground for new research – questions about the justificatory and knowledge status of belief in God begin to look very different when viewed through the lens of theories such as these. I will begin by surveying some of this groundbreaking work in the present article, before moving on to work from the last five years – a period in which the epistemology of religion has again received impetus from a number of ideas from mainstream epistemology; ideas such as pragmatic encroachment, phenomenal conservatism and externalist theories of evidence.And if a copy of the paper should find its way to my inbox...
See Helen De Cruz' post on the topic over at NewAPPS. See also the discussion of the post over at Prosblogion.
Alexander Vilenkin: Whatever it's worth, my view is that the BGV theorem does not say anything about the existence of God one way or the other. In particular, the beginning of the universe could be a natural event, described by quantum cosmology.
Bill Craig: In that vein, I do have a question about your statement:
the BGV theorem uses a classical picture of spacetime. In the regime where gravity becomes essentially quantum, we may not even know the right questions to ask.
Elsewhere you’ve written:
A remarkable thing about this theorem is its sweeping generality. . . . We did not even assume that gravity is described by Einstein’s equations. So, if Einstein’s gravity requires some modification, our conclusion will still hold. The only assumption that we made was that the expansion rate of the universe never gets below some nonzero value [Vilenkin, 2006, p. 175].
How are these statements compatible? The 2006 statement sounds as if a quantum theory of gravitation would not undo the theorem. But the letter to Krauss sounds as if we are awash in uncertainty.
I have my own idea of how you might understand these statements, but rather than burden you with my surmises, I’d prefer to simply ask you how you understand the situation.
Vilenkin: The question of whether or not the universe had a beginning assumes a classical spacetime, in which the notions of time and causality can be defined. On very small time and length scales, quantum fluctuations in the structure of spacetime could be so large that these classical concepts become totally inapplicable. Then we do not really have a language to describe what is happening, because all our physics concepts are deeply rooted in the concepts of space and time. This is what I mean when I say that we do not even know what the right questions are.
To celebrate the publication of the 50th volume of Religious Studies in 2014, and the 50th anniversary of the founding of the journal in 1965, the University of Leeds is hosting a conference, sponsored by Cambridge University Press, on 25th - 27th June, 2014. Invited participants include: Pamela Sue Anderson, Peter Byrne, Victoria Harrison, Brian Leftow, Graham Oppy, John Schellenberg, Stewart Sutherland, Richard Swinburne, and Keith Ward.
The afternoon of 26th will be set aside for submitted short papers, and these are now invited. Abstracts of around 250 words, accompanied by a short CV, should be sent by e-mail attachment to the Editor, Prof. Robin Le Poidevin, firstname.lastname@example.org, no later than 31st January, 2014.
Clarke-Doane, Justin. “Morality and Mathematics: The Evolutionary Challenge”, Ethics 122, 313-340. The article was selected by the Philosopher's Annual as one of the best papers of 2012. The paper can be found here.
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