Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Dougherty & Tweedt's New Survey Article on Recent Work in Religious Epistemology...

...has recently come out at Philosophy Compass. Here's the abstract:

Religious epistemology is the study of how subjects' religious beliefs can have, or fail to have, some form of positive epistemic status (such as knowledge, justification, warrant, and rationality) and whether they even need such status appropriate to their kind. The current debate is focused most centrally upon the kind of basis upon which a religious believer can be rationally justified in holding certain beliefs about God (whether God exists, what attributes God has, what God is doing, etc.) and whether it is necessary to be so justified to believe as a religious believer ought (in some sense of ‘ought’ more general than rational justification). Engaging these issues are primarily three groups of people who call themselves ‘fideists’, ‘Reformed epistemologists’, and ‘evidentialists’. Each group has a position, but the positions are not mutually exclusive in every case, and in the debate, the names better describe the groups' emphases than mutually exclusive positions in the debate. In this article, we will first give a brief historical survey of evidentialism, fideism, and reformed epistemology. Second, we will give the fideist's position. Third, we will give the evidentialist's position. Fourth, we will give the reformed epistemologist's position, and last, we will include some comments on the current state of the debate, where we will show that the groups' positions are not mutually exclusive.
And if a copy should find its way to my inbox...
UPDATE: Thanks, all!

(Thanks to Clayton Littlejohn for the pointer.)

Friday, July 24, 2015

Videos and Podcasts: New Insights and Directions in Religious Epistemology

New Insights and Directions in Religious Epistemology was arguably the most important conference and workshop series in analytic philosophy of religion in recent memory. The videos and podcasts for its concluding event are now available online. Here's the list of speakers and topics:

International Conference on New Insights and Directions for Religious Epistemology
23 - 25 June 2015, Oxford University

Richard Swinburne (Oxford), Phenomenal Conservatism and Religious Belief"
Peter van Inwagen (Notre Dame), The Rev'd Bayes and the Life Everlasting"
Paulina Sliwa (Cambridge), Show and Tell"
Keith DeRose (Yale), How to Appear to Know that God Exists"
Hans Halvorson (Princeton), Foundations of the Fine-Tuning Argument"
Jennifer Lackey (Northwestern), What is Justified Group Belief?"
John Hawthorne (Oxford/USC), Fine-Tuning Fine-Tuning"
Roger White (MIT), Reasoning with Plentitude"

Saturday, July 11, 2015

John Hawthorne's Recent Defense of the Fine-Tuning Argument

Stay tuned for his recent talk, "Fine-Tuning Fine-Tuning".

(For what it's worth, here's my own worry for fine-tuning arguments for classical theism.)

Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion, Vol. 7... due to come out next March. Here's the table of contents:

1. Evil and Evidence, Matthew A. Benton, John Hawthorne, and Yoaav Isaacs
2. Is Petitionary Prayer Superfluous?, Isaac Choi
3. Where Skeptical Theism Fails, Skeptical Atheism Prevails, Paul Draper
4. The Right, the Good, and the Threat of Despair: (Kantian) Ethics and the Need for Hope in God, Kyla Ebels-Duggan
5. A Problem with Theistic Hope, Jeff Jordan
6. Religious Skepticism and Higher-Order Evidence, Nathan L. King
7. Temporary Intrinsics and Christological Predication, Timothy Pawl
8. Can God Repent?, Rik Peels
9. Divine Creative Freedom, Alexander R. Pruss
10. The Permissibility of the Atonement as Penal Substitution, Jada Twedt Strabbing

Friday, July 10, 2015

Hooray for Sanity and Goodness

New Issue of the International Journal for Philosophy of Religion

In defense of the timeless solution to the problem of human free will and divine foreknowledge
Ciro De Florio & Aldo Frigerio

Grace and favor in Kant’s ethical explication of religion
James DiCenso

Schopenhauer on religious pessimism
Dennis Vanden Auweele

Does cognitive humility lead to religious tolerance? Reflections on Craig versus Quinn
Michael S. Jones

Atheism and epistemic justification
J. Angelo Corlett & Josh Cangelosi

Why pan-dispositionalism is incompatible with metaphysical naturalism
Travis Dumsday

The epistemology of divine conceptualism
Nathan D. Shannon
Book Review

Fiona Ellis, God, Value, and Nature
Erik J. Wielenberg
Book Review

Trent Dougherty, The problem of animal pain: a theodicy for all creatures great and small
Michael J. Murray
Book Review

Terry F. Godlove, Kant and the meaning of religion
James J. DiCenso

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Review of Gordon Graham's WIttgenstein and Natural Religion

Mark Bernier (APU) reviews the book for NDPR.

Aikin & Jones's New Atheistic Argument from Ugliness

Aikin, Scott F. and Nicholaos Jones. "An Atheistic Argument from Ugliness", European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 7:1 (2015). The penultimate draft can be found here.

Megill & Linford's Paper on the Meaning of Life and a New Argument for Atheism

Megill, Jason and Daniel Linford. "God, The Meaning of Life, and a New Argument for Atheism", International Journal for Philosophy of Religion (forthcoming). The penultimate draft can be found here.

Monday, July 06, 2015

New SEP Entry on Natural Theology and Natural Religion


(A version of this sort of thing from another author can be found here.)

An Ontological Disproof of Anselmian Theism

Suppose for reductio that the existence of the god of classical Anselmian theism is metaphysically possible. Let's follow Plantinga's claim here that such a being has the property of maximal greatness, where: (i) a being's maximal greatness entails maximal excellence in every possible world, (ii) maximal excellence includes the classical attributes of omniscience, omnipotence, and moral perfection, and (iii) omnipotence includes the capacity to create or sustain concrete objects distinct from itself without a material cause.  Therefore, if it's metaphysically possible that a maximally great being exists, then such a being exists in all metaphysically possible worlds. Therefore, a maximally great being exists in all metaphysically possible worlds. Now it's also part of the classical conception of the god of Anselmian theism that he is the creator of (at least) all concrete things distinct from himself. Therefore, for any world W that contains a universe of concrete objects distinct from God, if God exists in W, then God originates or sustains the universe in without a material cause. But the origination or sustenance of any such universe without a material cause is metaphysically impossible. Now a universe of concrete objects exists at the actual world. Therefore, the god of classical Anselmian theism did not originate or sustain the universe that exists at the actual world. Therefore, the god of classical Anselmian theism doesn't exist at the actual world. But this contradicts the above line that he exists in all possible worlds. Therefore, the existence of the god of classical Anselmian theism is metaphysically impossible.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Breaking: God Distances Himself from Christian Right

The Onion reports.

H/T: Justin Schieber

CfP: Explaining Religion: Cognitive Science of Religion and Naturalism

Submission deadline: September 15, 2015

Conference date(s):
December 4, 2015 - December 5, 2015

Conference Venue:

Department of Philosophy, Free University Amsterdam 
Amsterdam, Netherlands

Topic areas

Workshop ‘Explaining Religion. Cognitive Science of Religion and Naturalism’

When: December 4th-5th 2015

Where: VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Organizers: Hans van Eyghen, Rik Peels, and Gijsbert van den Brink

Although Cognitive Science of Religion (CSR) is still a rather young discipline, its main theories have been the subject of considerable debate. One main point of discussion is whether cognitive theories explain religion. The title of Pascal Boyer’s book Religion Explained (2002) signals that at least one goal of CSR is to explain religion. Many authors have interpreted ‘explaining’ as explaining away and have argued that CSR-theories have not explained religion away because the truth of religion is compatible with the main theories in CSR.

This workshop will focus on a different question, viz. whether CSR-theories allow for a natural explanation of religion, where a natural explanation is a scientific one that does not involve anything supernatural or spooky. When it relies on the principle of parsimony (Occam’s Razor), a natural explanation of religion makes the existence of anything supernatural superfluous . Daniel Dennett already suggested something along these lines in his 2006 book Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon. Since then, few scholars have discussed this particular issue in CSR. The topic raises questions about explanation, naturalism and the evidential weight of religious cognition.

Confirmed speakers:

- Dr. Helen de Cruz (Oxford University), author of the upcoming bookA Natural History of Natural Theology (2014)

- Prof. Dr. Robert McCauley (Emory University), co-author ofRethinking Religion: Connecting Cognition and Culture (1993), Why Religion is Natural and Science is Not (2011)

- Prof. Dr. Aku Visala (University of Helsinki), author of Naturalism, Theism and the Cognitive Study of Religion (2011)

We invite contributions from philosophers, theologians and scientists. Please send a 1000 word abstract to by September 15th 2015. The abstract should be suitable for blind review. Questions can be sent to the same email address. Possible topics include but are not limited to:

· What do the main theories of CSR explain?

· Do the main theories in CSR amount to a naturalistic explanation of religion?

· Does a natural model of religious belief explain away religion?

· Does CSR speak in favor of naturalism?

· Is there a standard CSR explanation of religion?

· Is a naturalistic interpretation of CSR preferable to a theistic interpretation?

· Does a natural explanation of religious cognition make a difference to the epistemic status of religious belief?


Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Contrarian Philosophy of Religion Assertion Wednesday

The creation of a universe ex nihilo is metaphysically impossible, and so the posterior probability of cosmic fine-tuning on the hypothesis of classical theism is zero.

Contrarian Philosophy of Religion Assertion Wednesday

Saying that ex nihilo creation of concrete objects is possible with enough power is like saying that barfing up a missed lunch is possible with a sufficiently strenuous dry heave.
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