Here is my postcard to you from Amsterdam, as promised. Wish I could move here.


Hi gang,

What kind of friend would be if I didn't send you a postcard? Here ya' go. Today I'm off to Giverny to take a peek at Monet's gardens. After that, I'm off to Amsterdam for two days. I hope to send you another postcard when I get there. From there, I go to the philosophy conference for two days at the university of Cologne. Then I'm back to the States on the 30th.

Hope all is well with you and yours,

A Review of New Waves in Philosophy of Religion

Kelly James Clark reviews this new collection (edited by Yuijin Nagasawa and Eric Wielenberg) here, at Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.

infinity by merrick

My favorite song by Merrick. The version from the indie film, The Minus Man, is better though.

Wes Morriston on Genocide and the Old Testament

Here is Wes' recent paper, "Did God Command Genocide? A Challenge to the Biblical Inerrantist", Philosophia Christi 11:1 (2009), pp. 7-26.

This paper really needed to be written.

UPDATE: Paul Copan has written a rejoinder to Morriston's paper. It can be found here. A tip of the hat to TKD for the link. I leave it to the reader to decide whether Copan's reply is adequate.

Marilyn McCord Adams on Philosophy Bites

Marilyn McCord Adams discusses the problem of evil, and the problem of horrendous evil in particular, on the current podcast episode of Philosophy Bites. Interestingly, she argues that being a theist is a necessary precondition for having rational hope in a good future for humanity, given the persistence and pervasiveness of horrendous moral evil.

Marilyn Adams is a prominent philosopher of religion, along with her husband, Robert Adams. Both recently taught at Oxford, but have since accepted senior offers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (starting next Fall).

Paul Moser's The Elusive God... receiving careful exposition and discussion at Prosblogion. Here is the latest installment.

Paul K. Moser is the Chair of the Department of Philosophy at Loyola University (Chicago). His recent book, The Elusive God: Reorienting Religious Epistemology, is a novel and important defense of Christian theism.

Btw, he has another novel defense of Christian theism (The Evidence for God: Religious Knowledge Reexamined) coming out in December. It looks as though he will argue that the evidence for the Christian God is the moral transformation of believers.

mazzy star - blue flower {live}

Conservative Christian Theism and the Argument from Non-Obviousness

Rough draft: First pass.

Some apologists today describe the epistemic force of the case for theism in very modest terms: Christians are within their epistemic rights in believing in God. This sort of view allows that while it can be reasonable to be a theist, it can also be reasonable to be a non-theist.[1] Apologists who make these sorts of claims are often conservative Christians -- people who believe that, e.g., Paul's epistles are accurately recorded in the New Testament. 

However, I'm not sure I see how these two views can fit together coherently. For Paul seems to have thought that it's not possible for a normal adult to be a rational non-theist. In fact, he seems to think that such non-belief is only possible by illicitly suppressing the truth about what one knows about God. Here are some of Paul's words in Romans 1: 18-23: 
 "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." 

The plain reading of the text supports this, but it's further corroborated by standard conservative exegetical commentaries. Here's a representative sampling, taken from the Expositor's Bible Commentary:

Thus, from the passage above, it seems that Paul thinks that non-believers suppress the obvious truth about an evident God, and that the obviousness of the existence and nature of God is seen through the Creation. And if that's right, then it seems that the cost of the humble claims apologists make about the evidence for theism is holding a view that entails that Paul was wrong: what Paul says in the epistle to the Romans is false. It seems to me, then, that apologists have a choice: (i) defend the claim that the evidence makes the existence and nature of a theistic God evident, or (ii) reject conservative Christianity. 

Start with the first option. Taking this route requires apologists to defend the view that the existence and nature of God can not just be seen, but clearly seen (as Paul says in Romans), such that if some don't believe, then they are illicitly suppressing the truth about God. But that's a tough pill to swallow. For even among the Christian philosophers who think the evidence for theism isn't too shabby, few think the evidence is that strong. 

The other alternative is to say that Paul was wrong, and that what he said in Romans is false.[2] But again, that's a hard pill to swallow for a conservative Christian. In fact, that seems to be incompatible with conservative Christianity: at a minimum, they have to reject a doctrine taught by the apostle Paul. 

In short, it appears that a common contemporary apologetic stance about the evidence for theism is incompatible with conservative Christianity, and that this leads to a dilemma: either the apologist must hold onto Paul's teaching and strengthen their claim about the clarity and strength of the evidence for theism, or retain their modest claim about the evidence and reject Paul's teaching about it. But the former requires holding an implausible view about the strength of the evidence, and the latter requires saying that Paul's teaching in Romans is false. I'm not sure the apologist will be happy with either horn of this dilemma. 

In fact, it appears that one can take the argument further and state it as an argument against conservative Christian theism: 
1. Either the existence and nature of God are clearly seen through the creation or the apostle Paul was wrong. 
2. The existence and nature of God are not clearly seen through the creation (it's possible to survey the evidence for theism, and yet rationally disbelieve, or at least suspend judgement). 
3. Therefore, the apostle Paul was wrong. (from 1 and 2) 
4. If the apostle Paul was wrong, then conservative Christian theism is false. 
5. Therefore, conservative Christian theism is false. (from 3 and 4) 
This argument is stronger than the standard argument from divine hiddenness. For the latter is open to the Skeptical Theist reply that for all we know, God has reasons for remaining hidden, and these reasons are beyond our ability to grasp. But on the current argument, the NT seems to leave no room for this, as the NT seems to commit the conservative believer to the thesis that in fact God is not hidden; the evidence for his existence is not only seen, but clearly seen. 

[1] Of course, such a view is compatible with the view that the evidence for theism is much stronger than that. However, as I will argue below, conservative Christians are committed to the stronger, latter sort of view qua conservative Christians. 
[2] For simplicity's sake, I leave out the disjunct that the New Testament inaccurately reports what Paul said on the matter, as that option also entails that conservative Christian theism is false.

Travel Plans

Hi gang,

I'm going to a Philosophy workshop in Germany in a few weeks. I'll be in Paris from the 24th to the 27th, and Cologne from the 28th to the 29th. Any advice about food, lodging, pubs, etc. would be greatly appreciated. And if you're in the area, I'd be happy to meet up with you for a beer!


What God Would Have Known... the title of J.L. Schellenberg's forthcoming book , which offers a large number of novel arguments against Christian theism. I...