Elvis Costello - Green Shirt

Paul Draper's Upcoming Plantinga Lecture

Paul Draper (Purdue), my favorite philosopher of religion, is currently a Plantinga Fellow at the Notre Dame Center for Philosophy of Religion. He will be giving the ninth annual Plantinga Lecture in October, which will be on the problem of evil. Here is the content of the announcement:

The Ninth Annual Plantinga Lecture is scheduled for October 1, 2010 at 3:00pm in the auditorium of the Eck Visitors' Center. The 2010 - 2011 Plantinga Fellow, Paul Draper, Professor of Philosophy, Purdue University, will deliver a lecture entitled " God and Evil: A Philosophical Inquiry." Reception in the atrium immediately following. All are welcome.

Presumably, Draper will be presenting material from his forthcoming monograph on the evidential problem of evil. It thus looks like it'll be a way to get a sneak peak at his main line of argument.

Forthcoming Book on Divine Evil

In my view, the strongest version of the problem of evil is (what David Lewis called) the problem of divine evil, i.e., evil directly caused or mandated by the God of Abrahamic faiths (according to scripture). And as many readers of this blog know, the problem of divine evil is currently a hot topic in philosophy of religion (recall, for example, the recent conference at Notre Dame that was devoted to the topic, as well as these recent journal articles).

Well, a new collection of papers on the topic is scheduled to come out in November: Bergmann, Murray, and Rea (eds) Divine Evil? The Moral Character of the God of Abraham (Oxford University Press). I imagine it will be required reading for those researching the issue. Here's the blurb:

Adherents of the Abrahamic religions have traditionally held that God is morally perfect and unconditionally deserving of devotion, obedience, love, and worship. The Jewish, Christian, and Islamic scriptures tell us that God is compassionate, merciful, and just. As is well-known, however, these same scriptures contain passages that portray God as wrathful, severely punitive, and jealous. Critics furthermore argue that the God of these scriptures commends bigotry, misogyny, and homophobia, condones slavery, and demands the adoption of unjust laws-for example, laws that mandate the death penalty for adultery and rebellion against parents, and laws institutionalizing in various ways the diverse kinds of bigotry and oppression just mentioned. In recent days, these sorts of criticisms of the Hebrew Bible have been raised in new and forceful ways by philosophers, scientists, social commentators, and others. This volume brings together eleven original essays representing the views of both critics and defenders of the character of God as portrayed in these texts. Authors represent the disciplines of philosophy, religion, and Biblical studies. Each essay is accompanied by comments from another author who takes a critical approach to the thesis defended in that essay, along with replies by the essay's author.

More Troubles for Molinism

On another occasion, we noted Dean Zimmerman's powerful critique of middle knowledge. Here's another: Keith DeRose's new paper, "The Conditionals of Deliberation", Mind 119 (Jan. 2010). Here is the link. For a more explicit connection between the paper and the problems it poses for middle knowledge, see this related ancestor to the paper. This of course raises problems for Plantinga's specific version of the free will defense (although not necessarily for other versions).

The Waning of Materialism?

A piece of news I forgot to mention at the appropriate time: Robert Koons' edited volume with OUP, The Waning of Materialism, came out in April. As the title suggests, it's an evaluation of materialism, or what I have elsewhere called 'Conservative Naturalism'. I'm especially looking forward to reading the papers from Burge, Horgan, Jubien, Almog, and De Caro, which offer explorations and defenses of Moderate and Liberal forms of naturalism.

My guess is that some apologists will use some of the points in the volume to employ the Common Apologetic Strategy to argue from non-materialism to theism.

P.S., Perhaps it's worth noting that (Christian philosopher) Koons previously contributed to a volume similar to the one he has edited here. Why does he want to put out another one? The cynical side of me is tempted to think he did it primarily to have another book available for Christian apologists to appeal to in their books and in other apologetic contexts. ("See? It's not just us Christians who are saying materialism is in trouble. We've got Burge, et al. saying it, too!"). A causal glance at the book reveals two key differences between the previous volume and the current one: (i) this one goes up a notch in prestige from Routledge to Oxford University Press (although Routledge is of course a great academic publisher), and (ii) this one isn't written solely by axe-grinding Christian apologists of the likes of Craig, Moreland, Dembski, et al. (as the last one was). I expect references to the book to be in constant rotation among apologists for quite a while (I'm looking at you, WLC).

More Philosophy in the New York Times

Real philosophy by a real philosopher (Timothy Williamson!) in the NY Times. Bonus: the topic falls within my primary AOS.

Fwiw: The accounts of modal epistemology and of philosophical methodology I defended in my dissertation are somewhat similar to Williamson's as explicated in his The Philosophy of Philosophy.

Science and Faith: Are They Compatible?

...is the name of the (forthcoming) point/counterpoint book between Alvin Plantinga and Daniel Dennett. Here's the link to the page at OUP. It looks to be an expansion of their debate at the 2009 APA Central Division conference.

Gary Gutting Replies to Dawkins in the New York Times


FWIW: I think apologists occasionally make things easy on themselves by focusing on Dawkins' philosophical criticisms of theism (for the real thing, read Wielenberg's paper). For example, I think his stuff on the prima facie immoral character of the God Yahweh, as depicted in the Old Testament (e.g., divinely-mandated genocide, etc.) isn't half bad.

A Little Armchair-Phi vs. X-Phi Humor

(based on a lyric from this song by the philosopher band, The 21st Century Monads. That's philosopher Carrie Jenkins singing.)

New Survey Article on Religious Belief and the Epistemology of Disagreement

...by Michael Thune, in Philosophy Compass. Here is the link.

UPDATE: Graham Oppy has a new paper on the epistemology of religious disagreement as well. Here is the link.

Hume Quote of the Day

"Though the chain of arguments . . . were ever so logical, there must arise a strong suspicion, if not an absolute assurance, that it has carried us quite beyond the reach of our faculties, when it leads to conclusions so extraordinary, and so remote from common life and experience. We are got into fairy land, long ere we have reached the last steps of our theory; and there we have no reason to trust our common methods of argument, or to think that our usual analogies and probabilities have any authority. Our line is too short to fathom such abysses."

David Hume. An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, section 7, part 1.

Special Issue of Theologica In Honor of Dean Zimmerman

  Here . His replies to participants should be available by the end of the year.