Not too long ago I read Paul Moser’s recent book, The Evidence for God: Religious Knowledge Reexamined (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010) and overall I think it’s a fabulous book that is worth reading carefully. He provides an insightful critique of both “nontheistic naturalism” and fideism (chapters two and three, respectively) that should be helpful to anyone interested in the philosophy of religion (his critique of Kierkegaard’s “leap of faith” is devastating). His rejection of fideism should not, however, lead one to think he’s a supporter of natural theology. He rejects that too (chapter four), and quite forcefully. This rejection of natural theology is what I’d like to briefly address in the remainder of this post.
To be clear, this shouldn’t be read as a full evaluation of Moser’s rejection of natural theology. He’s simply written far too much on the subject for me to tackle in a blog post. In what follows I want to address what seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding, at least as expressed in The Evidence for God, of 1) the aim of natural theology and 2) its scope. Continue reading
Last week Tyndale University College announced that Richard Davis has been promoted to Professor of Philosophy. This promotiton is a significant achievement and I wanted to use the occasion to say a few words about my good friend and colleague.
A brief look at Rich’s CV makes it obvious that this is a well deserved honor. In addition to a monograph on theistic metaphysics, he’s published over 25 scholarly articles and edited three books. He’s served on the Executive Committee of the Evangelical Philosophical Society and has served as a referee for numerous shcolarly journals. Even more impressive than the number of scholarly works he’s published is the range of topics those works cover. While much of his work is in metaphysics, he’s also published important articles in philosophy of religion, apologetics, ethics, epistemology, and even a few on the Arabic philosophers Al-Kindi and Averroes. After finishing up one of our frequent office conversations, I would often ask myself if there were any areas of philosophy that he’s not thought deeply about. His publication record suggests there may not be.
I could go on for some time listing out Rich’s wonderful attributes as a scholar, but I’ll leave that for now. After all, I would be quite sad if an administrator at some other school read this and decided he should be working for them instead! I would, however, like to conclude by sharing a few words about what it’s been like to have Rich as a colleague.
In deciding whether to come to Tyndale I did a bit of asking around about the school. In doing so I had three different people say to me nearly the exact same thing. Each of them said something along the lines of, “I can’t imagine how you could ever have a better colleague than Rich.” After five years at Tyndale, I can enthusiastically report that they spoke the truth! In addition to giving me valuable advice about how to manage the responsibilities of teaching full-time (constructing syllabi, engaging students in the classroom, etc.), he has also always taken the time to talk with me about projects I’ve been working on. I’ve not catalogued it, but I bet we’ve discussed the core argument for every paper I’ve published or presented since coming to Tyndale. In fact, he’s spent so much time talking with me about my projects that I sometimes wonder how he has the intellectual energy to work on his own! There’s no doubt that he’s made me a far better philosopher than I would’ve been otherwise and for that I will always be deeply grateful.
If you’re not yet familiar with Rich’s writings, I highly suggest you take some time to peruse them. A great place to start would be his contributions to the Christ-Shaped Philosophy Project (“Christian Philosophy: For Whose Sake?” and “What Counts as Christian Philosophy?“) that are both freely accessible on the Evangelical Philosophical Society’s blog. See also his forthcoming co-edited book, Loving God with Your Mind: Essays in Honor of J.P. Moreland.
If you’re on Twitter, follow Rich at @DavisRBr. You can also follow the Tyndale Philosophy Department at @TyndaleUCPhilos or follow me at @wpaul.
The discussion in the Christ-Shaped Philosophy Project just gets better and better. In the latest round of exchanges, Charles Taliaferro (St. Olaf College) claims that Paul Moser (Loyola), who has repeatedly warned philosophers about the dangers of cognitive idolatry, is himself guilty of the very “form of reasoning he condemns as idolatry” . This is a fascinating tu quo que. I mean to briefly dispute it here. Continue reading
We philosophers at Tyndale University College try to regularly point out to students that taking basic courses in critical reasoning and logic can be immensely valuable—even for non-philosophers. In particular, students that plan to enter some type of vocational ministry or plan to pursue an academic career in biblical studies or theology really should become well versed in basic elements of reasoning. We stress this point because, unfortunately, we too often come across eminent scholars that have committed rudimentary errors in reasoning. Take, for example, Paul Enns. Continue reading
In a recent talk at Ryerson University’s “God and the Multiverse” workshop, Timothy O’Connor presented a materialist account of the Incarnation, which, he claimed, was “free of demonstrable incoherence.”1 Here I’ll briefly lay out an argument for incoherence that can be assembled from various claims made in the talk, and then suggest that O’Connor’s proposed “way out” isn’t wholly attractive. Continue reading
If you are at all familiar with the young earth creation position, you’ll know that it is essential to that view that there was no death (whatsoever) prior to the Fall. In a previous post, I looked at an invalid exegetical argument for the conclusion that not even plants died before the Fall. Here is a different sort of argument–this time attempting to show that death was not even “latent” in Adam and Eve (A&E) before the Fall. Continue reading
One of the courses I teach at Tyndale University College is Philosophy of Mind. We spend all semester talking about the common options one might take when it comes to the mind’s relationship to the body (assuming there is such a thing as a ‘mind’). Given that Tyndale is a Christian university, I like to conclude the term with a discussion of how one’s account of mind and body makes sense of the resurrection. To that end, I have my students read Trenton Merricks’s, “The Resurrection of the Body and the Life Everlasting.” I think he does a good job of setting up the various issues, the downside is that in it he also makes his case for physicalism (I say it’s a downside because I think physicalism is false—other physicalists will obviously see this as a benefit!). Continue reading