May 20th, 2015

New EPS 2015 Conference Paper on the Moral Argument

by Max Andrews

column_leftDave Beck and I have had another paper accepted for this year’s Evangelical Philosophical Society’s annual conference. This year the conference is in Atlanta so I may try to attend it this year but if I’m unable to (contingent on funds and teaching schedule) Dave will be presenting the paper on behalf of both of us.

Date: November 18 at 9:20am

All of my [and our] previous papers have been concerning, primarily, the philosophy of science with the philosophy of religion in tow. Ethics is a new area of professional research for me but the paper will focus on both the ethics/metaethics of the argument and the logic and rationale.

Here’s the abstract to our paper “The Internal Logic of the Moral Argument”:

All of the theistic arguments have the following logical pattern: (1) identify a particular in need of explanation. (2) Eliminate all natural explanations. (3) Conclude to a non-natural alternative. The uniqueness of the Moral Argument, as an attempt to explain moral obligation, is that the non-natural alternative only emerges in the course of the argument and in two phases: (a) A best explanation phase in which neither natural/causal nor the human/free model works. (b) This, in turn, sets up the following dilemma: a fitting explanation must be personal (not causal) but it cannot be other persons because all persons are free and equal in relation to moral obligation. This forces the abduction to the conclusion that there must be a superperson somehow authorized to obligate persons.

The logic of the argument itself forces us to an inference to the best explanation that avoids the aforementioned dilemma: another person, but who is authorized to legislate ethics. In defending our argument we will construct a clear abductive argument, which factors in the set of all explananda. The explanans that we will infer to is a morally capable person and what is of paramount note is that this explanation does not take us fully to the Anselmian God. That is a task for further arguments and sub-arguments.

May 15th, 2015

Tyndale Cambridge: Presenting on Divine Foreknowledge and Human Freedom and Actual Infinites

by Max Andrews

This July, at the Tydale philosophy conference at the University of Cambridge, I’ll be doing a response paper to ”Can Divine timelessness reconcile libertarian human freedom and divine knowledge of future human actions?”. This was a prize winning paper with Tyndale and I will be responding to this year’ plenary speaker, who will be presenting this paper.


An age-old problem for theists is the apparent irreconcilability of God’s omniscience with libertarian human freedom. If God knows what I will do tomorrow, and is infallible, then it appears that I am unable to refrain from acting in accordance with this knowledge. The pervasiveness of this problem is an important reason for many philosophers (from Boethius, Augustine and Aquinas, through to Helm, Leftow and Stump) holding that God is timeless. I will explain how a timeless God is alleged to avoid the sting of the freedom-foreknowledge dilemma, before demonstrating why I believe that this account fails.

April 8th, 2015

Explanation, Teleology, and Efficient Causation in Science

by Max Andrews

Inference to the Best Explanation Revisited (Our Method of Inquiry)

  • When using certain theoretical terms, as in the inference to quarks, the epistemic process cannot restrict explanations to only natural or empirical explanations. If one attempts to strip science of all metaphysical import then material causation is the only sufficient form of scientific explanation. However, this has an unnecessary restriction on science and is incongruent with one’s epistemology (if it is to be robust). The robust epistemology certainly accounts for inferential explanations that are not necessarily required to be material. The epistemic methodology may be identical to a non-scientific context but when this methodology is applied in a scientific context then the explanation is ruled out a priori with no [apparent] justification (hence the removal of efficient and final causation from science). Thus, scientific explanations must not necessarily be material explanations. Remember, by using inferential explanations such as quarks and protons we observer their effects and infer as to what the best antecedent causal explanation may be. It’s an issue over the identity of what antecedent causes could be. (In a normal epistemic process the antecedent may be agency).

March 14th, 2015

“So, You’re New Around Here?” A Beginner’s Guide to Christianity

by Max Andrews

Over the last few years of maintaining Sententias I’ve decided to start a very long series that may be used to assist the curious and the new believers. The material will progress from the most basic elements of theology and philosophy [as it relates to the faith]. Then it will progress towards other doctrinal issues and then on to more peripheral issues. All the while there will be intermittent points of reflection and Bible study material.

This will be designed for either a group of individuals (if someone is being discipled by a mature Christian) or by someone who happens to be alone (where this can help get them going until they can find someone to teach them one on one).

I will soon post an outline of what I intended to include. The general format will be that of the famous spider web example. In the centre of the web will be the essentials (e.g. the existence of God, deity of Jesus, atonement, repentance and faith, etc.). In the inner rings will be important but non-salvific and non-gospel issues (e.g. theories of the atonement [I will advocate substitionary], biblical inerrancy, etc.). Then on the more outer rings there will be tentatively held issues like dating, authorships, textual transmission, gifts of the Holy Spirit, etc.

March 5th, 2015

Molinism: A Podcast Interview

by Max Andrews

Julian Charles at The Mind Renewed asked me some questions concerning Molinism. Please listen to the interview and subscribe to his podcast. See the tags at the bottom of the page for all the topics that came up and were mentioned during the interview.

TMR 076 : Max Andrews : Molinism – A Glimpse into the Mind of God?

If God knows the future, how can I be free? If there’s human evil in the world, how can God be good? If people live beyond the reach of the Gospel, how can God be all-loving?

This week we are joined by the philosopher Max Andrews for a fascinating look at the mind-bending and strange (yet potentially illuminating) world of Molinism, a philosophical position on God’s omniscience and providence that offers potential solutions to a whole host of theological conundrums.

March 3rd, 2015

Can Laws of Nature Evolve?

by Max Andrews

Given that we live in an evolutionary universe where stars are born from a cosmic dust and the gravitational affects on such dust particles form intense, massive, hot stars and where life can evolve from simplicity to complexity, or so it’s postulated; could the laws of nature evolve as well? It’s an important question. If we say the universe and life evolves does that mean everything can evolve or evolution is only possible with a given consistency of a non-evolutionary framework?

The following are a few questions raised in light of Rupert Sheldrake’s The Science Delusion: Freeing The Spirit Of Enquiry. 

The argument that he advances in the chapter involves something he calls ‘habits’, which are “a kind of memory inherent in nature”. (From what I understand, he has also advanced this within a theory of ‘morphic resonance’ in his other published works.) Putting aside his case for these ‘habits’, three questions that he poses to materialists at the end of the chapter caught my eye:

1) If the laws of nature existed before the Big Bang, and governed the Big Bang from its first instant, where were they?

2) If the laws and constants of nature all came into being at the moment of the Big Bang, how does the universe remember them? Where are they ‘imprinted’?

3) How do you know that the laws of nature are fixed and not evolutionary?

March 2nd, 2015

Kuhn on Scientific Paradigms

by Max Andrews

Thomas Kuhn Scientific RevolutionsKuhn on Scientific Revolutions and Paradigm Shifts

  • Scientific revolutions are here taken to be those non-cumulative developmental episodes in which an older paradigm is replaced in whole or in part by an incompatible new one. Paradigms are incommensurable (no common measure—can we really do that and still talk about different models?). (g. planets)
    • “Suddenly the fragments in my head sorted themselves out in a new way, and fell into place together. My jaw dropped, for all at once Aristotle seemed a very good physicist indeed, but of a sort I’d never dreamed possible. Now I can understand why he had said what he’d said, and what his authority had been. Statements that previously seemed egregious mistakes, now seemed at worst near misses within a powerful and generally successful tradition.”[1]
  • When paradigms enter into a debate about paradigm choice, their role is necessarily circular. Each group uses its own paradigm to argue in that paradigm’s defense. (This circularity doesn’t necessarily make the arguments wrong or ineffectual.)
    • There’s no such thing as paradigm independent data. Interpreting the data is paradigm specific. There is no theory-neutral data. No theory-neutral data ≠ objective knowledge. (Kuhn claimed this criticism was the result of a misunderstanding of him.) He claimed that when a scientific revolution occurs, “The world changes.” (He wanted to apply Scientific Revolutions to the contemporary science of his day but was constantly having to modify his philosophy in responding to critics.)
    • Anomalies: The parallax of the angles between stars and the earth every six months. The lack of difference between angles was thought to show a Ptolemaic universe; however, the Copernican view allowed for this by suggesting that the angles were insignificant to their measurements (technological limitation) because the stars were too far away. Anomalies may also simply be ignored or counted as, simply, irrelevant until they build an undercutting consensus.

February 15th, 2015

Oscars 2015 Predictions: Philosophy and Film

by Max Andrews

The following is a guest post by Michael Muniz. Michael and I did our MA’s together. I’ve wanted to get Michael on the site for a long time and we finally got a post. I hope you enjoy it.


A little bit of who I am: I have a BA in English and Academic Certificate in Film Studies from Florida International University, and an MA in Philosophical Studies from Liberty University. My thesis was on the Philosophy of Film Narratology. I’m currently a high school teacher (my 8th year) and an adjunct professor of philosophy and ethics at various colleges in South Florida. I’ve written chapters for several books in the pop culture and philosophy series including: Psych and Philosophy, Jurassic Park and Philosophy, Adventure Time and Philosophy, BioShock and Philosophy, and Jim Henson and Philosophy. I’ve also spoken at many pop culture and philosophy conferences around the nation including ComicCon and Mythcon. You can follow me on Facebook at Michael Muniz, and on Twitter @zinum777, and I have an author page on

February 10th, 2015

Caring for Sarah – A War Against Chronic Illness

by Max Andrews

I’ve been very touched and invested of the story about Michael and Sarah Chardavoyne. Sarah has been in the fiercest battle with Lyme Disease and Michael has been a faithful, loving husband to her.

Below is an excerpt from their fundraising page, written by Sarah’s father. Please continue reading and watch the video on their site. See the joy, the pain, the fidelity, and the love. As of today, they are halfway to their needed goal to provide the care she needs. They have 8 days to go. Anything helps…

As a father I always wanted what every dad wanted; a healthy child who achieves the dreams that God placed upon their heart, and shares life with their soul mate. Last year Sarah, married the man God put on this earth to become her soul mate, but still searches to fulfill the fullness of health and complete her aspirations.

In December of 2013 I didn’t look at Sarah’s wedding as giving my daughter away but more as I was gaining a son. My son- in-law, Michael, didn’t know when he said his vows on that day how quickly he would have to live up to those words: in sickness and health. For better and for worse.

February 5th, 2015

Rationalism and Empiricism

by Max Andrews

Rationalism & Empiricism, a priori & a posteriori, Analytic & Synthetic—Differences?

In regards to rationalism and empiricism, the rationalist says that knowledge can be known by reason alone whereas the empiricist will claim that knowledge is derived from the senses–we are born tabula rasa, a blank slate for a mind and we fill that slate with sense perceptions. The rationalist will have no problem affirming the synthetic a priori and analytic a posteriori category. The empiricist will primarily affirm the analytic a priori and synthetic a posteriori (although there is definite psychological overlap–the affirmations primarily concern epistemic justification).

Analytic Synthetic
a priori “All bachelors are not married.”

“Triangles have three angles.”

Mathematics (4+8+15+16+23+42=108)

Objective Morality? (e.g. Kant’s pure reason)

a posteriori “Gold has the atomic weight of 196.966543” “This elephant is gray.”

“Edinburgh receives more rain than the Sahara.”

Subjective Morality? (e.g. “Twenty’s Plenty”)