Posts tagged ‘philosophy of religion’

October 31st, 2014

10 Things That Annoy Philosophers

by Max Andrews

If you want to get under the skin of a philosopher there are a few ways to irk us. There’s more that just the annoyance of telling someone you’re a philosopher and they respond, “Oh, I took a psychology course in university!” Yes, that type of misunderstanding warrants the philosopher’s incredulous stare… just as these will:

10. “So, how will you make money? What do you do?”

Okay, so I’m not an engineer. I’m not a research chemist for a Fortune 500 corporation and I may not be able to work most blue collar tasks… However, I, and other philosophers, think (but there’s more!). For the philosopher, the act of philosophizing is not a mere intellectual exercise that could exist solely in consciousness. To the contrary, philosophy is a procedure and inquiry to the self, a “discovery and self-liberation.” The intellectual and cognitive acts of philosophy are participatory in their inquiry of the world. This would be very similar to the understanding that Socrates is the philosopher. He not only taught and philosophized, but he understood that the very act of philosophizing was an act of engagement with the world and it was a way of life.

9. The university administration putting philosophy in the periphery

Philosophy departments aren’t typically the big money-makers at university–typically. However, the university system needs to understand that the philosophy faculty, the philosophy students, and the discipline of philosophy in general is an investment rather than a moneymaker. I’ve seen firsthand that a university can divest in the philosophy department. Academia, the provost, the administrators, et al, need to view philosophy as the foundation by which a university is built and sustained.

September 3rd, 2014

The Podcast Archive

by Max Andrews

I’ve created an archive to store my Eavesdropping podcasts from SoundCloud and have made them available in the Archive Tab just below the site banner. Once I add a podcast I’ll be updating the archive as to not continuously flood the posts with the podcasts as the podcasts are coming out more frequently than the normal posts.

Eavesdropping is the podcast for Sententias. Eavesdropping is a conversational, informal podcast that is sometimes a monologue, or dialogue with guests, on various topics including philosophy, theology, science, contemporary events, and random meanderings of a philosopher. The primary focuses are, of course, philosophy of science, multiverse scenarios, and Molinism. I’m also an American living abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland so listeners will likewise get to hear about the European/British/Scottish experiences.

All content is copyrighted to Max Andrews with Sententias.org and the music for the podcasts have been used with permission by its composer and creator, Sam Andrews, who is studying music at Longwood University in Virginia, USA.

Please consider donating via my PayPal (also the yellow donate button on the right column) to help me continue my research and online presence. I’m always very grateful. Thank you.

For listening on the go, download the SoundCloud App:

Apple SoundCloud App

Google/Android SoundCloud App

Once you’ve downloaded the app from your respective store (free) then go to then open it up, find the search button and search for “Sententias”. Then you’ll find my podcast page and you can subscribe and listen from there an on the go!

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Below is the episode archive:

Eavesdropping Ep 1: AUG 7 2014

Eavesdropping Ep 2: AUG 8 2014 Affirmations & Denials

Eavesdropping Ep 3: AUG 9 2015 Tyler McNabb on Catholicism

Eavesdropping Ep4: Ignorant People are Often Ignorant of Ignorance

Eavesdropping Ep5: Many Worlds and Modal Realism

Eavesdropping Ep6: Advice to Serious Students

Eavesdropping Ep7: What I Think About Police

Eavesdropping Ep8: Beginner Philosophers

Eavesdropping Ep9: Max Baker-Hytch on Culture and Religious Belief

Eavesdropping Ep10: Science and Pseudoscience

Eavesdropping Ep11: Top Ten Movies from a Philosophical Perspective (or Not)

Eavesdropping Ep12: The Quantum Scale

Eavesdropping Ep13: Scientific Theology and Thomas Torrance

Eavesdropping Ep14: The Relationship Between Philosophy And Science

Eavesdropping Ep15: Escaping the Beginning of the Universe

Eavesdropping Ep16: Constructive Empiricism

Eavesdropping Ep17: What’s A Scientific Theory?

Eavesdropping Ep18: My Position On Creation

Eavesdropping Ep19: Top Ten Podcasts for Your Brain

Eavesdropping Ep20: How To Argue For God’s Existence

Eavesdropping Ep21: The New Moral Argument

Eavesdropping Ep22: The Likelihood Principle

Eavesdropping Ep23: Fine Tuning Lecture

August 10th, 2014

Eavesdropping Ep5: Many Worlds and Modal Realism

by Max Andrews

In Eavesdropping Ep5 I discuss my recent from Cambridge University where I presented a paper titled “The Ontology of Many Worlds and Thomistic Modal Realism”. This paper is a continuation of research from this summer’s forthcoming Philosophia Christi publication “God and the Multiverse” I coauthored with Dave Beck. The part of the paper that pertains particularly to the philosophy of science is also a part of doctoral research. There is another version of this paper that is more detailed though it excludes the initial theological/historical aspects. I included the theological preface for the presentation since it’s a continuation of “God and the Multiverse”. The current, more detailed technical paper has been submitted to a journal and is currently under review.

To view the paper please see: sententias.org/2014/07/07/many-w…dale-house-paper/

July 7th, 2014

Many Worlds and Modal Realism – Tyndale Fellowship Paper

by Max Andrews

I recently returned from my journey to Cambridge University where I presented a paper titled “The Ontology of Many Worlds and Thomistic Modal Realism”. This paper is a continuation of research from this summer’s forthcoming Philosophia Christi publication “God and the Multiverse” I coauthored with Dave Beck.

The part of the paper that pertains particularly to the philosophy of science is also a part of doctoral research. There is another version of this paper that is more detailed though it excludes the initial theological/historical aspects. I included the theological preface for the presentation since it’s a continuation of “God and the Multiverse”. The current, more detailed technical paper has been submitted to a journal and is currently under review.

DOWNLOAD “The Ontology of Many Worlds and Thomistic Modal Realism”

I received excellent feedback from the attendees and I’m grateful for the critiques.

DOWNLOAD AND LISTEN TO THE PRESENTATION AUDIO DOWNLOAD THE CORRESPONDING POWERPOINT

March 25th, 2014

Q&A 40: William Lane Craig on the Multiverse and Is Free Will Incoherent?

by Max Andrews

Q&A GraphicQuestion:

I accidentally found your blog recently ! Lots of great stuff and I’ll be definitely reading more. 2 questions though

1) I was watching the Craig/Carroll debate on cosmology. Craig seemed to say that the Boltzmann brain problem was a problem for all multiverse models and Carroll said it was just a problem for certain models. Who’s right?

2)  There’s this argument free will is incoherent. It seems persuasive to me.

“Some people imagine that there’s a thing that takes part in human decision making called free will. They say that while our actions are certainly influenced by our past experience, and by desires which we haven’t chosen, free will ultimately decides what to do with these inputs—it decides whether or not to follow the path pointed to by our experience and desires or to veto that course of action and settle on another.

If this is really the case, on what basis does this free will choose whether or not to ‘take control’? And when it does take control, how does it decide what to do?

It certainly can’t be reaching its decisions according to our desires or past experience, because these factors are already represented by the ‘non-free’ part of our will. Free will, to earn its keep, must be operating differently. So what’s left as a basis for the decisions of free will? Maybe free will acts at random, but surely if that’s the case then it doesn’t seem to deserve to be called free at all.

June 12th, 2013

Q&A 26: Revisiting the Viability of Theistic Explanations

by Max Andrews

Question:

This is a follow up question from week 16. For a greater context please see that Q&A.

OK, thank you so much!

I’ll go through your reply point by point more or less, but I’ll try my best to be concise.

On successful research programs – Correct me if I’m wrong, but you seem to assume that science and philosophy aren’t continuous. Perhaps this is based on the idea that science is committed to methodological naturalism (MN). But what do you think of the idea that science isn’t looking for the best naturalistic explanations, but the best explanations, period; and it just so happens that naturalistic explanations have a successful track record and supernatural ones don’t? In other words, MN need not be seen as a presupposition of science, but as sensible advice based on past experience – MN has been tremendously successful before, so why not be committed to it? My point is this: it seems that, unless we assume science and philosophy (qua explanatory practice, at least) are discontinuous, your appeal to God as a metaphysical explanation (as opposed to a scientific one) is questionable.

March 26th, 2013

Q&A 16: How Robust Are Theistic Explanations?

by Max Andrews

Q&A GraphicQuestion:

Hello Max,

I’m currently reading on philosophy of religion, and I came across your site. You admit to being a “staunch proponent of abductive arguments”. It made me curious as to what your thoughts were regarding arguments against theistic explanations (such as those given in Gregory Dawes’ Theism and Explanation). For example, theistic explanations don’t fulfill explanatory virtues such as being part of successful research program (most theistic explanations failed in the past), being informative (they don’t describe in great detail the mechanisms involved in divine activity), being testable, being coherent with our background knowledge (arguably, all our knowledge involves embodied minds, so positing a disembodied one is theoretically costly), and having ontological economy (theistic explanations posit a radically new set of substances). 
 
Furthermore, given God’s omniperfection, we can expect that he will fulfill his intentions in the best possible way. But to the extent that the phenomena to be explained don’t seem to be the product of the best possible way of being actualized, it is to that extent we can doubt that God’s activity is the explanation for that phenomena. We need good reason to think the phenomena to be explained was actualized in the best possible way; otherwise, the theistic explanation won’t work.
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August 3rd, 2012

The Compatibility of Divine Foreknowledge and Human Freedom Contra William Hasker

by Max Andrews

William Hasker is deeply committed to the position that man holds some level of libertarian freedom.  In his section on “Freedom, Necessity, and God,” Hasker takes the libertarian to task by challenging him with free will’s compatibility with divine foreknowledge.[1]  Hasker proposes an argument suggesting that divine foreknowledge is just as inconsistent with free will as predestination.[2]  Consider his argument:

1.  It is now true that I will have a cheese omelet for breakfast tomorrow.  (Assumption)
2.  It is impossible that God should at any time believe anything false or fail to believe anything which is true (Assumption:  divine omniscience)
3.  Therefore God has always believed that I will have a cheese omelet for breakfast tomorrow.  (Inference from 1 and 2)
4.  If God has always believed a certain thing, it is not in my power to bring it about that God has not always believed that thing.  (Assumption: the inalterability of the past)
5.  Therefore it is not in my power to bring it about that God has not always believed that I will have a cheese omelet for breakfast tomorrow.  (Inference from 3 and 4)
6.  It is not possible for it to be true both that God has always believed that I will have a cheese omelet for breakfast tomorrow, and that I do not in fact have one.  (Inference from 2)
7.  Therefore it is not in my power to refrain from having a cheese omelet for breakfast tomorrow.  (Inference from 5 and 6) So I do not have free will with respect to the decision whether or not to eat an omelet.[3]

June 14th, 2012

A Short Response to William Rowe’s “The Problem of Evil”

by Max Andrews

See William Rowe, “The Problem of Evil,” in Philosophy of Religion (Belmont: CA, Wadsworth, 2007), 112-31.

Rowe makes a strong positive case for why atheism is true.  He supposes that, as especially in the absence of other arguments, anyone who observes the amount of human and animal suffering in the world and the truth of premise 1 in the evidential argument (that there are probably pointless evils) then this person would be rationally justified in believing atheism to be true. He presents two basic forms of the argument:  the logical and the evidential problems of evil.  The logical problem of evil argues that the existence of God and the existence of evil are logically contradictory claims.  However, these aren’t explicitly contradictory—they are implicit (i.e. a married bachelor is an implicit contradiction and a married non-married person is an explicit contradiction).  Rowe recognizes that we must abandon the logical problem of evil because the contradiction has yet to be proved (though he states that just because it has yet to be demonstrated doesn’t necessarily mean there isn’t one).

The evidential problem is a probabilistic argument, which argues that given the apparent [pointless] evil it is more probable that God does not exist than if God does exist.  He uses the example of a fawn suffering for no apparent reason.  Given that God would prevent this from happening and the fact that it does happen then God doesn’t seem to exist.  Rowe seems to favor this form of the problem of evil over the logical problem.

Each of the arguments is countered with theistic objections to the problem of evil such as the free will defense and other theodicies.  Rowe gives fair attention and representation of the competing explanations.  He concedes that there are certainly rational grounds for believing in theism and advocates a form of friendly agnosticism or atheism and discourages any unfriendly forms of agnosticism or atheism.

June 11th, 2012

Stephen Wyksrta’s “Toward a Sensible Evidentialism: On the Notion of ‘Needing Evidence’”

by Max Andrews

Wykstra argues contra ‘Calvinian’ epistemology, a la Alvin Plantinga, which suggests that belief in God is properly basic.  Wykstra puts forth a case for evidentialism.  His goal was to not refute Plantinga’s view but instead relocate the discussion so that evidentialism will appear as a viable option. With this option of evidentialism he doesn’t attempt to say that it’s necessarily absent from a Calvinian point of view but that Calvinians’ need to understand the role of evidence.  It’s not that evidentialism is wrong or that the Calvinian can’t use evidentialism but it’s that Calvinians can have their claim of properly basic beliefs without completely dismissing the evidentialist position.

Logically prior to such inferential reasoning is intuition or basic beliefs.  These beliefs may also be considered properly basic.  The belief that this glass of water in front of me will quench my thirst if I drink it is not inferred back from previous experiences coupled with an application of a synthetic a priori principle of induction.  Though this example is not how we form our beliefs psychologically or historically, it can be formed via instances of past experience and induction in the logical sense.  This is how the properly basic beliefs are related to God’s existence. 

Wykstra’s argument: