I recently saw Neil deGrasse-Tyson’s list of eight books for intelligent people to read and, though they aren’t all bad, there are much more profound books. So, naturally, there will be some overlap, though probably for different reasons, as well as a variety of topics as my focus also includes being cultured.
Being a member of academia or modern intelligentsia is great but if you don’t get out of your ivory tower and aren’t knowledgable in culture, pop-culture, history, the arts, music, etc. then you’re taking up a small niche of intelligentsia.
Aside from the diversity I just alluded to, my criteria will also include the impact the works have had on society[ies] and may include overlapping books for a single author–particularly if the books are integral to the ideology or thesis being presented.
Without further ado, let the countdown begin:
10. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Part philosopher, part theologian, and part literary genius, Dostoevsky depicts the problem of evil and a world without God in a magnificent way. The book is about two brothers in Russia during the Russian depression and war and one brother is an atheist and one is a Christian. The atheist plots to kill their father while the Christian struggles to convince him that there is objective morality. This is where we get Karamazov’s theorem: ☐(~Eg ⊃ ∀ϕ~Wϕ)
November 19-21 was this year’s annual Evangelical Philosophical Society’s conference. I coauthored a paper with Dave Beck of Liberty University. This is the third year in a row I’ve had a paper accepted for presentation at EPS.
Abstract: Due to advances in cosmology and theoretical physics the origin of the universe is being relentlessly debated. Nevertheless, whether there is one universe or even an infinite plurality of universes, Thomas Aquinas’ argument for the existence of a first cause from contingency circumvents the debate of temporal beginnings to the universe; such as those that are embedded within the kalam cosmological argument. Tensed, tenseless, dynamic, static, endurantist, and perdurantist theories of time will be irrelevant or be peripheral at best. Physical science as a system will always require further explanation, not mere description, and that explanation will always have to appeal to something outside of itself. This is true for any philosophical and/or theological explanation of science. In this paper we will attempt a consilience of Thomas’ argument from contingency and modern cosmology to show that regardless of whether the universe had a temporal beginning, or what the nature of that beginning might have been, it would still be best explained by a first uncaused cause. We will defend Thomas’ notion of radical contingency and argue against a necessitation understanding of Thomas that is often misattributed to him. This metaphysic will be used as a plausible and defensible abductive cosmological argument, which will appeal to the radical contingency of constituents of the universe, and thus take the form of an argument to the best explanation.
This is the third year in a row I’ve had a paper accepted for presentation at EPS (coauthoring with Dave Beck). This paper will help thresh out some of my research concerning the behaviour of natural law as well as methodology in a philosophy of cosmology. In the paper I will be able to examine different cosmological models (primarily multiverse models) and consider the necessitarian vs. regularity debate as well as the metaphysical and modal status of natural law and the ontological furniture of all reality. This is relevant to several sections of my thesis and the peer feedback offered by conferences such as this are vital to have external minds critiquing my proposed models for many universes and, what I believe to be, the radical metaphysical contingency of worlds.
The following is an article my PhD mentor, Alasdair Richmond, wrote for The Conversation.
As Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary looms, time travel is everywhere – on the screen, at least. Famously, the Doctor can whizz through the years using a “dimensionally transcendental” machine, the TARDIS, and make changes to the past as and when he likes. But what is time travel – and how much of “Doctor Who” might really be possible?
A handy definition of time travel comes from philosopher David Lewis. Lewis says time travel involves a journey having different durations viewed from outside (in “external time”) or from inside (in “personal time”). Suppose you spend five minutes travelling aboard your machine, as measured by (e.g.) your watch and your memories. On arrival, you find 150 years have elapsed in the outside world. Congratulations, you have time-travelled. Five minutes of your personal time has covered 150 years of external time.
Several years ago I was taking a [required] course that teaches creationism. I have a few comments about the course I’ll keep to myself [as in it shouldn’t be in the university] but I think most readers know where I stand on university and academia issues and standards. I was asked the question, “Is it surprising that scientific evidence supports a young earth perspective?”
My response is simply that this is a loaded question. I don’t think I can say there’s no evidence for a young earth; however, I find the record of nature to support the proposition that the universe is old (billions of years) by overwhelming evidence. There is hardly any evidence for a young earth, if indeed there is any at all.
Hey Max I have a few questions about your cosmological argument from Thomas Aquinas:
(1) Did Aquinas believe in creation out of nothing?
(2) Did Aquinas believe that the universe existed eternally side by side with God even though it was contingent?
Also, how can be God be timeless on the view that the universe did not begin to exist? If God’s relation to the universe is always present, would that not imply an eternal relation of God with the universe, which would involve time itself? It is difficult for me to make sense of how God could be timeless on this view and not simply temporal.
Here’s the short answers:
2) I don’t think Thomas would phrase it that way but Thomas is okay with a creation that has existed for an infinite duration in the past–emphasizing the radical contingency.
I have a question regarding God being all-knowing in light of the impossibility of an actual infinite set.
I assume the following premises:
· God knows all true propositions of past, present and future.
· God does not learn anything but has always known everything. If He was to learn something that would imply there was something He did not know, which would mean He is not all-knowing.
· It is impossible to contain or hold an infinite set because such an action would imply that it is finite instead of infinite.
Are these three premises valid? If they are, does it follow that the number of events in the future are finite? If so, how does that cohere with the belief that we will be in relation with God for all eternity?
Hi Max,I watched a debate between Phil Fernandes v Jeffrey Lowder. Lowder rebuts the cosmological argument saying that indeed it is only in space and time that whatever begins to exist must have a cause, but that out of the realm of space and time we do not know. He therefore argues that the universe is just there. About the beginning of the universe, Lowder says that naturalists who believe in the big bang model do not believe that the universe popped out of nothing. They believe that there was no time at which the universe did not exist, and there is no place the universe came from. On naturalism, the universe just is, and that’s all. Secondly, there is no reason to believe that the universe had a cause. He says the argument that everything that begins to exist (in space and time) is correct. However, when the universe came to exist, it was not in space and time. The origin of the universe is the very origin of space and time itself.Similarly, Peter Millican in his debate with Craig asked Bill, where the evidence was that whatever begins to exist must have a cause. All we have in the universe are rearrangements of already existing materials. I do not recall if Craig answered this argument directly.What are your thoughts on the above arguments?
As advocated by St. Anselm, God is a maximally perfect being. If ignorance is an imperfection, all things being equal [according to Ockham’s razor], then it is greater to be knowledgeable. To prevent initial detractions from the classical definition of omniscience, omniscience should be understood as knowing all truths.
O. For any agent x, x is omniscient= def. For every statement s, if s is true, then x knows that s and does not believe that not-s.
If there are truths about future contingents, God, as an omniscient being must know these truths. Since there are truths about the future, that is to say, since statements about future contingents are either true or false, and they are not all false, God must therefore know all truths about the future, which is to say He knows future-tense facts; He knows what will happen. One may try to avoid this reasoning by contending that future-tense statements are neither true nor false, so that there are no facts about the future. Since the future does not exist, it is claimed that the respective future-tense statements cannot be true or false, simply without truth. To make this assertion is a misunderstanding behind the statement’s truth claim. For a future tense-statement to be true it is not required that what it describes exist, but that it will exist. In order for a future-tense statement to be true, all that is required is that when the moment described arrives, the present-tense version of the statement will be true at that moment. Nicholas Rescher gives an illustration for this assertion:
Traditionally, there are two models for how God preserves the existence of the universe. The first is creatio originans (originating creation), which suggests that there has been one initial act of creation and God conserves that reality through a temporal duration. Consider the following definition.
D1. God conserves e if and only if God acts upon e to bring about e’s enduring from t until some t* > t through every subinterval of the interval t –> t*.
Thomas Aquinas de-temporalizes creatio ex nihilo. Thus, Thomas is not very concerned with divine conservation as described above since he does not offer a tensed version of creation nor does he differentiate between conservation and creation. Thomas’ model of creatio continuans (continual creation) can therefore be depicted as:
D2. God continuously creates x = def.x is a persistent thing, and, for all t, if x exists at t, then at t God creates x.
Thomas certainly seems to make a commitment to creatiocontinuans given his doctrine of simplicity (since timeless follows). However, Thomas tries to have the best of both doctrines by suggesting that God acts within creation and creation was within time yet, in turn, adopt a model of timelessness. Thomas argues that the creation of things was in the beginning of time. For Genesis 1 to include, “In the beginning God created heaven and earth” suggests that beginning connotes time.