January 5th, 2015
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)
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December 15th, 2014
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.
Title: “A New and Abductive Thomistic Cosmological Argument”
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.
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November 25th, 2013
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.
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November 20th, 2013
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.
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February 8th, 2013
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:
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