Continuing discussion.

EPS Blog

This is the blog area for the Evangelical Philosophical Society and its journal, Philosophia Christi.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Continue to Pray for Nabeel Qureshi!

Please join us in continually praying for our dear brother and colleague, Nabeel Qureshi, as he battles stage IV stomach cancer. Doctors currently give him like a 1% chance of recovery.
  • We pray that the Holy Spirit would rise up with great power to completely heal Nabeel of this illness. 
  • We pray that God would strengthen Nabeel's faith and the faith of all those who call on our Lord for His deliverance. 
  • We pray that God would break the power of any encroaching despair and discouragement that would seek to rob Nabeel and his family of their joy, hope and contentment in Christ. 
  • We pray for Holy Spirit guided wisdom and discernment for all of Nabeel’s doctors and for all those who directly care and minister grace to him. 
  • We pray for an abundance of encouragement, and strengthening of Nabeel’s leadership, vocation and witness.
Video updates from Nabeel are available here, and his latest medical and spiritual update video is posted below. PRAY and SUPPORT Nabeel and his family.


Monday, May 1, 2017

Angus Menuge on AI and the Metaphysics of Mind

In 2016, Angus Menuge gave a presentation for the European Leadership Forum's conference on the topic, "Artificial Intelligence and the Metaphysics of Mind."

Description: Ray Kurzweil and others have suggested that computers will very soon exhibit Artificial General Intelligence (AGI).  AGI implies that the systems will not be domain-specific (like chess-playing systems) but can adapt to a wide range of contexts.  Few would dispute that these systems will solve problems which unaided humans could only solve by using their intelligence, and that the AGI systems will often be faster and more accurate.  If one wants to call this ability “intelligence,” then doubtless AGI systems are intelligent.  But this impressive progress does nothing to bridge the chasm between computers and the metaphysics of mind.   The human mind has a number of intrinsic characteristics, such as subjectivity, intentionality, teleology, and rationality, which a computer can only simulate.  If one defines “intelligence” in terms of a subject’s capacity to seek out and acquire knowledge of the real world, then I see no reason to think that the most sophisticated AGI system is a substantial advance on a pocket calculator.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Alvin Plantinga Announced as Templeton Prize Laureate

The Evangelical Philosophical Society (EPS) is thrilled to celebrate and honor Alvin Plantinga as the 2017 Templeton Prize Laureate.

A longtime friend, mentor, and instructor to hundreds of EPS members and a contributor to the Society’s journal, Philosophia Christi, Alvin Plantinga has significantly strengthened the plausibility of theism and religious epistemology within academic philosophy.

Since the 1960s, “Alvin Plantinga recognized that not only did religious belief not conflict with serious philosophical work,” said Heather Dill, president of the John Templeton Foundation, “but that it could make crucial contributions to addressing perennial problems in philosophy.”

The Templeton Prize, currently valued at about $1.4 million, “honors a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works,” according to the Prize’s website.

“More than one generation of evangelical philosophers is in Alvin Plantinga’s debt,” observes EPS President Angus Menuge. “He showed that Christian thinkers with a serious commitment to biblical theology can do rigorous, analytic philosophy at the highest level. He showed them how to present a coherent Christian worldview as a compelling alternative in a marketplace of ideas dominated by secularism.”

Long held captive by secularizing and naturalizing assumptions about knowledge, fields like philosophy of religion now experience a post-secular turn. “Plantinga started the thaw that de-secularized the academic discipline of philosophy,” says Menuge, “and he encouraged theists everywhere to think through the implications of their faith.”

“I am honored to receive the Templeton Prize,” Plantinga said. “The field of philosophy has transformed over the course of my career. If my work played a role in this transformation, I would be very pleased. I hope the news of the Prize will encourage young philosophers, especially those who bring Christian and theistic perspectives to bear on their work, towards greater creativity, integrity, and boldness.”

With more than a dozen books authored or edited and some 150 articles published, Plantinga's work is not only prodigious but evidence of his thoroughness and concentration. His vision-casting "Advice to Christian Scholars" has been anthologized, cited and quoted many times over by those within and beyond the philosophical guild.

Some of Alvin Plantinga’s contributions with the EPS include the following:
Exemplifying the approach of his own life and work, Plantinga says that "Christian commitments ought to be integrated into one's whole body of belief; they are central to one's whole intellectual structure, in fact, it is the basis of it. In that regard, to be integral, is to have belief in God not separate from one's other beliefs but integrated into them, perhaps the basis of them."

Founded in 1974, the Evangelical Philosophical Society (EPS) is an organization of professional scholars devoted to pursuing philosophical excellence in both the church and the academy. Interested laypersons can join as full, associate, or student members. The EPS holds a national meeting each year in conjunction with the conference held by the Evangelical Theological Society and the American Academy of Religion/Society of Biblical Literature, along with regional meetings with the American Philosophical Association. The EPS journal, Philosophia Christi, is a scholarly publication (Summer and Winter) advancing discussion about a variety of topics that are of interest to the philosopher and to the philosopher of religion. Moreover, recent EPS web projects include: "Christ-shaped Philosophy" project, "Christian Philosophers in the 'Secular Academy'" project, the "Academic Disciplines, Faithfulness, and the Christian Scholar" project, and "Philosophical Discussion on Marriage and Family Topics" project.

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Monday, April 3, 2017

How does Cicero compare to Aquinas on Natural Law?

In May 2017, Bloomsbury Academic will release A Comparative Analysis of Cicero and Aquinas: Nature and the Natural Law, by Charles P. Nemeth. Nemeth is Professor and Department Chair of Legal Studies, City University of New York.

From the publisher's description:
In A Comparative Analysis of Cicero and Aquinas, Charles P. Nemeth investigates how, despite their differences, these two figures may be the most compatible brothers in ideas ever conceived in the theory of natural law. Looking to find common threads that run between the philosophies of these two great thinkers of the Classical and Medieval periods, this book aims to determine whether or not there exists a common ground whereby ethical debates and dilemmas can be evaluated. Does comparison between Cicero and Aquinas offer a new pathway for moral measure, based on defined and developed principles? Do they deliver certain moral and ethical principles for human life to which each agree? Instead of a polemical diatribe, comparison between Cicero and Aquinas may edify a method of compromise and afford a more or less restrictive series of judgements about ethical quandaries.
Nehmeth is also the author of other books on law and Aquinas, including Aquinas in the Courtroom: Lawyers, Judges, and Judicial Conduct (Praeger, 2001), Aquinas on Crime (St. Augustine's Press, 2008), Aquinas and King: A Discourse on Civil Disobedience (Carolina Academic Press, 2009).

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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Loke on the Origins of Divine Christology

In 2017, Cambridge University Press will publish The Origins of Divine Christology by Andrew Loke. Loke is Research Assistant Professor at the University of Hong Kong and a contributor to Philosophia Christi and the Evangelical Philosophical Society. Loke's recent book, A Kryptic Model of the Incarnation was featured here at the EPS website. From the publisher's description for The Origins of Divine Christology:
In recent years, there has been considerable debate concerning the origin of divine Christology. Nevertheless, the proposed theories are beset with problems, such as failing to address the evidence of widespread agreement among the earliest Christians concerning divine Christology, and the issues related to whether Jesus' intention was falsified. This book offers a new contribution by addressing these issues using transdisciplinary tools. It proposes that the earliest Christians regarded Jesus as divine because a sizeable group of them perceived that Jesus claimed and showed himself to be divine, and thought that God vindicated this claim by raising Jesus from the dead. It also provides a comprehensive critique of alternative proposals, and synthesizes their strengths. It defends the appropriateness and merits of utilizing philosophical distinctions (e.g. between ontology and function) and Trinitarian concepts for explaining early Christology, and incorporates comparative religion by examining cases of deification in other contexts.
  • Addresses scholarly issues such as the evidence of widespread agreement among the earliest Christians concerning the divinity of Christ, and issues related to whether Jesus' intention was falsified.
  • Synthesizes the strengths of alternative proposals while avoiding their weaknesses, helping readers to better appreciate other proposals, and understand that a more holistic response can be offered.
  • Utilizes the tools of historical-criticism, philosophy, theology, and comparative religion to demonstrate that a transdisciplinary approach can be useful for biblical scholars and historians studying the New Testament and Christian origins.

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Friday, February 10, 2017

How to Read Kierkegaard on Christian Themes

Baylor University Press recently published, Kierkegaard and Christian Faith, co-edited by Paul Martens and Stephen Evans. Martens is Associate Professor of Religion at Baylor University. Evans is University Professor of Philosophy and Humanities, Baylor University and Professorial Fellow, Australian Catholic University. Evans will also be the 2017 plenary speaker for the annual national meeting of the Evangelical Philosophical Society [Rhode Island]. From the publisher's description:
Kierkegaard and Christian Faith responds directly to the perennial and problematic concern of how to read Kierkegaard. Specifically, this volume presses the question of whether the existentialist philosopher, who so troubled the waters of nineteenth-century Danish Christendom, is a "Christian thinker for our time." The chapters crisscross the disciplines of philosophy, theology, literature, and ethics, and are as rich in argument as they are diverse in style. Collectively the chapters demonstrate a principled agreement that Kierkegaard continues to be relevant, even imperative. Kierkegaard and Christian Faith reveals just how Kierkegaard's work both defines and reconfigures what is meant by "Christian thinker."

Following an autobiographical prologue by Kathleen Norris, this volume gathers the chapters in pairs around crucial themes: the use of philosophy (Merold Westphal and C. Stephen Evans), revelation and authority (Richard Bauckham and Paul J. Griffiths), Christian character (Sylvia Walsh and Ralph C. Wood), the relationship between the church and the world (Jennifer A. Herdt and Paul Martens), and moral questions of forgiveness and love (Simon D. Podmore and Cyril O'Regan). The volume underscores the centrality of Christianity to Kierkegaard's life and thought, and rightly positions Kierkegaard as a profound challenge to Christianity as it is understood and practiced today.
From Biola's Center for Christian Thought, see this presentation by Stephen Evans on Kierkegaard and spirituality:

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A Handbook on the Christian Moral Life

In June 2017, University of Notre Dame Press will publish The Christian Moral Life: Directions for the Journey to Happiness by John Rziha. John Rziha is professor of theology at Benedictine College. From the publisher's description:
To take a journey, travelers must know where they are, where they are going, and how to get there. Moral theology examines the same three truths. The Christian Moral Life is a handbook for moral theology that uses the theme of a journey to explain its key ethical concepts. First, humans begin with their creation in the image of God. Secondly, the goal of the journey is explained as a loving union with God, to achieve a share in his eternal happiness. Third and finally, the majority of the book examines how to attain this goal. Within the journey motif, the book covers the moral principles essential for attaining true happiness. Based on an examination of the moral methodology in the bible, the book discusses the importance of participating in divine nature through grace in order to attain eternal happiness. It further notes the role of law, virtue, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit in guiding and transforming humans into friends of God, who participate in his happiness. Following this section on moral theology in general, the book analyzes the individual virtues to give more concrete guidance. The entire project builds upon the insights of great Christian thinkers, such as Thomas Aquinas, Thérèse of Lisieux, and John Paul II, to uncover the moral wisdom in scripture and to show people how to be truly happy both in this life and the next. This book will be of great interest to undergraduate students of moral theology, priests and seminarians, parents and teachers seeking to raise and to form happy children, and anyone interested in discovering the meaning of true happiness.

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