Continuing discussion.

EPS Blog

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

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Debating Christian Religious Epistemology

In 2020 Bloomsbury Academic will publish Debating Christian Religious Epistemology: An Introduction to Five Views on the Knowledge of God, edited by John M. DePoe and Tyler Dalton McNabb. John M. DePoe is Academic Dean of the Schools of Logic and Rhetoric at Kingdom Preparatory Academy, USA. Tyler Dalton McNabb is Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of Macau, Macau.

From the publisher's description of Debating Christian Religious Epistemology:
What does it mean to believe in God? What passes as evidence for belief in God? What issues arise when considering the rationality of belief in God? 
Debating Christian Religious Epistemology introduces core questions in the philosophy of religion by bringing five competing viewpoints on the knowledge of God into critical dialogue with one another. 
Each chapter introduces an epistemic viewpoint, providing an overview of its main arguments and explaining why it justifies belief. The validity of that viewpoint is then explored and tested in a critical response from an expert in an opposing tradition. Featuring a wide range of different philosophical positions, traditions and methods, this introduction: 
  • Covers classical evidentialism, phenomenal conservatism, proper functionalism, covenantal epistemology and traditions-based perspectivalism 
  • Draws on MacIntyre's account of rationality and ideas from the Analytic and Conservatism traditions 
  • Addresses issues in social epistemology 
  • Considers the role of religious experience and religious texts 
Packed with lively debates, this is an ideal starting point for anyone interested in understanding the major positions in contemporary religious epistemology and how religious concepts and practices relate to belief and knowledge.
Readers may also be interested in a 2016 article that co-editor McNabb wrote (with Erik Baldwin) for Philosophia Christi, the peer-reviewed journal of the Evangelical Philosophical Society, wherein he discussed "Reformed Epistemology and the Pandora’s Box Objection." Moreover, in 2018, DePoe wrote for the journal about "Evaluating the Evidential Impact of Religious Disagreement."

Become a subscriber to Philosophia Christi or a member of the Evangelical Philosophical Society (includes annual print subscription)!

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Friday, January 10, 2020

Virtue and Meaning: A Neo-Aristotelian Perspective

In 2020, Cambridge University Press will release Virtue and Meaning: A Neo-Aristotelian Perspective by David McPherson. McPherson is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Creighton University, Omaha. He is the editor of Spirituality and the Good Life: Philosophical Approaches (Cambridge, 2017).

From the publisher's description of Virtue and Meaning:
The revival of Aristotelian virtue ethics can be seen as a response to the modern problem of disenchantment, that is, the perceived loss of meaning in modernity. However, in Virtue and Meaning, David McPherson contends that the dominant approach still embraces an overly disenchanted view. In a wide-ranging discussion, McPherson argues for a more fully re-enchanted perspective that gives better recognition to the meanings by which we live and after which we seek, and to the fact that human beings are the meaning-seeking animal. In doing so, he defends distinctive accounts of the relationship between virtue and happiness, other-regarding demands, and the significance of linking neo-Aristotelian virtue ethics with a view of the meaning of life and a spiritual life where contemplation has a central role. This book will be valuable for philosophers and other readers who are interested in virtue ethics and the perennial question of the meaning of life.

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Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Dispositionalism: Perspectives from Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Science

In 2020, Springer will release Dispositionalism: Perspectives from Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Science, edited by Ann Sophie Meincke. Meincke is a Senior Research Fellow at the Philosophy Department of the University of Vienna, Austria, and an Honorary Research Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Life Sciences at the University of Exeter, United Kingdom.

From the publisher's description of Dispositionalism:
According to dispositional realism, or dispositionalism, the entities inhabiting our world possess irreducibly dispositional properties – often called ‘powers’ – by means of which they are sources of change. Dispositionalism has become increasingly popular among metaphysicians in the last three decades as it offers a realist account of causation and provides novel avenues for understanding modality, laws of nature, agency, free will and other key concepts in metaphysics. At the same time, it is receiving growing interest among philosophers of science. This reflects the substantial role scientific findings play in arguments for dispositionalism which, as a metaphysics of science, aims to unveil the very foundations of science. 
The present collection of essays brings together both strands of interest. It elucidates the ontological profile of dispositionalism by exploring its ontological commitments, and it discusses these from the perspective of the philosophy of science. The essays are written by both proponents of dispositionalism and sceptics so as to initiate an open-minded, constructive dialogue.

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Monday, December 30, 2019

Paul Moser on "Understanding Religious Experience: From Conviction to Life's Meaning"

In 2020, Cambridge University Press will publish Understanding Religious Experience: From Conviction to Life's Meaning by Paul K. Moser. Moser is Professor of Philosophy at Loyola University, Chicago. He serves as editor of Cambridge Studies in Religion, Philosophy, and Society and Elements in Religion and Monotheism.

From the publisher's description of Understanding Religious Experience:
In this book, Paul K. Moser offers a new approach to religious experience and the kind of evidence it provides. Here, he explains the nature of theistic and non-theistic experience in relation to the meaning of human life and its underlying evidence, with special attention given to the perspectives of Tolstoy, Buddha, Confucius, Krishna, Moses, the apostle Paul, and Muhammad. Among the many topics explored in this timely volume are: religious experience characterized in a unifying conception; religious experience naturalized relative to science; religious experience psychologized in merely psychological phenomena; and religious experience cognized relative to potential defeaters from evil, divine hiddenness, and religious diversity. Understanding Religious Experience will benefit those interested in the nature of religion and can be used in relevant courses in religious studies, philosophy, theology, Biblical studies, and the history of religion.
Readers may also be interested in the Evangelical Philosophical Society's web project on Paul Moser's "Christ-Shaped Philosophy," which includes a lead paper by Moser, along with dozens of responses by various philosophers and theologians, along with replies by Moser. For a preview, consider this presentation by Moser for Biola's Center for Christian Thought:

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Sunday, December 29, 2019

Philosophical Approaches to Spirituality and the Good Life

In 2019, Cambridge University Press published Spirituality and the Good Life: Philosophical Approaches, edited by David McPherson. McPherson is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Creighton University, Omaha. His research focuses on ethics and philosophy of religion, and has appeared in philosophical journals including Philosophy, Religious Studies: An International Journal for the Philosophy of Religion, and American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly.

From the publisher's description of Spirituality and the Good Life: 
This book presents a broad philosophical study of the nature of spirituality and its relationship to human well-being, addressing an area of contemporary philosophy that has been largely under-explored. David McPherson brings together a team of scholars to examine the importance of specific spiritual practices (including prayer, contemplation, and ritual observance) and spiritually informed virtues (such as piety, humility, and existential gratitude) for 'the good life'. This volume also considers and exemplifies how philosophy itself, when undertaken as a humanistic rather than scientistic enterprise, can be a spiritual exercise and part of a spiritual way of life. Clarifying key concepts, and engaging with major religious traditions such as Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Confucianism, this book will appeal to students and scholars from various disciplines, including theology, sociology, and psychology, as well as to philosophers, ethicists, and other readers who are interested in modern spiritual life.

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Saturday, December 28, 2019

"Metaphysical Grounding" Issues Discussed in Forthcoming Routledge Handbook

In 2020, Routledge will publish the The Routledge Handbook of Metaphysical Grounding, edited by Michael J. Raven, in the Routledge Handbooks in Philosophy series. Michael J. Raven is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Victoria and Affiliate Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Washington, Co-Chief Editor of Metaphysics, and a founding member of the Canadian Metaphysics Collaborative. His research focuses on metaphysics, philosophy of language and mind, and epistemology.

From the publisher's description of The Routledge Handbook of Metaphysical Grounding:
Some of philosophy’s biggest questions, both historically and today, are in-virtue-of questions: In virtue of what is an action right or wrong? In virtue of what am I the same person my mother bore? In virtue of what is an artwork beautiful? Philosophers attempt to answers many of these types of in-virtue-of questions, but philosophers are also increasingly focusing on what an in-virtue-of question is in the first place. Many assume, at least as a working hypothesis, that in-virtue-of questions involve a distinctively metaphysical kind of determinative explanation called "ground." This Handbook surveys the state of the art on ground as well as its connections and applications to other topics. The central issues of ground are discussed in 37 chapters, all written exclusively for this volume by a wide range of leading experts. The chapters are organized into the following sections: 
  • I. History 
  • II. Explanation and Determination 
  • III. Logic and Structure 
  • IV. Connections 
  • V. Applications 
Introductions at the start of each section provide an overview of the section’s contents, and a list of Related Topics at the end of each chapter point readers to other germane areas throughout the volume. The resulting volume is accessible enough for advanced students and informative enough for researchers. It is essential reading for anyone hoping to get clearer on what the biggest questions of philosophy are really asking.

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Friday, December 20, 2019

Scott Smith on "The Disappearance of Moral Knowledge"

In November, Biola's Scott Smith released a paper on Dallas Willard's Disappearance of Moral Knowledge (DMK) which seeks to contribute to ongoing discussion on Dallas' posthumously published work.

Scott's paper is titled, "A Spiritual Issue with the 'Disappearance of Moral Knowledge."

Dallas argues that due to various philosophical and institutional factors, we have lost a body of moral knowledge in the West. Scott's paper considers one institution, the church, and a related, spiritual aspect to the loss of moral knowledge. The paper then explores what Christians can do about that particular aspect.

The full-text of Scott's paper is available for FREE by clicking here. For more of Scott Smith's reflection on Dallas Willard, see his remarks at the EPS blog.

Discount Expires: 12/31/19
Scott's paper raises important issues about how we not only think about the "disappearance" of moral knowledge but the role of the church under the authority of  the Holy Spirit to help 'recover' moral and spiritual knowledge in our society today. While Dallas' DMK, as a single monograph, does not address the role of the church or the Spirit, such factors were close to Dallas' heart and mind as he wrote extensively about the "disappearance" problem beyond his posthumously published book. Thus, Scott's paper encourage us to read the DMK in light of Dallas' other relevant texts (e.g., Knowing Christ Today, The Divine Conspiracy Continued).

Your comments on Scott's paper are welcome here at the EPS blog. If you are a reader of Dallas' Disappearance of Moral Knowledge, we welcome your additional papers about the book and its importance (please contact here with your interests).

To learn more about The Disappearance of Moral Knowledge, please visit DWillard.org and also learn more about the Moral Knowledge Initiative being led by Dallas Willard Ministries. The EPS website provides additional contributions on Dallas' work, along with contributions to his DMK.

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Monday, December 16, 2019

2019 "Disappearance of Moral Knowledge" Symposium

Dallas Willard Ministries (DWM) recently released some interesting video presentations at a Center for Christian Thought hosted symposium on Dallas Willard's Disappearance of Moral Knowledge, which we are also happy to promote here. The symposium is part of DWM's recently launched Moral Knowledge Initiative. Introductory papers were presented by Gregg Ten Elshof on an "Overview of the Issues Presented in the Book" (see the Westmont 2018 presentation) and by Steve Porter “The Primacy of the Individual in Reclaiming Moral Knowledge."

"Jonathan Haidt and the Disappearance of Moral Knowledge: How Good Intentions and Philosophical Confusions Threaten to Perpetuate the Problem"

by Aaron Preston


Jonathan Haidt published The Happiness Hypothesis in 2006, and has become a leading public intellectual addressing matters of morality and ethics.  Dr. Preston chose to present an overview of Haidt’s work because, “As far as the project of making moral knowledge available as a public resource is concerned, Haidt is the one who is making an impact.” Haidt observes that we have lost “a richly textured common ethos with widely shared virtues and values,” and shares many of Willard’s concerns.  But he desires to restore virtue because of its importance to human happiness, and it is happiness itself, or more broadly emotion, that is the goal.  While Haidt needs better philosophical grounding to sort out his own understanding of reason, intuition and emotion, Preston sees him as a potential ally for the Moral Knowledge Initiative.
Response: Commentary on Aaron Preston’s, “Jonathan Haidt and the Disappearance of Moral Knowledge”

by Aaron Kheriaty


Kheriaty affirms much of Haidt’s work, but puts it in the category of “sociology of knowledge” which Willard says “deals with the causal conditions that bring about the general acceptance of certain thoughts and beliefs as representations of reality—moral or otherwise” (DMK 12). Any such knowledge generated by the social sciences is only knowledge by general consensus and can therefore easily disappear when this consensus changes. Studies of the human soul have fallen into this category (DMK 10). In response to Haidt’s heavy emphasis on emotivism in his moral psychology and philosophy, Kheriaty prescribes a regrounding in the part of classical platonic tradition “which we could roughly describe as the doctrine of participation: all normally functioning human beings participate by a kind of intuition in the logos – in a universal reason or ordering principle.  This participation allows us both to know the world, which is rationally ordered and intelligible, and to reason and deliberate together in the pursuit of truth and goodness.”  Accounts based on evolutionary psychology or the sociology of knowledge are incapable by themselves of recovering moral knowledge as a publicly available resource.
"The Disappearance of Moral Knowledge in Education"

by Mary Poplin


Following the exclusion of Christianity and any organized moral knowledge in the academy, the focus in teacher education became stages of development (e.g., cognitive, social and moral), all deeply embedded in scientific method. There is a loss of meaning that comes with an attachment to physical sciences because they cannot deal with the big issues of life. This has created a culture of despair on college campuses. Student health centers are being overwhelmed by students struggling with anxiety and depression, as suicide statistics in young people continue to rise. In the classroom, courses that address moral knowledge and goodness are in high demand because they offer hope for students examining their lives and looking to their future. But teacher training in the last several decades barely touches issues of morality or character. Today the emphasis is largely on culture, gender, and class seen through the lens of critical theory. This is the case in K-12 as well, which is a crucial time for character formation. With this educational trend, defining “the good person” becomes a significant challenge, but one of utmost importance so that students can know how to become good people.
Response to Mary Poplin’s “The Disappearance of Moral Knowledge in Education”

by Mike Austin


The university as we know it is in trouble. It is no longer a “uni”-versity because it’s not united. It is shifting from a marketplace of ideas to a platform for social change, and the understanding of who counts as a “good person” is weak. But our secular colleagues do have some access to moral knowledge that is grounded in the character of God, though it is perhaps indirect, which Austin encouraged us to make use of as we do our work. We can find common ground, insofar as there is knowledge about morality, human selves, and human flourishing, that is available outside of special revelation. This includes using the empirical work available to us via positive psychology to make our case. As Poplin points out, “scientific findings that relate to human flourishing reveal the advantages of living Christianly”: physical and mental health, longevity, the family, education, and more. We need more of this kind of work on Christian virtues, such as faith, hope, and love, at the academic and popular levels.
"Law, Discursive Distortions, and the Loss of 'Moral Knowledge'”

by Steven Smith


Smith’s central concern regarding moral knowledge is found in his reframing of the issue as the “very real, non-academic question that all of us constantly face: How should I live?  Or, in a communal version: How should we live together?” This allows him to write about the good person from a normative legal and moral perspective and articulate a possible way forward. He acknowledges we live in a world of “rampant normative pluralism” and identifies the challenge it presents for “modern legal and political theorizing, and in many respects for modern law.” He doesn’t hold out much hope for a “recovery through greater philosophical attention to ‘the good person’” as a merely human remedy, but recommends that ministry, rather than either law or philosophy, “is the best prospect for a recovery– if not of ‘moral knowledge,’ exactly– at least of a sensible, grounded normativity in our current society.”
"The Disappearance of Moral Knowledge in Law"

by Robert F. Cochran, Jr.


Cochran described the ways in which moral knowledge has been disappearing from legal theory over the last two centuries, and how these changes are manifested in legal ethics, lawyer counseling, law school and law practice. His paper particularly emphasized the influence of Oliver Wendell Holmes’s philosophy that there is no “higher law,” but that law is merely the assertion of power here on earth. While not very optimistic about the prospects of the return of moral knowledge in the legal field, Cochran pointed to the possibilities present in the New Natural Law theory being championed by John Finnis (emphasizing “the good person” as Dallas does), and noted that the newest member of the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, was Finnis’s graduate student at Oxford. Cochran’s presentation ended on a hopeful note with a white board comparison of Finnis’s Natural Law and Natural Rights (2011) with Willard’s DMK and the similarities in what both authors are promoting.
Response to Cochran and Smith on Legal History and Ethics

by Scott Rae

 

In his response to Cochran and Smith, Scott Rae provided the following analysis of law and morality: “The authority of the law depends on the moral attitudes that undergird it, giving it the competence to order society that it claims to have.” He gave an example of the loss of moral knowledge as applied to physician assisted suicide, indicating a trend toward its wholesale adoption due to the prevailing attitude around the question of who is being harmed, along with the societal position expressed by Genontologist Joanne Lynn that, “there is nothing cheaper than dead.” Rae closed his paper with a quote from James Davison Hunter’s The Death of Character: “We want character, but without unyielding conviction; we want strong morality, but without the emotional burden of guilt and shame; we want virtue, but without particular moral justifications that invariably offend; we want good without having to name evil; we want decency without the authority to insist on it; we want moral community without any limitations to personal freedom.” And his own personal assessment, “It strikes me that the death of character and the disappearance of moral knowledge go together, which lends urgency to the recovery of moral knowledge.”

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Thursday, November 21, 2019

2019 ETS-EPS: Theological Anthropology Sessions

In addition to various individual papers on important philosophical issues, EPS members also contribute to important theological debates at the 2019 ETS-EPS conference:

Systematic Theology: Theological Anthropology 
November 22, 1:00 PM - 4:10 PM
33rd Floor - Mt. Whitney 

Moderator: Timothy Kleiser (Boyce College)

1:00 PM—1:40 PM
Christopher Woznicki (Fuller Theological Seminary)
What Is the Proper Starting Point for Christological Anthropology? T.F. Torrance's Contribution

1:50 PM—2:30 PM
Dennis Greeson (Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary)
Theosis and Herman Bavinck? T.F. Torrance’s Reconstruction and Its Promise for Bavinck’s Thought

2:40 PM—3:20 PM
Michael Steinmetz (New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary)
The Imago Dei in the Secular Age: Charles Taylor’s Relational Anthropology

3:30 PM—4:10 PM
Robin Dale Hadaway (Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary)
Secret Disciples: Their Role in Culture (John 19:38-42)

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2019 EPS Graduate Student Paper Award

We are pleased to announce that Brandon Rickabaugh (first-place) and Hayden Stephen (second-place) are recipients of the 2019 EPS Graduate Student Award! First ($500) and second-place ($250) prizes are for submitting best papers. Each will have the opportunity to present their paper at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Philosophical Society (Manchester Grand Hyatt, San Diego, California).

Paul Gould, Vice President of the EPS, said competition was "really competitive with lots of excellent papers." All EPS members who are graduate students (doctoral candidates, masters students) are very much encouraged to submit their best papers for next year's Graduate Student Paper Award. Next year's EPS will be in Providence, Rhode Island (November 17th-19th). Become an EPS Member (includes print subscription to Philosophia Christi) by signing up here.

This is the third year for the EPS Graduate Student Paper Award. Past award recipients include Stephanie Nordby (2018) and Brandon Rickabaugh (2017).

Here is more information about Hayden and Brandon, their 2019 papers, along with their  presentation times at the EPS conference:

Brandon Rickabaugh, "Consciousness and Cosmic Fine-Tuning: A Critique of the New Naturalist Hypothesis."

Presentation: November 21, 3:50-4:30 pm; Room: Cove (third floor)

I am a doctoral candidate in the Department of Philosophy at Baylor University, the Franz Brentano Metaphysics of Mind Fellow at the Cultura Project, and a former fellow of the SCP's Fellowship for Science Cross-Training (neuroscience). I love teaching and see my scholarship as a natural means of collecting and clarifying my thoughts to effectively serve my students. In addition to teaching in Baylor's philosophy department, I've also taught philosophy at Biola University, and Azusa Pacific University. I am working on my dissertation, The Structure of Conscious Beings: Discoveries from the Unity of Consciousness. My work focuses on the nature of consciousness and how it informs our understanding of human nature, though, and psychology. I also have interests in the philosophy of religion, the philosophy of neuroscience, and the philosophy of mental health.

Abstract: The contemporary debate over fine-tuning has been a rivalry between two accounts: fine-tuning has its origin in either mind (theism) or non-mind (atheism). This is no longer so. Philip Goff (2019) recently argued that fine-tuning is the product of a naturalistic cosmic mind. According to Goff, at least one form of cosmopsychism explains cosmological fine-tuning in a way that is more parsimonious and less problematic than either theism or the multiverse hypothesis. Goff proposes what he calls agentive cosmopsychism: cosmic fine-tuning is best accounted for by a universe that possesses a basic form of consciousness such that it can fine-tune itself. Given the growing popularity of cosmopsychism and panpsychism in the philosophy of mind, this new naturalist account of fine-tuning warrants a reply. I offer several objections Goff’s case for agentive cosmopsychism as the best explanation of fine-tuning. Moreover, I argue that agentive cosmopsychism yields the false prediction that subjects of consciousness like you and me should not exist. The result, I argue, is that agentive cosmopsychism cannot offer a better explanation of fine-tuning than theism.

Hayden Stephen "Divine Omnispatiality, the Problem of Spatial Intrinsics, and Shapes."

Presentation: November 21, 5:30-6:10 pm; Room: Pier (third floor)

I am currently a doctoral student at Saint Louis University. My academic interests include analytic metaphysics, ethics, philosophy of religion, and philosophical theology. My dissertation topic is divine omnipresence, which concerns God and the metaphysics of location. I have a side interest in theistic ethics and its relation to theories of the atonement. Check out my recent paper “Is the God of Anselm Unloving?” in Religious Studies, where I defend a conception of divine retributive justice in response to Eleonore Stump’s criticisms of Anselm’s atonement theory. In addition to philosophy, these days I am enjoying learning about computer science and software development.

Abstract: Hud Hudson advances a model of divine omnipresence he calls “ubiquitous entension,” according to which God is wholly located at every subregion of space. But there is a potential problem facing the coherence of ubiquitous entension: the problem of spatial intrinsics, which is often posed against the metaphysical possibility of certain kinds of extended simples and the phenomenon of multi-location. Particularly, if God is wholly located at many different regions, it would seem that he must exemplify many different shapes, which is impossible. I lay out several avenues of response to this problem on behalf of the defender of ubiquitous entension, and I argue for my preferred solution that God, as multiply located, does not exemplify many different shapes intrinsically.

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Wednesday, November 20, 2019

ETS-EPS 2019: Penal Substitution in Contemporary Perspective

In addition to various individual papers on important philosophical issues, EPS members also contribute to important theological debates at the 2019 ETS-EPS conference:

The ‘Christus Odium’ Variety of Penal Substitution in Contemporary Perspective 
November 20, 9:00 AM - 12:10 PM
Third Floor - Mission Beach BC 

Moderator: Ryan A. Brandt (Grand Canyon University)

9:00 AM—9:35 AM
Joshua Farris (Heythrop College)
S. Mark Hamilton (Free University of Amsterdam)
Which Penalty, Whose Atonement?

9:35 AM—10:10 AM
Derek Rishmawy (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School)
An Experiment in Odium: Retrieving Classical Tools for Contemporary Atonement Doctrine

10:20 AM—10:55 AM
Tom McCall (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School)
The Well-Pleased Father and the Much-Loved Son: Christus Odium in Theological Perspective

10:55 AM—11:30 AM
Owen Strachan (Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary)
Ryan L. Rippee (The Cornerstone Bible College and Seminary)
It Was the Will of the Father to Crush Him: On Penal Substitution and Divine Wrath 

11:30 AM—12:10 PM
Q&A Panel Discussion

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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

EPS 2019 Panel Discussion on Theistic Evolution

Enjoy this panel discussion on theistic evolution, which is, in part a response to the 2017 multi-authored book, Theistic Evolution: A Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Critique (Crossway).

Evangelical Philosophical Society B3: Panel discussion on Theistic Evolution 
November 20, 2:00 PM - 5:10 PM
Third Floor - Promenade AB

Moderators:
Michael J. Murray (Franklin and Marshall College)
John Churchill (Independent Scholar)

Respondents:
Tom McCall (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School)
William Lane Craig (Talbot; Houston Baptist)
Jeff Schloss (Westmont College)
Steve Meyer (Discovery Institute) 
Paul Nelson (Biola University; Discovery Institute)

Attendees should review the target article in advance at bit.ly/TheisticEvolutionPaper

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ETS-EPS 2019: Bioethics Sessions

EPS members contribute to various discussions in bioethics, medical ethics, and debates about physician-assisted suicide. We are very pleased to see a day-long discussion of these crucial issues at the 2019 ETS-EPS conference in San Diego.

Bioethics November 20, 9:00 AM - 12:10 PM 
33rd Floor - Pyramid Peak

Moderator: Cristina Richie (East Carolina University)

9:00 AM—9:40 AM
James Alan Branch (Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary)
Should Children Be Given Drugs to Stop the Natural Process of Puberty?

9:50 AM—10:30 AM
Eddie N. Colanter (Trinity Law School, Trinity International University)
Honor Your Parents in Bioethics: A Philosophical Critique of Familial Relationships

10:40 AM—11:20 AM
Mark B. Chapman (Trinity International University)
Visions of a New Humanity – CRISPr Babies, Transhumanism, and the Second Adam

11:30 AM—12:10 PM
Michael J. Sleasman (Trinity International University)
By the Enhancing of Our Minds: Exploring the Ethics and Practices of Brain Boosting

Bioethics: Physician-Assisted Suicide, November 20, 2:00 PM - 5:10 PM 
Second Floor - Old Town AB 

Moderator: Erik M. Clary (Oklahoma State University)

2:00 PM—2:20 PM
Erik M. Clary (Oklahoma State University)
Physician-Assisted Suicide in the United States

2:20 PM—2:40 PM
Bob Huff* (California Senate - 2008-2016)
How California's "End of Life Option Act" Became Law

2:50 PM—3:30 PM
Ryan R. Nash* (Ohio State University)
How Physician-Assisted Suicide Impacts the Practice of Medicine

3:40 PM—4:20 PM
Scott B. Rae (Talbot School of Theology / Biola University)
Does "No" to Physician-Assisted Suicide mean "Yes" to Maximal Prolongation of Life? 

4:30 PM—5:10 PM Panel Discussion

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Thursday, November 14, 2019

2019 EPS Annual Conference: How Christian Philosophers Can Serve Theologians and Biblical Scholars

At the 2019 Annual EPS Conference in San Diego, California, J.P. Moreland, Talbot School of Theology's Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, will deliver this year's plenary address.

Title: "How Christian Philosophers can serve Systematic Theologians and Biblical Scholars"

Synopsis: The paper will begin by laying out two reasons why much of contemporary theology and scriptural studies are anemic in their impact for Christ: these disciplines are often done in isolation from the broader cultural issues facing the church and their results are not presented as knowledge of reality. The paper argues that an important solution to this problem is for theological and scriptural scholars to appropriate the findings of Christian philosophy and do integrative work with Christian philosophers in their intellectual projects. The paper goes on to state and illustrate four ways that Christian philosophy and philosophers can serve their colleagues in theology and scriptural studies.

Time and Location: Thursday, November 21st, 2:00-2:50 pm; Seaport ABCDE, Second Floor, Manchester Grand Hyatt.

If you or a colleague wish to attend and have not yet registered, onsite registration will be available.

J.P. will also be the final plenary speaker for the annual EPS Apologetics conference (Saturday, November 23rd, at Maranatha Chapel, San Diego). J.P. will be speaking on "Science and Secularism" (see also his 2018 book, Scientism and Secularism). For the last 18 years, the EPS has helped bring apologetics and worldview training to local churches in a variety of locations around the U.S., drawing upon seasoned expertise from EPS members working in apologetics, philosophy, theology, and ethics.

In light of commemorating the 20th Anniversary of Philosophia Christi, J.P. wrote the following paper in the Summer 2019 issue of Philosophia Christi (subscribe now): "My Retrospective and Prospective Musings on the Evangelical Philosophical Society", he writes:
This article reflects on three issues: (1) the past twenty years of the Evangelical Philosophical Society (EPS), (2) ideas for EPS's future, and (3) some words of advice to my younger EPS colleagues. Regarding (1), I identify four values that were central to the rebirth of the EPS and that have guided us for twenty years. Regarding (2), I issue a warning and a challenge. Regarding (3), I provide three words of advice for keeping us on course.
For other EPS content at the intersection of philosophy, theology and biblical studies, see these free web contributions:
Support the EPS to expand its reach, support its members, and be a credible presence of Christ-shaped philosophical interests in the academy and into the wider culture!

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Thursday, October 31, 2019

"Philosophy of Colour" Advances Across Different Fields of Philosophy

In 2020, Routledge will publish The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Colour, edited by Derek H. Brown and Fiona Macpherson, in the Routledge Handbooks in Philosophy series. Derek H. Brown is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, where he is also deputy director of the Centre for the Study of Perceptual Experience. Fiona Macpherson, FRSE, MAE, is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, where she is also director of the Centre for the Study of Perceptual Experience.

From the publisher's description of The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Colour: 
From David Hume’s famous puzzle about ‘the missing shade of blue’ to current research into the science of colour, the topic of colour is an incredibly fertile region of study and debate, cutting across philosophy of mind, epistemology, metaphysics and aesthetics as well as psychology. Debates about the nature of our experience of colour and the nature of colour itself are central to contemporary discussion and argument in philosophy of mind and psychology, and philosophy of perception. 
This outstanding Handbook contains twenty-nine specially commissioned contributions by leading philosophers and examines the most important aspects of philosophy of colour. It is organised into six parts: 
  • The Importance of Colour to Philosophy 
  • The Science and Spaces of Colour 
  • Colour Phenomena 
  • Colour Ontology 
  • Colour Experience and Epistemology 
  • Language, Categories and Thought
The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Colour is essential reading for students and researchers in philosophy of mind and psychology, epistemology, metaphysics and aesthetics, as well as for those interested in conceptual issues in the psychology of colour.

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Saturday, September 21, 2019

Ratio et Fides

In 2018 Pickwick Publications released Ratio et Fides by Robert E. Wood.  Wood is Professor of Philosophy in the Institute of Philosophic Studies at the University of Dallas. He has written ninety articles and eight books, his most recent being The Beautiful, the True, and the Good: Studies in the History of Thought, a collection of papers from 1966 to 2012. He is a past president of the American Catholic Philosophical Association and for twenty years was the editor of American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly.

From the publisher's description of Ratio et Fides:
In the face of growing skepticism and relativism, “believe in reason” is the central message in Pope John Paul II’s Fides et Ratio. Only by the two wings of reason and faith together can the human spirit soar. The current work, Ratio et Fides, is its philosophical counterpart. It is not a watered-down introduction but a “leading-into” the heart of philosophic thinking. Firmly rooted in the phenomenological description of an ordinary artifact, a mailbox, the book uses the principles involved in the description to examine key figures in the history of thought. We focus on three areas: the Soul, Morality, and God. We consider seven thinkers. Plato and Aristotle, who founded the tradition, were taken up by Augustine and Aquinas in developing their theologies. Descartes launched the distinctively modern tradition, culminating in Hegel’s systematic presentation of the whole Western tradition, philosophical and religious. More recently, Heidegger approached that tradition in terms of its hidden ground in the Mystery of Being, recalling us to meditative thinking as the secular counterpart to prayer. Armed with this background, students will be able to approach with profit the Fathers of the Church and major theologians and philosophers, past and recent.

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Friday, September 20, 2019

How Theology Shaped Twentieth-Century Philosophy

In 2019, Cambridge University Press released How Theology Shaped Twentieth-Century Philosophy by Frank B. Farrell. Farrell is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at Purchase College, State University of New York. His publications include Subjectivity, Realism, and Postmodernism: The Recovery of the World in Recent Philosophy (Cambridge, 1994) and Why Does Literature Matter? (2004).

From the publisher's description of How Theology Shaped Twentieth-Century Philosophy: 
Medieval theology had an important influence on later philosophy which is visible in the empiricisms of Russell, Carnap, and Quine. Other thinkers, including McDowell, Kripke, and Dennett, show how we can overcome the distorting effects of that theological ecosystem on our accounts of the nature of reality and our relationship to it. In a different philosophical tradition, Hegel uses a secularized version of Christianity to argue for a kind of human knowledge that overcomes the influences of late-medieval voluntarism, and some twentieth-century thinkers, including Benjamin and Derrida, instead defend a Jewish-influenced notion of the religious sublime. Frank B. Farrell analyzes and connects philosophers of different eras and traditions to show that modern philosophy has developed its practices on a terrain marked out by earlier theological and religious ideas, and considers how different philosophers have both embraced, and tried to escape from, those deep-seated patterns of thought.

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Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Worldviews and the Problem of Evil: A Comparative Approach

In 2019, Lexham Press will publish Worldviews and the Problem of Evil: A Comparative Approach by Ronnie P. Campbell Jr.  Campbell (Ph.D., Liberty University) is associate professor of theology at Liberty University's Rawlings School of Divinity. He is the author of For Love of God: An Invitation to Theology.

From the publisher's description of Worldviews and the Problem of Evil
Most attempts at answering the problem of evil either present a straightforward account of the truth claims of Christianity or defend a minimalist concept of God. This book is different. Inside, you'll examine four worldviews' responses to the problem of evil. Then, you'll hear the author's argument that Christian theism makes better sense of the phenomenon of evil in the world, equipping you to reach an informed conclusion.
This book's unique approach "integrating worldviews with apologetics with theology" will give you a better understanding of the debate surrounding the problem of evil, in both philosophy and theology.
Learn to think cogently and theologically about the problem of evil and Christianity's ability to answer its challenges with Worldviews and the Problem of Evil as your guide.

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New E-Newsletter Resources Christian Worldview Readers

Our world is awash in information. Curating quality sources is an important resource to any earnest reader.  In part, that is what "The Worldview Bulletin" (WB) seeks to accomplish as a recently launched e-newsletter.

WB features articles, interviews, choice quotes, video and podcast recommendations, book discounts and previews, along with announcements about various apologetics events, and even some culture-oriented news items. While their content selection seems attuned for a thoughtful 'general public' readers of Christian worldview content, they do not shy away from promoting the occasional academic monograph, especially if deeply discounted or free.

Launched this last Spring by Christian scholars Paul Copan, Paul Gould, and Christopher Reese, WB seeks to help readers "stay informed about current ideas and issues at the intersection of culture and Christian philosophy, theology, and apologetics." 
Managing editor, Chris Reese, told me that WB was started "to address important issues in a timely fashion (much more so than you can with a book, journal article, or the like). We also wanted to try to curate some of the best resources around the Internet that we feel Christians can benefit from and need to be aware of." Reese also encourages EPS members to contribute to WB: "We welcome ideas for short articles, links to items of interest, info on conferences and events, book announcements, etc.  Anyone is welcome to email them to me."

I recently reviewed the WB archive, and was struck by the range of content and authors promoted. In addition to content by Copan, Gould, and Reese, readers will find contributions by various other EPS members and Philosophia Christi writers (e.g., Tawa Anderson, Rob Bowman, Stewart Goetz, JP Moreland, William Lane Craig), and so many more writers among various Christian apologetics and worldview training networks.

WB runs a monthly, paid subscription with original articles ($5 per month), and then also a weekly "Useful Things" e-newsletter that is for free. Subscribe today to both and check-out their archive to learn more!

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Friday, July 19, 2019

A Philosophical Primer on the Summa Theologica

In 2018 Franciscan University Press released A Philosophical Primer on the Summa Theologica by Richard J. Regan. Richard J. Regan, SJ is one of the foremost scholars on Aquinas' philosophy and the author of a wide range of scholarly and academic titles.

From the publisher's description of A Philosophical Primer on the Summa Theologica: 
What is the meaning of human life? The Summa Theologica is, in effect, Thomas Aquinas' answer to this question. With the goal of showing why human beings exist, their destiny, and how they can achieve it, Aquinas argues that human beings exist to know God, that their destiny is to enjoy the vision of him in the next life, that they need to act properly in this life in order to be worthy of their destiny, and that the Church's sacraments are the means to do so. The Summa Theologica represents a major attempt to introduce the method and principles of Aristotle into the study of Christian theology.
Intended for an educated general audience and philosophical neophytes, A Philosophical Primer on the Summa Theologica will help readers become better acquainted with Aquinas' thought, summarily expressing his positions and arguments largely in his own terms. Using an innovative format, author Richard Regan makes available in one volume a more integrated view of Aquinas' philosophy in the Summa Theologica.

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Sunday, June 30, 2019

Atheism: A Critical Analysis

In 2019, Wipf and Stock released Atheism: A Critical Analysis by Stephen E. Parrish. Parrish is a professor of philosophy at Concordia University Ann Arbor.

From the publisher's description of Atheism:
Does atheism have a monopoly on reason and science? Many think so—or simply assume so. Atheism challenges the many hidden assumptions that have led to the popular belief that atheism is the “default” position for explaining reality. Delving into the most basic and fundamental questions of existence, this thought-provoking book explains that atheism does not and cannot provide a secure foundation for thought and life. Specifically, it demonstrates that atheistic theories cannot explain the existence of an ordered universe, the conundrums of consciousness and knowledge, or why there is morality or beauty. Rather than being the result of reason, atheism is shown to be, in effect, a revolt against reason. If you enjoy pondering the most basic issues that confront us in our world today, then Atheism is the book for you.
To learn more about Parrish's work, and related to Atheism: A Critical Analysis, see his featured book, The Knower and the Known: Physicalism, Dualism, and the Nature of Intelligibility

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Sunday, May 12, 2019

William Lane Craig on The Ben Shapiro Show

In a just released interview with Ben Shapiro, Bill Craig discusses multiple issues regarding Christianity and culture, cosmological, ontological, and moral arguments for God's existence, the differences between the 'hard sciences' and philosophy, the problem of evil, and various moral issues shaping Western social-cultural contexts.
Bill Craig, President of ReasonableFaith.org and former President of the Evangelical Philosophical Society, opens the interview discussing the state of Christianity in public life and how Enlightenment assumptions shape our public assumptions about what it means to be 'religious' today and how we understand authority, including religious authority.

Regarding interests among 'secular universities' for seriously discussing religious belief, Craig said, "In hard sciences, and in my discipline, philosophy, I think, frankly, there is a renaissance of theistic belief, and there is a virtual revolution going on in Anglo-American philosophy right now, where Christian philosophers represent a significant and respected voice in the philosophical community. So, I find there is tremendous interest on university campuses in these topics."

On the unique claims of Jesus and His resurrection, Bill reasons this way:
Jesus' resurrection from the dead is Yahweh's public and unequivocal vindication of the man whom the Chief Priest had rejected as a blasphemer. It is the divine demonstration that these allegedly blasphemous claims are in fact true, that He was who he claimed to be. And, therefore, I follow Jesus in His conception of what it means to be the Messiah . . . The resurrection of Jesus is the resurrection of the man who claimed to be Messiah, Son of God, and Son of Man, and was crucified for those allegedly blasphemous claims. If God has raised this man from the dead, then he has unequivocally and publicly vindicated those allegedly blasphemous claims.
Regarding if the 'God of reason' alone is sufficient, why do we need revelation, whether at Sinai or in Jesus, Bill says that this can be best summarized in one word: 'Atonement.'

The latter half of the discussion with Ben Shapiro addresses various moral issues, including the Bible and slavery, homosexuality, and Bill's emphasis of how a moral argument for God's existence is crucial to debating these issues publicly.

Reflecting on his Toronto dialogue last year with Jordan Peterson, Bill affirms that he agrees with Peterson on the existence of objective moral values and meaning in life, but points out that such values for Peterson don't have a grounding, a metaphysical basis in his worldview. "I am still hopeful that he [Peterson] will come to embrace God as an objective, metaphysical reality who will provide a basis for such values and meaning in life."

The interview with Shapiro closes with Bill talking about his own experience with encountering the love of God for him, and he spoke of the "wisdom and authenticity" of Jesus' words and life as encountered in the gospels.

To learn about Bill Craig's work, go to ReasonableFaith.org.

For as low as $25 a year, sign-up today to be an EPS member (includes print copies of the journal, access to annual and regional meetings, opportunities to present conference papers, and more!). Want to receive a digital only version of Philosophia Christi? Special EPS member and non-member pricing and access is now available for individuals via the Philosophy Documentation Center, with over 900 pieces of content to browse and search!

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Sunday, April 21, 2019

Dru Johnson on the Power of Rituals

In 2019, Eerdmans Publishing released Human Rites: The Power of Rituals, Habits, and Sacraments by Dru Johnson. Johnson is an Associate Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at The King's College in New York City. He is an editor for the Routledge Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Biblical Criticism series, an associate director for the Jewish Philosophical Theology Project at The Herzl Institute in Israel; and a co-host for the OnScript Podcast.

From the publisher's description of Human Rites:
What are we doing when we gather around the sacraments— or when we make the same breakfast every morning? Embodying rituals, says Dru Johnson. And until we understand what we’re doing and why, we won’t know how these rituals work, what they mean, or how we might adapt them.
In Human Rites Johnson considers the concept of ritual as seen in Scripture and its role in shaping our thinking. He colorfully illustrates both the mundane and the sacred rituals that penetrate all of life, offering not only a helpful introduction to rituals but also a framework for understanding them. As he unpacks how rituals pervade every area of our lives, Johnson suggests biblical ways to focus our use of rituals, habits, and sacraments so that we can see the world more truly through them.
On February 28, The King’s College welcomed the Rev. Dr. Dru Johnson to discuss Human Rites.

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Monday, April 8, 2019

Transhumanism and the Image of God

In April 2019, IVP Academic published Transhumanism and the Image of God: Today's Technology and the Future of Christian Discipleship by Jacob Shatzer.  Shatzer is assistant professor and associate dean in the School of Theology and Missions at Union University.

From the publisher's description of Transhumanism and the Image of God:
We're constantly invited to think about the future of technology as a progressive improvement of tools: our gadgets will continue to evolve, but we humans will stay basically the same. In the future, perhaps even alien species and intelligent robots will coexist right alongside humans, who will grapple with challenges and emerge as the heroes. But the truth is that radical technological change has the power to radically shape humans as well. We must be well informed and thoughtful about the steps we're already taking toward a transhuman or even posthuman future. Can we find firm footing on a slippery slope? Biblical ethicist Jacob Shatzer guides us into careful consideration of the future of Christian discipleship in a disruptive technological environment. In Transhumanism and the Image of God, Shatzer explains the development and influence of the transhumanist movement, which promotes a "next stage" in human evolution. Exploring topics such as artificial intelligence, robotics, medical technology, and communications tools, he examines how everyday technological changes have already altered and continue to change the way we think, relate, and understand reality. Cautioning against the belief that Christians can easily direct any technology toward following Christ, Shatzer grapples with the potential for technology to transform the way we think about what it means to be human and what sort of future we hope for. By exploring the doctrine of the incarnation and its implications for human identity, he helps us better understand the proper place of technology in the life of the disciple and avoid false promises of a posthumanist vision. What sorts of practices today can help us retain the best of what it means to be human in the future?

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Monday, March 18, 2019

Jonathan Mark Threlfall on Pascal's "Anthropological Argument"

In the Winter 2018 issue of Philosophia Christi, Jonathan Mark Threlfall published the article, "The Imago Dei and Blaise Pascal's Abductive Anthropoligical Argument." Jonathan is lead pastor of Trinity Baptist Church (Concord, New Hampshire). In this EPS interview, Jonathan discusses his article and the implications of Pascal's argument.

How did Pascal argue abductively for Christianity? 
It might be helpful to begin with an explanation of “abductive reasoning.” No, it doesn’t have anything to do with kidnapping. It actually describes a common process whereby we arrive at conclusions every day. When we see a broken window and a baseball sitting among the shards of glass, we conclude via abductive reasoning that someone hit or threw the baseball through the window. Abductive reasoning asks, “What theory best explains the data we see?” Pascal is doing something similar in his argument for Christianity. He looks at the data of paradoxical human thought and behavior and asks: what theory (e.g., theological framework) best explains this data? He observed that humans crave for greatness but are unable to achieve it; and, moreover, they are exacerbated in their misery by the very idea of greatness of which they cannot rid themselves. What other theory, Pascal asks, can provide a more satisfactory explanation for these paradoxes than the explanation found in Christian anthropology—that humans were created for greatness (a relationship with God), but have fallen into misery because of their sin? Once this anthropological explanation is established, the other components of Christian belief come with it. 
Your Philosophia Christi article makes the point that the doctrine of the imago Dei never surfaces in Pascal's Pensees. Why is that, and what might that tell us about Pascal's approach? 
What we call the Pensées (French for “thoughts”) is actually a collection of fragments, some of which Pascal probably intended to turn into complete book, a defense of the Christian faith. Since he died at age 39, Pascal never finished this project. However, throughout the Pensées, it becomes apparent that he had a particular audience in mind—the sophisticated, self-satisfied skeptics of 17th-century Paris. In light of his intended audience, an appeal to a biblical concept (such as the doctrine of the imago Dei) would have made little sense. Even if Pascal had considered the relevance of the doctrine of the imago Dei, he probably would not have included it. This is because he wanted to focus on exposing the existential vulnerabilities of his readers by exegeting their perplexed minds and hearts before he exegeted Scripture. Thus, Pascal takes an anthropological approach to apologetics, occupied more with psychological analysis rather than theological exposition. 
What does a doctrine of the imago Dei 'do' for Pascal's 'Anthropological Argument'? 
The shortage of biblical and theological exposition (mentioned above) in Pascal’s anthropological argument, opens a space for further exploration. I wondered whether the Biblical doctrine of the imago Dei would weaken or strengthen Pascal’s case, whether it would point people to or away from Biblical anthropology as the best explanation for the paradoxes Pascal so persuasively presents. In my examination of the doctrine of the imago Dei, I discovered that it does strengthen Pascal’s case in two important ways. First, it provides more exegetical backing for his case that humans are a paradoxical duality of greatness and wretchedness. Second, it suggests more instances of this duality. In other words, the doctrine of the imago Dei prompts us to ask, “Where else might we see evidence that fallen humans are fundamentally conflicted due to their fallenness and imagedness?” Overall, then, the doctrine of the imago Dei fortifies Pascal’s anthropological argument by providing Biblical substantiation and practical instantiation. 
How did you come to be interested in Pascal's argument? 
I had read snippets of the Pensées, but I was especially stirred by a description of it given in Avery Cardinal Dulles’ History of Apologetics: “With extraordinary psychological insight Pascal dissects the nature of man, showing both his nobility and his wretchedness. He shows the paradoxes of the human situation, man’s foolish pride and vain imaginings, his weakness before the wild powers of nature.” This, among other things, prompted me to read the Pensées for myself. As I did, I was impressed with two things. First, Pascal’s description of the human condition left me feeling personally exposed. I felt he was shouting truths about me I hardly dared whisper to myself. Second, Pascal’s writings are decisively and radically Christocentric. Throughout the Pensées, he insists that Jesus Christ, as the God-man who wrought atonement for humanity, is the only solution to the miserable condition brought about by human sin. I found my heart stirred to more deeply adore Christ as my Savior. I decided I could not ignore such a powerful case for Christian belief. 
Have you found fruitful ways to apply Pascal's reasoning in the context of a sermon? If so, how? 
People are generally in tune with their own feelings, but they often don’t know how to interpret them. Showing them—whether believers or unbelievers—a theological explanation for their longings for greatness and feelings of misery opens an unexpected way to present the gospel. Sometimes, when addressing to unbelievers, I will say something along these lines: “Don’t you feel within yourself a void that nothing else can fill? A craving for greatness you can’t achieve? If so, have you tried to obliterate that longing? Go ahead. Try it. You can’t; for even in trying to erase it, you’re admitting it’s still there. There’s a simple explanation for this: God has put that longing in you because he created you to be so much more than you are now. He created you to enjoy a relationship with him, which is possible only through faith in Jesus Christ.” Pascal’s technique was to make skeptics hope that Christianity could be true, and then demonstrate that it is indeed true. It involves understanding the twists and turns of the human heart, which Pascal has helped me do in my own preaching and pastoring. 
When you think about Pascal's anthropological reasoning in the context of 21st century cultural conditions (at least in North America), do you find the plausibility of Pascal's argument to be mostly strengthened or weakened? 
I think that Pascal’s argument is actually more relevant now than ever before. And there are specific cultural reasons that make me think this. For one thing, Pascal points to his contemporary Parisians’ passion for entertainment as evidence that they are trying to suppress their feelings of boredom and misery. The fact that they simply cannot sit still and enjoy themselves, but instead are always occupied with a frenzy of activities (for example, gambling, playing tennis or golf, or pursuing love or politics) argues for the conclusion that they are deeply unhappy and cannot rid themselves of the desire to be happy. I think the same is true for 21st century Americans, but to a heightened degree. Through technological innovations (smartphones, movies, virtual reality, etc.) we are pushing the boundaries of what it means to pursue entertainment, diversion, and distraction. Meanwhile, we haven’t found any deeper happiness. I believe, with Pascal, that the louder we turn up the decibels of distraction, the more we will hear our cries of misery. We cannot outshout our wretchedness. Another reason I believe our culture is ripe for a Pascalian approach to persuasion is that our culture is increasingly rejecting a modernistic approach to epistemology—an approach Pascal never embraced. Whereas Descartes believed that a person can arrive at certain knowledge via pure reasoning, Pascal took a more chastened view of human reason in favor of “the logic of the heart.” This does not mean that he eschewed reason (as people often misunderstand him). It does mean, however, that he took seriously the noetic effects of the fall. Unbelievers are intractably repulsed by the offense of the cross, and proofs for Christianity may actually harden them to the gospel. In our postmodern context, therefore, I believe that a Pascalian approach would be more fruitful, in that it seeks to commend the Christian faith, not only in its rationality, but also in its goodness and beauty. 
What other work would you like to see done by Pascal scholars and Christian philosophers/apologists engaging Pascal? 
There is much potential for augmenting Pascal’s anthropological argument. I would suggest breaking this work into two areas. In the first, we need Christian social scientists and cultural anthropologists who could supply more data for the paradoxical duality of the human condition. The field of cognitive anthropology abounds with examples of human creativity, as well as the noetic effects of the fall. Ethnomusicologists might examine the evidence for the duality of greatness and wretchedness in humans’ musical achievements. The same evidence might be investigated in the areas of economic and political anthropology. In the second, we need apologists who specialize in the area of comparative religion. This is because the abductive anthropological approach argues that Christian anthropology supplies the best explanation for the human condition—better than any other religion or worldview. Transhumanism, pantheism, mysticism, Hinduism, Islam—and their myriad variations all claim a particular view of the human condition. Christian apologists may compare these accounts of the human condition with the Christian account, to demonstrate that only Christian anthropology compellingly explains and answers the full scope of the human plight. 
What books do you enjoy reading on Pascal and the topics of his Anthropological Argument (or at least those you have found resourceful)? 
Nothing replaces reading the Pensées for itself. Beyond that, I would recommend reading Peter Kreeft’s Christianity for Modern Pagans (which is a “festooning” of Pascal’s Pensées), and Douglas Groothuis’ 1998 JETS article “Deposed Royalty: Pascal’s Anthropological Argument.” An adaptation of this article appears also in his 2011 book Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith. Besides Groothuis, few others that I am aware of have seriously explored this aspect of Pascal’s work, which I believe deserves more attention among Christian apologists.
To learn more about Jonathan's work, visit JonathanThrelfall.com

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Want to receive a digital only version of Philosophia Christi? Special EPS member and non-member pricing and access is now available for individuals via the Philosophy Documentation Center, with over 900 pieces of content to browse and search!

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