Chair: Daniel Hill, email@example.com
Co-chair: Yang Guo, firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday 22 June
2.30pm: Arrival and registration
3.00pm: Tea and refreshments
Brian Pitts - Meta-Induction as the Logic of Biblical Faith?
Induction seems compelling in daily life, but exceptionless induction would exclude miracles. Hume’s questioning of induction might help, but at what cost? Can induction be justified most of the time, but not in the context of miracles? Stoics and Logical Empiricists took the good track record of science as a reason to expect its continued success. Both also entertained the idea of justifying prophecy on the same grounds - the Stoics seriously, the Logical Empiricists hypothetically. Recently it has been observed that some paradigm cases of faith in the Hebrew Bible offer a meta-inductive justification of religious claims. This paper further explores meta-induction as a (partial?) logic of faith, advancing the discussion in several directions and raising further questions.
Matt Hart - Even the Atheist Should Worship God
We should be disposed to perform the greatest and noblest actions that occur to us. The excellence of an act of exoneration is partially determined by the excellence of the exonerated object. God is a being of infinite and unsurpassable value and greatness. Thus, it appears that any act directed at exonerating God will be greater than one that does not. It does no good to object that one does not think that God exists, and that therefore such acts will not be greater for one. Because no sensible atheist will think that the probability of God's existence is zero, and multiplying the infinite greatness of God by any low probability assessment of God's existence still commends the exoneration of God to an infinite degree. I layout this argument, argue that it suggests a certain fragility inherent in naturalism, and also discuss implications for natural religion.
Alex Gillham - Theodicy, the Counterfactual Comparative Account of Harm, and Unnecessary Suffering
This paper develops a new solution to the Problem of Suffering. I rebrand the Problem of Suffering the Problem of Harm. I then argue that if the Counterfactual Comparative Account (CCA) of harm is true, so long as this world is the best possible world, then there is no harm in this world and thus there is no Problem of Harm. CCA claims that an event e harms some subject S if and only if e makes S worse off in the actual world where e occurs than S would have been in the nearest possible world where e does not occur. As such, if it is true that our world is the best possible world, then there is no world in which we would be better off without e happening, and so e does not constitute a harm, let alone an unnecessary one.
8pm: Philosophy of Religion Tyndale Lecture
Jon Loose - The Possibility of Resurrection and the Nature of Human Persons
An answer to the problem of personal identity over time is central to a coherent account of the Christian’s hope of general resurrection although it is not identical with it. The simple view of personal identity is the default view and obviously conceivable. However, complex theories of personal identity associated with animalist materialism face a special problem with regard to the resurrection that I argue has not been overcome. The reassembly view is unsuccessful but, I suggest, is unlikely to be required for an adequate account of the general resurrection. Van Inwagen’s simulacrum view is typically assumed to offer a successful retreat to demonstrating the logical possibility of personal identity in resurrection but I argue that it also fails since it is at best an account of resuscitation. Zimmerman’s alternative comes with an unacceptably high metaphysical price tag. Overall these models illustrate or result from standard problems for personal identity that apply to a materialist metaphysic at all times and not only across the bridge of death.
Thursday 23 June
Roberto Di Ceglie - Aquinas on faith, reason, and charity
Aquinas’s thought is often considered an exemplary balance between Christian faith and natural reason. However, it is not always sufficiently clear what such balance consists of. My proposal is that we should not limit ourselves to considering faith as the assent to the revealed truth. We should also look at what leads the believer to assent—i.e., charity that unites the believer with God and is gratuitously conceded by God himself. If so, the relation between faith and reason appears to be twofold. On the one hand, the truths of faith cannot participate in rational inquiry. On the other hand, the believer will take faith as more certain than intellect and science, and the truths of faith will constitute the orientation, the criterion, and the promotion of her/his rational investigation.
10.30am: Coffee break
Richard Worsley - Keener on Miracles
Assuming Hume's argument against miracles is essentially an evidential argument, as John Earman claims in his book Hume’s Abject Failure, then the work of Craig Keener (Miracles 2011) on the existence of modern miracles appears to supply the information needed to satisfy any reasonable requirement for an evidential proof that miracles exist. Therefore, if there are no other reasons for discounting the existence of miracles, then we need to consider their significance. For example, does the existence of miracles prove we live in an open system, if so what effect does that have on the use of methodological naturalism in science? Furthermore, does the existence of miracles prove the existence of God, and if so, which God does it prove?
Tony Garrood - Inerrancy and the being and identity of God
After summarising Hans Frei on the meaning of the Bible in pre-critical exegesis, I analyse it’s successor critical exegesis using the aspects of reformational philosophy to clarify the difference between them both; in pre-critical exegesis the meaning of the Bible is its being true. Today this understanding still (should) defines evangelical exegesis of scripture. But then how is the Bible true? C J F Williams’ proto prosentential theory of truth, singular terms from earlier statements becoming existential generalisations in later ones, makes excellent sense of the sort of linkage Frei finds in pre-critical exegesis, where the literal sense of the Bible, the single temporal sequence from Genesis to Revelation is held together by figural readings of the various events and their understanding that scripture relates. Williams also argued that being and identity as properties of discourse are closely analogous to truth. Just so evangelicals should understand the being and identity of the one God, Father, Son and Holy Ghost as consisting in their description in the pages of the inerrant scriptures.'
1.30pm: Christian Doctrine and Old Testament Tyndale Lectures running concurrently
3.00pm: Tea break
Paul Copan - Neo-Marcionites in Our Midst? The Two Gods of the Bible According to Greg Boyd et al
This paper will address concerns regarding the Marcionite tendencies of Greg Boyd and other scholars within the church who create a dichotomy—akin to Marcion— between the “textual God” (the God of the fallen, violence-prone, culturally-conditioned ancient Near Eastern author or prophet) and the “actual God” (who is revealed in Jesus Christ and who expresses kindness, enemy-love, and compassion). Even if the Old Testament affirms “thus says the Lord,” that is still no indicator that this is what God is actually revealing, according to these practical Marcionites. I hope to show that the chasm between the textual God and actual God in the cases I examine is non-existent; indeed, they are identical as we look at the broad sweep of Scripture and also at the stunning selectivity and cherry-picking of biblical texts exhibited by these neo-Marcionites.
Beau Branson and Jordan Wessling - The Church as a Singular, Persisting Institution
On both theological and philosophical grounds, we argue the Church is a persisting, singular institution. We proceed in three stages. First, we argue on primarily Biblical grounds that the Church was intended to be a formal institution with Externalist membership criteria (not Internalist, as one might find in, say, an informal social movement or community). Second, we argue on primarily metaphysical grounds that the Church has continued to exist at each moment since its origin, rejecting “gappy” existence. Finally, we offer considerations to the effect that the Church is a singular institution, rather than one which has undergone fission or duplication. We do not attempt to identify which of the existing churches is The Church, but we discuss some considerations that might be used for such an identification. We conclude with a response to objections, including the objection that our project undermines unity among Christians from different ecclesial communities.
5.00pm: Free time
8.00pm: Biblical Archaeology and Biblical Theology Tyndale Lectures running concurrently
Friday 24 June
Daniel Watts - Participation in Grace: Kierkegaard’s Corrective to Luther
An interpretation of the target of Kierkegaard’s corrective to Luther as not merely cultural Lutheranism but Luther’s very conception of what it means to be receptive to grace. On this interpretation, while Kierkegaard affirms that salvation is by grace alone, and through faith alone, he thinks that Luther errs when he conceives of salvation as a process in relation to which the believer is merely passive. Instead, in Kierkegaard’s view, receptivity to grace involves a distinctive, middle-voiced, form of human agency in which the believer learns to acknowledge her need for grace. With reference to Kierkegaard’s discourses on patience, and their thematic proximity to the spirituality of the Philokalia, I illustrate this conception of active-passivity and show how it is compatible with an uncompromising Lutheran emphasis on human powerlessness. With reference also to his insistence of the irreducible importance of the participant’s perspective, I further draw out from Kierkegaard an account of why the temptation may arise to interpret the core tenets of Luther's teaching, erroneously, in the mode of a theory of soteriological passivity.
10.30am: Coffee break
Christopher Oldfield - Naturalism without Content: where Plantinga's Conflict Really Lies
In his 2011 book, Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion and Naturalism, Alvin Plantinga claims there is a 'deep conflict between science and naturalism'. For the sake of argument (notoriously, his 'Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism'), Plantinga considers naturalism to be a negative thought, not only about God, but about all that there is: 'I take naturalism to be the thought that there is no such person as God, or anything like God' (Plantinga 2011, p.ix). In this paper I shall argue that Plantinga's claim is misleading, not about the nature and content of 'science' but about the nature and content of 'naturalism'. No one is, or has ever been, a naturalist in Plantinga's sense. There is - there can be - no (positive propositional) content to the thought Plantinga ascribes to naturalists. There is - there can be - no such thing as naturalism, or anything like naturalism, as Plantinga conceives it.
Matt Hart - A Cosmological Argument from the Explanatory Priority of Modality
Only possible objects can come to be. Impossible objects are not allowed to. But what is it that prevents an impossible object from coming into existence? One answer is an incompatible-properties response: a square circle cannot come to be because an instance of squareness, in some sense, precludes an instance of circularity, and vice versa. This is good insofar as it goes, but such an explanation cannot explain why a simultaneous coming to be of mutually exclusive properties in the same object does not occur. Appeal must therefore be made to an explanatorily prior reality that rules such an eventuality out. I argue that such a reality must ultimately be single and simple. Thus, facts of absolute possibility are grounded in a single simple being—a result that strongly confirms theism.