2007 Aquinas Lecture

September 25, 2006

“Nature, Freedom, and Will: Sources for Philosophical Reflection” by Timothy Noone, Catholic University of America.

Monday, January 29, 2007
7:30 p.m. Lynch Auditorium
University of Dallas

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God and the Problem of Universals

September 15, 2006

Every now and then I hear of a new book that leaves me salivating.  The Oxford Studies in Metaphysics (vol. 2) was recently published and it looks good.  

Here’s the look at the contents:

I.  SYMPOSIUM: PROPERTY DUALISM

      1. Max Black’s Objection to Mind-Body Identity , Ned Block

      2. Mary and Max and Jack and Ned , John Perry

      3. A Posterioiri Identities and the Requirements of Rationality , Stephen L. White

II.   THE OPEN FUTURE

      4. Goodbye Growing Block , Trenton Merricks

      5. Rashi’s View of the Open Future: Determinateness and Bivalience , Eli Hirsch

      6. General Facts, Physical Necessity, and the Metaphysics of Time , Peter Forrest

III.  ISSUES IN ONTOLOGY

      7. Inexpressible Properties and Propositions , Thomas Hofweber

      8. Aristotle’s Constituent Ontology , Michael J. Loux

      9. The Relation Between General and Particular: Entailment vs. Supervenience , Phillip Bricker

     10. Epistemicism and Semantic Plasticity , John Hawthorne

IV. METAPHYSICS AND THEISM

     11. God and the Problem of Universals , Brian Leftow

     12. A Theistic Argument Against Platonism (And in Support of Truthmakers and Divine Simplicity) , Michael Bergmann    and Jeffrey E. Brower

     13. Beautiful Evils , Hud Hudson

Since I hold Brian Leftow in high esteem, I should also call your attention to Trent Dougherty’s critique of his essay over at Prosblogion–“God and the Problem of Universals.”  Leftow is one of those few philosophers today working on the metaphysics of God and abstract objects (a topic I worked on for my thesis at Dallas Seminary).  This area is just so pregnant with ideas and implications for metaphysics (and epistemology too).  It’sall cutting edge stuff so it’s really got me excited.  Doughtery’s brief but substantive critique points out several problems and promises of Leftow’s piece.  It’ll have to do till I get my hands on the book.


Philosophy: A Way of Life

September 8, 2006

This is taken from Life of Pythagoras by Iamblichus. It inspires me.

“Those who committed themselves to the guidance of [the doctrines of Pythagoras [the first guy to use the term ‘philosophy’] acted as follows. They performed their morning walks alone and in places where there was an appropriate solitude and quiet; for they considered it contrary to wisdom to enter into conversation with another person until they had rendered their own souls calm and their minds harmonious…. [A]fter their solitary morning walk they would associate with one another to discuss the teachings and to exchange suggestions for improving the style of behavior. Then they would walk together…
“Their next step was to care for the health of the body…. Contrasting types of exercise were sought with a view to improving the strength and health of the body.
Luncheon was extremely simply, consisting of bread and honey; they did not drink wine during the daytime. In the afternoon there were further studies. As evening cam on they again took walks—no longer singly as in the morning, but in groups of two or three…
“After walking they bathed, and then assembled in a place where they ate supper in small groups, no group being of more than ten….
“ After supper…readings followed, the youngest reading what the eldest selected….”

The description continues. I’m not a Pythagorean, but these guys were impressive. Thoughts?


Can A Timeless God Freely Create?

September 5, 2006

I don’t see why not.  However, Alan Rhoda over at Prosblogion gives an argument to the contrary.  I here summarize Rhoda’s argument:

God’s timelessness entails His immutability (i.e. God can undergo no real or intrinsic change).  Hence,

  1. God is absolutely immutable.
  2. God has freely created.
  3. A free act proceeds from a free decision from among several mutually exclusive possibilities.
  4. Therefore, God made a free decision to create from among several mutually exclusive possibilities. (2,3)
  5. A free decision from among several mutually exclusive possibilities involves a change of ‘intentional stance’ from regarding something as indeterminate (as one of several possibilities) to regarding it as determinate (as the chosen course of action).
  6. Therefore, in freely created God undergoes a change in his intentional stance. (4,5)
  7. Therefore, God has changed in some respect. (6)
  8. Therefore, God is not absolutely immutable. (7)

This has generated some interesting responses.


A Review of The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus

September 2, 2006

The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus. By Gary R. Habermas and Michael L. Licona. Grand Rapids, MI. Kregel Publishers; 352 pages.

In the midst of countless intellectual assaults upon the historical tenets of Christian Orthodoxy that have taken place within the past few decades, there have arisen a few substantive and noteworthy texts that attempt to defend the veracity of such historical events as the Resurrection, the core of the Christian message (1 Cor. 15:14-17). One cannot help but think of The Son Rises written by Christian philosopher William Lane Craig or the hallmark historical work The Resurrection of the Son of God by N. T. Wright. Yet, while being of immeasurable value, neither of these are quite as balanced in being both stereoscopic in their approach and accessible for the layperson as The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus by Gary R. Habermas and Michael L. Licona.
The book itself is divided into four major sections. While somewhat brief, Part One deals with the importance of the Resurrection as a crucial issue and an antecedent and causal issue to sharing the gospel. Further detail is given concerning the principles that historians commonly use in order to arrive at a cogent conclusion.
Part Two begins the task of explaining the popular “minimal facts approach” utilized by the authors and employed by numerous apologists. The idea here is that there should not be attached any unnecessary baggage to the Christian message when arguing for the historicity of the Resurrection. Thus, they consider only those claims that are accepted by virtually every single scholar, regardless of religious persuasion, that seriously studies the subject. This common ground acts as a sort of leverage or foundation. Once it can be shown that the best explanation of these facts is the bodily resurrection of Christ the task is done…well, almost.
The logical flow of the book leads to the critique of opposing theories in Part Three. What is unique and quite impressive concerning this work is the sheer amount of rival theories that are covered. The usual theories covered in other such books are mentioned (legend, non-historical genre, resurrection in other religions, fraud theory, wrong tomb, hallucination, vision, etc.) but others not treated elsewhere do not go unnoticed (gospel discrepancies, biased testimony, lack of records, historical agnosticism, alien theory and naturalism). These mentioned are not exhaustive of those covered and thus further illustrate the comprehensive nature of the text.
Part Four contains “other Issues” that are relevant and helpful for those attempting to become acquainted with related requisite information. The arguments presented are sound and great care has been taken to make them accessible to the reader. Such issues include the nature of the resurrection body, Jesus’ view of himself, God’s involvement and “the art of sharing”.
Finally, any review of this book would not be complete if there were no sort of commendation for the extra work performed in order to truly make it a tool for learning. The book includes a CD that is aimed at helping the reader test the knowledge they might have gained from the text. Furthermore, for those individuals that might want to participate in the dissemination of the truth of the Resurrection there is a detailed outline of all the arguments presented in the book and an extensive bibliography. This is intended to help facilitate teachers that might use this as a text in a classroom setting. This book should be, and for good reason, a text used by many to present the Christian faith as a historically viable option! Thanks Gary and Mike!