Monist Issue on Cognitive Science of Religion
April 4, 2013 — 10:12

Author: James Beebe  Category: Uncategorized  Tags: , , ,   Comments: 0

I am pleased to announce that The Monist will be publishing a special issue later this year on philosophical issues pertaining to the cognitive science of religion. Here is the Table of Contents, with abstracts below:
The Monist 96:3 July 2013, “Naturalizing Religious Belief”
Advisory Editor: James Beebe (University at Buffalo)
Justin L. Barrett & Ian M. Church (Fuller Theological Seminary), “Should CSR Give Atheists Epistemic Assurance? On Beer-Goggles, BFFs, and Skepticism Regarding Religious Beliefs”
John Teehan (Hofstra University), “The Cognitive Bases of the Problem of Evil”
Jason Marsh (St. Olaf College), “Darwin and the Problem of Natural Nonbelief”
Steven Horst (Wesleyan University), “Notions of Intuition in the Cognitive Science of Religion”
Adam Green (Azusa Pacific University), “Cognitive Science and the Natural Knowledge of God”
Paul Draper (Purdue University) & Ryan Nichols (California State University, Fullerton), “Diagnosing Bias in Philosophy of Religion”
Konrad Talmont-Kaminski (University of Finance and Management, Warsaw), “For God and Country, Not Necessarily for Truth: The Non-Alethic Function of Superempirical Beliefs”
Robert Audi (University of Notre Dame), “The Scientific Study of Religion and the Pillars of Human Dignity”


Prosblogion Reviews: Where the Conflict Really Lies
February 3, 2012 — 14:44

Author: James Beebe  Category: Books of Interest Prosblogion Reviews  Tags: , , , , , , ,   Comments: 35

Where the Conflict Really LiesAlvin Plantinga, Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism, Oxford University Press, 2011, 376 pp., $27.95 (hbk), ISBN 9780199812097
Reviewed by James R. Beebe (University at Buffalo)
Alvin Plantinga, philosophy of religion’s most distinguished contemporary statesman, has once again produced a carefully crafted book that raises compelling challenges to widely held doubts about the cogency of belief in God. Where the Conflict Really Lies began as Plantinga’s 2005 Gifford Lectures, and pieces of it have appeared in Science and Religion: Are They Compatible (Oxford, 2011, co-authored with Daniel Dennett), and in a handful of articles. It is filled with the kind of careful analysis, philosophical rigor and understated humor that have become hallmarks of Plantinga’s notable career.
The central claims of Where the Conflict Really Lies are the following:

  1. There is no conflict between theistic religion and the scientific theory of evolution.
  2. There is no conflict between science and the common theistic belief that there have been miracles.
  3. There are superficial conflicts between Christian belief and evolutionary psychology, on the one hand, and scientific scripture scholarship, on the other, but these conflicts don’t provide defeaters for Christian belief.
  4. There is deep concord between science and theistic religion.
  5. There is deep conflict between science and naturalism.

Plantinga’s case for (v) is a restatement of his well-known evolutionary argument against naturalism, which first appeared almost twenty years ago in Warrant and Proper Function (Oxford, 1993). Because this argument will be familiar to many and because I found the 300 pages that preceded Plantinga’s most recent statement of it to be more thought-provoking, I will say nothing further about (v) in this review.


Can Robots Think?
April 19, 2008 — 10:58

Author: James Beebe  Category: Books of Interest  Comments: 32

I just received a notice from Blackwell about the new book in the Great Debates series featuring a debate between Alvin Plantinga and Michael Tooley on Knowledge of God. I noticed that one chapter by Plantinga is called “Can Robots Think? A Reply to Tooley’s Second Statement.”
I have two questions: (1) Can someone tell me what Plantinga’s position on artificial thinking is? (2) Can someone give me any good reason why robots will not be able to think in the future?
Theists in general are quite hostile to the possibility of genuine artificial intelligence, but I have yet to hear a good reason why. Suppose that substance dualism is true. This means that you and I do our thinking with a non-physical mind/soul. The fact that we do our thinking with a non-physical mind/soul doesn’t show that thinking can only be done with a mind/soul. Compare: The fact that birds do their flying with feathered wings does not mean that feathered wings are required for flying. Helicopters, plants, rockets, etc. fly without feathered wings. So, I can’t see why the truth of dualism would preclude AI. And I’m not sure what other good reasons there are.

Good Science and Religion Texts
April 15, 2008 — 11:53

Author: James Beebe  Category: Books of Interest Teaching  Comments: 16

I’m going to teach a course on Science and Religion in the fall for the first time. The course presupposes no (or very little) prior background in philosophy. I was amazed at the number of interesting books that resulted from a search on Amazon using the keywords ‘science’ and ‘religion.’ It’s hard to know where to begin to sort them out. If some of you could recommend texts on science and religion that you think are excellent, I would appreciate it.
James Beebe

CFP: God, Nature and Design
November 27, 2007 — 11:35

Author: James Beebe  Category: News  Comments: 1

The Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion at the University of Oxford will host a conference entitled "God, Nature and Design: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives" July 10th – 12th 2008. Speakers will include John Hedley Brooke, Ron Numbers, Michael Ruse and Richard Swinburne.
The official Call for Papers can be found here. Possible topics include the argument from design in its historical or contemporary forms, divine activity in nature, debates about intelligent design, fine-tuning arguments, and the implications of evolutionary thought for theistic interpretations of nature.

International Conference on Natural Theology
October 12, 2007 — 13:20

Author: James Beebe  Category: News  Comments: Off

I just noticed that Alistair McGrath is organizing an international conference on natural theology, to be held in Oxford next June. Details can be found here. Speakers include Justin Barrett, Jeremy Begbie, John Hedley Brooke, Simon Conway Morris, Hilary Fraser, Peter Harrison, John Haught, Alistair McGrath, Richard Swinburne, and Keith Ward.

They have also issued a Call for Papers. The deadline for submissions in Nov. 15th. I wish I had something to submit.

Second Annual Philosophy of Religion Conference
September 1, 2006 — 10:54

Author: James Beebe  Category: News  Comments: 1

I don’t think I’ve seen the Second Annual Philosophy of Religion Conference, run by J. Kvanvig, advertised here yet. The Call for Papers can be found at: The conference, which used to be at Mizzou, is now moving to Baylor with Kvanvig.
I reprint the full call for papers below the fold.


Materialism and the Afterlife
June 13, 2006 — 12:28

Author: James Beebe  Category: Afterlife  Comments: 12

Readers and contributors to Prosblogion, I am a new contributor to Prosblogion, even though I have been a regular reader of the blog for some time. I work primarily in epistemology (for now at least). I wanted to ask a question about materialism and the afterlife. Van Inwagen's materialist vision of the afterlife is notorious and seems to be the first thing people generally mention on the topic. But I was wondering if you knew of any other attempts to combine materialism about the mind with our continued personal existence in the afterlife. I thought readers of this blog could tell me where to look, if anyone could. Thanks in advance.