Fideism, Faith, and Rationality Conference
January 29, 2014 — 9:25

Author: Joshua Thurow  Category: News Religious Belief  Tags: , ,   Comments: 0

The 2014 Brackenridge conference at the University of Texas at San Antonio will be on Fideism, Faith, and Rationality.  The keynote speaker is John Bishop (Auckland).  The conference will be held February 20-22, 2014.  All are welcome to attend.

Thursday, February 20 H.E.B. University Center 2.202, Travis Room

3:00 – 4:10 pm Daniel Bonevac (UT-Austin)

4:25 – 5:40 pm Keynote address from John Bishop (Auckland)


Friday, February 21 University Center 2.01.28, Denman Ballroom

9:30 – 10:40 am Howard Wettstein (UC-Riverside)

10:55 – 12:05 am Michael Pace (Chapman)

2:00 – 3:10 pm Jonathan Kvanvig (Baylor)

3:25 – 4:40 pm Paddy McShane (Georgetown)


Saturday, February 22 University Center 2.01.28, Denman Ballroom

10:00 – 11:10 am Blake Roeber (Notre Dame)

11:25 – 12:35 pm Jeff Jordan (Delaware)

An Argument for Pantheism or Panentheism
January 28, 2010 — 14:47

Author: Joshua Thurow  Category: Concept of God  Comments: Off

I’ve been re-reading Book I of Spinoza’s Ethics in preparation for teaching History of Modern Philosophy. He defines ‘God’ as follows: (Book I, Def. 6) “By God I mean an absolutely infinite being, that is, a substance consisting of infinite attributes, each of which expresses eternal and infinite essence.” The two attributes he discusses are, of course, thought and extension. I started wondering why he would simply define ‘God’ in such a way that God is extended. I came up with what seems to me to be an interesting argument. If the argument is correct, it’s an argument for either pantheism or panentheism (the latter is the view that nature is a part of God). It’s inspired by some brief comments Spinoza makes in the scholium to Proposition 10 of book 1 and, as far as I’ve been able to tell in a brief scan of the literature, it hasn’t shown up in the literature at all. I’m interested to see what you all think about it.
Here’s the argument:
1. God is a perfect (i.e. the greatest possible) being.
2. A perfect being will have all property-kinds that are intrinsically good.
3. Being extended (or being physical/material) is an intrinsically good property-kind.

The Elusive God, Chapter 2, Sections 5-8: Divine Hiddenness, Attunement, and A New Argument for God’s Existence
July 14, 2009 — 0:55

Author: Joshua Thurow  Category: Atheism & Agnosticism Books of Interest Christian Theology Existence of God Religious Belief  Comments: 2

Moser does three main things in sections 5-8 of chapter 2:
1. He gives an explanation for divine hiddenness
2. He gives a deeper explanation of purposively available divine reality using the notion of attunement
3. He gives an argument for God’s existence.
I will briefly describe these three things and raise a few questions along the way.
1. Divine Hiddenness
Moser provides a handful of possible explanations for divine hiddenness, distances himself from two popular explanations, and then makes a move that is quite analogous to the skeptical theist response to the problem of evil.
Moser calls his reply to the problem of divine hiddenness the Divine Purposes Reply, which states, “God would restrain divine manifestations, at least for a time, to at least some humans in order to enhance satisfaction of God’s own diverse perfectly authoritative and loving purposes regarding humans” (110). Furthermore, there isn’t one particular purpose that God’s hiding satisfies. Moser suggests the following as some of God’s purposes:


Bloggingheads on the Cognitive Science of Religion
May 30, 2009 — 8:53

Author: Joshua Thurow  Category: Uncategorized  Comments: 6

Philosopher Michael Murray and cognitive psychologist Paul Bloom discuss the cognitive science of religion and its philosophical and theological implications in this Bloggingheads discussion. A number of interesting issues come up – enjoy!

Does Cognitive Science Show Belief in God to be Irrational?
January 10, 2009 — 15:16

Author: Joshua Thurow  Category: Uncategorized  Comments: 14

I just finished a draft of a paper with this title, and I could use the expert assistance of Prosblogion members to make it better!
Here’s a brief summary of the paper: After describing the two main cognitive science of religion theories for why humans have religious beliefs and arguing that the two can be combined into a more powerful theory, I present an argument that the evidence for these theories gives reasons for thinking that belief in God is unjustified because this evidence shows that our religious belief-forming processes are unreliable. After defending this argument against a handful of objections, I then criticize this argument by arguing that these theories give an unrealistically abstract account of the belief-forming and sustaining processes of religious believers. A more detailed description of these processes reveals that we cannot argue that the belief-forming and sustaining processes of religious beliefs – even when the cognitive science findings are taken into account – are unreliable without previously showing that standard arguments for the existence of God fail. The cognitive science of religion thus presents no independent reason for thinking that belief in God is irrational.
Here is the paper:
Feel free to post comments here or to email me with comments at

Tooley’s Main Entry, Sections I – III
July 27, 2008 — 16:43

Author: Joshua Thurow  Category: Uncategorized  Comments: 39

We now move on to Tooley’s opening statement in Knowledge of God. My entry will discuss pp. 70-108. Next week’s entry will discuss the rest of the chapter, which is a detailed presentation of Tooley’s version of the problem of evil.
Let me start with a brief overview of Tooley’s argument in pp. 70-108. Section I, “Some Preliminary Issues,” discusses a smorgasbord of issues. In it, Tooley states that he is concerned with arguing against the existence of God, conceived as an omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect person. He seems to think that his arguments will also establish that there is no very powerful, very knowledgeable, and morally very good person. He then argues that it is far from clear that the gods that are worshipped by historical religions can be identical with God because these gods are arguably not perfectly good. He cites a variety of standard “difficult passages” in the Bible, as well as the doctrine that hell is a place of eternal torment where many people will in fact end up. Consequently, Tooley thinks that Judaism, Islam, and Christianity all face more forceful versions of the argument from evil since they not only have to deal with the standard problem of why their god doesn’t intervene to prevent evils, but they also have to deal with the fact that their religious texts describe their gods as acting in immoral ways for what we would regard as poor reasons. The following quote sums up Tooley’s view about these religions: “the existence of the god of Protestant Fundamentalism, or of Roman Catholicism, or of Islam, is not something that I would welcome, for it would mean that the world, while certainly not the worst imaginable, would be very bad indeed” (to be fair, I should add that Tooley says he would welcome the existence of God in the sense of an omnipotent, omniscient, morally perfect being because the existence of such a being, “greatly increases, at the very least, the chances that the world is a very good one” (both quotes are on p. 74)). Finally, Tooley states that he will be arguing that the epistemic probability of the existence of God is low and he argues that it is better to argue about the epistemic probability of God’s existence than about whether belief in God is warranted.