Science, Philosophy, and Religious Commitment: Catholic engagement in philosophy of science
February 16, 2016 — 13:32

Author: Tim Pawl  Category: News Uncategorized  Tags: , , , , ,   Comments: 0

Science, Philosophy, and Religious Commitment:

Catholic engagement in philosophy of science

University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN

26 – 28 June 2016

The aim of this conference is to cultivate sober perspective and insight into the history and current state of engagement with philosophy of science among Catholic intellectuals with an eye to “What now?” sorts of questions. We hope to begin to articulate, explore, and evaluate a variety of approaches to philosophy of science present in Catholic thought over the last 150 years (roughly from John Henry Newman to the present). These approaches include explicit philosophies of science, as well as ones implicit in and shaping theological work, hierarchical church documents and actions, and evaluations of the relevance of the special sciences to metaphysics, philosophy of nature, and theology.

The conference is interested to explore a broad range of issues, approaches, and figures and aims to cultivate productive cross-fertilization, collaboration, and exploration among philosophers, theologians, and scientists today.


Paul Allen (Concordia University)

Nicanor Austriaco, OP (Biology, Providence College)

Stephen Barr (University of Delaware)

Gianfranco Basti (Pontifical Lateran University)

Robert Deltete (Seattle University)

David Diekema (Seattle Pacific University)

Flavia Marcacci (Pontifical Lateran University)

Patrick McDonald (Seattle Pacific University)

Meghan Page (Loyola University Maryland)

Anne Peterson (University of Utah)

Lidia Obojska (Siedlce University of Natural Sciences and Humanities)

Brendan Sweetman  (Rockhurst University)

Nicholas Teh  (University of Notre Dame)

Free and open to the public. (Registration will be required.)

Future information, including schedule and registration, will be posted at the conference website.

Questions or inquiries? Contact Peter Distelzweig.

Hosted and sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of Philosophy. Cosponsored by the Terrence J. Murphy Institute, the Science and Theology Network, and the International Research Area on Foundations of the Sciences at the Pontifical Lateran University.

Coorganized by Peter Distelzweig (University of St. Thomas) and Karen Zwier (Drake University).

The Classical Theism Project
February 3, 2015 — 15:48

Author: Tim Pawl  Category: News  Tags: , ,   Comments: 0

Through the generous funding of the John Templeton Foundation, The Classical Theism Project invites applications for $3,000.00 summer research stipends and workshop participants (who will receive a stipend of $1,500.00).  Our project will investigate, using analytic methodology, the perennial conception of God within the major western monotheisms.

The workshop is from Thursday, July 30th through Saturday August 1st, 2015 and will be held at the University of St. Thomas (St. Paul, MN).  All funded participants will receive a stipend.  Committed participants include: Richard Cross, William Hasker, Eleonore Stump, Sandra Visser, Thomas Joseph White, OP, and Linda Zagzebski, in addition to the project leaders, Gloria Frost and Tim Pawl.  More information is available on our website:

We are calling for applications both from scholars working on this topic, and also from seminary instructors who would like to learn more about Analytic Theology.  We encourage anyone interested in the topic to apply.  Applications are due March 1st. 

In addition, we are funding summer stipends for graduate students and faculty members who wish to spend the summer doing research for a paper, book chapter, or dissertation chapter on a topic related to classical theism.  We expect to give up to ten awards of $3,000.00.  Applications for stipends are also due March 1st.  More information about these stipends is available on our website:

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about the workshop or stipends.  And please share this widely.  Thanks!

The 2012 St. Thomas Summer Seminar in Philosophy of Religion and Philosophical Theology
October 7, 2011 — 9:42

Author: Tim Pawl  Category: News  Tags:   Comments: Off

Recent PhDs and current graduate students are invited to apply to participate in the 2012 St. Thomas Summer Seminar in Philosophy of Religion and Philosophical Theology, a three-week long seminar organized by Dean Zimmerman (Rutgers) and Michael Rota (University of St. Thomas). The seminar will be held at the University of St. Thomas, in St. Paul, Minnesota, from June 17th to July 6th, 2012. Participants will receive a stipend of $3000, as well as room and board.
Topics and speakers:
Dualism and Materialism
Chris Hill (Brown)
Hud Hudson (Western Washington)
Dean Zimmerman (Rutgers)
Freedom and Foreknowledge
Linda Zagzebski (Oklahoma)
David Hunt (Whittier)
The Atonement
Eleonore Stump (Saint Louis University)
Michael Rea (Notre Dame)
Timothy O’Connor (Indiana)
Pascal’s Wager
Thomas Kelly (Princeton)
Michael Rota (St. Thomas)
Neuroscience and Philosophy
Hans Halvorson (Princeton)
Jeffrey Schwartz (UCLA School of Medicine)
The deadline for receipt of applications is December 1, 2011.
For more information, including information on how to apply, go to
This seminar program is funded by a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

TT Job at U St. Thomas (MN)
January 27, 2010 — 10:27

Author: Tim Pawl  Category: General News Teaching  Tags:   Comments: Off

The University of St. Thomas Philosophy Department was just approved to run a tenure-track search this Spring, for a job starting next fall (2010). The text for the ad is below. The ad will appear on the JFP within 48 hours. Our application site hasn’t yet added this position, but within 48 hours we should be up and receiving applications. The job ad is now up on the UST website, so we can now receive applications
Philosophy position at the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul
The University of St. Thomas Philosophy Department invites applications for at least one tenure-track position to begin Sept. 2010, at the rank of assistant professor or instructor. AOS and AOC are open, but we seek individuals with strengths and interests that complement those of the current department members (we have 23 tenured/tenure-track lines). Applicants should have outstanding reasoning, teaching, and writing skills, and the virtues of collegiality. Ph.D. prior to appointment is preferred but not required. The department is committed to sustaining and developing the Catholic intellectual tradition; in this we are guided by the principles of Ex Corde Ecclesiae and Fides et Ratio. We seek candidates who share these commitments. The teaching load is six courses per year (semester system); there are standard non-teaching duties.
Established in 1885, the University of St. Thomas is located in the major metropolitan area of Minneapolis-St. Paul, and is Minnesota’s largest private university. Its 11,000 students pursue degrees in a wide range of liberal arts, professional, and graduate programs.
Inspired by Catholic intellectual tradition, the University of St. Thomas educates students to be morally responsible leaders who think critically, act wisely, and work skillfully to advance the common good, and seeks to develop individuals who combine career competency with cultural awareness and intellectual curiosity. The successful candidate will possess a commitment to the ideals of this mission.
The University of St. Thomas has a strong commitment to the principles of diversity and inclusion, to equal opportunity policies and practices, and to the principles and goals of affirmative action. In that spirit, the University welcomes nominations and applications from a broad and diverse applicant pool.
Applications should be submitted online at, and include 1) a cover letter that includes discussion of the candidate’s commitment to sustaining and developing the Catholic intellectual tradition, 2) a curriculum vitae, 3) a sample of philosophical writing, 4) evidence of teaching effectiveness, including data from student evaluations of recent courses if available, and 5) transcripts (unofficial versions are acceptable). In addition, candidates should arrange to have at least three letters of recommendation sent, either by email to (pdf format preferred) or by mail to: Philosophy Dept. Chair – JRC 241; University of St. Thomas, 2115 Summit Ave.; St. Paul, MN 55105-1096. To be guaranteed full consideration all application materials should be received by February 11. We expect to bring finalists to campus in early March. Review of applications will continue until the position is filled. Please direct any questions to

The 2010 St. Thomas Summer Seminar in Philosophy of Religion and Philosophical Theology
September 16, 2009 — 13:26

Author: Tim Pawl  Category: News  Comments: Off

Please take note of this excellent summer seminar at the University of St. Thomas (Minnesota), where my colleague, Mike Rota, is putting on a great program. He and Dean Zimmerman have received funding from the John Templeton Foundation to support a seminar on philosophy of religion and philosophical theology for graduate students and recent PhDs. The seminar, which is the first of three annual summer seminars, covers room and board, and it includes a stipend of $2800 as well! Alvin Plantinga, Richard Feldman, Elliott Sober, our own Alex Pruss, Peter van Inwagen, Evan Fales, Roger White, Thomas Kelly, Alan Love, and Peter Kreeft will all present this summer. The following summers will include other thinkers, such as Eleonore Stump. It is going to be amazing!
Check out the site here:

CFP: SCP Eastern 2010
July 30, 2009 — 11:40

Author: Tim Pawl  Category: News  Comments: Off

Society of Christian Philosophers
2010 Eastern Regional Conference
“Metaphysics: Old and New”
March 12-13, 2010
Wake Forest University
Winston Salem, NC
Plenary Speakers:
Kathrin Koslicki (University of Colorado)
Commentator: E. J. Lowe (Durham University)
Jeffrey Brower (Purdue University)
Commentator: Hud Hudson (Western Washington University)
Samuel Newlands (University of Notre Dame)
Commentator: Robert M. Adams (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)


Reading Group Week 8: Tooley’s Closing Statement and Response to Plantinga’s Comments
August 18, 2008 — 9:00

Author: Tim Pawl  Category: Atheism & Agnosticism Books of Interest Existence of God Problem of Evil Religious Belief  Comments: 34

This is the last installment of the Prosblogion Reading Group. I’ve found reading these posts and comments edifying, and I hope the rest of the readers have as well. I’d like to thank Matthew for setting this up, and for the other participants–both posters and commenters–for their great thoughts.
Below I discuss Tooley’s response to Plantinga’s response to Tooley. Or, put another way, Tooley’s “Yes way!” to Plantinga’s “No way!” To keep my comments at a manageable length I’ve referred back to Trent and Andrew’s posts, rather than presenting the whole dialectic here. But I’ve tried to summarize the dialectic briefly in most places. For more detail on the original argument or Plantinga’s response, be sure to see the discussions of the last two weeks.


What I learned in a NATURE Editorial
June 14, 2007 — 10:28

Author: Tim Pawl  Category: Uncategorized  Comments: 31

There's an editorial on pg 753 of the newest edition of Nature (vol 447, issue 7146). It starts with this claim:

"With all deference to the sensibilities of religious people, the idea that man was created in the image of God can surely be put aside."

Wow! Something near and dear to Christianity — the imago dei — can be safely put aside (not argued down or shown inconsistent, but politely put away). Such truths are hard to take, but the deference the author has shown to my sensibilities helps . . .

 Why can it be put aside? Well, the editor tells us:

"But the suggestion that any entity capable of creating the Universe has a mind encumbered with the same emotional structures and perceptual framework as that of an upright ape adapted to living in small, intensely social peer-groups on the African savannah seems a priori unlikely."

That might very well be a priori unlikely, but who said that being made in the image of God meant that God had a mind encumbered with the same emotional structures and perceptual framework as an upright ape?

One last thing the erudite editor says is:

Moral philosophers often put great store by their rejection of the ‘naturalistic fallacy’, the belief that because something is a particular way, it ought to be that way. Now we learn that untutored beliefs about ‘what ought to be’ do, in fact, reflect an ‘is’: the state of the human mind as an evolved entity. Accepting this represents a challenge that few as yet have really grappled with.

This is one of those claims I hate to see in my intro papers, because there are so many things wrong with it I don't know where to begin. The presentation of the naturalistic argument is wrong (the naturalistic fallacy goes further than just rejecting the deontic conclusion of []p from p). But, even if the portrayal of the naturalist fallacy were spot on, what's with the "reflecting an 'is'" business? Suppose our moral judgments do reflect our evolved state. Then what? So what? Suppose we are superstitious, religious dualists. Wouldn't our moral judgments reflect our immaterial non-evolved state? There's a reason that few moral philosophers have really grappled with this challenge.

How can it be that such things get published?

The Epistemic Grounding for the Biblical Canon
May 11, 2007 — 9:43

Author: Tim Pawl  Category: Christian Theology Religious Belief  Tags:   Comments: 30

There's been lots of discussion in the previous post about canonicity.  Which books are the inspired books that God has given to his church?  We want a canon that contains all and only the inspired texts.  Only inspired texts, so that we aren't led astray by phonies; all inspired texts, so that we aren't missing something vital.  

But, how is the Christian supposed to know which canon is the right one?  The Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants all have different canons, and that's just mentioning the three most common canons.  There are many other professed canons out there.  How does the Christian know which to affirm?  

What sorts of things could justify the Christian in judging /this/ canon to be all and only God's word?  I'm not asking (yet) for the whole story; I'm asking a more general question.  What sorts of justification /could/ do the work here?

More below the fold.


Philosophical Easter Eggs
May 4, 2007 — 9:24

Author: Tim Pawl  Category: General  Comments: 3

I was reading through the new issue of Faith and Philosophy when I saw this  footnote:

"I use the term "Phat" on the advice of my hip-hop savvy colleague Matt Halteman, who assures me that this fits the paradigm use of "phat" as an adjective predicated of hyper-accessorized cars ("pimp mobiles," I believe Matt called them) and the like."

What a great thing to find, hidden in the back of the article with the mundane footnotes.

Bryan Frances had a post last year over at knowability on philosophical insults, calling for readers' favorite insults by philosophers.  What are some other clever/funny/insulting/ironic/incredible footnotes, hidden at the ends of articles and books like Easter Eggs hidden on DVDs?  This one's a joke, but no good footnote find should go unappreciated.