The British Society for the Philosophy of Religion
Oriel College, Oxford, Wednesday 11th – Friday 13th September 2013.
Keynote Speakers: Dr. Pamela Anderson (Oxford), Professor Stephen R. L. Clark (Liverpool), Professor Owen Flanagan (Duke), and Professor Robin Le Poidevin (Leeds)
Call for Papers
Buddhists, Epicureans, Christians, Pantheists, Materialists, Liberal Humanists, Transhumanists, Nietszcheans and Idolaters have all at different times been content to be called “atheists”, and even the most ardent of “New Atheists” will insist that they need have no “positive” beliefs, except to reject whatever God or notion of God it is that they oppose. There need therefore be no one doctrine or way of life identified as “Atheism”. The question is rather what forms of life and thought are to be reckoned “atheistical” and why they might (or might not) seem attractive.
Nor need the rejection of whatever God or Gods are in question always be a matter of intellectual conviction rather than politics (as anti-clericalism) or broadly “spiritual” practice (requiring the rejection of any authority superior to the individual’s own will, or to the State’s judgement).
If you would like to present a paper, please send an abstract of a maximum of 250 words to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) by the end of March, 2013. Unfortunately, it will not be possible to consider abstracts that exceed the word limit or that are submitted after the closing date (allowance being made to colleagues in other time zones). The plural form “ATHEISMS” is to be noted: papers solely directed to refutations of (and refutations of those refutations of) “the Five Ways” (for example) are discouraged, as are papers directed solely to proving the non-existence of one particular deity, without regard to the alternatives.
Papers need not be on the theme of the conference, although a preference may be shown towards selecting those that are, other things being equal. Time and space at the conference will be limited, so we shall have to be selective, even allowing for the fact that we plan to run parallel sessions and request people presenting papers to keep to half-hour slots.
In order to keep to the tight timetabling required to permit participants to hear (the whole of) as many papers as possible, papers should take ideally fifteen minutes and an absolute maximum twenty minutes to deliver, leaving ten minutes or so for discussion.
Hon. Sec. BSPR
Alvin 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:
- There is no conflict between theistic religion and the scientific theory of evolution.
- There is no conflict between science and the common theistic belief that there have been miracles.
- 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.
- There is deep concord between science and theistic religion.
- 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.
Michael Ruse (of the SEP "Creationism" ruse (no, I never get tired of saying that)) has a new book forthcoming next month on Charles Darwin.
I like to read about Darwin, I find him a very interesting character, but what will really put this book on the map for the lovers of Dawkins, Dennet, and Co. is the penultimate chapter “The Origins of Religion”. A publishers squib states “Strongly supports Darwinism and fully explores modern naturalistic explanations of religion” and he somehow still has space in 352 pages to “Offer a comprehensive discussion of Darwinism and Christianity – including Creationism.” Wow, it’s a good thing he’s “one of the leading authorities in the field.” I didn’t realize that Darwinism and Christianity constitute a field. Apparently being a leading authority does not distribute over conjunction. :-)~