The BSPR’s Eleventh Conference: Divine Hiddenness
Oriel College, Oxford, Thursday 12th through Sunday 13th September
Saturday 12th will focus on the legacy of Richard Swinburne in honour of his 80th birthday.
Richard Swinburne (Oxford), Stephen R. L. Clark (Liverpool), Sarah Coakley (Cambridge), Trent Dougherty (Baylor)
Call for Papers:
The problem of the “Hiddenness of God” has been explored in analytic philosophy of religion in recent decades mainly as an issue of theodicy and providence: if God wishes to make Godself transformatively available to humans, why does God not do so more obviously and openly? Many, such as Russell and, more recently, Schellenberg, have taken this to be an argument against theism.
There is however also a deeper ontological issue at stake, that of the apparently intrinsic divine transcendence of God as creator. What philosophical sense can be made of a God who is (it is said) utterly unknowable in ‘essence’ but equally utterly available ‘in energies’, grace and revelation? Is there anything to be gained by a comparison with modern cosmological speculation here? We know what ‘dark matter’ does (namely, pull visible baryonic matter into stars and galaxies) but not what it is.
There is also an epistemological problem, with echoes in other (non-religious) spheres. We may hope one day – though perhaps without much reason – to know the nature of ‘dark matter’, whereas – we are told – God is forever incomprehensible. How – as Hume enquired – does an incomprehensible divinity differ from an equally incomprehensible, non-divine, origin? How does “God does it” differ from “we can never know what does it”?
Papers are invited which probe these philosophical issues from different directions, in connection with Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu or classical pagan traditions, both ancient and modern, and from the perspective of abstract metaphysics and epistemology. The theodicy question in the earlier discussion need not be neglected, but should be considered in the light of the metaphysical and epistemological issues already named.
Please send abstracts either in the body of an email or as a .doc file (no pdfs) of a maximum of 250 words to me (Victoria.Harrison@glasgow.ac.uk) by the end of March 2015. 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).
Final versions of accepted papers will be due one month before the conference begins.
Preference will be shown towards papers that are on the theme of the conference. 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.