The Religion and Philosophy Department together with the Interfaith Council and Evans Speakers Series are hosting a presentation and panel discussion on religious resources for peace in the Middle East on Thursday November 1. The presentation and discussion will be held in Evans Auditorium from 5:00 to 7:00. The main speakers are Dr. Ibrahim Abu-Rabi, Professor of Islamic Studies at Hartford Theological Seminary, and Dr. Samuel Fleischacker, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Illinois in Chicago.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Friday, October 26, 2007
Onlookers will note that the First Place Ribbon appears to spend most of its daytime hours placed on another, less impressive, poster. No philosophy club officers were available for comment about this phenomenon.
Posted by Tricia at 12:42 PM
Monday, October 22, 2007
Dr. Peter Augustine Lawler, Dana Professor of Government at Berry, received the 2007 Richard M. Weaver Prize for Scholarly Letters on Friday October 19 from Dr. Robert Preston of Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, North Carolina.
After the award Dr. Lawler delivered his address on the Crisis of the Self-Evidence of Truth, a powerful critique of the Lockean and Darwinian conceptions of man and a call for the resolution of the crisis of self-evidence through a return to theology.
The distinguished speakers at the two-day conference included Patrick Deneen (Georgetown University), Marc Guerra (Ave Maria University), Mark Henrie (Intercollegiate Studies Institute), Thomas Hibbs (Baylor University), Mary Keys (University of Notre Dame), Daniel Mahoney (Assumption College), and Robert Preston (Belmont Abbey College).
Posted by michael papazian at 12:43 PM
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
The Mount Berry Church and the Chaplain's Office have been sponsoring a series of talks every Monday night on Christian denominations. The Religion and Philosophy Department will be well represented in the following three weeks.
Dr. David McKenzie will speak on Liberal/Progressive churches on Monday October 22.
I will talk about the Orthodox Church on the following Monday.
Dean Tom Kennedy will speak on the liturgical churches (Anglican/Episcopal and Lutheran) on November 5.
All of the talks are in the Krannert Red Room at 6:00pm.
I don't know how Dr. McKenzie or Dean Kennedy will do their presentations but my plan is to give a very brief overview of Orthodox theology and practice, and the key differences with other Christian traditions. The rest of the time will be for questions and discussion.
Posted by michael papazian at 12:01 PM
Saturday, October 13, 2007
As Halloween approaches, a philosopher's thoughts turn to evil. The "problem of evil" is one of the most widely discussed philosophical problems. It was a particular obsession of the great German philosopher and mathematician Leibniz. Lately, I've been thinking about Leibniz's work on this problem. Leibniz famously argued that the world is the best of all possible worlds that God could have created, a view that was later ridiculed by Voltaire in his book Candide. But it seems that even in Leibniz's day, several philosophers denied that there is a best of all possible worlds. Instead, they claimed that possible worlds are like numbers, and just as there is no greatest number, so too there is no greatest world.
But in that case what is God to do? Would He just arbitrarily pick a world, say world number 287,184, even though He could have just as easily created world number 287,185, which is greater! This would seem arbitrary and unbecoming of the all-powerful and all-good God. Surely God does not play dice! (Here I am assuming that there are as many possible worlds as real numbers and that the higher-numbered world is better than the lower one. For the sake of simplicity I am assuming that no two worlds are equally good, though, of course, this need not be the case.)
It seems that certain Jesuit theologians in Leibniz's time argued for God's arbirtary choice of this world. This would explain why this world contains so much evil. God had to pick some world to create, and whichever world He chose would be such that there are an infinite number of better worlds.
But it seems to me that if there is an infinite number of worlds God could have created, then there are two other options open to God other than arbitarily choosing one world. He could have chosen not to create any. Of course, He didn't do that. Or He could have created an infinite series of worlds that meet a minimum standard of goodness. Perhaps God created all the worlds in the open interval from 0 to infinity, that is, all the worlds that correspond to the positive real numbers. The negative worlds contain too much evil to be worthy of creation. Our world may be, say, in the neighborhood of 300,000 for all we know. (Some evidence points to our world being irrational, perhaps. [A joke]) In any event, not so great, but containing enough goodness to be creation-worthy.
The upshot of all this is that the significant amount of evil in this world is compatible with the existence of an omnipotent and perfect Being who did create the best worlds that can be created.
Or so I think. What do you think?
[An excellent article on Leibniz that I used in preparing this entry is at http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/leibniz-evil/. ]
Thursday, October 4, 2007
I've just returned from two weeks in Greece. Here are some pictures I took that have philosophical and/or religious relevance.
This is the harbor of Pythagoreio on the island of Samos, birthplace of the philosopher, mathematician, and mystic Pythagoras (best known for the Pythagorean theorem).
This is the harbor of Patmos, the island on which John wrote the book of Revelation (or 'Apocalypse' in Greek).
And finally, the Parthenon, the temple of Athena, on the Acropolis in Athens.
Posted by michael papazian at 11:22 AM