Is God good?

"Why do you believe God is good? This is the question for a new video contest sponsored by B&H Academic. If you are a college student taking at least 12 hours per semester you can enter. The winner will receive $5,000. Enter here." (But first read the fine print below.)

- Dr. V

The Fine Print: It will probably be helpful to move to the U.S. prior to submitting one's entry, since the contest is open to U.S. colleges and universities only. Whether one moves to the U.S. or not, the video contest should be philosophically interesting, so let's keep a lookout for the winning entry. (Dembski's book looks philosophically interesting, too.)

Introducing Radical Orthodoxy

I have been reading the work of a theologian named John Milbank who is the founder of an recent theological movement called Radical Orthodoxy. This interview on CBC radio explains it. They present an interesting reading of the history of philosophy and its relation to theology, in particular the relationship between faith and reason. Enjoy!

Evangelical Philosophical Society

For your information, here is the EPS December 2009 newsletter. Merry Christmas to all! - Dr. V

The Best Of Both Worlds

Husserl and Heidegger


A few years ago a internet film titled "Zeitgeist" achieved fame in the world wide web. The film presented three major events/movements which have influenced society (Christianity, September 11th Attacks, Banking system) and argued that they are nothing more than conspiracies aimed at the goal of social control. Of interest to me was the first part which argued that there was no historical Jesus, instead there is onlu a Jesus based on a conglomerate of Egyptian myths. Few responses to the film have been adequate and today I found one of them. Here is a very good point by point response. Also, check out Gregory Boyd's work Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition for a good counter argument to arguments similar to the Zeitgeist film. Even (Christ Myth advocate) Robert Price recommends it!


Faith and Science

Providence College Lectures 2009

(Announcement from the Providence website.) Faith and science are both interested in the origins of the world, but these different factions seem to disagree an awful lot. Could they ever work together?

At the upcoming Providence College Lectures, guest lecturer, Dr. Glen Klassen will present A Scientist Reflects on How God Makes the World. He will be exploring topics on how traditional ideas of creation are challenged by the scientific approach and will ask the question, “is there any middle ground between Creationism and Darwinism?”

Klassen taught “molecular evolution” for many years at the University of Manitoba and researched the evolution of the ribosomal gene cluster with the help of graduate students. He is now an adjunct professor of biology at Canadian Mennonite University and is a member of the Fort Garry Evangelical Mennonite Church. Over the years, Klassen has occasionally published and spoken in the area of faith and science.

A panel discussion will follow Klassen’s lectures featuring Providence College and Seminary President Gus Konkel. Konkel has also expressed a passion for science saying, “It is rational to ask the why question if intelligent design was part of the earth from the beginning. It makes even more sense if that intelligent design is personal, with a personal interest in other persons.”

The lectures will be on Thursday, November 19, beginning at 9:00 am in the Reimer Student Life Centre. Admission is free and no registration is required.
9:00 Traditional Ideas of Creation Challenged by the Scientific Approach
10:30 How Some Scholars are Trying to Turn the Clock Back on Darwin (Intelligent Design)
1:00 Is There Any Middle Ground between Creationism and Darwinism?
2:30 Panel Discussion: Providence College Faculty and Students (Chuck Vandergraaf, Gus Konkel, Bruce Duggan, Jordan Byggdin)
All Philosophy Foosballers are encouraged to attend! - Dr. V

Of Beauty and Consolation with Richard Rorty

This video occupied my mind a good portion of the summer.

Faith and Reason

As a follow-up to Prov's recent Faculty Forum ("How Do You Know? Doubt, Certainty, and Faith") , the following short article might be of interest to Philosophy Foosballers: "When Atheists Believe: The confounding attraction of the Christian worldview," by Chuck Colson with Catherine Larson (Christianity Today, October 22, 2009). Whatever one's view is concerning the relationship between faith and reason, the article should provide some ideas to kick around.

Dr. V


At the philosophy club supper Jordan brought up the philosophical question pertaining to God's foreknowledge and the issue of randomness in the evolution of biological life. I and a fellow bearded philosophy foosballer argued that the term random appeared to have an ideological function in which it assumed atheism and therefore no teleology. This then came to discussing the mechanisms of evolution and whether they were truly random. Maybe we should have sifted out a better understanding of randomness, but anyways I brought to attention the ideas of Simon Conway Morris, a christian palaeontologist, who has a sort of view that says that given the laws of physics and the structure of carbon, carbon based life forms are inevitable. The idea behind this was that it would call the whole idea of randomness into question and introduce the question of design.

So I said I would link all of you to video so here it is. A big part of this documentary is concerned with Extra-terrestrial life. You see pretty quickly how Morris' ideas apply to these questions. Morris begins to discuss his ideas a little after 10:00 in the video. I suggest we continue this subject at the next philosophy meeting.

- I have also found a documentary on Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time. I should put it up in the future.

- Also, a good book which discusses Morris' ideas is Why There Almost Certainly Is A God: Doubting Dawkins by Keith Ward. I read it this summer and thought it was one of the better critiques of Dawkins. The chapter of interest would be chapter 2, "Large Aeroplanes and God."

First Ever Philosophy Foosball Club Dinner a Success!


The evening of Thursday, October 8 2009, was the first ever Philosophy Foosball Club Dinner (see photos below). Assuming that there exists a Platonic form of The Good Dinner which we can use as a standard of excellence, the PFC dinner was excellent—a success!

Here are some details:

1. The dinner was held at Dr. V's home in Steinbach. Excellent catering was provided by Carla (Dr. V's wife) and Thomas (Carla's and Dr. V's son, who that evening also had to go to the Steinbach Regional Secondary School to receive a Culinary Arts Award). (Tom was congratulated at the PFC dinner with three loud cheers from the Philosophy Foosballers.)

2. Joining the PFC event were Carla's parents from Medicine Hat, Alberta. (It was learned later from Carla's mother that Carla's mother and student Clayton Swan danced in the kitchen, but that's a story for another time.)

3. Joining the PFC event too was a special guest from Thunder Bay, Ontario: Elizabeth Busby! We're glad you made it, Elizabeth. To paraphrase Anselm (sort of), you are a Philosophy Foosballer than which it’s extremely difficult to conceive of one greater!

4. In total, 14 students/former students from Providence College attended the dinner. (Extra thanks go to Carla for the fine—and large—meal.)

5. After dinner, we engaged in several deeply interesting philosophical discussions, ranging from the nature and efficacy of argument, to the question of what it means to have a "common ground," to the question of the whether randomness and God's foreknowledge are logically consistent, to the question of how many earlobes Aubrey Dyck actually has. (Regarding the earlobe question, see photos below. Be sure to notice how far Mark Jensen has gotten by counting carefully on his pinky. Notice too the deep concentration shown by Marilyn Peters as she counts Aubrey's earlobes by hand. Yes, that's Marilyn's head on the TV tray table.)

6. After the philosophical discussions, numbers were drawn (in honour of Pythagoras?) and students were allowed, in an orderly fashion, to (a) enter the tiny hallway to Dr. V's sacred space (a.k.a. his basement office/cellar), (b) sift through a large pile of books (which no longer fit in Dr. V's office/cellar), and (c) take home some favourites.

7. Also after the philosophical discussions, and during the "book crawl," the Philosophy Foosballers broadened their horizons by playing some video games—high speed auto racing—and some hard-shooting Crokinole. Happily, nobody was injured. (Well, perhaps the egos of Jeremy Gerbrandt and Mark Gareau were slightly injured when they lost so miserably to the excellent team work of Clinton Enns and Dr. V.)

Again, the first ever Philosophy Foosball Club dinner was excellent—a wonderful success. Thanks to all who attended.

- Dr. V

First Ever Philosophy Foosball Club Dinner - Photos!

What Is Philosophy Good For?

John Armstrong interviewed on the Philosophy Bites podcast.

Paul Tillich Interview

The Coming Evangelical Collapse?

Conversation with William Lane Craig

Bultmann on Freedom

I have been doing a bit of reading for my thesis project next year and I came across this quote I would like to share from the New Testament scholar Rudolf Bultmann:

Genuine freedom is not subjective arbitrariness. It is freedom in obedience. The freedom of subjective arbitrariness is delusion, for it delivers man up to his drives, to do in any moment what lust and passion dictate. This hollow freedom is in reality dependence on the lust and passion of the moment. Genuine freedom is freedom from the motivation of the moment; it is freedom which withstands the clamor and pressure of momentary motivations. It is possible only when conduct is determined by a motive which transcends the present moment, that is, by law. Freedom is obedience to a law of which the validity is recognized and accepted, which man recognizes as the law of his own being. This can be only be a law which has its origin and reason in the beyond. We may call it the law of spirit or, in Christian language, the law of God.

- Rudolf Bultmann, Jesus Christ and Mythology, (New York: Charles Scribner's and Sons, 1958), 41.

Paul Tillich On Relativism

The logical position against any claim of relativism to absoluteness is that "absolute relativism" is a self-contradictory term, an impossible combination of words. If one avoids this impossible combination of words, relativism itself becomes relative; therefore an element of absoluteness is not only a possibility but even a necessity, otherwise no assertion at all can be made.

But absolute relativism is also impossible practically. If I am asked to surrender totally to relativism I can say "But I live! I know what 'true' and 'false' mean, I do something I can describe as 'better' than something else, I venerate something which concerns me ultimately and which for me is holy." The question then is: How can one make such statements if relativism has the last word? In the different reality of man's encounter with reality there must be some absolutes that make meaningful life possible, of it would be like the chaos before creation, described in Genesis. Therefore I believe it may be a service to life itself to find these absolutes and to show their validity and their limits.
- Paul Tillich, My Search of Absolutes, (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1967), 65-66.
Amen Paul!

Does the God of Christianity Exist, and What Difference Does It Make?

Discussion with Christopher Hitchens, Douglas Wilson, William Lane Craig, Lee Strobel, and Jim Dennison.


A defense of Derrida by Peter Benson at Philosophy Now.

New Metaphysics Blog!

Matters of Substance


So at the last Philosophy Foosball Club meeting there was discussion about presenting papers next year. This idea soon evolved into an idea of starting a semi-serious journal/collection of the papers which would be created at the end of each semester. Of course foosballers would get free copies. So there is an invite for all of you to write papers. I'm not sure what the requirements should be yet. I guess as long as the paper deals with an issue slightly philosophical in nature. So think about that over the summer.

Also, during this discussion I took the initiative to make a coverpage for the journal/collection. I initially thought of Anselm's maxim "Faith Seeking Understanding" was suitable but Dr. V had his own suggestion. So taking into account his suggestion I have made a rival cover page. Each will compete for supremacy, until a third and more excellent coverpage arises.

But seriously, I would like it if you foosballers gave suggestions of how to make the coverpage better. Or just vote on one of the two. Hope to see a plethora of excellent and stimulating philosophy papers in the fall. Happy studying!

My Initial Cover

Dr. V's Suggestion (I just realized the Latin spelling of philosophy is "philosophie")

Simon Conway Morris and the 2007 Gifford Lectures

A Christian, a paleontologist, and a critic of intelligent design and atheistic materialism presents this argument:
  • Evolution shows an eerie predictability, leading to the direct contradiction of the widely-held view that insists on evolution being governed by the contingencies of circumstance
  • Eyes are not the only example of repeated evolutionary convergence on the same solution. There is evidence for fundamental equivalences of sensory perception and the implication that deeper in the nervous system there is only one mentality. Minds may be not only universal, but also the same.
  • Evolutionary convergence can give us some very strong hints as to how any aliens will sense their environment, how they will move, how they will evolve agriculture, and intelligence.
  • Humans have passed a threshold that means we now transcend our animal origins. But birds, whales and humans all converge in song, and far from being the pinnacle of Creation we may be mere juveniles.
  • The regularities of the physical world, strongly indicate that there must be universal principles of mind. The evidence from evolutionary convergence, not least in terms of intelligence and music, is that the trajectories towards consciousness are embedded in a universe that in some ways is strangely familiar, where personal knowledge (to use Polanyi’s phrase) is valid.
  • Any attempt to explain, entirely in naturalistic terms, the fact that universe can now understand itself seems doomed to failure. Not only is the Creation open-ended and endlessly fertile, suggesting that in the future science itself faces an infinity of understandings, but so too there is good evidence of realities orthogonal to every-day experiences. Rather than trudging across the arid landscapes skimpily sketched by the materialists, we need to accept the invitation and accompany the Artist that brought Creation into being.
(from Wikipedia)

You can read the entire lecture here.

Some Good Philosophy Podcasts To Listen To

Want something nice and educational to listen to in the evening? Well check out these podcasts on itunes from our friends across the ocean. Search the name of the podcasts on itunes or just check out their website.

Philosophy Bites

The Philosophy Podcast

Philosophy: The Classics


Anthony Kenny on Medieval Philosophy

Alvin Plantinga Debate With Dan Dennett On Science And Religion

At a recent meeting of the American Philosophical Society Christian philosopher Alvin Plantinga debated Philosopher Daniel Dennett on the alleged conflict between science and religion. Apparently the debate was heated. You can download the audio file (the sound quality is not that great) here. What interested me most was an account I of the debate at prosblogion by a philosophy who writes an account sympathetic to Plantinga. The author writes anonomously because they believe their academic career would be at stake if it got out that they were sympathetic to Plantinga. Read the account here.

Here is my bias: Plantinga is awesome. Enough said.

Nietzche Documentary

Just some preparation for the next philosophy movie night on Nietzche.


Darwin Day

Okay this is quite late (I have been quite busy lately), but someone from the Foosball Club suggested I post about Darwin Day. ID advocate Jonathan Wells has written an article in the Washington Times about why he thinks Darwinism is unsupported by the evidence and is an outgrowth of materialist philosophy. He comments on the status of people who want to make February 12th a day dedicated to the legacy and influence of Charles Darwin (the same day as Abraham Lincoln's birthday). I personally would take old Abe, but that's just me.

Unfortunately an article this short can't offer any convincing argument which would adequately persuade another of Wells' position. On the other hand, it does raise questions about the assumptions we have about Darwin's theory which could push us to further questioning, reading, talking to scientists, philosophers, etc. And an issue as controversial as the scientific status of ID and the evidential status of Darwin's theory of evolution by natural is likely to trigger hostile reactions on both sides. So we need to be critical and respectful.

Have fun and enjoy the article.

Open Theism and Its Critics

A Discussion on Open Theism with John Sanders, John Culp, Richard Rice, David Basinger, Karen Winslow, Clark Pinnock, Alan Rhoda, David Woodruff, Brint Montgomery, Dean Blevins, Dean Zimmerman, Anna Case-Winters, Craig Boyd, Alan Padgett, Jeff Koperski, Robin Collins, Tom Oord, and Richard Rice.

William Lane Craig in Canada

William Lane Craig was recently in Canada and starred on the Michael Coren Show. Some might complain that the debate was slanted (Michael Coren is a Christian), but it was still a stimulating discussion. Craig's opponent was fairly respectful which made the discussion much more easier to get through. Enjoy!

... and leave some comments!

Want to waste an hour or more?

I have found many fun BBC documentaries on philosophers. Just go to googlevideo and search "philosophy" and you will be met by a multiplicity of excellent videos. I watched the one Nietzche, Sartre, Heidegger, and one on mathematics and infinity. I highly recommend all these.

William Lane Craig and Richard Carrier on the Resurrection


If you want a full debate on the resurrection with Richard Carrier, see his debate with Michael Licona here. And if you like reading off a computer screen see Carrier debating Jack O'Connell on the resurrection here.

Science and Religion

A debate between Alvin Plantinga and William Lane Craig versus Quentin Smith and Ricahrd Gale.

Rorty On Truth

Mathematically Defining Functional Information In Molecular Biology - Kirk Durston

via Uncommon Descent.

Wittgenstein on Language

From Derek Jarman's film Wittgenstein (1989).


The question for discussion is how does Rorty's view compare with the Christian Worldview? How does the Greek Worldview compare with the Christian Worldview? Can we synthesize Greek-Pragmatic concepts with the Christian Worldview? Or do they have to be rejected?

Dan Dennett On Breaking The Spell

You will be surprised by some of the things Dennett says.

An Argument From Religious Experience

Kudos to Victor Reppert at Dangerous Idea (another excellent philosophy blog).

Click the title for the link to the article.

What do we think Philosophy Foosballers? Do religious experiences validate religious beliefs?

For Further Reading:
  • "Voodoo Epistemology" by Keith DeRose, an analysis of the famous "Great Pumpkin Objection" to Reformed Epistemology.

Craig Debates

So if you haven't picked up on this yet, I'm a pretty big fan of William Lane Craig. I've been reading Reasonable Faith over the Christmas break and I have enjoyed it thoroughly thus far. FYI, Craig has some debates with some prominent atheists (Richard Carrier, Quentin Smith, Christopher Hitchens) coming up. The Philosophy Foosball Club might need to take a field trip.

William Lane Craig vs Christopher DiCarlo: Does God Matter?
University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Canada
January 26, 2009

William Lane Craig vs TBA: Does God Exist?
Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada
January 27, 2009

William Lane Craig vs Quentin Smith: Does God Exist?
University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
January 28, 2009

William Lane Craig vs TBA: Does God Exist?
York University, Toronto, Canada
January 29, 2009

William Lane Craig vs Shabir Ally: Did Jesus Rise From The Dead?
McGill University, Montreal, Canada
February 11, 2009

William Lane Craig vs Wes Morriston: Does God Exist?(Focus on Kalam Cosmo. Argument)
Westminster College, Salt Lake City, USA
March 16, 2009

William Lane Craig vs Richard Carrier: Are Moral Facts Evidence of God?
Northwest Missouri State University,Maryville, USA
March 18, 2009

William Lane Craig vs Christopher Hitchens: Does God Exist?
Biola University, La Mirada, USA
April 4, 2009