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Why Philosophy? Myron A. Penner. Overview I.How + What = Why II.Scholarship: Research Areas III.Scholarship: Teaching.

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Presentation on theme: "Why Philosophy? Myron A. Penner. Overview I.How + What = Why II.Scholarship: Research Areas III.Scholarship: Teaching."— Presentation transcript:

1 Why Philosophy? Myron A. Penner

2 Overview I.How + What = Why II.Scholarship: Research Areas III.Scholarship: Teaching


4 How I came to study philosophy. New convert and the church AGM Bible College Regent College

5 Richard Swinburne

6 Plantinga and Wolterstorff


8 What philosophy is… Subject to interlopers Contested (sort of)

9 Philosophy Philosophy’s Ancient Greek Roots: 6 th Century BC Pre-Socratic assessment of religious explanations “Can’t we do better than that?”

10 Philosophy First philosophers through reason, and reasoned reflection on experience: Posit explanations Scrutinize claims Examine assumptions

11 Philosophy Using reason and reasoned reflection on experience to explain phenomena, solve puzzles/problems, and scrutinize assumptions in core areas of: Metaphysics Epistemology Logic Value Theory

12 Philosophy of Science, Biology, Physics, Psychology, Mathematics, Law, Education, History, Mind, Religion, Politics, Sex, Aesthetics, Ethics, Race, Etc.... *Special sub-disciplines like these address core areas in specific domain.

13 Philosophy and Theology Philosophy ‘birthed’ out of rejection of ‘religious’ explanations Historical love/hate (and shades in between) – How religious believers/theologians view philosophy – How philosophers view religious belief


15 Fallibility of Knowledge Epistemologists tend to: Reject skepticism Embrace fallibilism. Puzzle: Knowledge implies success Fallibility implies failure Is fallible knowledge really possible? How? Solution Requires: Explaining the sense of “could” according to which one’s actual knowledge could fail. Theological applications

16 Skeptical Theism Philosophical Consensus: No logical problem of evil. Most arguments from evil are probabilistic focusing on quantity and quality of seemingly pointless evils/sufferings Skeptical Theism: Skeptical about human cognitive capacity to detect God’s reasons Inability to detect God’s reasons is no basis for denying them. Defending Skeptical Theism From theists (who fear it entails deep, vicious skepticism) From atheists (who think it’s an inadequate response to problem)

17 Best World Dilemma Is the actual world the best logically possible world? If yes: then the very plausible intuition that things could both be (a) different than they are, and (b) better than they are, turns out to be false. If no, then God has given being to a world when there are better worlds that could have been brought into being instead— and that seems to make God morally sub-standard.

18 Cognitive Science of Religion CSR and Ev. Psych: powerful narrative according to which religious belief is the byproduct of cognitive tools that evolved for purposes other than the formation of religious beliefs. The Alleged Moral: We have an empirically supported naturalistic causal count of religious belief we’ve explained religious belief away—that is, we’ve undermined the basis for thinking that religious beliefs are possibly true. I argue that the current models of religious belief in cognitive science provide no support for the conclusion that belief in God is irrational or implausible.

19 Templeton Fellowship: Theism and Value “Throughout the history of philosophy, many arguments about the existence of God have been proposed. Some have defended theism, others atheism, and still others agnosticism. But while philosophers have been busy trying to determine whether or not God exists, they have often neglected to ask: “What difference would – or does – God’s existence make to the overall value of the world?” ….This research project will systematically investigate various answers that might be given to this profoundly important question.”


21 PHIL 105: Introduction to Philosophy Basic argument structures good and bad. Is it rational to believe in God? What, if anything, can we know? Do we have a non- physical soul?

22 PHIL 383: Reason and Belief in God Several classic and contemporary theistic arguments. Intellectually viable religious belief: should we care? Naturalistic cognitive explanations: prospects and problems.

23 PHIL 384: Suffering and Belief in God Logical and probabilistic arguments from evil. Hell and eternal suffering. Divine providence. Original sin.

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