This is the first homily I have given. I delivered it at a vespers service at Bethel College on March 13, 2013. For those interested to know, I structured the service loosely around the Evening Prayer Rite II of the Book of Common Prayer (1979). The first couple seconds of the homily did not get recorded–the manuscript from the missing portion is provided below. This homily uses narrative criticism to make a call to discipleship from the resurrection scene from the gospel according to Mark. Continue reading →
A homily on Mark 16.1-8 adapted from my Mark as Story application.
For the video, see Homily on Mark 16.
I would like to say from the start that it is not my intention to deliver an exhortatory, per se. Rather it is to attempt to tell a familiar story in a new way in order that you may have the freedom to connect this narrative with your own. If I am going to exhort in any great way, let it be this: exercise your imagination and allow this story to shape your own. As we get into the story, let us work slowly through it because I am afraid that perhaps this is one that has become so familiar it has lost its potency.
First, let us examine the forest before we lose sight of it for the trees. Though, admittedly, the forest I have in mind is not the greater context of Mark’s gospel nor is it the historical background. Rather, it is the narrative approach itself. We can allow it to inform us in a general way when we consider Continue reading →
Theistic Intervention and its Discontents: A Rejoinder to Phillip Clayton’s and Thomas Oord’s Non-Interventionist Account of Special Divine Action (part 2 of 3)
§ 3: Oord on Plantinga’s Appeal to Mystery
Theologians like Thomas Oord are disappointed with Plantinga’s treatment of divine action because of his appeal to mystery for why God does not always intervene. According to Oord, insofar that Plantinga construes God as behaving at times in inscrutable ways from our epistemic vantage point, then Plantinga does not take seriously the “challenge of the problem of evil for divine action.”1 Those who participated in the Divine Action Project did, however, take seriously “the issues that divine intervention raise in relation to scientific explanation.”2
What does taking a philosophical issue seriously entail, though? I suppose that ‘taking seriously’ a philosophical question involves weighing the relevant data as objectively as possible, musing about the pros and cons of a position, and dismissing irrelevant pieces of information or evidence. Thus, what might be said about Oord’s charge? It is important to note that Oord does not quibble about Plantinga’s general conception of God as an omniscient, omnipotent, and wholly good being.3 In light of this, while some may charge this response as overtly pious, one relevant fact that must be accounted for is our finitude contrasted with the properties of the being that is in consideration—namely, a being who is omniscient and has aims and intentions that are likely outside our purview. Should this not give us some epistemic pause in attempting to form some principle for when such a being like God would and would not intervene? It seems so. Thus, it should not strike us as wholly surprising when a being like God does something that strikes us as either elusive, uncanny, or beyond our ability to comprehend. Frustrating as it might seem to certain members of the Divine Action Project, it might be of greater epistemic virtue to think the following way. Here is a hypothetical scenario to demonstrate that appeals to mystery might be epistemically virtuous in particular circumstances.
Suppose there was a person, Bob, who possessed superhuman powers—e.g., picking up enormously heavy objects, surviving what would be life-ending situations for most normal humans, running faster than a moving locomotive, etc. However, also suppose this superhuman suffered from a rare disease known as quantum liberatus. This disease made Bob act in ways which were fundamentally epistemologically Continue reading →
Since infancy, I’ve had my share of obstacles: a father who left shortly after my birth, a sister who was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder at the age of twelve, and a narcissistic mother who would end up kicking me out of the house since I was an unwanted burden. Living in this broken and hostile environment led me to despair about my life and my future. Fortunately, during my sophomore year, things took a turn for the better—at least in the cosmic sense: I become a Christian, having been reconciled to God through Christ. Moreover, my destructive habits which were formed, in large part, because of a dearth in role models and moral guidance from my parent, began to dissipate.
At the mundane level, however, my circumstances worsened. The following summer, my mother informed me that I could not return to private school because of tuition costs. Subsequently, she was fired from her job, her car broke down, and the cable and internet were cut off. I would jokingly remark that we might as well have been living in the Middle Ages. In keeping with the medieval theme, I became something of a hermit—through no fault of my own: my mother insisted that I be home-schooled, without lifting a finger to assist in my education. (In those days, my hermetic existence could easily have rivaled Boo Radley of To Kill a Mockingbird fame.) The days seemed to collapse into one another, and I completely lost a track of time.
Then, somehow I stumbled into something of a renaissance period. Using a laptop to access a sporadically-working internet—of course, hi-jacked from my neighbors—led to random YouTube searches. These, in turn, brought me to discover philosophical arguments advanced by the philosopher William Lane Craig. Never before had I encountered such a thoughtful approach to Christianity. I was captivated immediately.
With the little money I had, I then purchased some philosophy books off of Amazon. Because of the solitude and lack of distractions, while perhaps negatively affecting my social skills, I was proffered with the opportunity to simply study—and on this opportunity I indeed capitalized. My time was consumed with listening to debates, reading books, learning vocabulary words, and refining my speech. In light of this, things seemed to be going well intellectually speaking. However, a more serious issue was brought to the forefront of my mind: my mother and I faced foreclosure with little recourse.Fortunately, though, a friends of my mother’s contacted her and, upon hearing of our predicament, opened her home to us.
Ultimately, due to our foreclosure and relocation in Weston, Florida, this led me to connect with a local philosopher, Paul Copan, and his family. For reasons which would exhaust the nature of this post, my mother did end up kicking me out on September 24, 2010, yet I landed safely in the Copan home. Since then, I have not spoken to my mother. But, as for me, the Copans are now my new family.
I find myself, to this day, filled with wonder when I think about where I am in life. I went from being one of the worst, apathetic students in school to now being considered a relatively intelligent man, who has recently been accepted to study philosophy for a semester at the University of Oxford. With all this said, this newfound opportunity to study abroad cannot be actualized without some help. For those reading with any interest in assisting my efforts as I further in my philosophical studies, please visit my GoFundMe page and donate!
Theistic Intervention and its Discontents: A Rejoinder to Phillip Clayton’s and Thomas Oord’s Non-Interventionist Account of Special Divine Action (part 1 of 3)
Since around the 17th century onward, there has been an intellectual renaissance mediated primarily through the natural sciences.With the astonishing advancements in this discipline produced by the geniuses of some like Newton and Darwin, explanatory spaces where God once roamed freely have allegedly become occupied by the simplicity and brilliance found in scientific theory. Steeped in this milieu of scientific advancement, philosophers and theologians alike have felt compelled to refresh their ideas about God’s activity in the natural world. Surely, God’s role as the creator and sustainer of the universe has yet to be erased, they muse. But, epistemically speaking, how is it rational to maintain anything beyond such divine action in this age of scientific advance? What, moreover, shall be said of the God in the Judeo-Christian religion? For on this conception of deity, God is one of infinite power who, at times, purposively accomplishes special events in the world.
In brief, it depends whom you ask. Despite the spectrum of responses to the issue of divine action, though, in this paper we will fancy ourselves with only two of the perspectives advocated by some leading philosophers and theologians in the science and religion discourse: namely, that of the interventionist model of special divine action as proffered by Alvin Plantinga and the non-interventionist model of special divine action Continue reading →
Challenging the Dapperness of Paul Draper: Why the Argument from Evolution to the Improbability of Christian Theism is not that Scary
Abstract: The chief assertion of this paper is that Draper’s argument from the falsity of special creation to the improbability of Christian theism (referred to as CT) in respect to indifference naturalism (referred to as IN) is dubious. I maintain this assertion by employing an, admittedly speculative, a priori argument—utilizing Anselmian theism and the, alleged, great-making property I call creative efficacy—and one a posteriori argument, harkening back to Draper’s mistreatment of the force of methodological naturalism. This will serve to, at the least, strengthen the probability of CT in spite of Draper’s relevant assumption that special creation is false. Along the way I challenge Draper’s subtle jab to CT based on what I dub as his simplicity criterion; and I demonstrate the inherent limitations of Draper’s argument.
I. Some Passing Remarks
According to Draper in passing, the specificity of CT makes this thesis a priori less probable than IN. He takes CT as the thesis that, in addition to theism, “Jesus of Nazareth was God incarnate and that, after being crucified, he literally and miraculously rose from the dead” and IN as the thesis that “the existence of all mental entities is explained by the productive power and natural laws of a morally indifferent physical universe” (Draper 307). His simplicity criterion, (now referred to as S) states that “the more specific a theory is, the more it says about the world, and so the more likely it is independent of evidence to say something false and to be false” (Draper 307). Albeit Draper later states that he will assume, for the sake of argument, that IN and CT are at least of equal probability, I’d still like to address this subtle jab at theism. Take for example this thesis:
(a) The universe is devoid of anything altogether, save myself. Continue reading →