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Ongoing Debates

Keith M. Parsons, Editor

The following article is from Philo, Volume 3, Number 1.

Allow me to begin by welcoming Dr. Basil Smith of Cardiff University, Wales to the staff of Philo. Philo has been a victim of its own success. We have been fortunate to receive many submissions-so many that the workload has been overwhelming for a single editor. Dr. Smith will have the title of Associate Editor and he will help Philo to better serve its contributors and subscribers in every way.

At Philo we are extremely pleased to see that some of our articles have provoked so much discussion and debate. In this issue we conclude the discussion between Stephen Davis and Michael Martin on the rationality of belief in the Resurrection. It has been a most interesting exchange that has addressed a number of the most important issues in the debate. We also present a discussion between George Nakhnikian and Quentin Smith on the Hartle-Hawking (HH) Big Bang cosmology and its implications for theism. In Philo vol. 1, no. 1 Professor Smith argued that the HH cosmology implied a 99% chance of the existence of our universe, and so precludes creation by God. Professor Nakhnikian challenges the claim and asserts that the existence of God could still be metaphysically necessary even if the HH cosmology makes the universe scientifically highly probable. The response gives Professor Smith's rebuttal. This issue also includes Victor Reppert's response to remarks made by myself and Jim Lippard in response to his article "The Argument From Reason" in Philo vol. 2, no. 1. I reply to this response at length, citing my reasons for rejecting the argument and supporting my initial criticisms. 

This issue has three important articles. Matt McCormick's "Why God Cannot Think: Kant, Omnipresence, and Consciousness," draws on Kant's analysis of consciousness to argue that an omnipresent being cannot have higher-order consciousness (self-awareness, the ability to apply concepts, and the ability to make judgments). Since God is traditionally conceived both as omnipresent and as possessing such higher-order consciousness, this is a dilemma for orthodox theism. Owen McLeod's article poses the question, "Is There a Moral Obligation to Obey God?" He considers four arguments that we do have such a duty and argues that each should be rejected. Basil Smith's article, "Plantinga and Wittgenstein on Properly Basic Beliefs," criticizes Alvin Plantinga's attack on evidentialism and his claim that knowledge of God's existence can be properly basic.

Finally, in a first for Philo, we are including a review of a piece of fiction. James Morrow's The Eternal Footman is reviewed by Craig White. Morrow's novel is the final installment of a trilogy dealing with the (literal) death of God. Morrow's outrageous, and blatantly sacrilegious, exploration of the post-theistic age might be a bit too much for some Philo readers. Others might find it delightful. Either way, Professor White's detailed review should provoke interest.



Society of Humanist Philosophers Annual Meeting

The Society of Humanist Philosophers is pleased to announce that its annual meeting this year and in subsequent years will be held at the American Philosophical Association Eastern Division Annual Meeting. This year's Eastern Division Meeting takes place December 27-30, 2000 at the New York Hilton in New York, New York. The Society of Humanist Philosophers session is on Friday, December 29, 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., in Nassau Suite B. The event will comprise several invited papers followed by a brief business meeting. For subsequent announcements, please visit www.secularhumanism.org/philo/index.htm  or contact Austin Dacey at adacey@centerforinquiry.net

Philo Content Goes Online

Selected sample articles and discussions from the present and previous issues of Philo are now available online at www.secularhumanism.org/philo/index.htm. Watch this site for future additions.

Keith M. Parsons is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Houston-Clear Lake.


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