Reading List

I have put together a short reading list (short in the sense of “near” future). I will post a longer reading list that will extrapolate out longer at some point in the future, that is, if the “Swine” flu does not kill us all.

1) The Historical Reliability of the Gospels (Craig Blomberg)

2) The Historical Figure of Jesus by E. P. Sanders

3) The View from Nowhere by Thomas Nagel

4) The Evolution of the Soul by Richard Swinburne

5) Conciousness Explained by Daniel Dennett

6) Jesus according to Scripture: Restoring the Portrait from the Gospels by Darrell L. Bock

7) Aristotle’s Works from the Modern Library

8) The Pentateuch as Narrative by John Sailhamer

9) Wonderful Life by Stephen Jay Gould

10) Essay Concerning Human Understanding by John Locke


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Maverick Philosopher Post on the Connection of PC to CP

You can read this to see what I mean.

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James McGrath on “Growing Up”

James McGrath at Exploring Our Matrix posted a blog post about faith and spiritual growth. McGrath claims that we get to “spiritual growth” by a “second naivete”. James, helpfully, posts some links on this idea, and the ideas of James Fowler concerning the six stages of “growth”. Much could be said about these positions, and I cannot say that I agree with much of it, but that is not where I want to take this post. You can read Jame’s full post here.

Of course, James brings up these ideas because of a debate he recently had with some of the folks at Triablogue over the subject of the inerrancy of the Christian scriptures. So in one sense James is telling us something about that debate, and about his concept of Christian faith. In the last paragraph we see Jame’s view of doubt, and religion in general. James says,

“Growth is painful, and it is not surprising that, given the change to do so, many of us resist doubt and questioning, since it will indeed lead to at least discomfort and quite possibly the trauma the mystics referred to as the dark night of the soul. But the only way to reach maturity is through the tunnel. And although it isn’t visible from this side, and sometimes isn’t visible for a while after entering, the mature – whether emotionally and spiritually – can tell you this: not only is there light at the end of the tunnel, but life is better on the far side of the tunnel. Grown up life, and grown up spirituality, are certainly harder and more challenging that their kindergarten counterparts. But they are also more rewarding.”

James says some very revealing things in this post. First, growth is in fact painful especially when it deals with doubt, especially doubt that erodes the very foundations of faith. From reading James blog, here an there, I get the feeling that despite his apparent sensitivity about the lack of a foundation for religious belief, and the doubt that it brings, that he is actively undermining it. Finally, James talks about how there is a “light” at the end of the dark tunnel (the tunnel being doubt), but how do we know there is a light? From the systematic deconstruction of religious faith on James blog, and in many of the comments, I have my doubts. I am not sure how James’ brand of religious belief, and that in James’ Fowler’s six steps can arise above Feurbach’s warning about making a conceptual idol. My question for James’, if he reads this, is: What do you consider a mature faith? Do you consider a mature faith one that denies the resurrection of Jesus, accepts the most critical of positions, and holds to a form of, whatever-it-is-you-believe? Can their be “mature” evangelical believers, who have dealt with the problems that you point there (the problems are there!)? I am going to assume that the answer to the last question is “no”.

I phrase the questions like this because I am not sure what James McGrath believes. On the one hand James does not like to be called a classical liberal (see the Triablogue fiasco), but he is not an “evangelical” either. Thus, I mean no harm in the way the questions are quoted, I am trying to frame them in the right way.


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Review of Thomas Nagel’s “The View from Nowhere”

Thomas Nagel is quickly becoming one of my favorite philosophers. Even though I am a theist, and he is an atheist, I find much that I agree with him on. His honesty on difficult issues like the mind-body problem are refreshing, and help move the debates in a healthy direction. Over the next week or so I plan on blogging through his book “The View From Nowhere”. I hope to have the summary of the first chapter up sometime tomorrow.

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P.Z. Myers and Natural Law

The biology blogger blowhard PZ Myers stepped into another issue that he understands nothing about. In his most recent invective driven misrepresentation of a Catholic Bishop in New York City, Myers chastises the Archbishop for thinking that morality is in human DNA. You can read Meyers’ ridiculous caricature here. What Myers failed to note was that the Archbishop was speaking of Natural Law, which is an idea that has pre-Christian roots in Aristotle and the Stoics. For those who actually read philosophy, Natural Law is the theory that human reason recognizes certain actions as morally right or wrong, good or evil. The moral sense in Natural Law theory is analogous to mankinds ability to grasp elementary laws of logic. For instance, most of us, if we are not psychologically inept, believe it is wrong to: torture babies, rape women, and murder other human beings. These actions are just wrong. This is what the Bishop means by morality being “in our DNA”. I could be wrong, but from what I heard in the video I do not think we should take the Bishop in the sense that Myers does.

In the article that Myers quotes from it appears to me that the Archbishop is speaking of “moral DNA” as an analogy to biological DNA. The Archbishop even says in the video segment that the moral since is SORT of like DNA. Note the qualifier there that Myers doesn’t care to acknowledge, because he is more worried about polemical bull shit point scoring than understanding another person’s point of view. People like Myers should be put in a padded room.

So, in the end, instead of Myers showing the Archbishop’s ignorance, he actually shows his own by his inability to even understand a standard philosophical account of man’s moral sense. Myers better stick with biology, because when he talks metaphysics or philosophy¬† he simply makes a fool of himself.


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Thomas Nagel and Objectivity

In Thomas Nagel’s book The View from Nowhere he makes the point that there is a tendency in the philosophy of mind to eliminate the subjective side of reality. In essence Nagel claims that subjectivity just is a part of the real world. It is like numbers and matter, it is an irreducible part of our experience, and when we seek to explain it (away) we lose out on one very important part of reality. Bill Vallicella at Maverick Philosopher make similar points in his argument against Dan Dennett’s arguments in Consciousness Explained. Check out Bill’s blog post, it is well worth the time.

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The purpose of this blog will be to examine different philosophies. Point out their flaws, and strengths. The overarching purpose is to help me work through some questions that I have on various topics.  A short list of these topics would be:



Philosophy of Mind

Moral Philosophy


Philosophy of Science



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