Ben Wallis's reality tour!

Be sure to check out Goodness Over God, the counter-apologetics podcast hosted by myself and philosopher Michael Long!

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Tim Stratton's freethinking argument against naturalism

Last week I started reading about free will. That's right---last week! I've been studying philosophy in my spare time for the last fifteen years; why did it take me so long to finally broach what is considered one of its most fundamentally important topics?

Well first of all, it's perhaps not as important as it might seem; for instance the late Buddhist philosopher Michael Dorfman once called the free will problem "much ado about nothing." Meanwhile, none of the discussion about free will whose snippets I encountered seemed very intriguing to myself, whose chief areas of interest lie in epistemology, mind, and the nonexistence of God. Finally, the very concept of free will just seemed unnecessarily obscurist, whereas I desire clarity. So, if I could just get by without ever having to discuss free will, that would be extremely gratifying.

So, what changed? Well, to put it simply, I encountered Tim Stratton's "freethinking argument against naturalism," whose central premises deal with libertarian free will (hereafter, LFW). Stratton is an ex-pastor and current adjunct faculty teaching Christian Apologetics at Nebraska Christian College. He runs an online ministry which seems to be focused in large part if not entirely on Christian apologetics, and which he advertises as an affiliate of William Lane Craig's ministry Reasonable Faith. Although not a philosopher himself, he reports to be nearing completion of a Ph.D. in analytic theology from North-West University, a Christian school in South Africa which apparently offers such correspondence degrees.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Robin Collins' argument in Blackwell is invalid on two counts

I want to post this more or less for reference, because even though it's just a simple observation, it has serious implications for the argument of Robin Collins. Usually, when a professional philosopher publishes an argument in a peer-reviewed journal or book, certain things are taken for granted, like the validity of any deductive arguments given in it. So it's a pretty straightforward matter to make sure that one's central argument, if it's intended to be deductively valid, is *in fact* deductively valid. But Robin Collins' argument is not. Here's an excerpt from the book:

"(1) Given the fine-tuning evidence, LPU is very, very epistemically unlikely under NSU: that is, P(LPU|NSU & k') << 1, where k' represents some appropriately chosen background information, and << represents much, much less than (thus making P(LPU|NSU & k') close to zero).
(2) Given the fine-tuning evidence, LPU is not unlikely under T: that is, ~P(LPU|T & k') << 1.
(3) T was advocated prior to the fine-tuning evidence (and has independent motivation).
(4) Therefore, by the restricted version of the Likelihood Principle, LPU strongly supports T over NSU."

Friday, October 3, 2014

debate in Hickory Hills, IL (west suburb of Chicago), with Dr. Kirk MacGregor

When? Friday, Oct 24, 7-9:30pm

Where? Hickory Hills Presbyterian Church, 8426 W 95th St, Hickory Hills, IL 60457 (map)

What? The debate topic is: Does God exist?

Who? I will be debating Dr. Kirk MacGregor.

About the Debaters

Kirk MacGregor (Ph.D. in religious studies, University of Iowa) teaches religion and philosophy at Carthage College and the College of DuPage. He is the Director of the Chicago Chapter of Reasonable Faith. His research has been published in the Harvard Theological Review and Philosophia Christi.

Ben Wallis (M.S. in pure mathematics, Northern Illinois University) teaches mathematics at Northern Illinois University and Kishwaukee College. With interests in philosophy of religion, he co-hosted the podcast Goodness Over God from 2011 to 2012. His research has been published in the Journal of Functional Analysis.

Debate website (facebook)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sungyak Kim on faith and reason

Seminary student Sungyak Kim has an unusual vision of Christian apologetics. Quoting Soren Kierkegaard, he laments the existence of that apparently typical apologist who naively attempts to "deal with every accusation, every falsification, every unfair statement, and in this way is occupied early and late in counterattacking the attack." And who exactly does he have in mind, here? Well, it's hard to say exactly, but at the beginning of his piece he drops the names of William Lane Craig and Alvin Plantinga.

Monday, May 28, 2012

C-objectivity and Craig's moral argument

Christian philosopher William Lane Craig has developed and defended an increasingly popular forumlation of the moral argument for the existence of God:
(1) If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.
(2) Objective moral values and duties do exist.
(3) Therefore, God exists. (Reasonable Faith, p172.)
His principal defense for premise (2) consists in pointing to our moral experience, where he thinks we apprehend the objectivity of morality. However I will argue that while there may be a semantic sense in which our moral experience does offer evidence for the objectivity of morality, nevertheless Craig has in mind a different, specialized sense of objectivity which involves the existence of a concrete exemplar, and which is unsupported by experience.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

More on Rasmussen's New Argument

Recall that Joshua Rasmussen in his "New Argument for a Necessary Being" (2011), argues that
(1) Normally, for any intrinsic property p that (i) can begin to be exemplified and (ii) can be exemplified by something that has a cause, there can be a cause of p's beginning to be exemplified. (p1)
When I expressed concerns with his published defense of (1), he (first privately, and later publicly) offered the following supplement (my paraphrase): Consider mundane intrinsic properties of the form being an apple, or being aluminum, etc., which can begin to be exemplified. Clearly such properties possibly have a cause for their exemplification, and so inductively we infer (1).

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Why did God want Jesus to suffer?

Christians face an interesting theological challenge regarding the crucifixion of Jesus, insofar as we want to know why Jesus had to suffer in order to save the faithful. God, being omnipotent, appears to have the power to save the faithful, regardless of whether he also sent Jesus to suffer on the cross. In order to explain why it was better for him to do so, we might be tempted to invoke the notion of justice. However, if we want to appeal to God's favorite system of justice to explain why Jesus had to suffer, then we must know why that system is ultimately good for us. Since we do not in fact know how God's rules of cosmic justice are ultimately good for us, then no appeal to those rules will serve as a satisfactory explanation.