Duplicity

J. Matthan Brown:

So, I’ve started writing a novel . . .

Originally posted on How I Killed Nietzsche & Became the New Übermensch:

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The congregation raved about his eloquent homilies, his intellect, his moral fortitude, his perfect family . . . I remember their words as if it were yesterday:  “Just look at how well he manages his household. His children are so perfectly behaved!”

“Oh what a blessing it must be to have a minister for a father!”

“That man is a prophet.  You hear me boy?  A genuine prophet!”

How pathetic and blind they were.  They couldn’t see through his disguise, they couldn’t feel the truth as I did when he went into a rage.  My father, the great prophet . . . the great lie.  Let me tell you about his righteousness.

At church he could maintain the facade, he could preach about the judgement and fire of a holy God, he could pat the children on their heads and smile, he could quote you an encouraging scripture, he could…

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Mary as Mediatrix: An Incarnational View

Originally posted on The Christian Watershed:

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Many Christians find the notion that Mary played a role in our salvation extremely blasphemous. They particularly find the ascription of the title Mediatrix to Mary, found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, offensive.  In their eyes this ascription stands in direct opposition to Jesus’s role as the sole mediator between God and man. After all, Sacred Scripture is crystal clear on this matter:

“For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:5-6 NKJV).

While I completely embrace these words from St. Paul, I deny that they constitute a defeater for Catholic Marian dogma. I contend that the aversion to Mary’s role in our salvation, endemic in so many Christians, is a form of Neo-Docetism. I further maintain that shedding this Neo-Docetist attitude, and embracing…

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Introducing . . . “Facebook” for Nerds!

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I recently joined “Facebook” for nerds (a.k.a Academia.edu)! I’ll be sharing my academic work in philosophy on my profile there. So, if you have nothing to do today and are feeling slightly nerdier than usual, I strongly recommend you take a look.

I uploaded the first draft of a paper I’m working on entitled Logicism, William Rowe, and the Mystery of Existence. Here’s the introduction to wet your appetite (the full paper can be viewed or downloaded as a PDF on the link below):

Why is there something rather than nothing? Theism is often put forth as an answer tothis question but is by no means the consensus view. One major opponent to the theistiexplanation is William Rowe who not only contends that theism is unable to explain the existence of contingent states of affairs, but concludes it is impossible to provide an answer. In so arguing, Rowe appears to have undermined the Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR).
In this essay I suggest Rowe is guilty of logicism; i.e., employing logic to answer what is fundamentally a metaphysical question (Gilson, p8-16). More pointedly, I argue that Rowe has incorrectly formulated the theistic solution to the mystery of existence. Rowe expresses the mode of God’s existence in the form of modality De Dicto when theist’s express the mode ofGod’s existence in the form of modality De Re. By drawing attention to this error I hope to show (1) we need not abandon PSR and (2) theism can explain why there is something rather than nothing.
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Evolution and Reason with G. K. Chesterton

“Evolution is either an innocent scientific description of how certain earthly things came about; or, if it is anything more than this, it is an attack upon thought itself. If evolution destroys anything, it does not destroy religion but rationalism. If evolution simply means that a positive thing called an ape turned very slowly into a positive thing called a man, then it is stingless for the most orthodox; for a personal God might just as well do things slowly as quickly – especially if, like the Christian God, he were outside time. But if it means anything more, it means that there is no such thing as an ape to change, and no such thing as a man for him to change into. It means that there is no such thing as a thing. At best, there is only one thing, and that is a flux of everything and anything. This is an attack not upon faith, but upon the mind; you cannot think if there are no things to think about.”

Exploring the Eastern Catholic Church

As many of you know, my family and I came into full communion with the Catholic Church in 2013. This momentous event took place at St. Nicholas Ukrainian Greek Catholic Mission in Raleigh NC – an Eastern Catholic parish of the Byzantine Rite.

Most of my Protestant friends and, surprisingly, the majority of Roman Catholics I know, have never encountered the eastern Church.  In fact, most assume “Eastern Catholicism” is just another name for Eastern Orthodoxy.

This common mistake is understandable.  Practically speaking, Eastern Catholics are Orthodox – they use the same liturgy, and share a common theological and spiritual tradition.  Like the Orthodox, Eastern Catholics utilize icons and incense in their worship and have married priests.

The only substantive difference is that Eastern Catholics are in full communion with Rome and the Pope.  That  means that they are fully Catholic.

If you find any of this interesting I encourage you to watch the video above!  Also, I would urge you to read this powerful apostolic letter written by St. John Paul II: Oriental Lumen.

 

Cadbury Lectures 2015

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Thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to listen to William Lane Craig at this years Cadbury Lectures at the University of Birmingham!

Dr. Craig lectured on the challenge that “heavyweight” Platonism – the idea that abstract objects, like numbers, sets, and possible worlds, exist and are as real as concrete objects like cars or persons – poses to Classical Theism.  He surveyed the range of possible responses available to the Theist and put forth several arguments against the traditional notion that abstract objects exist in the mind of God.

Ultimately, Dr. Craig advocates an anti-realist approach to abstracta; which is quite a controversial position for a Christian philosopher to adopt.  While I can appreciate why he is making this move, I’m not convinced it’s the correct one to make.

Nevertheless, it was a great experience and a wonderful opportunity to meet a great scholar.  Here’s a picture featuring WLC with my dear friend Tyler McNabb (a PhD candidate at the University of Glasgow) and yours truly:

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Philosopher’s Diary

Periodically, I’ll share some news about my studies at the University of Birmingham.  Like, right now . . .

The next seven weeks are going to be intense. I’ve got three major essay’s to write and my dissertation proposal needs major revision!  Here are my essay topics:

(1) In the frist essay I’ll be arguing against David Benatar’s controversial thesis that existence is always a harm in favor of the Eastern Catholic view that existence is good.  Once establishing this ontological principle I will demolish Benatar’s “qualified defense” of suicide.

(2) In my second essay I’ll be arguing against David Lewis’s form of modal realism.  I will also argue in favor of an Aristotelian/Thomistic conception of modality.

(3) Finally, in essay three, I’ll make the case that natural rights theories of human rights are compatible with agreement theories.  Both theories have drawbacks and merits but are often juxtaposed. My aim is to show that the theories are not mutually exclusive.

My thesis, which I will explain in greater detail later, will involve arguing for the incoherence of ontological physicalism.  It should be really fun!

In addition to all this writing, I’m very much looking forward to meeting William Lane Craig in a couple of weeks.  He’s delivering this years Cadbury Lectures.

Well, that’s all for now.  More updates to come soon!

Meghan Sullivan and Trent Dougherty on the Problem of Evil

In the wake of Stephen Fry’s viral video, in which he passionately condemns God for apparently doing nothing to prevent the existence of gratuitous evil, there has been renewed popular interest in what philosopher’s call the problem of evil.

In response to this, I provided a reading list for those interested in studying the issue in greater depth.

For those seeking more resources, this video, produced by the Center for the Philosophy of Religion at Notre Dame, is excellent.  It features two philosopher’s–Meghan Sullivan and Trent Dougherty–in a roundtable discussion on the primary challenges posed by the problem of evil for Classical Theists:

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On Sin as Spiritual Adultery with Brant Pitre

“From an ancient Jewish perspective, if we look at the God of Israel as the divine Bridegroom, then this changes not only the way we see the Creator, but also the way we see transgressions against God, what we call “sin.” For if the God of Israel is not just a Creator, or a Lawgiver, but the Bridegroom, then sin is not just the breaking of a rule or a law, but the betrayal of a relationship.”

Thomistic Dualism . . . an Addendum

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Years ago, as an undergraduate student, I wrote a paper on Thomistic dualism that I later published on this blog.  In an odd turn of events, Steven Novella, a clinical neurologist and assistant professor at Yale, recently embedded a link to this paper on his blog Neurologica.

My initial response to this was: “Why is a neurologist from Yale sending people to my poorly written undergraduate philosophy paper?”

Upon further investigation, I was horrified to discover that my article is second only to Wikipedia when one searches “Thomistic dualism” on Google.

Novella is no fan of hylomorphism (the more sophisticated name for Aquinas’s version of dualism) and, obviously, could careless about the quality of the article he has linked to.  However, I am quite sympathetic to this view and cringe at the thought that my paper is the only exposure to Thomistic dualism that many people will ever have.

Hylomorphism is a serious metaphysical doctrine that many contemporary philosopher’s are attracted to.  If you’ve only read my article, you’ve gotten a very weak introduction to this subject. I encourage you to check out the following two books for a more sophisticated explication of Aquinas’s ideas:

Philosophy of Mind by Edward Feser

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Real Essentialism by David Oderberg

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