Friday, November 1, 2013

Interview with the New Covenant Group

About a week ago I was interviewed by my former colleague--John Shook--for an episode of "The Place," a production of the New Covenant Group. The New Covenant Group is interested in fostering productive dialogue between the religious and non-religious, and this episode of The Place (which includes several other people piping in with thoughts and ideas) is a contribution to such dialogue.

For those interested in spending more than an hour listening to me babble, the video is embedded below:


  1. Got around to watching the video. I can appreciate that you think the evidence for God can be interpreted either way (like the bunny/duck photo), and it is clear you are friends with John Shook, but it seems to me you didn't really attempt to give any reason for one to believe in God minus maybe personal experience. You let Shook's comments that there is no evidence for God go unchallenged.

    Are there any arguments for God that you do like, with the obvious caveat that no argument is without flaws or rational protest? Or do you believe in God with a slight Christian tinge purely because it is pragmatically useful for you to do so?

    1. I agree that, on review of this interview, I did not sufficiently pursue what I do think arguments for God's existence CAN do. I think I may have been subconsciously worried that if I'd picked up on that issue and pressed John Shook on it, it would come to dominate the entire hour and we'd never get past the "case for God" debate and into the issues that I was more eager to talk about.

      In IS GOD A DELUSION?, I develop the Leibniz/Clark version of the cosmological argument and argue that it is reasonable to believe its key premise--the Principle of Sufficient Reason--even though a reasonable person might object to it. And for some, the PSR seems intuitively correct. If you are one of those for whom the PSR is intuitively right, it is more reasonable for YOU to accept your intuition and follow where it leads than to reject it...and where it leads, I believe, is in the direction of something godlike.

      I think other arguments for God's existence (such as Hermann Lotze's largely forgotten and underappreciated argument) are like this: they rely on premises that, while controversial, are ones that a reasonable person might, while BEING reasonable, take to be true. Hence, a reasonable person can be a theist. But reasonable people can disagree.

      In other words, I think that what the best theistic arguments do is show that a broadly theistic worldview actually follows from premises that many reasonable find highly plausible.But not all reasonable people accept these premises, and there is not a clear or decisive basis for adjudicating the dispute.

      This reality actually channels into another feature of my philosophical approach to basic worldviews--a broadly Hegelian one. Hegel thought that there was no way to properly judge our own basic starting ports A PRIORI--apart from experience. Instead, we test them through living them out critically--which is a pathway into the pragmatic approach I gestured towards in the interview.

    2. Thanks for that. I'm almost done God's Victory and plan on reading Is God A Delusion right after :)