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HAVE WE NO SHAME
Faith & Philosophy, Forthcoming, co-author Allison Krile Thornton
Although Christ’s atoning work on the cross is perhaps the most central tenet of Christianity, understanding precisely how the cross saves remains a theological mystery. We follow the Abelardian tradition and argue that Christ’s death on the cross acts as an example of God’s love for humanity and a means of drawing us back into communion with the triune God. However, our view avoids the standard objection to exemplar views—that they are Pelagian—by introducing an alternative conception of the problem of sin, according to which Christ’s example of God’s love is in fact required for salvation and sanctification.
THOMIST OR TUMBLRIST: Comments on The Compatibility of Evolution and Design by E.V.R. Kojonen
Zygon, 2022 (preprint)
This paper engages Kojonen’s discussion of scientific explanation. Kojonen claims the best way to conceptualize the relationship between evolutionary explanations and explanation by design is through the proximate-ultimate distinction and the levels metaphor. However, these are not robust explanatory models but examples of how one might differentiate ambiguous explananda contained in why-questions. Disambiguating explananda is a helpful tool for determining when a situation calls for further explanation; however, on this picture, that some further explanation is needed does not, as proponents of design arguments assume, specify design. The question of whether design is a good explanation at all hinges on what precisely we want explained.
CREATIVITY IN CREATION
Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion, 2022
Runner-Up: Marc Sanders Prize in Philosophy of Religion
The world actualization model of creation depicts God’s creative choice as the selection of one complete state of affairs from many possibilities. While this model dominates current discussions of creation in philosophy of religion, I argue it implies God is a maker rather than a creator. I develop this distinction with the help of Margaret Boden’s work on intellectual creativity, and then explore various ways of relaxing the tension between the world actualization model and divine creativity. Finally, I sketch an account of divine creativity and show how it might reshape various debates in the philosophy of religion.
Philosophy of Science, 2021
Much of the most reliable information about the nature of climate change comes from investigations into the deep past. However, most philosophical accounts of historical science imply that historical reconstructions exploit our knowledge of the world’s causal structure rather than contribute to it. I challenge these accounts by examining an important distinction in geology between uniformitarianism and actualism. I argue that actualism (the preferred methodology of geologists) often requires the use of historical reconstructions to determine whether processes that are presumed to be stable may drastically alter over large time periods. As a result, historical science helps uncover the causal structure of natural processes.
DETACHMENT ISSUES: A DILEMMA FOR BEALL'S CONTRADICTORY CHRISTOLOGY
Journal of Analytic Theology, 2021
I argue that Jc Beall's "Contradictory Christology" faces a problematic dilemma: Beall must either allow detachment, which results in true heresies, or deny detachment, in which case many traditional theological inferences fail.
SENSE AND REFERENCE OF A BELIEVER
American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly, Winter 2018
Pierre Duhem’s philosophy of science was criticized by several of his contemporaries for being surreptitiously influenced by his Catholic faith. In his essay “Physics of a Believer,” Duhem defends himself against this appraisal. In this paper, I detail Duhem’s argument and reconstruct his view concerning the relationship between theoretical science and religious belief. Ultimately, Duhem claims that the propositions of physical theory cannot contradict the propositions of religious belief because they do not share a domain of reference. To clarify why Duhem holds this view, I present a case study: the discovery of entropy. By examining how the term “entropy” was introduced into thermo-dynamic theory, a story with which Duhem was intimately familiar, much of the apparent conflict in Duhem’s philosophy of science is resolved.
THE POSTURE OF FAITH
Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion, 2017
While faith is often described as a cognitive state, many philosophers argue that faith includes a noncognitive factor and is not merely a species of belief. In this paper, I develop a novel model of this affective component based on recent work in clinical psychology concerning the relationship between posture and approach motivation. I further argue that this model accurately represents many crucial features of faith: faith can motivate us to act against our desires, faith is both voluntary and passive, faith makes us vulnerable, faith is an activity, and faith can intensify belief.