Brand new (18 February 2021): 'Pandemic Piano' at my new music page.
I've updated the site (16 February 2021). Main points: links to all my books now appear on a single page (unsurprisingly called 'My books'), and I've added a couple of papers to the top of the list on my 'Recent papers' page, deleting a couple of others. I've also revised the text below.
I am Professor of Philosophy at Mount Saint Vincent University and Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Graduate Studies at Dalhousie University. Both universities are in Halifax, the capital city of beautiful Nova Scotia. I live on the South Shore, about 45 minutes from Halifax, with my artist wife, Regina Coupar, in an old sea captain's house overlooking the Atlantic.
In the late ‘80s of the last century I pursued and obtained a DPhil (Doctor of Philosophy) degree in philosophy at Oxford, studying with Richard Swinburne, David Brown, Maurice Wiles, and Anthony Kenny. My first book, Divine Hiddenness and Human Reason, published in 1993, introduced a new argument against theism now known as the hiddenness argument. The hiddenness argument has enjoyed a good deal of attention in philosophy. As a result, "the problem of divine hiddenness" is now commonly discussed alongside "the problem of evil" in philosophy classrooms and texts around the world.
Because of the hiddenness argument I am widely known as an atheist. This position is often confused with the view that the world of nature is all there is, leaving no room for a divine reality of any kind. The position I've just described is better called naturalism -- and I am not a naturalist. My position on God is the narrower one that counts as atheistic in philosophy: the position that there is no person-like divine reality (no being with unlimited versions of personal attributes such as knowledge and love). My position on naturalism is that it may well be true, but could as easily be false. In other words, on this important matter I am a philosophical skeptic.
As it happens, most western philosophers who have been atheists in my sense have also been convinced naturalists. In part because of the influence of science, they have not been motivated to think beyond the personal theism of traditional western religion. I, on the other hand, would like to see our religious imagination stretched much further. And I think science supports my stance over theirs, both in its openness to the new and in its evolutionary discoveries, which reveal the extreme brevity of our human story in the context of life's past and its expected future. These things, together with everything else we know about human immaturity, give some plausibility to the view that we have no more than dipped our toes in a sea of religious possibilities. To bring this point home: the hiddenness argument and other atheistic arguments from philosophy may only disprove the last of the personal gods. At the same time, human religion would be rationally reconfigured were its attitudes to be adapted to such facts about the developmental immaturity of our species. In this brand new way, so I've argued, humility, along with skeptical imagination, ought to be seen as the key to reconciling reason and religion.
Many of the books I've published since 1993 investigate the issues bristling here in detail. Most recently, I have been hard at work extending my results to problems of philosophy outside the philosophy of religion.