NEWS (01/06/23): I’ve just returned from a four- week graduate seminar taught (with Mark Wynn) at Oxford and a week of teaching (with Klaus Viertbauer) as well as much interaction with German philosophers and theologians at the Katholische Universität Eichstätt-Ingolstadt in Bavaria. Klaus very kindly organized a conference on my work from decades past, and Mark graciously invited me to organize the seminar around some of my latest work, which concerns problems for Christian doctrine arising from cultural development. I am very grateful to the participants in all these discussions, and especially to the Oxford seminar participants (Mark’s students and colleagues), whose comments I’ll be mulling over this summer as I make the final revisions to my manuscript. Oxford University Press will publish the book next year.
Shortly after getting home I received copies of the Chinese translation of my book Divine Hiddenness and Human Reason, which has just been published by National Taiwan University Press. I am grateful to the Press, and to Dr. Lok-Chi Chan, the meticulous translator.
I am Professor of Philosophy at Mount Saint Vincent University and adjunct in the Faculty of Graduate Studies at Dalhousie University. Both universities are in Halifax, the capital city of beautiful Nova Scotia. I live in a rural, wooded part of the province, about 35 minutes from Halifax, with my artist wife Regina Coupar.
My doctorate is in philosophy and from Oxford, where I studied with Richard Swinburne, David Brown, Maurice Wiles, and Anthony Kenny in the late 1980s. The book that emerged from this study, Divine Hiddenness and Human Reason (Cornell, 1993), introduced a new argument against the existence of a personal God known as the hiddenness argument. This argument has enjoyed a good deal of attention in philosophy. But in a subsequent trilogy (also from Cornell), and in several later volumes, I’ve shown why we should remain open to the truth of other, more general religious propositions. And I’ve argued for the viability of an associated form of religious faith grounded in imagination rather than belief. Much of the support for this hybrid stance in the philosophy of religion – part critical, part constructive – comes from the view I’ve formed about our early stage of development as a species. This neglected developmental fact provides a basis for what I’m calling early-stage relativism. Put bluntly, it tells us that since we’re at an early stage of species-level development, we humans should behave in a manner appropriate to that stage and not as though we’re already fully developed. Early-stage relativism seems to me to have important consequences across a range of philosophical concerns, not just those involving religion, and in the last few years I’ve been busy exploring them. Most recently, I’ve also been giving attention specifically to classical Christian claims about reality. Here my results are again both critical and constructive, though only the former have been brought into a publishable condition.