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Matt to speak at: EPS, ETS, AAR/SBL and EPS Apologetics Meetings in Atlanta, USA this November

October 26th, 2015 by Madeleine
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Atlanta, GeorgiaEvery November the annual meetings/conferences of the Evangelical Philosophical Society (“EPS”), its Apologetics wing (“EPS Apologetics”), the Evangelical Theological Society (“ETS”), the American Academy of Religion (“AAR”) and the Society for Biblical Literature (“SBL”), are held over a 2 week period in the same city, somewhere in America. The meetings/conferences showcase the work of the academic elite from around the world; the best of the best speak and thousands come from around the globe to hear them.

Off the strength of his work published on this blog (yes you read it here first!) Matt has been invited to be a speaker every year since 2010 inclusive. [I am not saying Matt is not published, he is, but it was his blog posts on MandM that secured him that first invite.]

Matthew Flannagan

This year the meetings are all being held in Atlanta, Georgia, USA from 17 to 24 November 2015. The combined EPS and ETS programme is here, information about the AAR and SBL meeting is here, the EPS Apologetics programme is here.

Matt will be speaking as follows:

1) EPS
At the EPS he will present his paper, “Robust Ethics and the Autonomy Thesis: A Reply to Erik Wielenberg”, the abstract is as follows:

“The autonomy thesis contends that there can be moral requirements to φ regardless of whether or not God commands, desires or wills that people φ. In his monograph, Robust Ethics: The Metaphysics and Epistemology of Godless Normative Realism, Erik Wielenberg offers arguably one of the most sophisticated defences of the autonomy thesis to date. Wielenberg argues that: (a) the most plausible alternative to the autonomy thesis, the divine command theory, is problematic because it cannot account for the moral obligations of reasonable unbelievers; and (b) robust realism, the thesis that moral requirements are sui generis non-natural properties which supervene upon natural properties, can be formulated in a way that avoids the standard objections to the autonomy thesis.

In this paper I will argue Wielenberg’s defence of the autonomy thesis fails. Regarding (a), I will argue that Weilenberg’s “reasonable unbelievers” objection to divine command theories fails. Regarding (b), I will argue that robust realism fails to adequately address two standard challenges to the autonomy thesis. These are: (i) the objection that in the absence of God people lack reasons to always do the right things; and (ii) the objection that in the absence of God there is no adequate basis for grounding the claim that human beings have equal rights and dignity.”

2) ETS
At the ETS he will present his paper, “John Corvino and ‘The PIB Argument'”, the abstract is as follows:

“Conservatives often appeal to alleged parallels between consensual homosexual acts and other acts, such as, consensual incest, polygamy, and bestiality in the course of debates about the moral status of consensual homosexual acts. John Corvino has labelled this argument as “the PIB argument”. In his article, “Homosexuality and the PIB argument”, he has offered an analysis and trenchant criticism of this line of argument.

In this paper I contend Corvino’s rebuttal fails. I will first argue that Corvino attacks a straw man. He mistakenly construes the PIB argument as an argument from analogy for the conclusion that homosexual conduct is wrong. However, a careful look at the examples Corvino himself offers of PIB arguments he has found in the literature shows that defenders of the PIB argument are not offering an argument from analogy against the permissibility of consensual homosexual conduct. In fact, they are offering counter-example to rebut moral premises used in various arguments defending the permissibility of such conduct. I will then argue that, once this clarification is made, not only do Corvino’s objections to the PIB argument fail, but premises for Corvino’s own arguments for the permissibility of consensual homosexual conduct seem, prima facie, to be subject to his own objection.”

3) AAR/SBL
At the EPS Session at AAR/SBL, Matt will participate in a panel discussion on “Just War as Deterrence Against Terrorism: Options from Theological Ethics”, the blurb for this panel is:

“Terrorism can be characterized as asymmetrical (rather than between two or more nation-states), indiscriminate, unconventional, and destabilizing. In a world of increased terrorist activity, how should faithful Christians respond? Given the threat of conventional warfare, Christian proponents of non-violence/pacifists and of just war alike would not disagree with efforts at “just peacemaking” and “bridge-building” to minimize hostilities and misunderstandings, paving the way to friendship and reconciliation between nations. Even so, just war advocates would claim that force would still be required when such good-faith efforts are not only rejected and scorned but when aggressors do their worst against the innocent and defenseless. But how should Christian just war theorists and proponents of non-violence alike respond to terrorism? What particular approaches are called for in light of this growing phenomenon by both Christian just war theorists and pacifists as they seek to love their neighbor and faithfully live out biblical teaching as they understand it? This panel discussion of Christian just war theorists and pacifists will offer their respective theological perspectives as they engage on this weighty, relevant topic (15 minutes each). J. Daryl Charles, author of Between Pacifism and Jihad and other works on just war, will offer a final response to the panelists (20 minutes). This will be followed by 40 minutes of the panelists’ exchanges. The remaining time will be allotted for Q&A with the audience.”

Moderator: Paul Copan, Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics, Palm Beach Atlantic University
Non-violence: Myles Werntz, Palm Beach Atlantic University, author of Bodies of Peace
Just War: Matthew Flannagan, Independent scholar and pastor, Auckland, NZ, and coauthor of “Did God Really Command Genocide?”
Non-violence: Scot McKnight, Northern Seminary, author of The Jesus Creed and The Sermon on the Mount
Just War: Keith Pavlischek, VP of Operations at Veterans’ Solutions, Ph.D. in political philosophy
Respondent: J. Daryl Charles, Affiliated Fellow of the John Jay Institute.

Craig Hazen, editor of the philosophy of religion journal Philosophia Christi, has agreed to publish these papers in a future issue.

4) Apologetics
Matt will speak at the EPS Apologetics conference on the topic “Morality and God’s Commands”, the blurb for this talk is:

“It is widely believed in contemporary philosophy that morality does not depend on God. Theories that attempt to identify our moral obligations with God’s commands are believed to be subject to several important objections. In this talk I will offer reasons for rejecting this position. I will clarify what it means to claim our moral duties depend on God’s commands and I will distinguish this claim from various misconceptions. I will then examine the most common objections to this position and that show they fail.”

Did God Really Command Genocide?In addition, Matt has been asked to moderate a session for the EPS on 18 November 2015 as well, his and Paul Copan’s book, “Did God Really Command Genocide? Coming to terms with the Justice of God” will be on sale and he will be available for book signings (something he finds really odd being asked to do!)

Every year since 2010 that Matt has been attending these meetings/conferences it has been the incredible generosity of our readers, friends and church community that has enabled him to be there. We put up as much money as we can but we always struggle to cover the full costs.

We are not both able to work full time due to Matt still not being able to get full-time work in his field and us having children with disabilities, one of whom’s disability is severe enough to mean school is unlikely to ever be an option for that child. The costs are more than the obvious flights, transfers, accomodation and food; we have increased care costs for our children and I have to work less as the anxiety of the child with the severe disability gets heightened while Dad is away and there is a limit to how much a caregiver can bring that down (I am self-employed so there is no leave to draw on).

If you are able to help via a donation or with an offer of accomodation whilst Matt is there that would be great and much appreciated. Equally appreciated are any offers from those who know our kids to take them out or do something with them whilst Matt is away so I can work. Information about how to donate is available in our sidebar to the right. [Read more →]

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John Corvino on Liberals and Being Judgemental

October 25th, 2015 by Matt
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0199856311bRecently I have been reading John Corvino’s book, “What’s wrong with Homosexuality?” Corvino describes himself as a religious sceptic and is one of the leading defenders of the moral permissibly of homosexual conduct, and also an articulate defender of what is commonly called “gay rights”. In terms of the conclusions we each have, Corvino and I are on very different pages. Yet despite our significant differences, I was pleasantly surprised at how much of his book I agreed with, particularly, his attempt to bring a degree of clear thought to the issue as opposed to the emotionalistic sloganising and rhetorical bullying that so often accompanies this issue.

I want to share with my readers this gem, which comes from the first chapter:

“Some people claim that morality is a “private matter” and that, in any case, people’s rights shouldn’t hinge on others’ moral opinions. I think this view is badly mistaken. Morality is about how we treat one another, and thus it is quintessentially a matter for public concern. It’s about the ideals we hold up for ourselves and others. It’s about the kind of society we want to be: what we will embrace, what we will tolerate, and what we will forbid. And while it’s true that a free society grants a good deal of personal latitude here, avoiding legal force except where transgressions infringe upon others’ liberty, it doesn’t follow that morality is irrelevant to the law. People’s moral views strongly influence how they vote, and thus, ultimately, what laws get passed. There’s a philosophical connection as well. Laws depend on moral foundations, broadly speaking, for their legitimacy, and the commitment to “liberty and justice for all” is a moral commitment. So it irks me when my fellow liberals insist that “we ought not judge one another.” I understand where they’re coming from: Moralistic finger-wagging is tiresome, not to mention counterproductive, and nobody likes a know-it-all. One might also point to Biblical support for the directive, though presumably in that context it means that humans have no business making “Final Judgments,” not that we can’t make judgments at all. But as a general rule, the claim that we ought not judge one another is misguided—logically, rhetorically, and morally.  It’s misguided logically because it’s self-refuting. (If we ought not judge one another, then why are you telling me what to do?) It’s misguided rhetorically because it makes liberals seem as if they have conceded “moral values” to the other side, leaving them in the  untenable position of being “opposed” to moral values. And it’s misguided morally, because people have a moral responsibility not only to behave well themselves but also to promote standards of right conduct. The moral tone of society is everyone’s responsibility, liberals included.  This is not to say that we ought to become moral busybodies. Humility is a moral virtue, as is kindness, and those who wield morality as a weapon are at least as confused as those who insist that it’s a “private matter.” But we shouldn’t confuse the rejection of bad moralizing with the rejection of moralizing altogether. Morality is too important for that.”

Excluding the phrase “my fellow liberals”, I could not agree more with  Corvino’s sentiments.

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Did God Really Command Genocide? Summarised at Moral Apologetics

October 24th, 2015 by Matt
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Over at Moral Apologetics,  David Baggett and Mark Foreman, are undertaking the task of writing chapter summaries of Paul Copan’s and my book, “Did God Really Command Genocide?” The chapter summaries are available here.

Moral Apologetics

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A Feline View of the Eythphro Dilemma

June 2nd, 2015 by Madeleine
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A purfect example as to why one should not attempt to engage in philosophy with one’s cat in the room.

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God or Natural Law: A False Dichotomy

May 30th, 2015 by Matt
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A few weeks ago someone showed me a newspaper article entitled “New theory could prove how life began and disprove God”, which was published in the UK newspaper The Independent. Now I have, of course, heard media pronouncements of the nature published in this article frequently, reporters often seem to have a knack for making provocative pronouncements about the theological and philosophical implications of various theories (and one can usually take such prouncemants with a grain of salt), but this one caught my attention because of the unstated premise it contained. This premise is, I think, common in discussions about religion and science, which makes it worth addressing in its own right.

Michelangelo's 'God Creates Adam

The author’s commentary opens as follows:

“A new theory could answer the question of how life began – and throw out the need for God. A writer on the website of Richard Dawkins’ foundation says that the theory has put God “on the ropes” and has “terrified” Christians. It proposes that life did not emerge by accident or luck from a primordial soup and a bolt of lightning. Instead, life itself came about by necessity – it follows from the laws of nature and is as inevitable as rocks rolling downhill. …”

According to the author, the ‘new theory’ proposes that life arose from non-life by “natural necessity”, that is: according to the laws of nature. Interestingly, the author assumes the fairly standard account of ‘laws of nature’ whereby they are more than just regularities, they involve a kind of necessity that explains or grounds regularities.  The author draws the conclusion from the new theory that God does not exist.

Now the author is not exactly clear on why this conclusion follows. One argument he seems to grope towards is that the new theory provides all sorts of problems for belief in God because someone on Richard Dawkins’ website says it does.  I suspect, however, that – apart from simple affirmations of faith in Dawkins blog – the author has something a bit more sensible in mind in his thinking.

The premise is that: life arose from non-life, according to the laws of nature; the conclusion is that: God did not create life. The unstated assumption seems to that: if you can explain something by natural law then it follows that God did not do it.  Implicit in the reasoning is the assumption that appeals to natural law and God are rival and incompatible hypothesises; the truth of one excludes or rules out the other.

I think anyone familiar with the history of theological thought should find this assumption odd. For [Read more →]

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Randal Rauser’s Interview: “Matthew Flannagan on God and Genocide”

April 15th, 2015 by Madeleine
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Randal Rauser interviewing Matthew FlannaganWhen Matt was in San Diego for the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) and Evangelical Philosophical Society (EPS) meetings in November 2014, Randal Rauser interviewed him for his Podcast, The Tentative Apologist.

The interview was for episode 58 and is entitled “Matthew Flannagan on God and Genocide“; you can listen to it by following the link. (It is basically an interview about Matt and Paul Copan’s book, Did God Really Command Genocide? Coming to Terms with the Justice of God.)

Rauser later reviewed Did God Really Command Genonide? here.

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Hear Matt speak @ the Auckland Confident Christianity Apologetics Conference

April 14th, 2015 by Madeleine
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This ANZAC weekend make sure you check out the Thinking Matters Confident Christianity Apologetics Conference at Northcote Baptist Church. Matt will be speaking along with a number of other great speakers. Full conference schedule here.

In brief, from the Thinking Matters’ Facebook Event page:

Confident Christianity Conference

Does God exist? Why is there so much suffering? Is truth relative? Are science and faith enemies?

Can you give both intellectually and emotionally satisfying answers to these questions? Can you defend the Christian faith in a reasonable and compassionate way? Are you able to represent Christ’s message of hope, rescue and unfathomable love, even in the face of doubt and scepticism?

Join us this Anzac weekend where a line-up of top international and local speakers will sensitively and skilfully respond to the biggest objections that Christians encounter today – and equip you to live out a confident, yet gracious faith in your everyday life.

Speakers Include

– Brett Kunkle – international youth speaker
– Dr Jeff Tallon – award winning scientist
– Dr Steve Kumar – philosopher & apologist
– David Riddell – international speaker & counsellor
– Mark Powell – business leader & CEO of The Warehouse
– Dr Matthew Flannagan – philosopher & theologian

And many others!

Friday 24th April – 7:00PM – 9:30PM
This is a FREE public event. No registration needed – just turn up!

Saturday 25th April – 9:00AM – 5:00PM
Full Day Conference. Tickets:

ADULT:
Early Bird Adult Registration $59 (Available until 17th April)
Regular Adult Registration $69

YOUTH (Under 18) & STUDENT (with ID):
Early Bird Youth $30 (Available until 17th April)
Regular Youth Registration $40

Lunch included on Saturday (gluten free option available).

ALL SATURDAY ATTENDEES ALSO RECEIVE A COMPLEMENTARY LEE STROBEL DOCUMENTARY DVD!

For full details, a speaker lineup and to purchase tickets – check out our conference page: www.thinkingmatters.org.nz/conference

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