Some of the titles that especially interest me are:
- "Natural Rights and the New Atheists," by Francis Beckwith. "Most people believe that human beings have certain rights by nature, that is, rights that do not depend on governments for their legitimacy. The New Atheists, such as Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins, seem to believe this as well. However, unlike the American Founders as well as those thinkers in the natural law tradition, the New Atheists deny that natural rights are grounded in a natural moral law whose source is God. They believe that naturalistic evolution can account for this natural moral law. This talk responds to the New Atheists and explains why the natural moral law is best accounted for by a Divine Law Giver."
"Before the Gospels were written, How Reliable Were the Oral Traditions About Jesus?" by Craig Keener. "Careful learning and remembering characterized ancient education and especially disciples learning from teachers. Why would anyone today assume Jesus’ disciples to be different, apart from modern biases against Jesus’ teachings? This session explores ancient examples of memory and their implications for the reliability of the Gospels."
- "Jesus Under Fire: 12 Reasons We Can Trust the Canonical Gospels," by Craig Blomberg. "Today, many in our culture, and even some scholars, place little credence in the picture of Jesus that emerges from the New Testament Gospels. Some even argue that the later apocryphal, and especially the Gnostic Gospels, should be preferred. The larger percentage of historical Jesus scholarship meanwhile has been accumulating an unprecedented amount of support for the trustworthiness of the main contours of the canonical texts, especially the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. This talk surveys twelve of the most important reasons for this growing confidence in what is often called the third quest of the historical Jesus."
- "God and the Genocide of the Canaanites," by Matthew Flannagan. "How could a just and loving God command Joshua to genocide the Canaanites as is apparently taught in the Old Testament? Is God really a moral monster as Christianity’s critics use these passages to claim? Matthew will re-examine these passages in light of the context they were written in showing that the skeptics' case against God relies on a questionable reading of the Old Testament."
- "Assessing Brian McLaren's Emerging Theology," by R. Scott Smith. "Brian McLaren probably is the leading person in "emergent" Christianity. He focuses especially on how Christians should live faithfully in postmodern times, and to help address this, he has developed an "emerging" version of the gospel. By looking closely at this, we can discern his stands on many crucial issues, like: How does God’s kingdom advance? What is evil all about? What was the nature of Jesus’ work on the cross? Who will be in the kingdom, who won’t, and why? Is there a hell? Then I will assess his positions."
- "Religion & Science: Where the Conflict Really Lies," by Alvin Plantinga. "This talk argues (1) that contemporary evolutionary theory is not incompatible with theistic belief, (2) that the main antitheistic arguments involving evolution together with other premises also fail, and (3) that naturalism, the thought that there is no such thing as the God of theistic religion or anything like him, is an essential element in the naturalistic worldview (a sort of quasi-religion in the sense that it plays some of the most important roles of religion) and that the naturalistic worldview is in fact incompatible with evolution. Hence there is a science/religion (or science/quasi-religion) conflict, all right, but it is a conflict between naturalism and science, not theistic religion and science."
- "Reason Cannot be Located in a Materialist World," by Angus Menuge. "Any satisfactory account of human beings must locate human reasoning, by showing how it arises from the accounts underlying ontology (its theory of what exists). For materialism to be successful, human reasoning must be located in a world consisting of particles and undirected forces. The so-called "argument from reason" is a family of arguments designed to show that materialism cannot satisfy this demand. Most fundamentally, materialism fails because rational deliberation presupposes the existence of persistent, unified selves with libertarian free will. This requires an ontology of substantial agent causes, characterized by active power, teleology and downward causation, none of which can plausibly be located in a materialist world. Reason itself also has a number of characteristics (including intentionality, teleology, normativity and prescriptivity) that do not reduce to materialist categories. Finally, materialist attempts to explain human reasoning by appeal to Darwinian evolution imply that our reason cannot be trusted, especially in science and philosophy. Moreover, while not the only alternative to materialism, Judeo-Christian Theism is well-equipped to locate human reasoning because the ontology of human reasoning is exemplified by God, and therefore implausible materialist reductions of this ontology are not required. The argument from reason can be developed into a defense of scripture’s claim that human beings are made in the image of God."
- "How to Handle Different Arguments from Evil for God's Non-Existence," by Christopher Weaver. "Contemporary arguments from evil for God’s non-existence can be accurately divided into those which attempt to show that God's existence is somehow incompatible with the real presence of evil in the world, and those which attempt to show that evil in the world somehow shows that God's existence is highly unlikely or improbable. Arguments resembling the former description are sometimes called deductive or logical problems of evil, whereas arguments like the latter kind are often referred to as evidential or inductive arguments from evil. In my short presentation, I will explore what I think are several lines of plausible responses to arguments of the evidential or inductive sort. The first such reply leans upon the work of Thomas Crisp, and attempts to show that particular premises of evidential arguments are recondite philosophical theses and can be objected to by an appeal to what's called the "evolutionary argument against evil". The second type of response to evidential arguments suggests that several of the premises of evidential arguments from evil can be parried by an appeal to what scholars call "Skeptical Theism". The last plausible rejoinder to evidential arguments I will present involves an appropriation of an argument for the controversial thesis that "God is the good", and that as the transcendental source of good, any appeal to objective moral value in the world (including instances of radical evil) materially implies God's existence."
- "Challenging the Zeitgeist Movie: Alleged Parallels between Jesus and Ancient Pagan Religions," by Mark Foreman. "In 2007 the ZEITGEIST movie appeared on the internet and had over 50 million viewers in the first three weeks. ZEITGEIST is a two hour documentary film that attempts to argue, among other things, that Christianity is a non-historical myth based purely on teachings and ideas from earlier pagan myths. The primary evidence used to support this claim is the number of parallels between Christianity and other religions. This presentation assess both the claim and the methodology of this argument noting a number of fallacies with this kind of reasoning."