1: Ethics and Existence (9:15-10:30)
and Misuse of Transcendental Phenomena: Ethics and Existentialism,
Dr. Joe Frank Jones, III (Barton College)
This essay attempts to answer the
question whether transcendental phenomena are necessary to achieve
an ethical perspective. An ethical perspective is an impartial,
objective point of view that treats all conscious beings equally.
Existentialists, physicalist and otherwise, for the most part, think
not. Ralph Ellis offers an example of a good faith effort to
describe the achievement of a principled ethical position based on
finitude. His position is examined and found wanting. A minimalist
suggestion is made that yet requires transcendental phenomena as
opposed to transcendent.
Lev Shestov and Emmanuel Levinas:
Reading Kierkegaard, Dr. James McLachlan
(Western Carolina University)
In one of his earliest writings, a
review of Leon Chestov's "Kierkegaard et la philosophie
existentielle" in Revue des Etudes Juives 1, nos. 1-2 (1937,
139-141. Levinas concludes: "Shestov interprets the philosophy of
Kierkegaard as a combat undergone by a soul abandoned to despair in
a world ruled by reason and the ethical." He sees in Shestov's
interpretation of a Kierkegaard who proclaims the supremacy of
Jerusalem over Athens. This interpretation, he writes is made
explicit in Shestov's book Athens and Jerusalem. Edith Wyschorod has
maintained that what Levinas writes of Shestov's analysis of
Kierkegaard might well be taken as a program for his own future
work. In this paper I provide, for the first time, a translation of
Levinas' revue of Shestov and a discussion of the elements of
Shestov's thought that are similar to Levinas' work.
An examination of the "telos" within
Nietzsche's concept of asceticism, Mr. Blake H.
Taylor (Wingate University)
Throughout Nietzsche’s works there
are ongoing references to asceticism. Many of these are negative
with respect to Nietzsche’s criticism of Jewish and Christian
ascetics, others affirmative, as Nietzsche respects many elements of
asceticism and their importance in one’s attempt at self-overcoming.
Many authors such as Tyler Roberts have delved deeply into
Nietzsche’s concept of asceticism and the striking similarities that
are at once recognizable, particularly with respect to very early
Christian ascetics such as Abba Arsenius and St. Anthony. This side
of Nietzsche’s asceticism has been widely discussed and the
parallels with religious asceticism are obvious, yet there is an
element within asceticism that has yet to be brought to light with
regard to Nietzsche and his philosophical system.
There are a number of definitions of asceticism that have been put
forth by such major scholars as Valantasis, Foucault, Ware and
Harpham in the near past with the binding characteristic that there
be a specific end toward which an individual is working. This causes
something of a difficulty with regard to Nietzsche and his
asceticism when one attempts to evaluate the “telos” within his
system. The difficulty arises for two reasons; the first is that for
Nietzsche the Ubermensch is a creative individual whose every action
is monumental in itself, rather than a step towards some final end,
the second is Nietzsche’s doctrine of eternal-recurrence and the
nullifying affect this has on any discussion on a final end for
which his asceticism aims.
What my research focuses in on is the secondary ends that
Nietzsche’s asceticism achieves and their positive value within a
social context. As the ultimate ascetic for Nietzsche, the
Ubermensch, acts not for himself or others but is simply creative in
every action there is no primary goal that is worked towards, but
there is nonetheless many secondary ends that are accomplished by
the ascetic activities of such an individual.
2A: Popular and Traditional Religion in Multicultural Perspective
Significance of Gihli, the Dog, in Cherokee Thought, Ms.
Carrie McLachlan (Western Carolina University)
Cherokee mythology, formalized
prayers, and traditions reveal a unique place for the dog in the
earthly as well as the cosmic realm. Among the several functions
they fulfill in Cherokee traditions, dogs protect against enemies,
give aid to humans in matters of love and healing, deliver messages
and give warning when dangerous beings are near. Most importantly,
dogs sacrifice themselves for the welfare of humans and, in the
cosmic realm, mediate between the human and otherworldly realms by
serving as guides, guards, and judges. Today Cherokee people do not
all share the same cultural traditions or a fundamental system of
belief. This paper does not seek to address that diversity. Instead,
the purpose is to excavate Cherokee beliefs about dogs that were
commonly held by the Cherokee (some of which were shared by other
American Indians) at the time of European contact.
Towards Understanding Traditional
African Religion, Dr. Kofi Johnson
(Fayetteville State University) and Dr. Raphael T. Oyinade (Claftin
This paper discusses the religion of
sub-Saharan Africa with emphasis on their beliefs and the concept of
God. More importantly, the paper concludes that African traditional
religion is monotheistic. The study underscores that the concept of
one God is not a monopoly of western culture.
How Sacred Are They? Revisiting the
Theoretical Models for the Study of Religion in Popular Culture,
Dr. Rama Datta (Fayetteville State University)
Focusing primarily on the recent
study of religion in popular culture, the present paper revisits the
so-called theoretical models for analyzing and defining 'religion'
and tries to examine their logical plausibility. While making a
sincere attempt to tour their sacred space, their religious
character is found to be extremely complex and problematic. Finally,
the paper comes to the conclusion that the definition of religion as
proposed by these models, is either too wide or, too narrrow.
2B: The Theory and Practice of Religious Studies
Theism: A MacIntyre-esque Critique, Dr. Robert
Prevost (Wingate University)
Much work has been done recently on a
recent theological movement called “open theism.” Open theism
asserts, among other things, that (1) God cannot know the future
because what occurs in the future is contingent to a large degree
upon the free choices of free human creatures, whose choices are not
determined, and hence unknowable, until the choice is made, and (2)
God does not meticulously determine what events occur in the world
because of God’s desire to have true loving relationships with His
creatures, the condition for which requires the God’s risk of
I propose in this paper to examine open theism from the standpoint
of rationality articulated in Alasdair MacIntyre’s Three Rival
Versions of Moral Inquiry. Many have criticized this movement as a
serious departure from classical Christian theism and as a
fundamental rejection of the authority of the Bible in theology. The
problem with this mode of criticism is that it makes a doctrine of
God appear to be a simple matter of whose Biblical exegesis is
better. I think that this mode of criticism is wrong headed because
it fails to recognize the role of tradition in interpreting texts
and the systemic nature of justification.
In this paper, I will define open theism and briefly discuss the
nature of the debate over it. I want subsequently to discuss
MacIntyre’s work as a means of illuminating what is necessary for
rational criticism between radically incommensurate traditions.
Finally, I will discuss criticism of open theism in light of the
MacIntyre’s work. Here I will focus on two issues related to
internal criticism of open theism: first, the rejection of natural
knowledge of God, and second, its approach to the problem of evil.
Keeping God Guessing, Ms. Amy
Lambert (Wingate University)
In the past decade or so a new type
of theology has appeared – open theism. Open theism claims a middle
ground between classical theology and process theology; it draws
reasoning from both theologies, and it posits that there is an open
God and an open future. That is, human choices are not
predetermined, and how humans choose to act drastically shapes the
present and the future. With any theology, there are practical
applications that flow from and that affect Christian ministry. A
primary case in point in this research paper is the way a theology
of open theism should be expected to shape pastoral counseling. What
theology a pastor holds will obviously influence how that pastor
responds in the giving of pastoral care. Theology is both
consciously and unconsciously applied in pastoral care, and
different types of theologies will elicit different actions and
reactions in circumstances of crisis and crisis care. This paper
will address how an open theism theology shapes pastoral responses
to human crisis in comparison to classical and process theology.
Religious Studies and Service
Learning: Uses and Abuses; Pitfalls and Possibilities, Dr. Bennett
Departments of Religious Studies have
long been associated with service learning both at the level of
service learning’s pedagogy and its epistemological goals. For the
most part, these associations have been beneficial for students and
have provided Religious Studies with additional curricular depth.
However, recent changes in public policy with regard to (1)
understandings of the relationships between public institutions of
higher education and religious institutions, and (2) governmental
advocacy of “faith-based organizations” as agents of social change
have altered the value of Religious Studies courses being taught as
service learning courses.
This paper will explore the ethical use of service learning courses
in Religious Studies (in public higher education) in the light of
the changes in public policy. In the paper I will be addressing
needed reassessments of how to develop partnerships with faith-based
organizations (i.e., what do students, faculty, and community
partners need to know and do differently), in turn, adjustments that
might be required at the level of pedagogy and epistemology. Put
simply, the thesis of the paper is that the change in the public
ethos brought about by recent policy decisions requires a revision
of the ethics of teaching Religious Studies courses utilizing a
service-learning model. As such, the paper will attempt to make a
contribution to the field of education ethics in Religious Studies.
- Introduction of Speaker, Dr. James
McLachlan (Western Carolina University)
- Keynote Address: Monotheism and
Monism--The Unity of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Dr.
Richard Cohen, Isaac Swift Distinguished Professor of Judaic Studies
3: Cosmology, Chaos, and Consciousness2:00-3:15
Terrible Sublimity: Kant and the Big Bang, Dr. Maurice F.
I argue that Kant's claim, that
concepts that apply only within the world of human experience cannot
be legitimately applied beyond that realm, applies not only to
judgments about God but also to the contemporary cosmologists'
claims about the Big Bang. At best such concepts can serve as what
Kant called "regulative ideas" that further the aim of achieving the
most coherent empirical employment of reason.
In Praise of Chaos: A 21st Century
Reincarnation of Erasmus as an Archetype of Hybrid Scholarship,
Dr. John Collins (Wake Forest University)
An extended leave has given me the
opportunity to review a significant set of scholarly publications
describing the birth, development, and conclusions of four "new
sciences"-- the sciences of Chaos, the sciences of Complexity, the
sciences of Creativity, and the sciences of Consciousness. Taken
together, these "new sciences" pose a challenge to many of the
foundational assumptions of 20th century scholarship in the American
Academy, and they have called for a significant expansion of what
may be called "science".
In this paper I will focus on the implications of this dialogue
between "new" and "old" science with regard to the AAR's unilateral
decision to break the hybrid structure of the SBL/AAR; and I will
suggest that in making significant decisions during this time of
global transformation, we should follow Erasmus' "complex
scholarship of the included middle" rather than the exclusive
scholarship of Scholasticism, or Protestantism, or Material
Culturalism, or any other "ism".
Is Seamless Post-mortem Existence
Necessary for Survival?, Dr. P. Eddy Wilson
Some philosophers contemplating
post-mortem survival like William Haskers and Kevin Corcoran have
been troubled by the problem of the gap. If we do not assert some
form of Cartesian dualism, then a temporal gap may intervene between
the moment a person dies and the moment he or she is resurrected.
This discontinuity may be seen as a threat to the person’s identity.
Haskers and Corcoran have proposed ways to overcome the problem of
the gap. I examine their bridgework, and offer my own suggestions
about resolving the problem.
4: Arguments on the Attributes of God (3:30-4:45)
on Foreknowledge and Freedom, Dr. Greg Rich
(Fayetteville State University)
Unbelievers and believers may wonder
how God can have foreknowledge and humans still have free will, for
if God knows what we'll do tomorrow, how can we be free to do
anything else? The problem is especially acute for believers because
foreknowledge seems to be part of omniscience, and free will seems
to be necessary for blameworthiness. Generally, believers who sense
the tension between foreknowledge and free will don't want to give
either one up.
St. Augustine tried to resolve the problem by saying that God knows
how we will use our free will. But if God is in time, Augustine's
proposed solution seems to require that humans have an ability to
change the past. Boethius, another early Christian philosopher,
tried to avoid this problem by putting God outside of time.
According to Richard Greeen, a translator of Boethius's THE
CONSOLATION OF PHILOSOPHY, Boethius's solution "was to be
authoritative for centuries to come (xix)."
What I want to do in this paper is to look more closely into the
Boethian position and determine its merit.
Berkeley's Critique of Theological
Representationalism, Dr. Theodore M. Cooke
(Belmont Abbey College)
The paper deals with William
Molyneux's query of whether a man who is born blind but later given
sight would be able to distinguish a cube from a sphere using the
power of sight alone. I explain why Berkeley's negative response to
the question, and his belief in the heterogeneity of tactile and
visual perception, should be viewed in the larger context of his
attack on theological representationalism, the predominant
theological position of Berkeley's Anglo-Irish contemporaries.
The Ecological Ethics of Albert
Schweitzer & Jonathan Edwards, Dr. Richard Hall
(Fayetteville State University)
This paper compares and contrasts the
ethics of two undeservedly neglected moral philosophers in order to
show their significance for contemporary moral theory and practice.
Both espoused an agapistic ethics, a form of aretaic or virtue
ethics. For Edwards, the root virtue was benevolence to being, and
for Schweitzer it was reverence for life. Edwards' benevolence to
being and Schweitzer's reverence for life are parallel principles
though with different metaphysical presuppositions. Both were
critical of traditional ethical theories for being too exclusive, a
situation they endeavored to remedy in their own constructive
theories which enfranchise many more beings as objects of moral
worth than is traditional. And each formulated his ethical theory
in secular terms which means in part that he made no appeal to
revelation. Their normative ethical theories have important
implications for contemporary discussions of animal rights (such as
those of Peter Singer) and other issues of environmental ethics.