Unfortunately due to time constraints I was unable to get this up last week so this is a little late. Firstly I have to thank Proof Directory and Tim Stratton for giving me this amazing opportunity. A few months ago, Tim, a pastor in Nebraska and an online student at Biola University, who had heard about my work on youtube, found me through one of my PD blogs. Much to my surprise I learned that my youtube videos on idealism had actually influenced his masters thesis!
We got to talking, and as it turned out, he was organizing an apologetics conference in Kearney Nebraska in the last week of April. Tim found my ideas interesting enough to alter his masters thesis, and he wanted me to present them to some of the people attending the conference. Find this an exciting opportunity, I packed my bags and headed off to Nebraska towards the end of April. Here is a day by day summary of the trip.
April 22: I give a presentation to Tim’s Reasonable Faith club at the University of Nebraska Kearney (UNK) on the Introspective and Digital Physics Arguments for God’s existence. I intend to make individual blogs on each of these arguments, so stay tuned.
However for now I will give a brief summary of each. The Introspective Argument is based on philosophy of mind, and argues for Berkeleyan Idealism on grounds of the immateriality of the mind and the incoherence of substance dualism. If mind is fundamental and no other fundamental substance can exist, then it automatically follows that everything is within the mind of God.
The Digital Physics Argument meanwhile argues to the same conclusion but on grounds of modern physics. Research into some branches of theoretical physics has revealed that physical reality is not fundamental, but rather that fabric of space-time is emergent from underlying information. However since information is mental in nature, it can be argued that what we refer to as the physical universe is in fact a conscious state within a Mind.
I have the talk below if you are curious. Though the audio isn’t perfect.
My lecture on idealism and digital physics at Reasonable Faith UNK.
April 23: We pick up Craig Hazen, the director of the apologetics department at Biola at the airport. He gives a talk to seniors at a graduation banquet at the Kearney eFree Church.
April 24: Michael Licona arrives in the afternoon. Licona is an associate professor at Houston Baptist University and is perhaps the world’s leading Christian historian on the resurrection. He is also an author of several books on the subject, including The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach,and the award-winning The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, which he wrote with Gary Habermas. We discussed idealism in the car and at the place I was staying. I found him to be a fascinating mind, though of course metaphysics and philosophy of mind is not really his field.
Later he gave a talk at UNK on evidence for the resurrection. In addition to refuting skeptic theories against the resurrection, he gave a compelling case for the historicity of the resurrection account. Many skeptics will attempt to argue that the gospels are not reliable as evidence, but even granting them that, Licona explained that the account of the conversion of Paul is sufficient evidence. In the lecture he pointed out that no other explanation makes sense as to why Christianity’s primary persecutor would turn into its most staunch advocate over night.
Dr. Michael Licona speaks on evidence for the resurrection.
April 25: There is a meet and greet for Dr. Licona at UNK. Later we pick up JP Moreland, a leading Christian philosopher of mind and a professor at Biola. That night, there is a banquet at which Pastor Tim explained some of my ideas to Dr. Moreland.
During question and answer time I asked him if the interaction problem of dualism could in theory cause him to reject matter. To my pleasant surprise Dr. Moreland told me that “he would do what I did, and reject matter.” He went on to explain that his support of dualism was based on arguments for the immateriality of the mind and that he had no problem with idealism. I couldn’t at the time, but later told him I had something to show him regarding physics that would be very disturbing to materialists. He seemed quite excited. The stage was set for tomorrow!
Tim Stratton and JP Moreland
April 26: It’s Saturday and we head back to the Kearney eFree Church for a series of talks. Among the speakers are Tim Stratton, Michael Licona, JP Moreland, and Clay Jones. Unfortunately in preparing for my Sunday School presentation I was unable to listen to all of them.
Out in the lobby I was able to sit down with Moreland though. It was quite exciting. Here I was in a one on one conversation with perhaps one of the foremost Christian philosophers of mind in the world! As I began to show him the physics, he shared my enthusiasm. As I pointed out before, modern physics is demonstrating that physical reality is in fact an emergent illusion from non-physical information. By a little deduction, the only way to account for this is if it exists in an immaterial mind. His reaction was electric!
He then gave his talk on the various apologetic arguments for God. It appeared providentially that various aspects of his talk fit perfectly into the topics I had discussed. Afterwards we talked again and it appears he liked my ideas so much, that he endorsed me to the philosophy chair at Biola!
April 27: It’s Sunday morning, and Tim has asked me to teach Sunday School. I give a modified version of the talk I gave at the Reasonable Faith club. At the end though I show how it ties into Christianity. Preparing for it was interesting. The verses appeared to flow together and fall into place. More blogs on this in the future as well. Stay tuned! Afterwards we listen to a sermon by Michael Licona on the resurrection. Later that night I boarded the train on my long journey back to Wisconsin.
All in all, the trip went very well. God opened doors every step of the way. It looks like I will be going to Biola for a masters in philosophy this fall. I can’t help but thank God for everything, and wonder where all of this will lead.